Let’s talk about … the comment section and if it currently serves any purpose

Composite stock image, St. George News

OPINION — Before I entered the world of journalism, I taught high school language arts. One of my goals was to get kids to understand how common themes play out in literature, even as far back as Shakespeare, and to find ways students could relate to those themes in their everyday lives.

One of my favorite books to teach was John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” Through a plot that masterfully shows three full character arcs in only about 100 pages, the story provides great opportunities to discuss issues still very present today: the treatment of women, black people and the disabled.

These are hot button topics, but I wanted the students to be able to talk about them, to discuss their experiences and opinions in a productive forum. And how did I go about this? The first two rules in my classroom were simple: 1- Believe in yourself, your opinions and your convictions, and 2- Respect others, their opinions and their convictions.

So why do I bring this up? Well, I’ve been meaning to write this editorial for a few weeks. I had several different ways I was considering starting it, from “Don’t make me pull this car over” to “This is not your playground, and I don’t have time to be your babysitter.”

When I realized the common theme all involved children, I was taken back to my teaching years, but I dare say my students had more respect for each other than I see in the comments of St. George News. I’ll go further and say I’ve seen some comments that sound more like middle schoolers penned them.

The behavior demonstrated has been enough of an issue over the past couple months to incite more than a few discussions among our editorial board, with options being proposed from doing absolutely nothing to shutting down the comments section entirely, something that has happened at some pretty big media outlets.

But before I did something so extreme, I wanted to bring the issue to our readers, to talk about it with you and see what you think.

When I heard that some media outlets were shutting down their forums, I did a little research to try to find out the reactions, because honestly, while I don’t want to shut down ours, the amount of time we spend trying to moderate comments, to decide if a particular turn of phrase crosses the line, could be better spent doing other things … like bringing you the news.

But again, the journalist in me railed against the idea. This is “free speech” after all, right? So I started digging.

An article in Breitbart called it “The Left’s War on Comments” and said it was the result of left-leaning media outlets trying to shut down commenters who would dare to disagree with what their journalists have written. That would stand to reason given their use of The Verge and Daily Beast as examples.

However, they lost a little bit of traction with me when they equated columnists with journalists. At St. George News, we are very clear to label our columnists’ pieces with “OPINION,” and we are pleased to offer commentary from a more conservative writer (“Right On”), a more liberal writer (“On the EDge”) and a libertarian (“Perspectives”), as well as a broad spectrum of letters to the editor.

So it’s not the political lean of commenters rallying against our content that bothers me. Depending on which columnist is writing, we always get someone who is unhappy with the content.

And it’s not our practice to block a reader for their political opinions. Just as an example, over the weekend we ran an article on Mitt Romney, and let me tell you, readers took to the comments on that one, with probably 90 percent of them being conservative Republican.

So this is not my war against the comments section. My first responsibility is to my readers.

But it’s a responsibility to all our readers, and while the topic of comments at St. George News has been more prevalent the past couple months, it has been an issue for much longer. Over the years, we have tried various approaches to let our readers have their say, regardless of opinion.

For a while, we tried letting pretty much everything through, provided there was no obscenity or blatant hate speech. This was, after all, supposed to be a forum for discussion of the articles. Doing anything else would certainly stifle discourse.

This concern was shared by readers of The Atlantic when they chose to shut down their comments section, citing commenters who “traffic in snark and ad hominem attacks and even racism, misogyny, homophobia, and anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish invective” and opting to put more emphasis instead on letters submitted by readers.

However, one reader said the shift to letters wasn’t as productive to discourse. Jim Hronek wrote:

One cannot have the same sort of think-on-your feet, conversational interactions via a curated letters section that one can have in a comments section exchange. … I visit your website every day, read numerous articles, and comment in what I consider to be a thoughtful fashion. I have changed a few minds on a few matters here. I have had my mind changed as well. … Make no mistake: Your actions will quash the opportunity for genuine debate and education for numerous people.

