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Recode, Reuters, Popular Science, The Week, Mic, The Verge, and USA Today’s FTW have all shut off reader comments in the past year.
Here’s how they’re all using social media to encourage reader discussion.
We’re not the kind of news organization that’s about giving our ‘take’ on something.
We’re not looking to start an argument; we’re looking to report the news.
We felt that, since so much of the conversation around stories had gravitated toward social, that was the better place for that discourse to happen.
We did keep comments on our opinion pieces, because we felt that that is where you are trying to start an argument in the best possible way.
There’s plenty of debate over the issue, as newsrooms struggle with moderation, the value of anonymity among commenters, and, in some cases, the legal issues that arise from what’s said in the comments.
“If I was painting a picture of a site we were gonna have, and then at the end I said, ‘Oh, by the way, at the bottom of all our articles we’re going to prominently let any pseudonymous avatar do and say whatever they want with no moderation’ — if there was no convention of Internet commenting, if it wasn’t this thing that was accepted, you would think that was a crazy idea,” said Ben Frumin, editor-in-chief of The
Social media has changed the equation for a number of publishers that already use Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr to distribute their stories to new audiences.
Transcripts of our conversations, below, are edited slightly for clarity and length.
Patel: Comments and community are foundational for the company, and they’re foundational to The Verge. We didn’t get rid of them, and that makes us a little different from everybody else you might be talking to.