Two weeks ago, we temporarily turned off our comment boards.
The reaction was swift. Many people were pleased. Some wondered what had taken so long, saying any value that comment boards once had is gone. Of those who were disappointed, most simply wished we could find a less extreme solution. Some felt we were doing the equivalent of setting fire to the Constitution.
To the chagrin of some and the satisfaction of others, we turned comments back on today.
Make no mistake: We reject the notion that members of the public are entitled to have their thoughts — no matter how racist, sexist, bigoted or threatening they may be — showcased, and in some cases supported, in a public forum provided by the media.
The court of public opinion is split on the issue, but we see real value in our site playing host to intelligent, polite conversation. We will continue to prioritize maintaining a safe and welcoming atmosphere as we try to provide a way for our community to engage in a mature dialogue around our content.
We hope our community will meet us partway. We’ve put in place the tools to self-police — now you must respect that privilege. We’ll be the platform, but it’s up to you to maintain a respectful atmosphere.
We do not presume that the return of our comment boards today heralds a new era of civility and understanding among Internet commenters. We’re hopeful, not naive. We hope that this two-week cooling off period will have shown the regular abusers of privilege that we are not willing to sit idly by and wait for the trolls, hate-mongers, racists and bigots to simply go away. That’s not going to happen.
We’ve made some changes in this new version of our comment boards not only to help keep the offenders out, but also to make sure insightful and thoughtful comments don’t slip through the cracks and remain stuck in pending purgatory forever.
We make no promises that comment boards will remain a part of our site in the future. We know only that their previous iteration was not meeting the standard to which we hold ourselves and our community.
So, we will continue to make changes as we go, doing our best to prevent problems and respond to those that inevitably will arise. Whether that ultimately results in disabling comment boards permanently depends entirely on our community.