15 Sep 2014
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YOUR TURN: Do We Need a New Comment Policy?

We've heard a lot of readers call for change in our comment section this past month, and we want your input - what's the best way for us to keep the conversation interesting?

YOUR TURN: Do We Need a New Comment Policy?

Hey readers – it's your friendly neighborhood news editor.

No no, don't worry, I'm not here to sell you anything. But, I do need your input so we can decide the best way to go forward as an online community.

Over the past month, I've gotten a lot of feedback that our approach to comment moderation just isn't cutting it for some of our readers. While it's always great to see so many passionate contributions to the site, it can impact the quailty of our community's conversation when threads stray wildly off-topic, get needlessly heated, personal and/or worse.

My personal policy, as a guy that likes to get into the trenches myself, has been largely hands-off: I'd get involved if a comment was threatening, promoted bigotry or was otherwise obviously inappropriate (spam, swearing, etc.), but felt the conversation would be best served by letting our readers speak freely and even get a little testy with one another, just as they would with their offline neighbors.

But, there are other approaches available, should we so choose. Some publications, like The (British) Guardian, have a complex system of “community standards and participation guidelines,” which far more stringently regulate readers' comments. 

Moderators there not only delete the sentiments I described above, but further regulate the use of “smear tactics,” reserve “the right to...curtail conversations which descend into flame-wars” and delete comments they deem off-topic.

After hearing the complaints from our readers, I thought enforcing a "community standards" model may be the best way to keep our conversations civil yet engaging. 

Readers: should we develop some Malden Patch Community Standards? Would you like to see more regulation of the comment section? Some regulation? Or do you like it just the way we are? (aw).

If you've read this far, you know what to do: share your thoughts with us and other readers in the comment section below.  

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