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YOUR TURN: Do We Need a New Comment Policy?

We've heard a lot of readers call for change in our comment section this past month, and we want your input - what's the best way for us to keep the conversation interesting?

Hey readers – it's your friendly neighborhood news editor.

No no, don't worry, I'm not here to sell you anything. But, I do need your input so we can decide the best way to go forward as an online community.

Over the past month, I've gotten a lot of feedback that our approach to comment moderation just isn't cutting it for some of our readers. While it's always great to see so many passionate contributions to the site, it can impact the quailty of our community's conversation when threads stray wildly off-topic, get needlessly heated, personal and/or worse.

My personal policy, as a guy that likes to get into the trenches myself, has been largely hands-off: I'd get involved if a comment was threatening, promoted bigotry or was otherwise obviously inappropriate (spam, swearing, etc.), but felt the conversation would be best served by letting our readers speak freely and even get a little testy with one another, just as they would with their offline neighbors.

But, there are other approaches available, should we so choose. Some publications, like The (British) Guardian, have a complex system of “community standards and participation guidelines,” which far more stringently regulate readers' comments. 

Moderators there not only delete the sentiments I described above, but further regulate the use of “smear tactics,” reserve “the right to...curtail conversations which descend into flame-wars” and delete comments they deem off-topic.

After hearing the complaints from our readers, I thought enforcing a "community standards" model may be the best way to keep our conversations civil yet engaging. 

Readers: should we develop some Malden Patch Community Standards? Would you like to see more regulation of the comment section? Some regulation? Or do you like it just the way we are? (aw).

If you've read this far, you know what to do: share your thoughts with us and other readers in the comment section below.  

