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But I can attest to its being in Boulder! In fact, I can attest to it being not all that far from where I'm sitting right now. Hope you like it. Got a favorite session so far?
It's the fastest way we can transmit bits and pieces of information. Meanwhile, this story is updated as the larger picture changes.
You're broadening the topic even more here, so I'll lean a bit on things I've written about comments in general before...
It may surprise you to find out that those are the (lightly) curated comments. I don't have the policy in front of me, but the Camera's editors delete offensive comments and ad hominem attacks, and repeat offenders often find themselves in moderation, so their comment doesn't post instantly.
As for "low-quality" comments, that's a much more difficult line to police, and yes, I imagine staffing is part of it and I imagine legal liability is another. ("You removed this comment, so it appears you're ensuring the accuracy of some of the information in the comments section, but you didn't remove this other comment in which my client was slandered.")
A funny thing happens when you do start deleting comments simply because they're dumb, too -- people start thinking you're violating their First Amendment rights. Obviously you're not, and I'm not saying it's a reason not to do it, just that it's a funny and strange side effect. It might underscore the notion that you're The Man a bit, which can at times work pretty heavily against you.
You have to determine (and I don't think this is done nearly intentionally enough anywhere) what the purpose of the comments are for you. Do you want them to be ongoing watercooler chat? High-minded debate? Citizen journalism? Do you have the type and size of audience for what you think you want?
Ian, I've blogged on a couple of thoughts on ways to clean up online comments, but they all have their pitfalls. I wonder what you'd think of them:
Moving all comments to Twitter would change the context they're displayed in and, importantly, not display them inline with the story.
Charging users to comment would raise the bar -- at least a little -- for what people thought was worth leaving in the public forum. You might get fewer rimshot-type comments, you might get fewer "paranoid" comments to use your description... or you might not and you might completely stifle the people you actually want to hear from.
Maybe I'm due to collect a few varying comment policies and compare them in one post. (Got any favorites? Let me know here or on Twitter: @daveburdick.)
My own policy here (regarding moderation, at least) is that users have to have been approved to comment somewhere on IntenseDebate before. This is mostly to block out spam. On this post, for example, I've received approximately as many spam comments as real ones. I haven't had any nasty comments to deal with, so I haven't actually come up with what I'd do in that case. Probably delete it. (Seen Gary Hart's policy?)
A note to future commenters on this post, by the way: I'm going into (minor) surgery this morning so I will not be able to approve comments for several hours. I would love to have more thoughts on this to read when I'm back and healing, however, so please don't be deterred!
I'd say there's a pretty bright line between Engaged Member of the Community and Person Whose Work Appears on the Site.
So that probably the reasonable place to start of a spectrum of some kind. From there, it's pretty fuzzy and I can see feeling a lot less like an insider/colleague as a once-a-month contributor than a once-a-week type, multiple-times-a-week type, part-time staffer and full-time staffer.
My questions aren't about being permitted to post, and I don't think I implied anywhere that the comment should be deleted or censored or anything -- they're about propriety and etiquette. I'd love to read your thoughts on how colleagues should behave. What do you think are the benefits and risks of writers for the same publication publicly critiquing one another's work?
(And again, I'd love to see a discussion about that in more general terms -- I'm pretty well set on the discussion of Dave's specific comment. His input here has been great and unfortunately my hurried writing last night made him personally more of a focus than I set out to!)
Agreed that Dave using his name and face raises the standard of discussion -- I wish everybody would do that!
I didn't realize you were so infrequent a contributor, but yeah, I agree that you're less part of the Camera family and more a guy out in the world doing his own thing, which is why I indicated that I was more interested in the broader questions of a colleague commenting on a colleague's work -- your comment happened to be the one that inspired the questions. I think some of the same questions are relevant to your case, though I might ask them another way, like:
Are there separate rules of etiquette for media-savvier commenters?
Or something like that. But that question doesn't interest me as much, because I figured the answer would mostly be the "stick my finger directly in your eye" type (see comment below). I already know that people feel entitled to that.
I identified you by name because you commented on the story publicly with your name and all that and it's a nice relatively "mild and benign" case study, in your own useful words. I provided links because I like to provide context -- as we've already covered, you've got a far deeper online presence than the Camera site would indicate. It's much more interesting and educational that way because, for one, it brings you here to defend it.
No, I don't agree with your assessment, particularly in the specific contexts of the questions I asked at the end of the post. I think it's more useful to communicate with someone directly and privately about writing style. This is partly out of politeness, but also out of efficiency and the hope that my suggestions wouldn't fall on deaf ears.
To address your actual comment, and not the hypotheticals, because I'm guessing that's what you'd prefer: I don't know any writers who respond better to online comments about their word choice than they do by email, phone or face-to-face conversation. And my approach, though certainly not everyone's, is to be a little more constructive than you were there. If you were sincerely concerned about her word choice, there were other, more productive channels and forms. Again, though, relatively mild and benign, and I'm not hugely concerned with all of that today...
But the larger question is such a new one that I wanted to ask it of a larger audience. I'd like to answer it for myself based on more than the immediate reaction I had to reading your comment -- and see if anyone has other ideas for having that dialogue between colleagues, whatever their specific job descriptions may be. One example for consideration: Gawker Media's "Campfire" internal chat.