Twitter  Quartz found an unlikely inspiration for its relaunched homepage: The email newsletter.  
Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Reader comments can be a source of agita for news sites. Popular Science decided to shut its comments off for good last September, and last month the Chicago Sun-Times decided to put theirs on temporary hold in hopes of finding a better system.

At NPR’s Code Switch, Matt Thompson writes about how the site that covers race and culture has tried to handle discussion during its first year. Topics like race and ethnicity can bring out the worst in commenters, which is why Code Switch threw the gauntlet down early, telling readers what types of comments will get yanked from the site. The watchwords are moderation and transparency:

For everyone upset about a deleted comment or revoked posting privileges, there’s likely another person who values a more tightly managed discussion. And while some would prefer for us to err on the side of allowing more comments rather than fewer, a loosely managed discussion inhibits some from participating. We value all of these users, but there’s a genuine tension between their needs.

Implicit in the mission of covering race, ethnicity and culture is a mandate to unearth less-often-heard voices and perspectives. We keep that in mind when trying to balance the needs of users we hear from a lot alongside users more prone to lurking. If a discussion about the cultural dynamics of hip-hop starts off with a comment dismissing hip-hop as not being real music, then hip-hop aficionados — those likeliest to have insights to share about the topic — are less likely to participate. Part of what we’re trying to do is create a community where that doesn’t happen. Similarly, for some users, the most pressing issue in race and ethnicity is higher rates of criminality among some demographics, and every thread about race becomes an opportunity to discuss that. Our aims here are somewhat different.

So if we delete your comment, it’s not necessarily because we think the comment is “bad” or “wrong,” or because we want to suppress your point of view. Most often, it’s because the comment doesn’t get at the topic we’re aiming to discuss at that moment, in this space. We are trying to curate a discussion that is intelligent, unique, and novel — a discussion that moves us — and that may require removing comments we think are not directly contributing to the focus of the conversation at that time.

Matt also talks about the importance of having the right tools for enabling conversation, including better filters for comments.

— Justin Ellis
What to read next
Justin Ellis    Aug. 25, 2014
Developers, designers, and writers from across the Vox Media family are getting involved in building new storytelling tools for the tech site and plotting its next phase of growth.
  • Lynn Pounian

    I don’t understand why this isn’t standard operating procedure for all but the sleaziest online publications. Poorly moderated comments boards often suck the reader into a vitriolic vortex – within seconds after entering, the article itself is wiped from memory and only the stench remains.

    As for a system, how hard can this be? Publicly set clear boundaries, hire a few intelligent moderators to manage the boards, give them marching orders and allow them the discretion to make case-by-case decisions. Mid-flight correct every couple weeks. Problem solved.

    (Oh, and, don’t delete this, please.) :)

  • Barney Lerten

    YES. At our active local TV station comment community, I as moderator don’t draw the line that tightly on off-topic comments, or so tightly define the term “hateful” from our Terms of Service that 4/5ths of the comments would have to be booted. But having an “almost anything goes” approach as many national news sites do would make the threads almost completely useless, not to mention the legal heartburn for my bosses. It’s time-consuming, and at times babysitting, but the only way to reach that coveted middle ground between no discussion and rampant jerk-ism. So thousands of judgment calls are made.

  • Barney Lerten

    You make it sound simpler than it is, at least for me, Lynn. But vital? We agree!

  • Lynn Pounian

    Curious, Barney: With an actively moderated board, over time do you notice a decrease in the number of incendiary or questionable comments?

  • Cody Lee Rhodes

    I would love to take Code Switch’s statement verbatim and cast it in some fancy metal and place it on every stretch of the Internet that has comments.

    As a moderator, cleaning up these comments really tears at your soul.

  • Jen Westpfahl

    I agree Lynn. Unfortunately, you answered your own question about why it isn’t SOP: “hire a few intelligent moderators to manage the boards.”

    When a top editor has to choose whether to hire a reporter or a moderator, I know who they will choose. Or a more likely scenario, when they have to choose to layoff a reporter or someone who has comment moderation as part of the job, I know who they will choose.

  • miillerhoust1967

    Choosing the right basketball shoeGravity holds down your spine plus the joints in your body, in particular when jumping, and what sport needs you to jump a good deal Thats right basketball. With all of the pressure on your feet that could soon lead up to the knees and damaging your knees, basketball can put strain on your legs and back.Odds are you checked out to see if it had a pool first- right? Well with a cruise liner, you aren’t limited to just one, or even your average pool. Pools on cruise liners are multiple in number, and also have fun scenery such as caves or trees to help spice up the environment.Following the directions for use it is possible to get results in as little as 2 treatments. In as little as 3 months it is possible that you will not have to shave anymore!The Tria is the first and only FDA approved home laser that is deemed safe for use on the face and body.

    It does help that the starting five Pistons will be returning. Beginning with Chauncey Billups, who would have earned a second straight MVP in the Finals had his team made it through the series, he’ll be joined by Richard Hamilton, an established Nike Air Force 1 Mid veteran. Center Ben Wallace at 6 foot 9 inches will make the defense glow again.Except Louis Vuitton heart purse,Chanel leather chain detail purse and Balenciaga arena mini coin purse,lots of fabulous brand purses are available.These fabulous purses are the best gifts for women.It is worth to buy these fabulous purses online which on the other hand saves precious time,energy and money.Questions, comments or story ideas can be emailed to Eims1@live.Sophia Loren defies aging at 79; shares beauty secretsActing legend Sophia Loren turned 79 Friday and insists that there is a fountain of youth.

    Business trading is a common practice in industry. There are many reasons why businesses, whether they are large or small, are traded. The most common reason is that an owner.All of the Atmosphere The nike jordan footwear experienced this particular technologies, however it grew to become much more noticeable within the later on outlines. Within these types of styles the squeezable footwear ‘pump’ Nike Air Max 2012 had been set up to the language in the footwear. Through pushing the actual pump motor a person might adjust the actual tone in the match in the footwear, modifying this particular with regard to individual choice as well as optimum comfort and ease.Believe it or Louis Vuitton handbags are available right here on the Internet for much lower prices than retail prices. Have you been wishing you could afford an authentic Louis Vuitton handbag?

    Technology aside, the aesthetics of the Hyperdunk 2011 have never looked better. The silhouette is greatly improved and the number of different colorways that this shoe is available in is quite remarkable. One of the standout colorways is the Challenge Red/Black/White/Pine Green.Vedrai tante persone in giro che cercheranno di darsi arie da dure. Come in tutto nella vita, importante non fingere troppo. Alla fine i veri ragazzi duri capiranno chi come loro, e sceglieranno te.- Testing the Shoes Out When They Arrive When your shoes have been delivered then make sure you try them on later in the day as feet tend to swell slightly towards the end of the day. Wear them around the house.

    Football pads have become made of various components, but most are often rubber or plastic. Plastic pipe is simple to make and may be a material with low charge, while the rubber is really a softer material that usually provide a greater degree of comfort for any user. It is therefore that plastic tends to get dominant in soil with winter and softer rubberized, Nike Air Max 95 For Sale when the ground is definitely firmer in drier climates.CPU Lapping ResultsA month or so back I posted on here for some help with my CPU lapping experiment. The general consensus seemed to be that lapping was a waste of time.Adidas will provide volunteers suits, the Olympic Torch Relay suits, the ninety-six Olympic Village suits and training suits, which all will use sustainable fabrics. During the process of producing suits for the Olympic athletes and volunteers, Adidas meant to recycle 1.5 million bottles.