New story commenting platform coming to New Haven Register

16 Mar

The New Haven Register will unveil a new platform for online story comments next week aimed at improving the tenor of conversation on the site by allowing real identities to be used, providing a better user experience for readers and providing staff with better tools to moderate and participate in the discussion.

Readers will still be able to comment anonymously, and without going through a registration process, if they wish, but the new system will also allow you to log in with your Facebook account, your Twitter, Yahoo or Google ID or by registering with the system itself.

We will be maintaining our policy of having staff screen comments before they appear on the site, but plan to reward the most responsible commenters with a “whitelist” status that will allow their comments to go up on the site immediately. To qualify for this, a reader must register with the site or use a verified ID such as Facebook and prove over time that their comments are civil and not in violation of our policies against abusive and hateful language.

The platform we’re using is called “Disqus.” It has been in use at The Register Citizen in Torrington since last summer. In the weeks following its deployment in New Haven, we’ll also be adding it to the Middletown Press and our weeklies in Connecticut.

Some key differences between Disqus and our present story commenting system include:

- The ability to use a verified identity log-in if you choose. We believe that introducing more conversation among people who are using their real names will improve the tenor of conversation among even those who continue to choose to be anonymous.

- The ability to reply to specific comments, and maintain “threaded” conversations. Right now, a story on the Register’s website might have as many as 100 comments. If you want to respond to the fifth comment in that thread, you can, but your response will show up 96 comments later. The new system allows readers to reply to specific comments and carry on a back-and-forth with others. There is also a “Like” button next to each comment, and a setting that moves “most liked” comments to the top of the thread.

- The ability to edit your comment after you’ve posted it. A frequent complaint that we have regarding our present story comment system is that there’s no way to take back something you regret saying, or more often, to correct a typo or grammar error, after you’ve hit submit, other than asking a moderator to take the comment down altogether.

- The ability to register with the new platform and create a profile – either using your own name or a pseudonym – that can be recognized by other readers. Once you establish a track record of responsible commenting, you’ll be eligible for “whitelisting” by moderators so that your comments will appear immediately on the site instead of being reviewed ahead of time by staff.

Registering is easy. This is what you’ll see if you choose “login” and “create new profile.” You can also go to Disqus.com and create a profile right now. And when the new system launches on the New Haven Register’s site next week, just log in with the user name and password that you chose.

Our new system also allows you to log in using your Facebook profile, your Twitter account, or your Google or Yahoo ID. Just click on “post as” and make your choice.

Finally, you can still choose to comment any time, as a one-time thing, by choosing “post as” guest. Like our present system, that allows you to choose a user name and plug in an email address every time you comment.

UPDATE: Our new story commenting platform is scheduled to go live on the New Haven Register website at noon Tuesday, March 20. If you have any problems or questions about it, or if you have any questions in the future about why a story comment was approved or not approved, you can email comments@nhregister.com.

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27 Responses to “New story commenting platform coming to New Haven Register”

  1. Common-Tator March 19, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    And now we’ll see if Kingman Brewster is who he says he is!

    • mattderienzo March 19, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      Actually, we won’t. This change still allows people to comment anonymously, or under colorful pseudonyms such as “Kingman Brewster.”

  2. NorthBranfordHigh March 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Now, can we please get rid of the popups and popovers? That whole Undertone thing is just a bit ridiculous.

    • mattderienzo March 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      How often are you seeing the Undertone ad? (Should be no more than once a day, so please let me know if it’s happening more than that.) We got rid of all other popups and popovers on January 1 of this year, so you shouldn’t be seeing those, either.

      • Jonathan Edger March 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

        I get the undertone and other pop ups constantly – to the point I am ready to give up on the New Haven RegisterWebsite. I hover over something without even clicking the mouse and the screen changes.

      • mattderienzo March 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

        Jonathan, thanks, helps a lot to get specifics like this. I will report it.

  3. Noteworthy March 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Good luck with this. It sounds like it has promise while preserving the best of what the Register currently offers.

