Today we launched the Disqus commenting system on GothamSchools. During the last several weeks, the tone of comments on the blog have deteriorated to the point where the editors had to address it directly in a blog post. Elsewhere, there have been heated and inaccurate complaints about people being banned from GothamSchools commenting. As a last resort, the editors considered turning on moderation for every comment before it would appear on the site. Because of the amount of work this would take to keep discussions flowing, this is not a good long-term solution.
Maintaining civility of the community on an active site is something every site manager struggles with, if their site is truly hopping. One site with a particularly interesting commenting system, Gawker, has all users “audition” before they are trusted to post comments publicly. Other sites employ “Abuse” and “Like” buttons to get users to self-moderate comment threads.
Disqus combines some of these technologies in one system and today we have launched it on GothamSchools. Along with the ability to “Like” or “Flag” comments, commenter identities can be linked to the comments from their Facebook or Twitter accounts. This give those commenters more credibility, perhaps, than people who post anonymously. Disqus also allows for threaded comments and aggregates “Reactions” from other sources on the web, like Twitter, to add to the discussion.
The GothamSchools editors have introduced this new system along with a new official policy on comments in the form of three questions: “Is it spam? Is it libelous? Is it off topic?” I guess time will tell on how this latest experiment goes. Keep an eye on that comment thread.