Bad decision by local newspaper?

16 replies
There is a local newspaper in Washington State who just shut down there comment section entirely. This is their statement:

We have made the difficult decision to turn off our on-site comment systems.

Over the years, more and more user conversation has migrated to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, and moderating the many discussion channels is an increasingly demanding task.

We have always valued your thoughts and opinions about our reporting and the stories we cover.

We invite you to continue to join us in conversation on our station Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can also interact directly with reporters, anchors and other newsroom staff on those platforms.


I was really surprised because I had just commented on one of their articles the day before. The article had almost 300 comments and the community was engaged with the article.

As a business, knowing that you own your own website, you want to keep your traffic on your site, not push it to another site - in this case Facebook. After all, Facebook owns the newspapers Facebook page, not the newspaper.

Also, in terms of SEO, authority, etc., comments in articles are going to help. Instead, you get rid of them?
#bad #decision #local #newspaper
  • Profile picture of the author David Keith
    strange indeed. newspapers...even online one, are generally monetized with ads. no comments means fewer page views which means less ad dollars.

    doesn't seem to make sense, but then again newspapers are notoriously poorly run businesses.
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    • Profile picture of the author FredJones
      Maybe, there are having a hard time blocking spammers? Maybe, they want to reduce their server / operation costs and stuff / work time (spam elimination and moderation)? Maybe, they hope Facebook will make their user engagement "more visible"?

      There could be a lot of reasons, and while it looks odd at the face but it may not be so poorly thought.

      They will know in some time. Unfortunately, we won't know...
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      • Profile picture of the author SchoolofKA
        Originally Posted by FredJones View Post

        Maybe, there are having a hard time blocking spammers? Maybe, they want to reduce their server / operation costs and stuff / work time (spam elimination and moderation)? Maybe, they hope Facebook will make their user engagement "more visible"?

        There could be a lot of reasons, and while it looks odd at the face but it may not be so poorly thought.

        They will know in some time. Unfortunately, we won't know...
        Maybe...

        But what I do know is I wouldn't want to push that traffic off of my page. It's too valuable to NOT find a solution to keep it on the site.
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  • Profile picture of the author dewayneboyd
    I'm not sure it's a bad idea. All these comment sections are completely full of defamation, racism, etc. Depending on the site, they are also full of spam.

    I go to a site that gets like one million page views a month. But in the comments, there seem to be less than 100 active users. I think comments seem to be vastly overrated.

    I have written articles with over 5000 page views and not a single comment. Lack of comments does not stop someone from coming. For my new site, I am disabling comments. It's a niche where I know I will get mostly link spam. And I don't feel like dealing with it.
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    1,574,810 unique visitors and counting. And that's just one of my websites.

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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I guess their webmaster is clueless that a Facebook comment iframe exist.
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    Hi
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  • Profile picture of the author QueenMelanie
    haha, they could of installed facebook comments on their site.. Or used discus or many others..
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I've known several local papers who have shut down comments over the past year or two. It makes sense as most of them do have a Facebook page if you look for it.

      Comment spam is a big problem and with other social media options, no reason to have a comment section on the news site.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    They just realized, just like other blogs and websites that allow commenting, that a lot of people just spam and bring no value to their articles.
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    • Profile picture of the author lunaBEAM
      Originally Posted by talfighel View Post

      They just realized, just like other blogs and websites that allow commenting, that a lot of people just spam and bring no value to their articles.

      yes and they don't want to deal with that
      leave facebook deal with that
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  • Profile picture of the author Insano
    and also the massive push of user generated content goes to waste... The simple sollution would be to put all comments with a link in it up for moderation... but thats my 2 cent or implement a nofollow tag in comments....
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  • I'm sure the new law next week will make it illegal so maybe they just have inside info that this will be against the law and are just complying faster then the rest since they have the regulators in their back years (just speculating)
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  • Profile picture of the author Woodsusa
    Most likely, they have had to play referee too often when comments got aggressive. The news is meant to be an unbiased platform, and I know some people can get very heated in the comments section of some articles, particularly if they are local news items. I agree, they should have found a way to keep the comments section open, but I can see that too many complaints to the editor and too many hurt feelings could have been the biggest factor in their decision.
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  • Profile picture of the author Slade556
    I think it's a mistake to close the comments section, for any website. First of all, for all the reasons already mentioned. And second, not everyone has a facebook account (I know, weird right? but it's true). Also, not everyone might be comfortable leaving a comment for every single person in their friends list to see...
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Yes John, very interesting indeed.

      Wonder how many ( if not already) will follow suit ?

      Maybe they decided they could have more engagement through FB. I dont know



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  • I have thrown this idea around for my own site. I get so much spam daily, it's become a pain to moderate. That being said, I do want my readers an avenue to voice their opinions.

    Facebook and Discus are viable solutions, however, I don't like the idea of those platforms controlling the keys to my reader's comments. I have yet to discontinue commenting on my site...but I am close.

    -CG
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