Well, that’s hard to argue with. But while I have seen some good discussion on our articles, let’s take a look at some of the types of comments we see on a daily basis.

Take your liberal progressive stupidity and go sit in the corner with your coloring book! I say more relevant things in a day than you will in your lifetime. It’s better than throwing immature tantrums like you do! Waah waaah waaah! Get back in the corner. You lose again.

As long as your precious orange Dotard isn’t winning, I’m good.

All I see in this article are a bunch of low IQ losers. Anti Trump and Obama T shirts? Haha! That really shows the lack of intellect in this group of so called protesters. Usually these freak shows consist of young brainwashed college aged neo Marxist progressives…. where did they find these old losers from?

Looks like I touched a few nerves. Getting trolled by the usual suspects is a badge of honor around here. You knuckledraggers ought to get together and go bowling.

Typical libtard.

You are hands down the biggest moron commenting on this site.

Oh yes, thank you. Now I agree with all of your points. That’s some good discourse there. You’ve definitely changed my mind.

Oh wait, no you didn’t. And in fact, speaking as someone who’s never been in a fight in his life, now I just want to punch you in the nose. And that illustrates the problem. It’s not about the politics, nor about the shutting down of discourse. It’s the tone. And when it comes to the tone, I believe the root of the problem is the nature of online comment forums: anonymity.

Back when the Spectrum was only a newspaper, it had a section called “The Vent,” where readers could send short comments – usually complaints but occasionally compliments – and as opposed to previous letters to the editor, submitters could remain anonymous.

People either loved The Vent or hated it.

I hated it.

Coming up with solutions is much harder than complaining. And complaining – or even outright insulting – is much easier when you’re anonymous.

When I taught language arts, I allowed students to disagree with each other and even with me. Hell, I encouraged it – it’s that whole discourse thing – but they had to look each other in the eyes when they did it. And when I made them practice that level of genuine communication – when you know someone’s name and you know they disagree with you but you are still trying to find common ground and convince them – I’d like to think I provided an environment where, indeed, minds were changed in some cases, and some convictions were strengthened in others.

But it was done with respect, both for others and for themselves and the faces they show to the world.

It’s one of the few redeeming aspects about the modern “face” of Facebook. People routinely say things I disagree with on Facebook, sometimes things that make me outright angry, but they sign their name to it. I can respect that.

I know there can be a level of anonymity on Facebook, and I also know there is some straight-up insulting that happens, but unfortunately, there’s just no changing some people, and it’s not nearly as bad as when you give someone the ability to hide behind a screen name with no picture or contact information.

I’ve used politics as a point of reference, but there are other areas where general civility is lacking in the comments section – much like my classroom discussions, these comments come up on articles dealing with women, race, people with disabilities and the LGBT community.

And given the results of Tuesday’s elections, I don’t necessarily believe we are yet on the cusp of the coming together of our country, which means the level of online discourse is probably not going to improve anytime soon.

So we have some choices.

At the end of “Of Mice and Men,” the main character has to kill more than just the friend he has been tasked with caring for; he has to kill his dream of something better.

As I said, I don’t want to shut down the comments section entirely. While I don’t think any minds are being changed, I think there is some decent, civil conversation happening. But if you can take your comments to Facebook just as easily – and more transparently – and if most of the rest of you tell me you don’t read the comments anyway or generally find them off-putting and that you wouldn’t comment even if you wanted to because of the anonymous trolls, that’s important to know.

If St. George News can spend less time moderating the comments section on behalf of the 10 readers who use it regularly, some of whom also regularly push the limits to see what we’ll allow and not allow, and spend more time producing news, that’s what we’ll do.

So now let’s hear from you. I’d prefer your comments here, but you can also email me. Or comment on the Facebook post of this article. I’ll check, I promise.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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53 Comments

  • Yvonne November 7, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    I personally think that the comment section is important. I, too, hate the name calling and throwing insults. Making people give their first and last name might help?

