A timely broom

NewsOK.com has revamped its comment system again, this time for quality-assurance purposes:

[F]ar too often in far too many stories, the comments contain vitriolic, hateful and attacking language. Far too often, those comments overwhelm those attempting to have constructive dialogue.

So beginning today, NewsOK is making changes designed to improve the nature and tone of the dialogue for its audience. We’re switching to Facebook commenting, requiring users to login with their Facebook account in order to make a comment on an article.

Facebook, in my experience, is a hair stricter than Disqus. (I’m quite used to both, and I have my real name tied to both, so this bothers me not in the least.)

The ultimate motivation, it appears, is to disperse the crowd of loudmouthed blithering idiots:

We care about the conversation. We care so much about the conversation that we are willing to give up quantity for quality. We expect this change to result in fewer comments on our site. But we also expect this change to encourage more users to participate. And we’re confident that we will see more constructive discourse about issues in Oklahoma.

Why? Because all the comments will be tied to a real person’s Facebook profile, making users accountable for what they post and eliminating the veil of anonymity.

There are, of course, reasons why one might want to remain anonymous on the Net. But commenting on a news site isn’t one of them. (If you aspire to be a whistleblower, you’re going to accomplish more by tweeting a reporter than you will by throwing up a comment.)

And besides, this is the way they do it on Oklahoman.com already, not that anyone ever comments there.


  1. McGehee »

    11 December 2012 · 6:01 pm

    Sadly, Facebook-managed commentary still contains more than its share of venom and vitriol. Anonymity is only a small part of the problem; a lot of people see nothing wrong with signing their names and even displaying their faces on online comments they would never make to someone’s actual face.

    I’m contemplating a Kickstarter project for technology translating Disqus “dislike” votes into direct electric shock to the person whose comment is being disliked.

  2. Roger Green »

    11 December 2012 · 6:49 pm

    I don’t know why some newspapers, who wouldn’t allow those trolls in their printed pages, permit “comments” that are rude and crude.

  3. jsallison »

    11 December 2012 · 7:31 pm

    And the more sites that insist on Facebook or other varieties of third party gatekeeperitis the fewer sites I have to pay attention too (NROnline I’m looking at you). I get their point but as the signal to noise ratio approaches unity, I’m probably long gone and not likely to return.

  4. CGHill »

    11 December 2012 · 9:22 pm

    I don’t expect miracles. (Although they would be nice, wouldn’t they?)

  5. Dan B »

    12 December 2012 · 12:21 am

    It’s not like you can’t make an alternate Facebook account with a fake name or anything. All they’re doing is outsourcing the blame for the commenter.

  6. Tatyana »

    12 December 2012 · 7:54 am

    So discriminating against commenters without FB account is OK?

  7. nightfly »

    12 December 2012 · 12:50 pm

    No “system” will ever beat having a live moderator policing the threads, who knows the regulars, who can tell you what is and what is not within the bounds.

  8. CGHill »

    12 December 2012 · 5:41 pm

    Geez, Tat, I have to sign in at WordPress.com to comment on your stuff, unless I jump through a hoop or two to obliterate my identity. :)

  9. Tatyana »

    13 December 2012 · 6:03 am

    WP has no known privacy issues, FB has plenty. Also, @WP you don’t have to provide your real contacts @FB they demand your age, weight and mother’s maiden name. At WP you can call yourself Shirley.
    WP uses negligibly little analytics and trackers for commercial purposes, FB – the opposite. WP does not sell you out, FB does.

    To sum: I have legitimate reasons not to step into your …er..club.

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