No one ever likes the kid who stomps his feet and says “I’m taking my ball and going home.”
But somehow newspapers have become that kid, especially when it comes to online comments on their website.
Sure, that may be too simplistic an explanation, but consider this: Newspapers made the decision a while ago set comments loose and when they didn’t turn out the way they like they started threatening to end the whole game.
It’s no secret that online comments on news sites can be a babbling pool of filth, ignorance and bad grammar, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some are considering doing away with comments or drastically changing how they handle them.
In a recent article in the American Journalism Review Rem Rieder argues that it’s long past time to end comments permanently.
The crux of his argument is this: Newspapers don’t have the resources or the time, and comments have proven to be nothing but trouble anyway.
But Rieder and others looking to shut down comments seem to miss one point, which is that comments are lowest impact way for newspapers to offer the community a way to interact with them. And if you shut that off you’re making a conscious decision to walk away from connecting with readers.