  • ladybugavenger November 7, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    It serves no purpose. Just a bunch of people getting to mouth off about random points, opinions, and nonsense with the occasional funny trolls that bring flavor and an occasional laugh to a dull story.

    I doubt one person has changed their point of view based on a b&f comment. If there has been a change of heart by anyone from a long winded, get your facts straight comment from b&f please fill his ego and praise him.

    That will determine if the comments section serves a purpose 😉

  • James November 7, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Sure, sure… some people on here can only argue with insults. I don’t think anybody pays them much–if any–attention, and I think it is a poor excuse for disallowing commenting in general. It’s the typical, “Some people are morons, so everybody gets punished,” BS that drives me crazy.

    I think that the ability to leave comments isn’t just about changing minds or giving anonymous people an avenue to vent. Sometimes, people just feel more comfortable knowing that the author of a news story isn’t hiding behind a wall that doesn’t allow commenting. On other sites, I get suspicious of an author’s authenticity when they can say anything they want in a story–especially editorials–without any opportunity for somebody to agree or disagree. It says, “I have something to say, but I don’t have the guts to listen to anybody else.” It’s the path of cowards. It’s why I can’t stand watching people like Hannity or Bill Maher. They don’t listen to other opinions, they only shout them down and resort to “it’s my show, I’ll ask the questions around here.” In the long run, it will hurt your credibility and the faith people have in the media.

    I mean, this is the INTERNET, for crying out loud. One of its primary purposes is for people to whine and complain. If you aren’t going to allow that, then what are you doing here? You might as well go back to print and having kids sell your newspapers on busy street corners. What’s that? It’s not a good business model? Well, neither is shutting down your reader’s voices.

    My two cents.

    • bikeandfish November 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Your first couple paragraphs make me reconsider my stance. Having a place to challenge authors doea have value, even if its just the opportunity and not used by most.

      I wonder if an option is to shut down comments on everything but opionion section? I’ve always found it somewhat odd to have comments on an average news story so I try and focus on the opinion section which seems fair game given they are trying to persuade readers.

      Don’t envy the staff either way.

  • ladybugavenger November 7, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    To add to my comment above, here is my truth:
    If you did not allow me to comment, I would not have a purpose to read the articles. I have moved to another state but they do not have a local news paper, like this, with this kind of forum and interaction. It’s a special piece of journalism y’all have for your community. A part of my heart is in St George. I love that place! I love StGeorge News!

  • bikeandfish November 7, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I don’t have any social media accounts so I’ll post here.

    Experimenting with site moderation is a tireless and thankless job. Having done it before I can honestly say there is not a clean, good answer to maintain the mission of a site. I just haven’t seen one. Heavy moderation ultimately leads to the slow bleeding of comments that rightfully challenge us all to rethink our own ideas. No moderation creates an environment of some of the harshest sites on the internet and an exodus of thoughtful readers/commentors. The middle route is awkward, subjective and just too tiring.

    At the end of the day I would think closing comments makes most sense from a traditional business perspective as an online newspaper. When I first visited here a year and a half ago I was astounded at some of the comments. Its gotten better, which I qualify as having fewer outright racist, misogynistic and intentionally hateful comments. But it does come at a cost. While there are fewer outright eggregious users I imagine management is plagued wondering if the comments serve any beneficial purpose.

    I will say when I view other region’s newspapers visiting the comments sections ultimately reflects on the place and people itself. I don’t believe I’m alone in that and worry about how comments here reflect on Southern Utah. Its one of the reasons I first started commenting, to push back against the most eggregious comments, but over time I’ve pushed limits and reacted in ways I would have preferred not to.

    If you do keep the comments I would recommend a different platform. WordPress is limiting for users and administration.

    Best of luck. Its not an easy decision. I can say there won’t be any hard feeling or concerns from most people I know. No right and wrong. (And I think the free speech argument by those on the right in media is misplaced and ahistorical).

  • PiousInquisitor November 7, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    One of the main reasons I come to this site is for the comments. I like seeing others options even if they are retarded.

