This week, we implemented new Community Guidelines intended to foster more intelligent and thoughtful discussion at TheNation.com. The new policy generated great responses from Nation readers (and some writers) eager to delve into the threads, but turned off by some of the trolling we’ve experienced lately.
We’ve implemented new guidelines because we want to host more discussion and debate in our comment threads. We think the best way to do that is to create a space where those turned off by name-calling and vitriol will feel comfortable participating. While heated disagreement and righteous anger (we understand that there’s a lot to be angry about) are welcome, we feel that just about any point can be made with a reasonable degree of civility. Trolls are boring. Ultimately, we want comment threads that are smart and interesting. Judging by the responses we received, our readers do, too.
Below are some of our favorite responses to our new policy from the website, Facebook and Twitter, along with a few other great comments from the week. Be sure to to use the comment threads below to add your own two cents.
@AmandaMarcotte:This is an excellent comment policy, and if all online magazines used it, I think things would be better.
Fuzzydice: Thank goodness. And before someone goes off the deep end about censorship, bear in mind that The Nation is not a government or government agency.
Katijah: Excellent. I’d actually stopped reading the comments here (though The Nation is one of my staples) because many of them were so ridiculous. It would be great if you could be like the New York Times, where sometimes the comments make for even better reading than the articles. I know many of your readers are extremely smart and articulate, but the comments sure haven’t reflected that.
D.D. Guttenplan: Thank you Nationistas. I’m sure there will be plenty of arguments in the comments—I look forward to wading in myself. Like katijah, I’ve been put off by the uncivil tone—and the way crackpot shouting has sometimes overwhelmed debate.
Stephen_Carver1: Saw the new guidelines on Facebook. Yay! Now, please let the conversations flow, even with those who disagree. If The Nation blogs just become about people who agree, it’ll get boring. But let’s keep it respectful folks.
Jedi_mindtrick: Sounds good at the outset. Here’s hoping the implementation is effective and agreeable to the vast majority of the readership.
P.S. I still have to wonder why a moderator action of "hiding comments"—viewable with a mouse-click—might not be employed so readers can judge the content for themselves, and I think it would also be beneficial to see the name of the moderator and the action taken show up on the screen in the interest of a minimal degree of openness.
David Harley: Being far more of a libertarian and far further to the left than most of the owners of American liberal talkboards, I have "suffered" all sorts of attacks and censorship.
It is not worth complaining. One can either tailor one’s comments to the audience, a normal rhetorical practice, or one can speak one’s mind, regardless of one’s political position. Complaining about being censored is completely stupid. FreeRepublic.com used to regularly censor anti-Bush conservatives.