The Trend Of Killing News Comment Sections Because You 'Just Really Value Conversation' Stupidly Continues

from the mute-button dept

Over the last year, there has been a tidal wave of websites that have decided to close their news comment sections because the companies are no longer willing to invest time and effort into cultivating healthy on-site discussion. While that's any site's prerogative, these announcements have all too often been accompanied by amusing, disingenuous claims that the reason these sites are muting their on-site audience is because they're simply looking to build relationships or just really value conversation. Nothing says "we care about your opinions" like a shiny new muzzle, right?

And judging from this NiemanLab conversation with a lot of the sites that have chosen to shutter comments, most of the websites have no intention of looking back. After all, what's the use of a local, loyal, on-site community when you can just offload all conversation (and that traffic) to Facebook and Twitter, right? Dan Colarusso, executive editor of Reuters, for example, doesn't think comments are important because damnit people -- Reuters isn't looking to argue!
"We’re not the kind of news organization that’s about giving our ‘take’ on something. We’re not looking to start an argument; we’re looking to report the news. We felt that, since so much of the conversation around stories had gravitated toward social, that was the better place for that discourse to happen. We did keep comments on our opinion pieces, because we felt that that is where you are trying to start an argument in the best possible way."
Except comments aren't just about having arguments, they're a legitimate and transparent avenue for readers to publicly correct your errors right below the original article, which is something many of these sites likely grew tired of. Sure, poorly managed comments can devolve into a cesspool of banality, but good commenters almost always offer insights the writer or website may have missed, could have been wrong on, or never even thought of. In short, we want you to comment -- we just want you to comment privately so our errors aren't quite so painfully highlighted. For the sake of conversation, of course.

Last week On The Media was the latest to quietly kill comments on the bottom of its newsletter, informing readers that comments just don't provide the "kind of dialogue" they wanted:
"We value our listeners above all and are always keen to know what you're thinking, to hear your questions and concerns, to get feedback on what you like and dislike. So why shut down the comment section? As we hear more from listeners through Facebook and Twitter and directly through our website, we've concluded that the comment section just isn't the best way to have the kind of dialogue we want with our listeners."
By "kind of dialogue" you mean transparent and public? Over at the last bastion of website interaction known as Twitter, Mike amusingly highlighted the disjointed logic of claiming to value dialogue while dramatically reducing the number of avenues for it, and the website's response doesn't really make sense:
Of course "nobody in our writing or editorial staff wants to take the time to cultivate local on-site community" or "we don't like having our mistakes highlighted publicly right below our articles" don't make for very good explanations when it's time to save a little money and axe ye olde comment section. So what we get instead are these vague bloviations about how this is really about an evolution in conversation, and punting the problem to Facebook is really the best thing for everyone. It's really time for some new, flimsy excuses for why websites can't be bothered to value local, on-site dialogue, because "we killed a major, on-site avenue of conversation for the sake of conversation" still doesn't really sound all that convincing.

Filed Under: comments, news, on the media, value conversation

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  1. identicon
    Thadius Quantioxen IV, 27 Jul 2018 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: “TD”

    Ok, I’ll be the one to ask... who is “TD”?

    You see, I’ve decided read something on the internet, (an electronic “web” of sorts that holds the potential of becoming a veritable “information superhighway”). Unsurprisingly, I almost immediately come across an initialism without an explanation, which obviously is detrimental to comprehending what it is I am reading, because is stops my flow dead in its tracks (so to speak) since I now must attempt to deduce what these two letters mean according to what some asshole somewhere wants them to mean. In other words, not typing two particular words while still typing dozens of other words that surround them is lazy, idiotic, rude, unconscientious, selfish, self serving, elitist (in a certain sense), and stupid. It also, and this is the funny part, makes what you typed incomprehensible to those that read it unless they go out of their way to attempt figuring out what you meant when you chose to save one half of a second while still using many more of those same seconds to type complete words that may actually be easily understood, which is something that those with a career in the written word strive for. A blatantly worthless sort of excercise masquerading as communication between two humans such as this, to me, is priceless. In summation: Bastardizing a language you wish to communicate in and alienating while also irritating those you wish to communicate with by taking no pride in what you type at them is utter foolishness. It makes you look like a simpleton that is too lazy to care, because you are just that for doing so.

    This is one of the many reasons the exchange of actual useful information using the internet was doomed from the moment of its creation- because the lazy dummies will always ruin something with the potential to be good. Thanks, pal.

    EDIT: Hey, I just figured out what TD means. Or at least I’m PS I do, AIR? How W you K what IM? Either way YLAI, situations LTO can ofte BCWOTAD, as is to be expected. I’m glad there are Os that feel TWIDAI.

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