    • zd November 7, 2018 at 8:54 pm

      I second @PiousInquisitor. The reason I choose this site over the many others is because I want to see opinion of other readers. I also can’t lie, sometimes the banter is entertaining as well.

  • AnotherReader November 7, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I agree with this editorial. I do leave the occasional comment, but I could certainly survive if it were not an option. It is not my right to have a space on StGeorgeNews for my personal rant. I have a right to say what I want, but I can choose to have my own site to do that. I do find the trolls and vicious comments a little over the top. Off topic, off color, and off base much of the time. Not sure I’d want to be the Moderator either. Tough to decide I would guess. There are plenty of mild and informative comments that are shared, and a few with significant additional information about the story itself. But honestly, most are simply taunts and jabs with a whole lot of hate and anger behind them. I will say that what you see on this site, however, pales by comparison to the comments on nearly every Foxnews.com story. Absolutely vile comments there!!!! And for what real purpose is the comment board made available? My two cents, get rid of it.

  • Walter1 November 7, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    My wife and I really do enjoy the comment board here on St. George News. It is very valuable in helping to promote free speech and to quell the political correctness so prevalent in Southwest Utah. Please continue this valuable source of discussion if at all possible. It would be sad if it were to be discontinued. Thank you for your honesty and effort. We appreciate you!

  • tcrider November 7, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    If we don’t have a comment section, this news source would be very similar to the way
    the pospotus is trying to destroy the democracy of our country, Its only a matter of time
    before the pos president is made accountable.

    • ladybugavenger November 7, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      I dont watch the news or read about politics. So I ask, when you say,

      ” Its only a matter of time before the pos president is made accountable.”

      Accountable for what?

    • AnotherReader November 7, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      @tcrider, you just proved the point as to why the comments section should go away. Too bad. Who says that StGeorgeNews needs to provide us with a soapbox to spout off whatever and whenever we want?? Sadly, we have Twitter to do that. StGeorgeNews shares news, it is not a townhall meeting.

    • bikeandfish November 7, 2018 at 6:39 pm

      Too far. Way too far. Not sure how you connected Trump’s behavior to the editor’s question as the comment wasn’t very coherent.

      • tcrider November 7, 2018 at 7:23 pm

        the comment is a example of our countries leadership
        and what it means to only have one sided communication, (for example, not having a comments option)
        just like the pospotus news conference this afternoon.
        sorry if you thought it went too far.

        • bikeandfish November 7, 2018 at 7:59 pm

          Your comparison isn’t logical; the comments section of a private news/media organization doesn’t compute with the communication of a public servant. And its not fully one-sided as they accept op-eds and citizen letters to the editor. The comments section is a relatively new invention and newspapers did just fine without them before the internet.

          Not to mention critiquing a president is different than just insulting them (POS).

  • jpff November 7, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Sadly, the comments made by people anonymously can often be vile and mean. The other local newspaper finally got rid of that section due to the harshness of comments; however, they continued to allow people to write opinions as long as they identified themselves, and the newspaper calls them back to verify they are who they say.
    That might create some extra work, but people would be more careful about what they say if they were not hiding behind the wall and could be recognized.
    We have opinions, and expressing them responsibly is a good thing. I hope we can have that in this forum.

  • stevenxfiles November 7, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    I love the comments section! Sure there are a few trolls who are obviously trying to get a reaction and start fights (and I see the same ones repeatedly) but often times people can come up with genuine insights that make one pause and reflect. Different perspectives are good as this is the very definition of diversity!

    I would print some ground rules. “Polite discussion encouraged. Obvious trolls, personal attacks, vulgarity will not be published.” Repeat offenders permanently blocked. I bet a quick keyword search for certain trigger words would make spotting red flags easier. Peace!

  • Carpe Diem November 7, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Stop the comments and it would stop half the readers from coming by, Often the comments include important info and updates by locals. In this and other news sites I have seen family and friends chip in with updates and their versions which often clear things up or perhaps add more mystery.

