Editor’s note: Reader comments in the age of social media

By Reuters
November 7, 2014

During the past few years, much has changed about how readers interact with news. They find coverage in diverse places and in new ways. They watch video, use graphics and calculators and relate to content far differently than in the past.

Considering these dynamics, Reuters.com is ending user comments on news stories. Much of the well-informed and articulate discussion around news, as well as criticism or praise for stories, has moved to social media and online forums. Those communities offer vibrant conversation and, importantly, are self-policed by participants to keep on the fringes those who would abuse the privilege of commenting.

We still will host comments on our opinion and blogs sections of Reuters.com so columnists and readers can exchange ideas on interesting and controversial topics. Readers can join the conversation about all Reuters journalism on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/reuters, or on Twitter, where our handle is @reuters. And, as always, you can notify our editors of errors or technical problems by using the support link.

We value conversation about the news, but the idea of comments on a website must give way to new realities of behavior in the marketplace.The best place for this conversation is where it is open to the largest number of participants possible.

-Dan Colarusso,
Executive Editor, Reuters Digital

143 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I find this decision disappointing, and I question the validity of the reasoning behind it.
Thus far, most other major news sites have not adopted this approach.
Part of the logic for this decision buy Reuters is to enable the largest conversation possible. While a noble goal, in fact this decision shrinks the conversation.
Many of us do not use Social Media for any number of reasons, thus closing comments effectively shuts us out.
I decry this decision, and hope that Reuters will take a closer look at it and see that it is misguided.

Posted by operaghost | Report as abusive

I guess I will not be visiting Reuters much any more. I came here for the interaction with others. Bye Reuters.

Posted by BeRealistic | Report as abusive

State controlled media

Posted by stg5ive | Report as abusive

Lol. Mak u think.

Posted by Moniker42 | Report as abusive

A shame. I doubt I’ll be visiting Reuters much going forward. The stories have become more and more biased over the years, and I really don’t like opinionated news (though there is little else these days). Lively debate kept me coming back despite your journalistic slide, though. Without that, I find little value in your site.

Posted by Jameson4Lunch | Report as abusive

bunch of words that say “things change, so we’re quitting comments”. no real explanation at all – grammatically correct, but lacking in meaning.

it’s an interesting topic, and deserves a more articulate explanation.

perhaps what they mean is “discussion is not our core business, and wasn’t helping us sell more ad impressions”.

Posted by markhahn | Report as abusive

Sad but understandable. Lately the comments on Reuters (and many other Western news sites) were becoming overrun by a swarm of trolls and propaganda agents – especially the stories about Russia and Ukraine, which is mostly what I read as it concerns me directly. Moscow Times did the same recently, clearly stating it was because intelligent discussion had become nearly impossible due to a recent infestation of trollish behavior.

As many others, I don’t use social media. I consider it mostly a gimmick for teenagers. I’ll miss the opportunity for discussion “among adults”. Luckily, a few other news sites still have comments, but few of them are as thorough and balanced as Reuters. Oh well, times change…

Posted by CanRus | Report as abusive

I don’t use Facebook or Twitter and I don’t plan on starting so I will not be able to read the comments and participate, even rarely.

This is a really stupid unfair decision and reflects poorly on whoever made it.

Was the problem that you could control the articles but not the comments?

Posted by Daleville | Report as abusive

While the above info in this article simply represents the politically correct way for Reuters to drop comments, the reality is that they likely just got tired of seeing the cesspool of nasty partisan comments that did nothing to advance the dialogue.

It certainly will not cause commentors to shift to social media as the main reason people would comment here is because they don’t like social media or having it infest all aspects of their personal life.

Posted by pyradius | Report as abusive

I will miss commenting on Reuters news stories, and reading the comments left by others. I have a “best of comment policy” bookmark collection, and Reuters’ 27 September 2010 post on Full Disclosure blog remains my favorite. I understand the rationale for the decision though.

What will happen to extant comments? Will they remain visible on past news stories, please?

