This might be controversial, but we believe that reader comments on news stories can have value.
The comments section should be a space to share your personal experiences and perspectives and to help us be better at our jobs — to improve our reporting and point out new stories we haven’t told. It also should be a space free of personal attacks.
But since we launched on-article comments more than a decade ago, we have struggled, like many other publishers, to manage that space. This anecdote that we shared on Twitter recently illustrates that.
Last year, a @bangordailynews reader tweeted that the only reason she wears hunters orange is so that if she gets shot, BDN commenters won't blame her for her own death. That's pretty dark. And it rang our bell. Hard.
— Bangor Daily News (@bangordailynews) February 1, 2019
This year we’re working to improve the comments on our site. We know that we have work to do, and that it’s not as simple as setting new rules.
You can expect to see our reporters and editors in the comments responding to your questions and talking about ideas for new stories based on what you’ve read.
We’re also setting new guidelines for users of our comments section, and we’d like your help. Tell us what you think of them. What should we add? What should be more clear?
You can share your thoughts directly on this Google doc, or respond in the comments on this post. We will be online to answer questions and respond from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22.
After we gather input, we’ll update you on what’s next.