Earlier this week RNZ announced that they were turning off comments:
Why we’re turning off comments
From later this week, we’re removing comments from RNZ.co.nz.
Comments on news websites are a fraught topic. For a long time they seemed like the way forward, a way to bring the audience into the stories, and let’s face it, comments are still what media analysts like to call “content”. In the social media, mobile-driven world comments are the ultimate in “engagement”.
But for as long as there has been comments, “don’t read the comments” has been a common refrain. If you’ve spent any time in discussion forums, you’ll be familiar with the pedantry and bad behaviour often found there.
And so, news websites began turning off comments sections. Popular Science, CNN, Mic.com, Reuters, Bloomberg and The Daily Beast have all turned off comments in the past couple of years. …
Yesterday The Spinoff announced the same:
The end of comments on The Spinoff
As of today, as of exactly right now, The Spinoff is turning off Disqus, the comments engine we’ve used since we started in September of 2014. The motivations are simple and twofold. First, comments make us no money but have a cost. Second, they have been getting vile at times, a trend I see as likely to worsen as we evolve. I’ve been mulling it ever since I read this excellent summary of The Problem with Comments on, of all ye olde places, Popbitch. And I was spurred into action after reading Megan Whelan’s announcement that RNZ is doing it over on their platform earlier this week.
I wonder if Stuff will go the same way. Back in April:
Comments can be a stain on the web
Comments on stories have irked and entertained readers since they were first introduced. … I both love and loathe them. As a journalist you see both sides. Some readers offer ideas and insight to your stories while others take the chance to abuse you.
Unfortunately, the bad guys appear to be winning as it feels like there are more and more horrible people hovering over their devices waiting to hurt others with their words.
A recent investigation into comments by The Guardian found female writers got the most abuse.
I know that many of our women authors here at The Standard have felt the same about that, and it is one of my big regrets about the blog that we haven’t created a place where women authors feel welcome. Moderating comments takes time and energy – a lot more time and energy than I am able to put in to it for sure. (We’re open to suggestions as to how to improve things!)
I expect that more big sites will shut down comments, one day they’ll be seen as a failed experiment from the quaint days of the early web. Blogs will still exist of course – comments are our raison d’être. Some will deliberately wallow in the mud (certain dirty politics blogs spring to mind). Some will try to maintain standards, with varying degrees of success. It’s not really a very cheerful landscape. All we can do is try and do the best we can with our wee corner of the web.