Why some publishers are killing their comment sections

Ricardo Bilton, Digiday, Jun 01, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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You may have noticed I'd switched over comments on this site to Disqus. It's a half-hearted experiment designed to deal with a common problem: unwanted comments. Mine are mostly spam, but if you look at sites like YouTube or the typical newspaper site the comments go far beyond that. It's not just anonymity: “The argument used to be that it was anonymous comments [that caused problems] and people felt emboldened... at some point in the last couple of years, a switch got flipped and anonymity was no longer a need when it came to spewing awfulness. It’s almost like there’s no shame anymore." But what if comments became community? That's the objective of the Coral Project. "I would love to be able to go to a reporter and say, ‘I know you’ve got 10 minutes and 5,000 comments on your story,’” Barber said. “You can go right here and find the contributions from our most thoughtful contributors — spend your time there. Because those people have earned it." So maybe soon I can ditch Disqus and create a comment community that works.

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