As a regular commentator on Al-Jazeera’s articles I was saddened to see this announcement but ultimately understand the reasoning behind it.
There were too many comments which were racist, anti-Semitic, puerile and full of erroneous facts. There were a ‘hard-core’ of individuals who, rather than engage in debate, used the comments sections to put across extreme views and insult others, their race, religion, colour or creed. This, in my opinion, debased the albeit in my view, biased but ultimately good journalistic values of the site.
I still think though Al-Jazeera should maintain comments when guest contributors publish their articles. Certain writers you engage put across a point of view that should be challenged. Sometimes they make statements that are not true and by allowing comments you will give individuals the opportunity to counter those points. Equally, Al-Jazeera has been accused of being the mouthpiece of extremism and inciting terrorism and again by stopping comments your detractors will make the point that you are denying those that oppose your editorial stance a right to reply.
Social Media is not a substitute for this as I’m sure you’re editorial teams don’t read the threads when you post on Facebook but I know that they do (especially the contributors for the Opinion section) on the site itself.
So by all means stop the ability to post comments on stories but please reconsider for the Opinion part of the site.