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After the overwhelming amount of feedback we received regarding the recent changes to the comment boards, we (the ksl.com team) felt we should spend a few moments to let our users know what motivated the changes.
The motivation is very straightforward: The management of Deseret Digital Media (ksl.com's parent company) gave us the edict to elevate the discussions taking place on the ksl.com comment boards. If we are unable to find a way to accomplish that, there is a very distinct possibility of the ksl.com comment boards being turned off permanently. We don't want to that to happen.
On average, ksl.com receives over 3,000 comments a day. Users generally spend more time on individual comment pages than other pages on ksl.com. However, total page views to read those comments account for less than .08% of our total site traffic. Basically, the comment boards are not a huge revenue generator on their own.
Despite that, we feel the ksl.com comment boards DO and HAVE served a great purpose in the community. If nothing else, it gives the community a voice and lets them tell their story. The boards have also given users a venue to post countering viewpoints and help fill in missing information.
That being said, a tone of civility has been increasingly missing on many of the boards. Many boards have become huge mudslinging contests, overflowing with animosity and hatred for others. These types of postings cannot continue if users wish to have continued access to the comment boards.
Many of the changes we made were done in the hopes of cutting down on the arguing and bickering. However, what it will really come down to is YOU the user becoming more involved in the process. The ksl.com comment boards are largely community moderated, and as such, we need more users reporting trolls and comments that are in violation of the comment board guidelines. We depend on those reports to help keep the boards within bounds.
We admit it; we were shooting in the dark on some of the board changes - taking what we see as best practices from other boards, and trying to implement them on ksl.com. We also realize that we greatly underestimated the backlash that some of these changes would create. As such, we have gone back to the drawing board for several of the comment board features. We will be investigating the possibility of meta-moderating (letting all or a select number of users help in the moderation of comments), as well as the possibility of some sort of point system (you get a certain amount of points to comment, and each comment and/or vote costs a certain number of points). And yes, we will be more than likely implementing some sort of expanded voting system.
Those are just a couple of the ideas we are floating around right now. But since this is your comment board, how would you handle the moderation? What guidelines do you think are needed? How can we make the comment boards inclusive of all views and yet keep the discussion civil? How can we combat the hate speech? Should we just turn the boards off now and call it good? Remember, we are under the edict to elevate the discussion, so a "free for all" is not a possibility.
We also want to make the comment boards appealing to not only the current users, but to user that haven't posted before or have abandoned the boards due to the aforementioned problems. We want this community to grow!