  4. CY March 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Matt, Agree with the Undertone, there should be an option out or selected ads
    pertinent to the individual’s concerns.
    Regarding the new format. Great concept, but what gives’ with the
    title of “Whitelist”. Couldn’t be Blacklist, right, or Orangelist?
    How about just a neutral or even better non-relevant color at all?
    Perhaps, Verified, Standard, or Trusted. The color reference,
    particularly could be seen a bit tweaked to a particular constituent
    and “not” embracing of us all. Wouldn’t want you at the Register to repeating another
    faux pas.

    • mattderienzo March 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Thanks. The terms “whitelist” and “blacklist” have no racial history at all.

  5. Thanks CY March 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I posted the same thing but apparently they deleted it. “whitelist” is being used as a positive, while “blacklist” is used as a negative. This paper is hyper sensitive about racism, you should not use this terminology. You canot have it both ways.

    • Common-Tator March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      Matt’s correct here, “Whitelist” and “Blacklist” are common terms in both the computer security and other professional fields.
      *The word “blacklist” originated with a list England’s King Charles II made of fifty-eight judges and court officers who sentenced his father, Charles I, to death in 1649..
      Definition: Whitelist, to place an email address or group of addresses on a to-be-filtered list to keep them spam- and virus-free.

  6. CY March 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Matt,
    The point is “particularly” with the current climate in the immediate area
    and within the state being polarized due to the already known
    but always denied affairs of E. Haven.. I would highly suggest
    to stay away from any reference to any color being more suitable
    that another. Hint Matt. The concept that a “white” whatever can
    be better that a black or yellow or orange whatever is the issue. Be
    a true “Neutral’ media source and represent all of your constituents
    not just the ‘wihtelist’ ones. Just try, Verified and remove all concerns of color
    Matt. You are covering issues in the back yard? Yes
    I think it would be fair to say that most minorities have felt you have
    not covered this as you should have being from your area, not WPix’S.
    And for you to continue the emphasis that one color that being white of anything
    is the basis of the standard or being approved. is the key. The fact you only picked
    up the story after a NY news group had to bring it to our attention goes hand in
    hand in with the Register’s “new” communication pathway. Couldn’t of even
    be neutral in that? Is there any thing wrong with not injected color into being better or not
    and just be a confirmed, verified, approved even but to put whites, tisk, tisk, Matt!

    • mattderienzo March 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      I have no idea what you are trying to say.

  7. Common-Tator March 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    I have not tried to let an undertone ad play all the way thru, maybe that is what you have to do for it to only pop once a day. If you cancel it, the thing will come back and bite you again within 5 minutes usually. I’ve cancelled it out at least 5 times today in one session. I’ll volunteer once to be a guinea pig. I’ll let it play all the way thru and let you know what happens.
    Wish me luck

    • mattderienzo March 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Thanks. My understanding/assumption was that you are served the ad only once, and that letting it play through has nothing to do with it. So your comment is helpful, and I will report that you’re getting it repeatedly. Will try to get this fixed ASAP.

  8. Deyshaun Washington March 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    It’s very simple, White or whitelist has a positive connotation and black or blacklist a negative one.
    Good guys in the movies wear the white hats, bad guys wear black hats, Black Friday, on and on… Pleading ignorance when you have no answer is not an answer.
    It is surprising that you would be insensitive to blacks when this paper does everything it can not to post descriptions or post mughsots of black suspects, while always posting descriptions and mugshots of white suspects.

  9. Neighbor March 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    To placate the posters commenting about the labels “white” and “black” for the lists, the Register can call them “good standing” and “problem.” There, problem solved. Now these posters can move on before it becomes too obvious they have the manners of Internet trolls.

  10. perry moss March 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    some peoples comments will be posted without review?? gee, i wonder what slant their opinions will be.

  11. perry moss March 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    why is my comment awaiting moderation?