    The ad hominems are little road bumps by small minded people who have no argument and thus easy to ignore. The sltrib and dizzy news have issues. Dizzy booted me for perhaps making an LDS joke that wasn’t flattering. Their comments are typically 3-10 while the Trib in that time frame was clocking 100-200 per article.

    Then sltrib put up a pay wall, but earlier shadow banned me for arguing with the local camper-outers (I think employees) and now changed the online comment format from Disqus. Comments have TANKED as I am sure their readership has. This under the new owner, Huntsman.

    The comment system the Trib now uses a system that can be monetized as well so there’s that to consider. Thanks for the site, I’ve enjoyed it.

    JMHO

  • friedmoderate November 7, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I like being able to read comments. People often have good anecdotes about the stories. At the same time, it can be frustrating as hell sometimes when people get belligerent. But I think it’s still worth it.

  • DRT November 7, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    I would hate to see the comments section abandon. I know there are some idiotic posts here, shoot I’m sure I’ve been responsible for my share. But I’ve also been responsible for calling attention to articles that needed to be followed up on, or have had pertinent information left out.

  • Comment November 7, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Well, the comments on the stgnews site are a pleasure to read compared to the hoards of crap and trollage that people post on the stgnews FB page. I very very rarely look at the FB page.

    If the comment section goes I feel like so should any kind of opinion pieces: letters to the editor, Kociela, Hyde, and Howard, all of it that can be considered opinion.

    It is mostly useless what people post in these comments. There’s a lot of childish back and forth and name calling. On and on and on I read how “the libruls dunnit!”, and there is at least one troll who uses multiple sock puppets. He’s basically a trumper troll trying to get a rise out of “libruls”. He should be fairly easy to catch unless he’s switching IPs every time he logs in with a different name.

    And very rarely someone that has actual real info on a story will chime in, like someone above mentioned. I’d say it’s extremely rare mostly.

    I don’t envy anyone that has the job of sifting thru these and moderating them. Perhaps unpaid college interns could be assigned the job. But would they do a good job?

    Disqus is a system that I personally hate. I guess it’s better than nothing, or FB?

    The question is whether the comment section attracts enough readers in its own right to make stgnews money? Or perhaps does it offend enough people that it loses it money? who knows.

    Overall, I see so many useless comments with sort of the same theme and repetitive tone (and I suppose it is by about the same 10 people 90% of the time) that if this were my publication I might go ahead and ax it–let the garbage pile up on FB if people are so desperate to post some (likely useless) commentary. But, like I say, if the comment section goes I feel like ALL the opinion pieces should go along with it.

    The publication would def have a very different feel to it w/o this section. Whether it’s a smart business decision, I have no idea. If the staff is just fed up and disgusted with moderating it, well, maybe it’s time for a change? But could it really be any more tedious than posting an endless series of fender bender stories? I almost feel like there’s enough of those to warrant their own section. Put it right above the sports, or maybe just wrap them into the sports section?

    • Comment November 7, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      Oh, and the comment section is fun. Sometimes it’s the only reason to open a lot of articles. News in its own right is not very fun. When you can post your own take on it it can be made fun.

      Just to add, I don’t know what % of comments here are disapproved, but it’s amazing to me that people posting under their real names on the FB site manage to be far more trollish and simple minded than people posting under aliases on this site. If I truly wanted to read 4th grade-level commentary I’d head on over to the FB page. It’s just a mess. Do you guys moderate the FB page?

      • KR567 November 7, 2018 at 10:53 pm

        A follow up on comment….posting useless comments as the ones you always post with your hatred towards people because of their religious beliefs ? and all the uncalled for name calling you do and making ignorant comments about people because their point of view is diffrent from yours

        • Real Life November 8, 2018 at 12:24 pm

          Remember that time that this 👆 guy posted something relevant to the actual conversation at hand? Yeah, me neither.