Posted by EllieK | Report as abusive

Kudos Reuters. Interaction today consists of one person speaking negatively of the other with inflammatory language. You have made a good decision.

The people who say they are leaving? They’ll more-than-likely be back. I doubt that they originally came to your site seeking comments. It was your content that attracted each moth to your flame.

You are accurate in saying we have a plethora of options for online interaction and you have left options open in other sections of your site for interaction. Sounds like you may have found a sensible place to reduce expenses. As long as you continue to light the flame of excellent content, the majority of us moths will continue to return.

Small favor… could you let us know in January how this is working out for you and perhaps again in April? I am very interested to hear how and if this change has impacted your bottom line, customer satisfaction and author morale. Thanks. You have my email on file or may reach-out at http://OnlineOnTheAir.Com/Contact.

All of the best to you and yours and to all who have commented thus far.

S. Joseph, OnlineOnTheAir.Com

Hang in there. Try this for at least three months

Posted by OnlineOnTheAir | Report as abusive

Dan,

That’s fine that you don’t want to host user comments and police them, that’s your choice. I imagine that it is quiet a lot of effort to keep user comments reasonable and readable. But how about allowing sites that syndicate your bs to permit their users to comment if they are up for it?

I note that wherever reuters articles are re-published on sites, such as by Fairfax on SMH.COM.AU, the ability of their users to comment is disabled.

I know that if you do stop forbidding open user comments on syndicated articles that the ridicule will be intense, but you won’t have to expend effort deleting comments, which seems to be your primary justification for this move.

Posted by NickBeagley | Report as abusive

its simple.. they get paid if you comment/share via facebook.

Unfortunately – that destroys context – as facebook is just a mish mash of everything. I prefer to keep facebook to friends and family and don’t want political commentary on facebook.

oh well.

Hey – can someone tell me which internet news site they like? PS – don’t say usa today…

Posted by michaelryan | Report as abusive

I disagree vehemently Mr. Colarusso. The place for comments is immediately surrounding their subject. Certainly some are rude and objectionable but others add intelligence and color to the topic.

Respectfully, I hope you listen to your readers and change your mind on this.

Posted by ltcrunch | Report as abusive

“the privilege of commenting”

Several years ago Reuters configured a comments system for a particular single article. I suggested that they configure this system for all articles. They did.

Thank you Reuters, it has been a privilege to share comments with other Reuters readers.

I lament the passing of the comments system and agree with other readers that the best place for comments is directly associated with the original story.

I will still be reviewing Reuters several times daily but had become quite accustomed to reviewing the reader comments as well.

Something has gone missing…the readers are no longer welcome to participate in the journalism.

Posted by Vertigo | Report as abusive

Well if like The Brighton Argus Newspaper, it has about thirty trolls who demean, argue, bicker, laugh at and ridicule the paper and themselves, but seeing as it generates countless hits the management let it go on.

Posted by PETERJOHNSON | Report as abusive

Given the general collapse of Reuters’ web initative, I am unsurprised. I have noted the steady errosion in the ranks of staff, and the quality of the analysis has tracked their departure. It was fun, a lot of bright young people who I am sure will treasure the excitement of those few years later in their careers.

Truth is the management of Thomson-Reuters mismanaged their new product roll-out and are looking to cut costs. That has translated in a general decline in the quality of the news product. The comment feature has shown increasing signs of neglect, erratic in its operation, a not particularly productive feature, especially when scarce staff need to be diverted to its monitoring.

I will miss some of the regular commentors. Some need to update their thorazine prescription, other increasingly brought a depth to the coverage which only underscored the decline of Reuters’ reporting.

My personal experience with Reuters began in the early ’70’s, when I noticed it was the basis for much of the daily situation report I delivered to senior commanders of the U.S. Navy. We couldn’t have attache’s everywhere, but it seemed Reuters could. I hope that continues.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 
Romans 12:2

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

What a shame. It’s unfortunate that this “fringe” that you so readily discount is what’s driving national political conversation. We’ve now lost the ability to peer into otherwise censored thoughts, previously enabled by anonymous posting.