Chris Caesar August 31, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Haha, understood Joe.
Chris Caesar August 31, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Maybe you're right Bruce. Do you think I should remove comments that employ name-calling or insults?
Chris Caesar August 31, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Hey look Paul - it's an opposing opinion of yours. And it's not deleted! I can't believe it! It's so beautiful! Whoooaaa man. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI
Public Servent August 31, 2012 at 01:06 AM
All of this is just so cool. My first comment so I felt it should be positive one. Realy this is great stuff and I find it very informative . I am learning about the city that I was raised in and have worked in public service for 31 Years and hope for a few more God Willing....... Keep it up,,, its working.........
Diana August 31, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I think name-calling and insults should be decided on the basis of whether or not they're hilarious. ;) Seriously though, I've been called some pretty interesting things on this site, and... well, whatever. It's words on a screen, typed by someone with a beer in one hand and their (redacted) in the other. As previously mentioned, I'd draw the line at obscenity or any divulgence of personal information. Other than that, I say in any battle of wits let the best man win.
Dan O'Brien August 31, 2012 at 02:09 AM
It doesn't matter what we want to see on the site, as long as Diana and the IT guy are happy, that's all that matters. This comment section is for people to insult one another, it attracts more readers. Nothing will change.
DannyBoy August 31, 2012 at 02:16 AM
I like the way Patch's current comments policy works, no need to change it. Some people have a hard time dealing with it and get their comments deleted, because they either don't take the time and effort to read and understand the TOS, or they cannot exercise self-control and better judgement, or both. I don't feel sorry for that group.
Diana August 31, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Huh. I had no idea I was so powerful. Why have none of you brought me a pony? I want a pony, darnit! Just out of curiosity, what would you like to see in a perfect world?
Chris Caesar August 31, 2012 at 05:48 AM
:) Glad you like it!
Chris Caesar August 31, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Dan, I didn't stay up until 2am writing an extra article and responding to commenters all day because I didn't give a damn about what people thought. Let's be real, please. I'd be happy to curb the insults on the page but it doesn't seem like there is popular support for it now.
Jim August 31, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Excellent Job Chris. I don't post often but I do appreciate your input here and there on the issues. P.s. I always believe in keeping in open mind as long as my brain doesn't fall out!
Paul Weston August 31, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I do not allow comments for my blogs. for the most part. There are some good comments made to some of the news stories, but there are a small handful of people that never have nothing nice to say.
Shirlee August 31, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I say do what you feel is best for your page. I know I have participated in many groups (Yahoo for example) and there was a code for comments, etc. There will always be the person who takes everything personal and does not know how to correctly express themselves without getting upset, etc. As someone who has returned to live in Malden after a few years, I am so grateful to have this page. It keeps me informed and has reignited my involvement with my new community! :0)
DannyBoy August 31, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Chris, I've had some more time to think about this comment policy, and I believe that there should be less censorship on this site. Some people express some pretty bigoted points of view, and I would rather have those comments be left alone for all to see and respond, instead of having them deleted and get the authors all riled up.
DannyBoy August 31, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Plus, it keeps the conversation free flowing and lively, as users can trace the history, and there's a record of what he said/she said.
The OLD Malden's gone.. August 31, 2012 at 11:00 PM
NO obscenities NO threats..done. Otherwise the MODERATOR will make biased choices, whether the moderator thinks so or not. The moderator is human, humans are biased one way or another. The problem is you have some pompous wordy people debating and egging on "average Joe's" as sport, in which the average Joe's lash out. This some times goes over the top, and "average Joe's" not having the blog savvy get the moderator slap. Bottom line keep it as is. Only moderate when OBSCENITIES and THREATS are made, and in THOSE cases BAN, not just delete.
Dan O'Brien September 02, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Hey IT guy, your an idiot! Bet this will be deleted.
Mr Iamnottheteacher September 02, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Michael. You from Winchester sir?
Mr Iamnottheteacher September 02, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I use to live in that little old town. Very quiet. Nice lake.
DannyBoy September 02, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Chris, please don't delete Dan O'Brien's last comment.
AnnieOMalden September 02, 2012 at 04:40 AM
IT guy: Just wondering...was the deleted post in any way connected to their new town manager, the former Mayor? LOL
Teresa Bello September 02, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Chris, I think you are doing a fine job of making sure the comment section remains civil. Please keep it as is.
Diana September 03, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Hey Dan, have you by any chance come up with some constructive criticism of how the comments section could be improved, or are you just gonna stick with the whining?
Diana September 03, 2012 at 04:27 AM
I've only seen racist posts get the mod slap (and again, because it bears repeating, those violate the TOS). I'm certain that you don't mean to imply that "average Joes" suddenly turn racist when provoked.
Chris Caesar September 03, 2012 at 06:07 AM
I don't delete name-calling, so, it stays.
BIG FISH LIL BROOK September 03, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Why the personal attacks this is supposed to be about discussions. I think the best thing to do is have an ignore button. Ive seen too many attacks on average Joe's because their average working or retired. What makes these people who do this so special. All they are doing is Cyber Bullying the average man or woman. They love to attack but they cant take it when their buttons are pushed. Yes Chris Ignor Button is the way to go.
Joe Gray September 03, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I'm so pleased that average Joes are getting so much press time. Makes me want to weep for joy. "-)
BIG FISH LIL BROOK September 03, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Me Too Joe Im so very happy Thank You your a true gentleman. OOps did I spell everything correctly? Again I say From One Joe to another many thanks.
Claire Murray September 04, 2012 at 11:45 AM
I've seen names on these comments that I seldom see in comments on other articles - which is great. I get tired of the same people devolving into personal attacks on a regular basis on most of the articles I read. if it's a family discussion, Chris, then these are the family members who can't be in the same room with each other without sniping. Limiting the family bickering would be great but requires a lot more work to define. I find myself less and less inclined to read any comments on patch because they so often devolve into personal attacks and name calling. So I'll go along with whatever changes the majority of the family recommends.
BIG FISH LIL BROOK September 04, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I agree Claire I dont need anyone to tell me take my meds, that Im stupid, and more insults Ive recieved. Their was even a threat here to someone that they can look up their police backgrounds and post it. Its allways seems to be the same 3 all the time. The site has become a brain game. But im not whinning Ill give it right back and then some. Like vulchers they sit and pick their pray.

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