Ideas for improving comments?

We’ve tried LOTS of different approaches to comments on My Ballard over the years.

We began with open comments, then switched to Disqus, then switched to Facebook comments (backlash!), then switched to register-only comments (crickets), then back to open comments.

We’ve always had to contend with the usual moderation challenges — here are the rules — but events in Ballard over the last few months have amplified the challenge to new heights. Many people aren’t happy with the state of affairs in our neighborhood, and duking it out in comments has become a common occurrence.

So… we’re looking for some advice. Anyone know of any WordPress plugins or new commenting platforms that encourage open conversations but at the same time reward more thoughtful responses? There’s no perfect solution, but we’d love to hear ideas on how to make it better.


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Mike O'Brien's Ballsack
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Mike O'Brien's Ballsack

The most important thing to remember in this discussion, is I’m not responsible.

Scott
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Scott

Turn them off entirely. At this point they’re a drag on the site, and I’m less likely to link to a story if there’s so much vitriol underneath the otherwise valuable information

Public Intellectual
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Public Intellectual

Improving comments? I’m more worried about rapes, murders, stabbings, robberies, needles in parks, meth vans, bike thefts, car break-ins, unsanctioned camps filled with filth (because apparently some people are too poor to clean up their homes). You get the drift.

Comments on local blog don’t harm anyone.

Jerry Critter
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Jerry Critter

Limit comments to one comment per person per story. In other words, have your say then shut up!

Ballard Needs Eats
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Ballard Needs Eats

Is there some way to format it like the comment section in Quora, where you can upvote, or add to the comment section, or downvote? I believe Yahoo also uses some version of this format.

guesty
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guesty

there are a few very antagonistic commenters that seem to go way beyond expressing their opinion and drift into trolling territory (“elenchos”….).

nobody should feel ashamed for expressing their opinions on the nutty situation at st lukes, the homeless rapist, etc. – these are completely valid concerns and should not be belittled or, especially, censored.

Nick
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Nick

Turn off comments. Most random people on the Internet don’t have anything constructive to add via the comment section.

NATO Only
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NATO Only

I would suggest posting the IP address so you can tell the different accounts from one source (the multiple ones from Russia and/or Magnolia at least).

Steve
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Steve

Along those lines, it does seem like if the moderators were to block the IPs of folks who appear to be simply trolling or entirely non-constructive in their comments, that’d be a good solution.

Having disagreeing viewpoints is constructive – name calling, outright disrespect and even hateful comments are not.

upwalker
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upwalker

I read My Ballard as a local news source and the comments as they tend to be are a distraction from this function. But people want to express themselves. Therefore, I suggest limiting comments to the FB site and having none on the blog.

Julia
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Julia

Everybody doesn’t have FB. I don’t and I won’t. So People like me don’t get to comment?

Ballard Needs Eats
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Ballard Needs Eats

@Nato Only:
Russia? Really? Russian hackers are trying to influence city politics in Ballard? That’s a stretch, although Elenchos has also suggested the selfsame trickery. I think that’s the sign of a paranoid and delusional mind (“delusional” usually being the prime insult of @Truth), and I’d be really surprised if Comrade Vladimir was concerned about the state of affairs of Ballard.
Ballard…first landing point for Russia’s invasion of America! just leave my food alone.

Howdy Hey Neighbor
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Howdy Hey Neighbor

The reason I found this site is because I have a comment a day coming from Russian, Ukraine or a Poland IP address commenting at my site, and I am trying to see how other people handle it. So, I don’t think its delusional to be aware that some people are employed in Russia to daily comment on US sites.

Colin
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Colin

Reddit-style comments (which allow for upvoting / downvoting, comments directly to other comments which keeps discussions segregated, etc.) might help a LOT with both organization of threads and lifting good contributions up. Here’s one WordPress plug-in which is possible: https://wptavern.com/add-reddit-style-commenting-to-wordpress-with-the-comment-popularity-plugin

Thomas
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Thomas

Automated comment moderation. There are a number of tools like Crisp Thinking and Smart Moderation that help with toxic content, bad actor detection, and variant moderation tiers based on the rules in place for a particular site.

Bhagwan Shree Sawant
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Bhagwan Shree Sawant

Haha I love the “TURN OFF COMMENTS” folks.

Here is your social justice “free speech tolerance” in its full, resplendent glory.
Yes, let’s all be fake nice while the city falls to pieces in front of our eyes. Pathetic.

Bhagwan Shree Sawant
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Bhagwan Shree Sawant

Interesting timing, Geeky Swedes. Right about the time there is some real substantial push back against the corrupt status quo in the this town you guys want to start limiting the discourse.

Too many skeptical or – dare I even utter the word – “conservative” viewpoints being expressed here?

Terry Pratt
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Terry Pratt

there will always be haters. don’t allow them a forum. No comments.
Comments serve no real purpose. They allow me to see if i think like others and visa versa. Who cares.
The haters should be deprived and i am willing to give up my voice for that.

George Will
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George Will

Turn them off. I believe that you’re doing a great job of sharing information. while occasionally there is valuable information in the comments, I feel it’s not needed for My Ballard to be a useful source of information.

Free speech can exist without amplifying people like above. The guy with the racist tag above can build his own website and likeminded individuals can listen there. I however find him and many other comment offensive and would rather that this trusted news source not give a platform. I won’t link either because of the vitriol. Newspapers worked fine without comments. Thank you for all your work.

Ela
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Ela

Turn them off. I get so disgusted with the childish, spiteful, nasty comments that I’m inclined to not read the articles at all. I was so relieved when there were no comments because no one bothered to register. However, it may be useful to have some sort of feedback where people can send you updates/ corrections.

Sup!
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Sup!

Trump supporters ruin everything. Including the country.

Francis
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Francis

Are you a news outlet ? Or a public forum? I don’t think it can be both. Frankly, I read it for the local news, not people’s opinions about it

No More Street Camping
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No More Street Camping

Geeky Swedes… Leave it be. You’re looking for traffic and clicks. I cruise this site all the time and give my $.02 once in a while without retribution. And I like it.

Don’t bow down to political correctness . If you tighten down the Comments it will disincentivize people that want to post and remain anonymous. Sure it gets rowdy but it’s a great way to gauge the political climate in our little neighborhood.

You can cruise browser metadata, IP addresses, and such to give someone a 24 hour ban, etc. That’s not a bad idea for super flamers… but truthfully. It’s not that bad. You guys run a great site and fine, comments can get “mean” or “rude”. I highly doubt this has a long lasting effect on peoples feelings and in the scheme of life it doesn’t matter much.

Let the Comments be and keep up the good work!

Vote O’Brien out. Don’t by his wife’s stuff a the Farmers Market. and….! Doug Dickson for Mayor!

(See, it’s not that big of deal)

John
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John

I’m OK with it as it is although I agree that some people are clearly falling short of what is constructive comment. For those who want to turn comments off, you can chose to not read comments. Just sayin’.

Public Intellectual
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Public Intellectual

“Turn off comments. ”

I only come for the comments. Best part of the site!

Then again, I’m not easily triggered.

Johnny Eckstrom
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Johnny Eckstrom

Keep the comments. Don’t turn them off. That’s pandering to the lowest common denominator of people who are easily hurt by words on a screen. (The comments are some of the best reads on this site)

You guys do an awesome job with the site and I come on a daily basis. Please keep it as is.