        • Comment November 8, 2018 at 2:11 pm

          Ignorant and useless comments, you say? Does the pot call the kettle black? Kr567 huh? What happened to “striker”? hahahahah

  • utahdiablo November 7, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Awe Hell, just do the Facebook & Twitter deal as to comments…remove the ones you do not agree with or which work for your agenda…so much for free speech huh folks?

  • Redbud November 7, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I think the comment section is fun. I think it should stay because the comment section is already placed at the very bottom of each article, and those not interested in either reading the comments or posting can simply choose not to scroll down that far. That’s probably what most of them already do. I can think of one article that I made a controversial comment on, and I was glad I was able to. It was some article hating and stereotyping men, and I did not agree with it so I made a comment about it. I know I did not change anyone’s mind, nor do I expect to. But I still appreciated having the ability to comment. I think it’s also important to have comments because it helps us exercise our right to free speach. Also, I think people choose to get offended and interpret people’s comments and twist them around. For example, if I make a comment in an article called “Build That Wall!”, someone could respond that I am being racist, or perhaps just think that I am being racist. The truth is, that is not a racist comment because I truly belive we should have a border wall, and it does not matter what nationality or color of skin, or background, I truly believe immigrants need to follow the legal process to enter our country. If they already did this, there would be no need for a wall. I am not going to try and convince someone who disagrees with me to share my opinion, indeed they are more than welcome to respond in kind with their disagreement. I do admit my tone has been a bit harsh with some comments, so I will try to tone it down a bit, but I will still try to express my opinion.

    • Comment November 8, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      It really isn’t so much about the comments than it is about the stgnews staff is tired of having to moderate them. It’s not a job I envy.

  • Henry November 7, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve commented a few times… try not to be offensive. Some people use this forum as a way to say all the mean things they think… and those things should stay in their heads. I do like being anonymous because I don’t appreciate the thought of someone tracking me down IRL simply because they disagree with me. I appreciate thoughtful, relevant posts – even if I disagree with the content. Most of the people commenting are my neighbors, and I believe in free speech. But the name calling & personal attacks aren’t appropriate… there are many liberal or conservative forums where readers are able to post the nasty things they think (but don’t say in public), no need to do it here. I like expressing my opinion- and, in some cases, providing info I know about. I’m assuming we’re all adults here, and hopefully we can rise above the vitriol and hatred that seems to permeate the national discourse. IMHO, Leave the comments; drop those writers who viciously & personally attack anyone with whom they disagree. This isn’t the Vent;. There are a plethora of sites they can go to for that.

  • Kilroywashere November 7, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    I will be honest and straight up. I think the comments section is the goose that lays the golden eggs. When the “vent” section was removed from the Spectrum which used to be delivered to my house, I lost interest. I have no social media presence nor want to be on Facebook or Twitter. However some of the things I read in the old Vent section helped me assimilate and understand the community at large and feel I was not alone. Sounds cliche, but the comments section in the st George news does a public service. Basically if one is offended then you dont have to scroll down and read them. What’s the big deal. Yes, there is some low end stuff, but also some hilarious things too, and even insightful mind expanding highly educational remarks. So why kill the golden goose? Why be afraid? Racist comments more often then not get called out by other commenters like myself. To be honest, without the comment section the St George news will no longer be iconic, and if that is what you want, then I wish you all the best. For me to see the feedback of other readers creates another dimension of information and gives me a bearing on our local community . I will say one thing, I am sure the LDS Church would love to see the comment section disappear from the SG News as well as some local politicians. With that being said, in my opinion if you remove the comment section you are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Good luck. I am a newsphile so would hate to see it change. I really do get a lot of info, and damn, where else can you stand up and defend the desert tortoises.

    • Kilroywashere November 7, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      One more thing. I travel the world. I do not want my name to come up on Google everytime I make a comment. It could pose a danger for me. In the past in the SG News I have not been always anonymous and at times have cited sources in my comments that identify me through other references – i.e. letters to the editor etc. . But to avoid that issue, you simply could allow a reader to look up a username to say their actual name in a secondary database with a profile. Will that help alleviate issues, I dont know. I still think the anonymous approach is best and elucidates open expression.

