Reader Jim Rowland asks, “What are the factors involved in determining whether comments will be allowed for a story online?” Senior social media editor Melissa Whetstone explains:
We encourage readers to comment on most of the articles we publish to our website it helps further The Globe’s goals of fostering a national debate on events and issues in Canada and around the world.
Comments from readers have helped inform our reporting and provide valuable feedback, both positive and negative. But there are cases when we must close comments:
1) A story involves a Canadian trial, crime or other legal case, and comments could breach a publication ban or reveal information that could put The Globe at risk. In this situation, an editor will close comments as soon as the story is published. Readers will see a message that says “Comments have been disabled. We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. We appreciate your understanding.”
2) A story provokes a high number of comments that are offensive, vulgar, racist and/or libelous. In this case, the value of having comments is outweighed by the harmful nature of the discussion. Readers will then see this message: “Comments have been disabled because of a disproportionate amount of absuive/inflammatory comments. We appreciate your understanding.”
We very rarely close comments for the second reason since we now have the ability to premoderate comments on articles. Premoderation means every comment on the article must be approved by a moderator before appearing on the site. We’ve found that this feature has helped improve the level of conversation around articles that deal with a particularly contentious issue.
For more, check out The Globe’s community guidelines.