It’s been a vibrant second week on the blog! Our post on Monday about comments generated more than 60 comments. We are reading each of your posts, and your ideas are being passed on to the teams working on the redesign and other digital products. Keep them coming!
Here are the takeaways for us this week. See if you agree and continue adding your thoughts.
- Anonymous vs. Facebook comments: Many commenters were against the idea of commenting through Facebook accounts. There were privacy concerns, concerns about if the comments would appear on their friends’ Facebook pages, and concerns about how to sign on from work, because some companies do not allow Facebook access. And there are readers who don’t have Facebook accounts. These are all good points.
Question: What if we offered commenting with Facebook as one way to comment, but along with other methods as well?
- Comment threads/tools: A good idea we heard was allowing the ability to comment on comments, essentially creating nests of comments within a thread. Also suggested was the ability to “like/dislike” or “approve/disapprove” comments, much like the Facebook “like” button.
- Commenting on stories: Some of you lamented the fact that we don’t allow commenting on every story, just on what appears on our blogs. This is a topic that we’ve debated about in the newsroom. We aim to keep the discourse civil, and opening up every story to commenting also opens the possibility of haters taking over. But we also don’t have the resources to monitor every comment that would come in. More discussion to come.
- Hiding comments: Some have asked for the ability for individuals to “hide” certain commenters the way you can hide them on Facebook. It would make the comment-reading experience (which a lot of you enjoy) more pleasant, it seems. Good idea.
- Spam & browsers: CAPTCHA code woes. Right now we ask readers to fill out a Captcha code when submitting comments to block out spammers. It’s worked wonders against spamming (when “Fridge Magnet” blogger Lindsey Nair turned it off recently to test this theory, she got more than 300 spams overnight), but it frustrates some readers. Also, it seems things might work a little differently on different browsers (Google Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Explorer). We’ll continue to explore.
- You love Kevin Myatt’s ‘Weather Journal’ blog along with many other Roanoke Times bloggers you mentioned. That’s awesome and we’re glad to hear it.
On the value of reader-generated content:
This post didn’t generate as much discussion, but it’s clear that while readers see the value of reader-generated content, they don’t want to see it dilute or replace news stories that our staff produces. There could be good and useful ways to mesh the two, however, on certain types of stories.
As the editor of the Extra section, which often publishes solicited reader-generated content, I see their value in the newspaper. From funny Scared-of-Santa photos to poignant letters from women to their younger selves, I have enjoyed having readers share a bit of themselves in the paper. To me, that’s what makes The Roanoke Times a community resource and something you can’t get anywhere else. It teaches us about the people in our community.
But it doesn’t replace news or news coverage. It’s just another way we can represent our little corner of the world. This is also a topic we’ll continue to explore, so please keep sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for all your input this week. Your feedback is very valuable to us.