  12. CY March 19, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Matt and Common-Tator,
    Simply as I can say, which has been referenced by
    several here. As a Neutral” news media source, I think
    you’re supposed to embrace all of your constituents, however, as
    many have noted. The Register seems too often to lean towards being a biased
    and hypocritical simultaneously along racial lines to say the least.
    Never the less, as that “Neutral” media source. While this state is going through one
    of most memorable or forgettable depending on your position(or race unfortunately)
    The Register deems “A Whtelist” as the correct phrase as to confirm ones’ accountability.
    Are you guys kidding me! It seems your “Sensitivity” to this whole New Haven issue is well in synchronicity to Mayor Maturo’s statement I’m going home to have Tacos.
    Try getting, buying some sensitivity concerns. It’s quite clear you as a Newspaper
    “Still” don’t get it. But that would be a supporting factor that you didn’t even think this issue ever existed.That why our constituents have to watch what’s going in our own neighborhood’s due the fact the Register only writes concerning a positive White position. Never supporting, or questioning why minorities are targeted in a huge disparity to whites in this State. Not of interest or just trying to make the Register seem like it really cared from the start. Hmm, something to consider, I’d say.
    From a journalistic perspective, do you folks on the Editorial staff have a “reasonable” answer why this issue was uncovered by an outside news agency and not The Register being, it was in your back yard? Love to hear that response?
    Was it a “Blacklist” issue that you couldn’t?
    Although your new forum concept is great, the color reference in your new forum should “NEVER” be attached to such an already polarized matter. Sounds familiar, 3 steps forward, 5 steps backwards.
    Being the “on the pulse of our communities”, I’m sure you overlooked this issue. Try working form a neutral and non-inflamatory perspective. I know it’shard with all the years of practice The Register has had.

  13. CY March 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Matt, LOL
    Your disconnected response to such a great idea is sad.
    Any reference to color Matt is inappropriate while the State is going through
    this process. Matt, as a “Neutral” news representative I’m appalled at the insensitivity
    and ignorance of this matter. The effects of mentioning such a phrase IS inflammatory.
    The fact you haven’t realized this, really Hits The Nail on the Coffin. Simply, since
    you don;t get it. You’re not writing to just whites in this community, but minorities who have felt, experienced for years the racism, discrimination, the police abuse and you put out
    the term a “Whitelist” . How insensitive and out of touch you are. You seem to dig more and more into the realm of disgraceful as a neutral News Agency. Any more Racist terminology you’d like to attach to your new platform? And that response for why WPIX uncovered this issue in CT and you did not is what? That would explain everything, I think. But would really love to hear from you and your editors’ response to that respectful questions as one of your constituents.
    Didn’t see an answer on your last response

  14. CY March 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Matt, just a thought. Maybe we should invite WPIX up to ask The Register and
    get some answers to the real questions that have not been asked or even
    referenced by The Register? The story, the follow up, the why this has been
    going on for years and no coverage by the The Register.
    What would that tell you Matt?
    Just a Thought.

  15. T. Sean Maher March 19, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    I THANK YOU – This is something I had been wishing for. I wrote a letter a few months back and I do hope that the letter helped in part for the Register to come to this decision!

  16. Neighbor March 20, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Many times a submission is in response to a trend in comments, it would be impractical to copy a submission as a reply to every comment. For such submissions, holding it for review while posting others will tend to hide the delayed submission, thus hiding its relevance on the board. How will the Register handle this or hasn’t this been thought of?

    Will a commenter be told when and why in a timely manner a submission was not posted?

    Will a note be left when a comment is deleted as abusive or will it be a complete erasure, something a bit insulting when talking about free speech?

    Will the readers be told the expected wait time for a comment to be reviewed?

    By the way, my previous submission was held for review at least 2 hours while 6 later submissions by other people were posted. And one of those was someone asking why their “comment awaiting moderation.”

    Disqus is just a software package, interaction by the Register staff is required. To say “that’s how the package works” is not acceptable, someone had to pick the package.

    • mattderienzo March 20, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      Great questions. I’m actually going to be hosting a live chat about questions like this at noon today (half an hour from now) on nhregister.com.

      If readers provide a valid email address, the goal/expectation of staff is that they email the commenter to tell them if a comment had been denied and why.

      Interaction by staff is key. I absolutely agree with you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Advice for editors: Blog about your newsroom’s transformation | The Buttry Diary - May 24, 2013

    […] Examples would include our decision a year or so ago to drop the words “illegal immigrant,” our decision to publish the tweets of underage students who bullied rape victims, and our internal debate over how to moderate story comments. […]

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