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Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Ditch the Comments Section For Social Media?

I thought that perhaps my imagination was playing tricks on me; but it seemed to me that media organizations have been shutting down their Comments sections — so I searched as to whether or not this is actually a trend of sorts…

…and I stumbled onto two articles — both of which were written by Clothilde Goujard at Medium — which discusses the arguments for and against maintaining a Comments section.

Ditch the Comments Section For Social Media?

Media organizations are “shutting down traditional comments, not users opinion expression” and are instead “moving the conversation to the social platforms”, according to this article.

One would think that introducing an extra step — and, therefore, barrier — in the process would reduce the amount of discussion pertaining to a particular article; but some people believe that “social media such as Facebook or Twitter make for higher quality conversations than story-page comments because of the barrier — readers have to make an extra effort to go to another website.” This purportedly leads to improved engagement between the media organization and its readers.

Additionally, personnel and financial resources are finite within a media organization — which leads to the rationalization of using those resources as efficiently as possible. Concentrate them on the official social media sites of the company instead of spreading them thin to include covering — and replying to — comments posted in the Comments sections of articles, which can supposedly lead to reduced engagement with the audience in general.

Scott Montgomery — who is the managing editor for digital news at National Public Radio — defends the decision of closing down its Comments sections on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by finding better ways to connect with its audience: “NPR introduced public comments to its website eight years ago, when many of today’s most popular venues for digital interaction didn’t yet exist or were in their infancy. Since then, we’ve explored and developed many options for strengthening those connections. Some of these methods have proven invaluable. Others less so. After much experimentation and discussion, we’\ve concluded that the comment sections on stories are not providing a useful experience for the vast majority of our users.”

Of course, no Comments section was available to comment on this decision.

Keep the Comments section?

Some media organizations have kept their Comments sections because they still believe in their ability to create constructive discussion; while others believe that the discussions posted on social media can be “fragmented” and are not of the same quality as what is posted in a Comments section.

“Giving a voice to readers through story-page comments sections is still seen by many publishers as an efficient and essential tool to create a loyal community”, according to this article. “Some media also consider story-page comments sections as necessary spaces for journalism to function as a democratic institution.”

However, some people caution that having a Comments section may not be enough for optimum engagement with an audience.

“I think one of the challenges the news industry has had generally is that we’ve tried to use that one tool [comments sections] for what is a series of different jobs. It’s like walking around your house trying to assemble furniture, and all you have is a hammer. A hammer is useful sometimes. You need a hammer but sometimes, a screwdriver or a pair of pliers could do a better job,” Greg Barber — who is the project advisor and director of digital news projects at The Washington Post and is a member of the team of the Coral Project — was quoted as saying in the aforementioned article.


Although I have been a moderator at FlyerTalk for years, I do not believe in squelching the opinions and thoughts of people who read the articles I write at The Gate — even if they happen to be disparaging — as the only comments which are deleted are those which are purely “spam”.

I am also of the belief of ensuring that commenting on my articles is as easy for you to do as possible — which is the main reason why I have not employed Disqus for the Comments section of The Gate; and a reason why I have no intention of shutting down the Comments section itself…

…but I am always interested to read your thoughts: what do you believe are ways in which I can improve engagement with you pertaining to what I write? Is there a technology which I should consider? Is the status quo fine with you?

Please let me know — in the Comments section below, of course…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

“Easter Egg” Time — But on Christmas Day?!?

If you have read the article this far down, thank you — I appreciate it…

…and I am just letting you know that I finally buckled down and opened a Twitter account, which you can access here:

I have not announced it publicly yet — except for now, of course — as I am testing out Twitter to see if it works overall for The Gate; and I am hesitantly thinking about opening other social media accounts for The Gate.

The Gate also has a YouTube account — four videos have been uploaded there at this time — and I have a LinkedIn account.

Please keep in mind that the Twitter account is for The Gate. It is not a personal social media account for myself…

…and please let me know what you think about the Twitter account I recently launched — and even follow it, if you are so inclined.

Thank you…

    1. I am finding that out with Twitter, iv — and the “noise” seems to have increased on LinkedIn since Microsoft acquired it…

    1. The use of Twitter is an experiment for me, Gary Steiger – If it does not work out for me, I will simply not use it much or at all. I still do not like the idea of launching a Facebook account.

      More information from companies and news sources seem to be via Twitter than other conveyances of news; so I have found it to be a potentially valuable resource in that aspect…

  1. Personally, I am not a social media fan and seldom use it. I much prefer blog comments which I actually read. Merry Christmas!

    1. I have no intention of abandoning the Comments section, Nancy — unless there was a strong consensus from readers of The Gate, which no one suggested that I do that.

      I actually enjoy reading the Comments section myself — even when I am being disparaged.

      Thank you — and I hope your Christmas was the merriest one yet!

  2. Just personal theory here but I feel that those that shut down direct comments don’t really want comments at all. CNN is a good example. Again just my own opinion. I do some blogging and really like comments as it gives direct feedback. When things are through social media it really doesn’t is a whole different animal. It’s like having a facebook page, a linked in account and gmail. They are all different. A group gmail is much more direct than just throwing it up on facebook.
    One other thought I have on this is that facebook is trying hard to stay relevant. It seems that the younger you are the less likely you are to use facebook, twitter, etc. There are new cutting edge apps all the time. For example it’s not like you’re getting much traffic on myspace these days.

    1. My personal theory is similar to yours, DaninMCI

      …and I have had a feeling that Facebook is becoming less relevant and may go the way of MySpace myself. I simply have no interest in Facebook.

  3. Brian, I’m curious why disqus isn’t a good fit. Is it because disqus requires readers to login to comment? I like disqus because –

    1. I can signup/login using my Google/Facebook/Twitter/Disqus account. This is a one-click action. With this, I no longer need to fill out my name/email/website every time I comment (as with the current system).
    2. Since my comments are tied to my account, I retain ownership of my comments. I can go back and look at all of my comments and edit/delete them at any time. Not sure if there’s a way to do this with the current system.
    3. I also like the voting system for comments. It provides another way to interact with other people’s comments without replying. It also ensures that I don’t miss out on the most relevant/interesting/engaging comments if I don’t have time to go through all the comments.

    1. I do not particularly like Disqus primarily because of the requirement to log in for the ability to comment, Sorab, as I want readers of The Gate to feel free to comment as easily as possible — even though some ridiculous and unnecessary comments do tend to occasionally slip through — although I do know that Disqus can be configured to not require readers to log in.

      I have asked fellow “bloggers” about Disqus; and some of them have reported various issues with using it. I know that The Points of Life stopped using Disqus recently.

      I do like the feature of a voting system for comments — but I am not sure that is enough for me to consider using Disqus; although I will keep an open mind about it…

  4. FWIW (yes, just to annoy you 🙂 ) the only BA posters that only come to me anonymously via BA twitter (not “BA via @X”) are you and Travelcodex. There may be others but since I follow BA on twitter I believe this to be true. There are others who post both ways (individual and BA), but they’re always identified.

    I can tell if it’s your post and travelcodex because of the way you use language, even in a tweet summary.

    I have had my computer intercepted by reading BA posts via the BA link (never yours). This makes me happy you’re flying solo too. I’ll head over to follow now.

    Comments? Keep them, of course. We’re all generally on the same team here, and not like political news sites that are overtaken by a UFC brawl in the comments section.

    1. You could never annoy me, colleen. I thoroughly enjoy reading your comments — even when they are critical of me, which is welcome.

      I unfortunately do not understand what causes the Twitter anomaly mentioned by you with The Gate and TravelCodex

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