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Editor Column: Tribune comments platform gets a refinement

By Tim Fitzpatrick

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Mar 16 2013 06:12 pm • Last Updated Mar 17 2013 09:39 am

We are changing The Salt Lake Tribune's online comments format again to make it a little more user-friendly for commenters and comment readers. You'll see these changes on Monday, March 18.

At a glance

When?

The updated comments system will be implemented on Monday, March 18.

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Changes to comments always produce groans from our faithful online community, and we really don't do it to bother them. In this case, the outfit that provides our comments platform, Disqus, has changed its format, and we have to change with it. But the change will bring some new tools to help the conversations along.

Love them or hate them, reader comments endure. Last year more than 42,000 separate commenters posted more than 1 million comments on Tribune stories. That is an unmatched level of reader interactivity in Utah news media.

So what will change?

First off, we have a new voting system that allows readers to vote a comment up or down, and those votes will determine what comments are displayed under the story. Up to five comments will display at the bottom of stories, and they will be the "top" comments based on reader voting. It's like the old thumbs up/thumbs down system, but without the thumbs. And the rest of the comments still can be found by clicking on the "Read all comments" link.


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The new voting features give commenters and comment readers more power to self-moderate.

"With voting, the new Disqus encourages richer discussions to form by letting the community surface the best comments," states the Disqus company blog. "By pairing this with a smarter scoring system, Disqus will help maintain quality discussions - but without silencing simply less popular opinions."

To be clear, The Tribune's comment arena is still monitored by Tribune people. These Disqus tools help improve the conversation, but it's still our own people who are making the calls when readers report comments that they feel are breaking our rules on civility and relevance.

The new system will also have "Community" and "My Disqus" tabs to help people track conversations and interact with other commenters.

And, sorry, veterans, the badge system we had for commenters goes away in the new platform.

As always, our comments system will continue to use an approach called "persistent identity." That is, we allow commenters to sign up with a pseudonym rather than requiring real names, but then we make the commenters stay with their pseudonyms for all comments.

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Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
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