I’ll be honest. When I started to write this post, I planned on going in a completely different direction.
I thought I would rant for a while about how The Buffalo News doesn’t get social media because of how difficult it is to post a simple “Great article” comment, let alone a ranting-and-raving comment. However, as I researched the article I originally tried to comment on, I came across another article regarding the comment sections and how they had changed.
Basically, the editor explained people had abused the commenting privileges by posting racist and hateful things. She and the other editors believed this was largely because commenters could act anonymously.
So, to combat this issue, The News decided to eliminate that anonymity. To comment on a story, readers now have to go through a registration process that involves verifying the commenter’s identity through the post office and by phone.
Getting rid of anonymity makes sense. If people are going to say hateful things, they should at least have their names attached.
However, this obstacle-ridden process makes it challenging for someone like myself to comment on a story. Not being from the Buffalo area, I probably won’t have much to do with The Buffalo News after leaving Bonaventure, so I felt immediately frustrated when asked to go through a lengthy verification process just to say, “Nice work!” and then probably never comment again.
While this experience saddened me, it’s surely an interesting debate, which Ms. Sullivan mentions. But is how the The Buffalo News handled the debate the best possible option? Surely there’s no black-and-white answer here, but what do you think?
How should news organizations manage stories’ online comments section?