Goodbye, valuable insight.

Posted by gregbrew56 | Report as abusive

I agree with Reuter’s decision with mixed emotions. Over the years I have read and (may have) posted some inflammatory and offensive comments (I ended with I think 3 comments flagged out of over 600 – not bad). It is time get some civility back in to our society. Personally I thought (or hoped); these comments sections would bring Americans closer together on the “same page”. But I was totally wrong.

As the Chicago Sun-Times eliminated them this summer, saying they contributed to a “morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.”

I agree.

Posted by uc8tcme | Report as abusive

It seems quite clear that Reuters just simply does not want to be bothered with reader comments, on line. What a pity. This decision cuts back even further on freedom of expression, intelligent discourse, and further exploration of informational and philosophical input. Shame on Reuters. Shame. Shame.

Posted by explorer08 | Report as abusive

Everyone knows the real reason you stopped the comment section is that it has become quiet obvious that you have lost the faith of your reader base.

Posted by BioStudies | Report as abusive

Paid Russian shills, paid Ukrainian shills, obsessive partisan hacks from both sides of the isle, racist invective on any stories to with Ferguson and/or Black Americans in general, and you wonder why they are getting rid of comments?? Why maintain a trash heap? Expect to see more news sites follow suit as the sickening behavior seen in the comments sections grows, and spreads.

Posted by CoFunkin | Report as abusive

Reuters new policy diminishes the reader’s importance in their news presentations.

Both major newspapers in WV (Charleston) had adopted Reuter’s new policy of commentary via do-called “social media” only.

One abandoned it – there was little participation – and now prints reader’s responses as an addendum to the story, as before.

so for Reuters as for all others adopting this policy, Goodbye.

Posted by unionwv | Report as abusive

Unfortunate. Like many I don’t use Facebook or Twitter and enjoyed the ability to comment directly on Reuters articles. Reuters seemingly wants Facebook and Twitter to assume the responsibility for the tone and content of reader comments. Ok fine, but they should be smart enough to understand the flames are fanned by the biased articles they publish. They could have opted instead for more objective reporting. I won’t have much use for Reuters after this. Maybe the impending nosedive in web traffic will cause them to reconsider.

Posted by Hobbes7 | Report as abusive

This is really disappointing and seems to be another way to silence the people. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter as I think those are filled with a bunch of morons who don’t know how to talk or interact with other people.

I only recently started using Reuters again so I could comment even though my comments took forever to be posted so now I guess I will not use Reuters anymore.

This makes no sense why do you want to drive traffic away from your site to FB or Twitter?

Posted by GH11 | Report as abusive

this sux

Posted by harrykrishna | Report as abusive

Yeah would be terrible if someone reading an article confirmed their thoughts about it or expanded their thinking by reading commentary.

It’s pretty disappointing really, comments often added color, extension and even first hand additional information not covered by the article.

User reaction to news can be just as important as the news itself.

But I suppose Reuters just like CNN prefer to ‘Dictate’ the news and enforce it’s consumption.

I suspect Reuters just doesn’t want people reading conflicting views or opinions about articles. Internet journalism losing direction.

Posted by StigTW | Report as abusive

Bad move Reuters.

Posted by JustCallMeFred | Report as abusive

It seems more than coincidental that this happens immediately after the left takes a beating in the booth. It becomes harder and harder to defend the liberal policies and it is easier everyday to link leftist policy to failed results. It seems too convenient for Reuters to deny a voice to continue exposing the real state of affairs of the nation. I am certain this has more to do with silencing the growing awakening to the failed obama agenda than anything else.

Posted by BeRealistic | Report as abusive

You mean we can comment on the no-comment policy? How sad! Reuter’s had some of the more thought provoking, civil, respectful contributors bar nowhere else.

Toodles.

Posted by norcalguy101 | Report as abusive

its very mindblowing story indeed and i am so impressed to read this, i’ll must share it with my friends.
Chicago Public Relations

Posted by jhonhilpher | Report as abusive

This is a step in the wrong direction and you’re going to lose a lot of readers going this way.

