My Ballard’s new approach to comments

Updated: Late Saturday night, we launched a new comments system here on My Ballard. If you’re like us, you’ve noticed the tone of My Ballard’s comments has gradually deteriorated over the last couple months. This has been a real concern for us, because we created My Ballard as a community-powered news source: a place for our neighbors to connect and openly share meaningful information about stories and issues that are important to them. The new system empowers you, the reader, to help improve the comment experience.

You don’t need to register to post a comment, but you do need to sign up if you want to “report” or “like” a comment. The more times a comment is reported, the more likely it will disappear. At the top of each comment thread, you’ll see a “sort by” option. If you select “best rating,” the comments that have been “liked” the most will appear at the top. “Popular now” ranks the comments that have been “liked” the most recently. Once you make a selection here, it will stick for the rest of the comments (but you can change it back, if you want).

Now, no commenting system is perfect, but we hope this is a step in the right direction. We ask that you please be patient over the next few days as we fine tune it, and let us know what you think below…

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

35 thoughts to “My Ballard’s new approach to comments”

  1. We will periodically check the list of “reported” comments that disappear to see if there's a systematic effort to quash meaningful conversation. If so, we'll override the system and reinstate those comments.

    Also, if you register for comments here on My Ballard, you'll soon be able to use that same profile on our other neighborhood sites as well. (It's different from the forum, unfortunately, which has a second sign-in.)

  2. Geeky Swedes, you guys are doing an excellent job with this blog. I worked for more than 10 years at The Seattle Times and I have to say that your nose for news is par excellence. I also applaud you for taking a proactive approach to the often bizarre, paranoid and sleazy comments that have taken this cool community blog way off course. I moved to PDX from Ballard last spring, and this blog is an amazing way to keep me connected to my expat community. Keep up the good work and don't let the haters hijack this blog.

  3. Thanks. I turn to to find out what is happening near home. I didn't post (until now) because I figured I'd just get attacked for anything I wrote (including anything as simple as a positive comment about a sunny day or upcoming community event). Reading the comments… the tone just saddened me.

  4. Thank you for addressing this issue. This site was becoming so ugly and mean. It made me look at my neighbors as ugly and mean. It made me walk down Market Street and only see the worst. Again, thank you.

  5. A big thanks to you. Nobody likes a censor, but the comment trails had gotten so bad, my wife quit reading them, and she was a total supporter of the free flowing attitude at the beginning.

  6. Thank you for this policy. Frankly, I think comments on blogs and media have gotten to the point where they are more frustrating than valuable in many cases. Far too many people use comments as a bully pulpit to spew venom of one kind or another, or just to show off how much they don't 'think before speaking'.

    I always wonder how did our society somehow deteriorate into such widespread rudeness, deliberate disruption and sometimes outright mean-spiritedness. It's definitely time for a return to good manners, and learning to offer discussion in an intelligent way that doesn't act more like a “drive-by ranting”.

    It's time to end the disr

  7. Thank you, Geeky Swedes, for this update. I think the new system will help bring out a greater variety of responses that better reflects the spectrum of this neighborhood.

  8. Thank you, Geeky Swedes. I appreciated the openess, but when a troll (or otherwise normal people exhibiting troll-like behavior) began their goading, it was very hard not to respond in kind. Which was awful, since this is such a great blog.

  9. This is, hands down, my favorite source for local news. I think the tireless work that must go in to keeping the latest news always updated deserves to be treated with respect. I think any attempt you take towards keeping unnecessarily negative or meaningless comments from clogging this forum are welcome!

    Keep up the great work and thank you for the amazing service to our neighborhood.

  10. I agree, LRF, it is “drive-by ranting” that bothers me.

    The driving analogy can be taken further – when people can't see each other's faces, they sometimes treat other posters, and other drivers, as though they aren't real people. People they might meet in their neighborhood.

    Drive nice, post nice. We are your neighbors. We're the ones you want to watch out for you! We're going to call 911 when your house is on fire!

  11. I just started commenting on this site a few days ago and it didn't take me long to see the comments were on the ugly side a lot of the time. So, thank you for making MyBallard a more pleasant place to be. I know my neighbors have it in them to be polite.

  12. Thanks guys seriously, for continuing to improve MyBallard, it's priceless. I'll do my best to bring my best to the forum.
    However, I do find it harder to read through now, but perhaps it's just an adjustment thing.
    Also, the comment numbers aren't there, so, 'post # 31' in a thread won't be as easy to find…
    I'm also hopeful that the system won't be abused by a few, but I trust that if it is, you'll remedy the situation.
    Thank you.

  13. It's usually a bad sign when you see people commenting more than 3 times on one thread. It's especially a bad sign if you see 3 comments in a row from the same person.

    Huffingtonpost has threading in their comments which allows for 'mini forums' to develop within the comments. It allows for important discussion in a way that doesn't distract from the breadth of knowledge that readers add through their thoughtful postings. Also, it allows for the appropriate 'spanking' of attention seeking folks by other commenters in a more direct way. Without threading then it's a bunch of people shouting in a room (even if it's civil discourse) and it's harder to acknowledge each other's contributions.

