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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.