Comments from around the globe connect people and act as the checks and balances of poor and one-sided journalism. If your goal is to silence those voices, this is one way to do it, but it’s not without side-effects.

Ta, ta, Reuters.

Posted by myxisme | Report as abusive

There was zero meaningful discussion of stories in the comment section.

Invariably, the entire comment section of any story was composed of the worst kind of libel against race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, government, and so on. It was like a contest for who could be the most intolerant and ignorant.

I for one am glad it has been closed down. The nasty content users posted had no redeemable value or contribution to rational dialogue.

Posted by AdamMickiewicz | Report as abusive

I agree. Comments allow those of us who do not use social media to voice our opinions. http://thedevilcorp.wordpress.com/

Posted by MediumPace | Report as abusive

Great! Why don’t you publish you content on http://www.facebook.com/reuters it seems to me the same logic would apply.

Posted by AALBC.com | Report as abusive

I’ll be visiting Reuters but could not find the news are really reality, The reports are disclosures and the news which gives increase awareness of people which actually happen in the society.but i will be visit VNI NEWS its really provide Hindi news which will be true.

Posted by Dhaneshrathore | Report as abusive

“The best place for this conversation is where it is open to the largest number of participants possible.”

Personally, I feel that the best place for conversation on any given article posted here at Reuters has been, and IS, in the area further down the page immediately following said article within the same URL upon which it was read.

I hope that someone at a high level within your organization comes to the realization that this move in actuality stymies conversationalism here upon the site, and, at some point in the future, takes steps to correct it. “Bad move, Reuters” is my sentiment, in a nutshell.

Posted by AtypicalMale | Report as abusive

Bad decision, for Reuters and the public.

Posted by Bernie777 | Report as abusive

I fail to see how limiting your reader comments to only members of social media sites allows for the largest number of participants possible. You’ve left out all who “LIKE” you on Reuters.com.

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Well, you’ve made your decision. Thompson Reuters is no longer “King of the Hill” among internet news sites. It has been reduced to just another Facebook page. Another “closed forum”, separate from the “open internet”. There are lots of news and finance sites out there that encourage free exchange without requiring social media membership. Those are the ones that will fill my inbox.

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Have you considered about adding some social bookmarking buttons to these blogs. At least for facebook.

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Have you thought about putting some social bookmarking buttons to these blogs. At least for twitter.

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Posted by keratherapy hair treatment | Report as abusive

Ignore your readers and they, we, will go elsewhere. But, in the meantime, while you fat asses do some of this difficult, technical thinking, as displayed in the above article, WOULD YOU PLEASE TURN UP THE SOUND ON YOUR VIDEOS. THE ADVERTISEMENTS ARE VERY LOUD AND RIDICULOUSLY LONG; BLAH, BLAH, BLAH (NO CREATIVITY HERE). THE VIDEOS ARE very soft.

I’M OFF TO BLOOMBERG

Posted by 104 | Report as abusive

Makes sense to me. Otherwise you become overrun by idiotic comments by drunks and fools like the Post or you would have to employ staff to review and only post the intelligible comments like the NYT.

Posted by brocke7 | Report as abusive

What the editor is trying to say nicely is: Comments sections, almost without exception, are and have been dominated by uninformed, illiterate trolls like me, who have no valid comments, but hover in the background ready to invoke Godwin’s law should anyone dare have an opinion that differs.
Most comment sections are a daily bloodbath, tidied up during the wee hours of the morning. “Realities of behavior in the marketplace” indeed. Code for “belligerent nitwits are everywhere.”

Posted by pse001 | Report as abusive

Stories so poorly researched and written they can’t bear being call out for their poor attempts at being reporters.

Posted by KevinJackson | Report as abusive

Forcing YOUR readers to join Facebook or Twitter is a NEW LOW for such a reputable news media as Reuters… I won’t.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive

Time to update since you just killed ALL comments on your site. Too bad, guess I have no use for you any more, buh-by.

Posted by Whipsplash | Report as abusive