  • Redbud November 7, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    I know I’ve already commented, but I have one more idea. I think on the Salt Lake Trib news website, or perhaps it’s another I’m thinking about, the system will automatically hide individual offensive comments, and if someone wants to look at them bad enough, they can click “unhide”, and it will let them see the comment or the reply. This also promotes people writing more appropriate comments because they already know before they post, that their offensive comment will be hidden unless they keep their comment clean enough, and hardly no one will read or reply to it.

    • Carpe Diem November 8, 2018 at 8:31 am

      The sltrib had their site unlocked the past two days for the election. This morning, the paywall is up again. While it was open, I was shocked at the lack of posters… They still post live without pre-moderating, but it used to be that on most topics, any comment you made would quickly get a thumb or comment back, depending of course on the content of your post. You can see this on Breitbart for instance, if you jump into trending articles there will be 1,2 sometimes more replies popping up at once on some posts. Moderators wade in later to delete offensive stuff fake $$ ads. The new sltrib system is weird in that it has 5 choices to choose to mark a post, and anyone can flag you. One guy got flagged for saying “Mormon’s heads are going to explode now that Prop 2 passed” ha ha.

      Anyways, I do prefer a live chat and also at least a like button. This system is slower. You have to refresh to see if other posts have come up. :/

      An increase of comment section use would translate to an increase of readership, obviously. Why is Zuck a gazillionaire.

  • darkgoddess November 8, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Seriously, I’m only here to read the comments. LOL

  • dodgers November 8, 2018 at 6:05 am

    If the Comments section is taken away, I’d no longer read the stories or Opinions. I think we’re all big boys and girls, and can deal with any abrasive comments. Most important is Free Speech.

  • Pa Triot November 8, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for asking this question, Paul. In my opinion, the comments section can be very insightful and enlightening. Even when someone states an opinion contrary to my personal belief(s)…….if done respectfully……it gives me food for thought and reflection which is a good thing. However as you mentioned above, respect needs to be in the mix to keep things from going sideways. In an age where one can “hide” behind a keyboard, respect is tossed to the corner more times than not which is quite sad. But it’s not surprising that in a world where fingers can do the talking, people are more likely to say things they’d think twice about in a face to face conversation. Then there are the handful of folks who comment regularly, which in my opinion is a whole ‘nother story. I have the utmost respect for those who moderate these online forums. It can’t be easy. However, I hope that the comments are allowed to continue as I do get something out of them.

  • Real Life November 8, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Been commenting under the same name now for 7 years on this site, and plan on going for another 7 at least. The comment section is an important part of this news outlet, it gives readers a chance to voice their opinions on news events and opinion pieces. While I certainly disagree with many of the familiar commenters here, and sometimes passionately, I can respect the fact that they do not feel the same way as me. The only ones that I have no respect for are the “trolls”, who pollute most media outlets offering nothing to the dialogue.

  • commonsense November 8, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Anonymous comments allows expression without fear of reprisal. Read the content and form an opinion. Don’t judge information based on source but rather on merit. The fake media is so tainted by commercial demands to appease its audience that I find it of little value. CNN has fallen to 14th place among cable outlets because they present a product that appeals to one segment only and allows no opportunity for differing points of view. I like to hear all sides and make up my mind.

  • No Filter November 8, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Freedom of speech does not apply to STGnews, they are a private business and can suppress whatever speech they choose. The first amendment only protects us from the government trying to stop our freedom to speak out, not private citizens or businesses. That being said I believe you will lose many of the readers if you remove the comment section. Much like others I only read the articles for the comment section. It would be bad business to remove it, but you run it how you see fit.

  • CHJ November 8, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I believe that the comments section is important, however, I would recommend that your standards for excluding comments, i.e., swearing, should be expanded to state that comments that attack others will be excluded. It’s fine if people comment and discuss the article or topic but the moment they attack the other person, the comment should be excluded. Yes this requires more monitoring of comments but like debates it keeps things on topic and represents a fair discussion, not personal attacks that generate only hostility.

