Editorial: Online comments format changing
Online story comments are moving off our news website www.parkrapidsenterprise.com and going to topics.areavoices.com, another website also owned by parent company Forum Communications.
This is being done for several reasons:
First, we are an information provider. While we value and believe in the arena of public debate, we don't feel our audience that seeks information must be exposed to public opinions unless they want that. The previous system gave the information seeker few options in that regard, as the public's comments ran directly below the stories.
Second, comments left on online stories are often uninformed, offensive and even downright mean. Much of this is because there is no way to verify the true identity of online commenters. Topics.areavoices.com has been upgraded with more social networking tools that more closely tie together a person's online identity with their comments.
Third, the new tools on topics.areavoices.com also allow the online community to better police itself through the rating of comments. Comments that are repeatedly deemed offensive or useless by a majority of the community will be downgraded or hidden. This should help elevate the level of discourse.
The new system will have a way to report perceived violations of decorum. Those reports will be addressed, but only after the comment is public. If we have routine violators, their access will be removed.
The commenting commandments follow:
Keep it civil and stay on topic.
No profanity, vulgarity or racial slurs.
People who harassing others or joke about tragedies will be blocked.
The newsroom will determine which stories people can comment on. Areas on FCC news websites will contain those story headlines and, when clicked on, take commenters to the topics.areavoices.com platform.
Users can access the comments platform by simply clicking on a button under each story that allows comments. It's our hope this new system will give our commenting community a more robust experience while shielding comments from those who'd rather not take part or be exposed to them.
We encourage you to create a profile on topics.areavoices.com and engage with the community.