The Janesville Gazette’s site, GazetteXtra is trying a new approach to moderating comments, which is a problem many newsrooms are struggling with these days:
Starting today, the Gazette is taking a step that we hope will at least partly address the issue. It won’t solve the problems, but we think it will cut down on the ugliness.
We no longer allow comments on stories that involve crimes, courts, accidents, race or sex.
We and other papers identified those topics as the most troublesome. The comments typically start out OK, but they deteriorate into insults, innuendo or otherwise offensive remarks.
Those of us who monitor conversations on gazettextra have found ourselves consistently removing comments from such discussions and ultimately disabling threads. People simply can’t or won’t behave.
If you’d like to get especially meta, reading the comments — 185 as of this writing — about the comment policy is amusing.