Some depressing news this afternoon. Our shift to Facebook-based commenting on our online stories and features has been pushed back to Thursday. Apparently it’s a design issue. It’s not a biggie. At the moment, there is still plenty of work being done to our redesigned www.thetimesnews.com.
It’s still coming, though.
So far response to our new website design has been very positive. Eric Townsend, of the Elon University News Bureau told me via Twitter “Nice design of the website. Much more user friendly! Please pass along my compliments to all involved.” Jamie Freeze via Facebook called it a “Nice fresh look.” Marge Honeycutt Mago also on Facebook also had nice things to say about our different look and especially liked the rotating photo/news feature that dominates the top of the page. She asked if Accent stories — our features could be displayed more prominently. We will do so. In fact, we plan to rotate a lifestyle feature in our rotating function when available.
Here are some other comments I received by email about my recent column on anonymous commenting on websites and our intent to eliminate or diminish those through our new Facebook-based commenting tool. It won’t eliminate all posts that stray over the line, but it will end most — That’s been the case at other Freedom Communications, Inc. newspapers.
Most of the mail I’ve received has endorsed this effort.
Here’s the feedback.
I loved your article. There have been several times I’ve wanted to send in something to the Letter to the Editor, bur never did. … I just decided I was better off not submitting anything! I wish more people thought like I do. Keep on writing good articles,
Kudos on your decision concerning the third party id’s for online commentaries. Honestly, I believe many have quit using online simply because of the number of anonymous trolls and trash talkers. While I have a third party id I have repeatedly identified myself, particularly in defense of my own submissions to the editors page, and would have no problem doing so for the privilege of discussions on the Times site. The online age has made it entirely too easy for cowards and trolls to avoid the idea that words like actions have consequences, so put up or shut up.
Hello Madison — I really did appreciate your column “A Program for Commenters Anonymous” from Oct 2. I have been just astonished by the mean-spiritedness of comments about our Sister City relationship with Mexico. I think we have done a lot; the chronology of our achievements is out there on website [ http://www.sistercities-burlington.org ]www.sistercities-burlington.org. … We deliberately chose our sister city to be in Mexico to promote goodwill with the Latino community in Alamance County. I am overwhelmed and now exhausted by the negative response.
Well, if the people have to own up to the responsibility of posting their replies with their name on Facebook, I suppose that will tone it down a notch. And maybe another generation from now, they will come to empathize with the plight of those who are less fortunate than themselves.
Your column about anonymous comments was superbly written, Madison. One of the best pieces you’ve ever done, regardless of the subject matter. And congratulations on your new system.
As the great Gene Weingarten recently wrote, allowing anonymous comments on a well-researched, skillfully written news story is like ordering a steak and “getting a side order of maggots.’
The comments should not be eliminated through facebook. Require the bloggers to use a real name that is verified. You could verify the name as being real in the same manner as you do the names in the letters to the editor. In my opinion, using facebook will almost eliminate the comments.
BTW, the rest of the new look is great!!!
Joe A. Tickle
On a good note, congratulations on your new format. Long overdue. Much better layout.
On a bad note however, I do not have a Facebook account and find a requirement of one for comment on stories on your site to be discriminatory.
I am not some old Hoot. I am in the I/T business with a background in Information Security. I find Facebook to be poor in its handling of a person’s information and refuse to get in on the madness. I submit many of my peers also refuse to fall prey to Facebook. You may want to review your stance on this.
If major networks news stories allow comments, I am sure the Times-News will have nowhere near the work of policing their own little small town postings.
I want to thank all who are taking the time to write to us about our site and any future plans for it. I responded to most by telling them that the design of www.thetimesnews.com remains a work in progress. We have a few tweaks to make that will hopefully make our site even easier to navigate. And we’ll evaluate the online comments during the process as well.
And when the new system goes into place, we’ll probably monitor things pretty closely. There are workarounds for those willing to find them. We plan to work with Facebook to ban abusers pretty quickly.