    • ladybugavenger November 8, 2018 at 10:30 am

      It also would require a definition of “attack” because peoples interpretation is different. What I find as an attack, you may interpret as not being an attack. I have found b&f very hostile, arrogant, and personal attacking at times but others may think he is very smart, well educated and brings a good perspective to the vonversation.. Do you see the troubles with editing?

      • ladybugavenger November 8, 2018 at 10:31 am

        *conversation

  • Red2Blue310 November 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

    America, where everyone talks, nobody listens. 39 comments here. I only read my own. No time for anyone else unless they respond to me. Its useless.

    • Comment November 8, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      I’ve read all of them

  • AnnieMated November 8, 2018 at 9:23 am

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is this:
    I visit this site daily for my news. It’s free, decent and representative of the community it serves. There are 3 types of political persuasions in the columnists; Liberal (On the Edge), Right-wing (Right-on) and Ultra right-wing (Perspectives). This is, in my opinion, an accurate representation of the community in which we live. i consider myself to be more middle ground, leaning left. I agree with some of what Ed writes and some of what is said by Howard and Bryan. I enjoy each of their columns and always learn something from each of them. I also enjoy the advice columns, news -though there are far to many car collisions- and other editorials.
    Judging by the activity in the comments section, I fit in with the majority of users.

    The comments section is a different story.

    I don’t honestly comment very often. I might comment on a particular column or commenter opinion if I find cause and have some time to kill. From what I can tell there are like 5 people who comment on a regular basis. Most of them (3/5 maybe) are trolls who are here to garnish attention and make themselves feel better by putting others down. To me, it’s obvious who they are and they should be banned. They have the right to say what they think but that doesn’t mean you have to repeat it or allow it to find a home on a site you moderate. Any individual can stand on my front lawn and scream obscenities all day but that doesn’t mean I can’t call the cops and have them escorted off. I’ve been lurking on this site for a few years now and I’ve seen good, insightful civil commenters leave because a few ignorant trolls were permitted to spew their vitriol one to many times. There are only two types of comments here; ones that contribute meaningfully and ones that insult others. Contributions should be permitted, insults should not.

    Rant over. Thanks for reading ♥

    • Comment November 8, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I’m leaning toward the opinion that there are enough car crashes that it warrants its own section. Maybe the fatal ones should get into the “news section”, but there are so many now that it’s just pretty routine in this city. I’m not sure they even really qualify as news unless there are severe injuries. Maybe the city has grown so big at this point that it’s time to stop even bothering to report on crashes with no sever injuries. Reporting crashes w/o severe injuries is kind of a small-townish thing. Cut those out and the staff would have more time to moderate comments, lol.

  • Mike P November 8, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Interesting

  • Kilroywashere November 8, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Comments comments on an article about comments. Where else does that sentence work but the SG News comment section.

  • Lee Saunders November 8, 2018 at 11:21 am

    I’m in favor of continuing the comments feature. I think (hope) most of us are capable of separating the wheat from the chaff. There’s one commentor that always has his/her “ha,ha,ha,ha’s and “wah, wah, wah, wha’s” and “snowflake’s” on one extreme and then there’s a contributor called “bikeandfish” whose comments are well researched, thought out and written, often with references. I do enjoy reading well presented comments as it gives me a flavor of opinions and community discourse on both ends of the political, social and economic spectrum. One good example is the Bundy controversy. Another is the Mueller investigation and its potential ramifications. Another is the impact of the Church on the politics of the state. Another is the marijuana question and so on. I hope the SGNews will continue to present the columnists’ opinions and the opportunity to comment on them.

    • Happy Commenter November 8, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Are you ever misinformed…

  • Cody November 10, 2018 at 3:09 am

    No honestly it doesn’t and neither does opinion pieces. Yet here we are.

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