    I think the neighborhood blogs need to partner with the PI so that we can subscribe to local blog/journalism media. Maybe then there will be the funds to pay for the sexier threading comment feature. :-)

  14. Thanks Geeky Swedes, This is great news! I am always impressed by how hard you guys work and how responsive you are to feedback and news alike!

  15. Geeky Swedes,
    Thank you so much for the change. Over the last few weeks I'd given up reading any comments on myballard. I felt badly for you that your hard work over the last year was being trashed and that a great local resource had been co-opted. Give some people the opportunity to be anonymous and the level of intelligence drops like a stone. I don't know if it was just one or two people or if they were even local. But I can say for certain, that I really didn't want to be some of those folks' neighbors.

    You have made me very happy. The sun is out. It's a weekend. Civility may have returned to myballard. Can it get better?

  16. Thank you so much for solving (apparently it's working) the nasty comments problem! Every time I tried to read the comments to a story, I became so disillusioned with humanity that I vowed never to read them again. It made me very sad. Thank you, thank you.

  17. That is the problem with blogs: the type of people who frequent them and comment feel empowered as they are able to be instantly published and heard. I don't think the comments on blogs are representative of the Ballard community in general.

    Also, looking at the blog entries for the new pets stores, I have seen NO mention of all the fine pet stores that have been here for over 10 years. I am hesitant to mention the name of the pet store my wife and I have frequented as I'm afraid they could be flamed on this site by half the members here and praised by the other half– you can do 100 things right and no on notices, but do one thing wrong and people never forget you.

    With that said, great job on Ballard and other city blogs!

  18. thanks so so much Geeky Swedes! It is such an awesome website and it was sinking fast! tahnks for all of your hard work to keep us neighbors “connected”. As always, I totally support this improvement and hope it helps it stay alot more positive & upbeat!

    Enjoy this sunshine….what a day!!

  19. I LOVE your reporting here on My Ballard!! I've lived in this area for about 15 years, and I love the neighborhood and all of my neighbors. Then lately, after reading the comments here, i realized that I may not have the great neighbors that I thought I had….

    I really appreciate your work on this blog and thank you.

  20. I think the comments deteriorate when the subject is crime or homelessness. This brings out the heated discussions and, in my opinion, raises the paranoia to a destructive level.

    On that note, I think one of the problems with this site is your reporting is TOO good. With a real-time account of the local 911 blotter, some readers are convinced that society is coming unglued when that is not necessarily the case. We have unprecedented access to Ballard crime news, so perhaps it just seems like crime is way up because we now hear about every call to the police or fire departments.

    My suggestion is to pare back the crime reporting just a bit. Perhaps a weekly summary? Unless there is important information to be disseminated, such as a missing person, we really don't need to know about it instantly. I, for one, would rather hear about neighborhood events and new restaurants opening up. With a weekly update, you could do more reporting on the newsworthy items, and skip the ones that end up being nothing (such as the non-story about the lady riding her bike into the bushes).

  21. Sounds and looks great….now if only i can figure out how to sucessfully upload my icon. ….never mind that last part….it's a done deal.

    Thanks too all who make this a great site!

  22. Interesting point–that perhaps our awareness has changed more than the reality has. My sense is that that's at least part of the problem.

    For me, the daily crime updates are like an addiction, and I hate myself for clicking through. I'm delighted to read of the new comments policy and am grateful for any help that gives me in not feeding my beast.

  23. I hope this will encourage people to think of “My Ballard” more as “Our Ballard”. As members of a community, we all have a stake in each other's well-being. The Geeky Swedes have made wonderful use of technology to bring us information on a very local, timely, useful and human scale. People used to sit on their front porches and chat with passing neighbors…now we use computers for the same purpose, but there's no reason to abandon the civility and mutual respect of a face-to-face conversation. Thank you, Geeky Swedes, and everyone who constructively participates in My Ballard with dignity, respect and humor.

  24. Agreed, and I apologize for spitting on my neighbors, even if they started it. I would never dream of doing such a thing over my fence, so point taken, again.
    It's hard to measure my passion for this community, and the best way to protect it, unless civility is the rule. I think the swedes are patient geniuses, and I'll try to hold that standard, tho, I'm an impatient dumb-ass ;-)

  25. I like the new system, only problem is my username was already taken on disqus!

    Oh well time for a new identity…

    Hey! I like the edit option too.

  26. Thanks for being active in trying to keep the comments section useful. I like the 'Best Rating' display option, now if only everyone would correctly hit the reply button for comments they are responding to or correctly add a new comment instead of accidentally replying to a previous comment. I kind of feel like there should be a Dislike option as there will sometimes be a comment on top that I don't find helpful or productive to the conversation and Reporting it seems a little to extreme. Ah well, I understand that there is no perfect system. Keep up the good work.

  27. I thought that too as well. Then one day I was SO happy to see a fun story about a racoon, and I thought that it would definitely be safe to click on comments on that innocient story. But i was sorely disappointed, somehow people found a way to take offense, attack and insult each other even there. After that, i was happy to just read the articles, with no comment clicking.

    For myself, it is very true that I am now more informed of crime in my area. Which has prompted me to take few precautions that i find helpful.

    Thanks again for excellent reporting!

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