On July 9, our commenting system changed, and I promised to answer the questions and concerns readers — and commenters — have had since then.
Change is hard, and a fair number of people are feeling miffed over the change in commenting structure. Thing is, the system has been implemented across all of the Gawker sites, and it won't be changing in any significant way anytime soon. That said, many of you had questions and concerns - technical and otherwise - that we want to address.
1. Who will be the commenter/moderators?
We are happy to announce that 5 commenters will be taking on some moderator responsibilities: AndBegorrah, BrutallyHonestBabes, MorningGloria, Khruschev, and BabyJane will be helping out when they can with account approvals, comment promotions/demotions and other assorted and sundry activities. Please give them a warm welcome.
2. Is the culling of the stars over?
No. It's a work in progress, and always will be. That said, it will probably wind down a bit in the next few weeks. If commenters want to alert us to readers they feel provide consistently excellent contributions and may benefit from "featured commenter" status, they can email us and let us know, but again, we are currently in the process of reducing – not increasing – the number of starred commenters. A few notes for those who already have stars: Using your status to indiscriminately, "democratically" promote any comment that rises above the level of "troll" is strongly frowned upon and may result in the removal of a star. In addition, everyone should know that starred commenters are not above having their comments demoted to the "unfeatured comments" page: the featured comments are supposed to provide a snapshot of the best conversations relevant to the post at hand, and, although I don't think that commenters should refrain from engaging in mildly off-topic conversational and or/jokey threads, those types of contributions don't really belong on the featured comments page. Shorter: Every commenter - starred or unstarred - has the opportunity to be "featured" and "unfeatured", depending on the nature of the contribution. (If your comment is demoted, please, don't take it personally. It's impossible for every commenter to bring her A-game 100% of the time, and the "featured" comments should only be the best/funniest/most insightful/most interesting.)
3. Who decides who and why some commenters get a star and others don't?
The decisions regarding stars are made by our "moderators": the site's editors and the five commenters we have given additional administrative access to. Decisions are based on any number of factors, including but not limited to: longevity (people who have made a ‘name' for themselves with an established comment history are yes, going to be trusted more than those who have not); quality of contributions; and use or abuse of commenting privileges. Quantity of comments is not of particular concern: there are many starred commenters who, although they comment infrequently, comment intelligently and responsibly when they do. Obviously, our judgments are subjective; it would be impossible for them not to be.
4. Why do only a few selected people get to decide what is "good"?
We run the site.
5. Isn't the star/non-star system just a popularity contest?
Nope. Comparing the current commenting structure to a "popularity contest" or complaining about its supposed resemblance to "high school" is your prerogative, but, in my opinion, both over the top and self-serving. In fact, the previous star system – which was based on number of followers – was more a "popularity contest" than the current structure, which, as I outlined above, will change and grow over time and allows everyone a chance at composing a featured comment. Again: Quantity of comments and number of followers is NOT a prerequisite for becoming a starred commenter.
6. Are the stars good across the Gawker network?
No. They are specific to each site. Meaning: A star can be awarded, or rescinded, on one site without it affecting the commenter's status on another.
7. Is there a way to change settings so that, by default, all comments are visible? Can the "show all comments" link be at the top rather than at the bottom of the first page of featured comments?
Yes, the first option will be available later this week. As for the link to "show all comments," it will remain at the bottom of the featured comment thread.
8. Is it possible for you to have the unfeatured comments show up in black text rather than grey?
There are no plans to implement this.
9. Will we eventually be able to collapse and expand all the individual thread discussions?
You can do that right now. Just click on the plus sign associated with each thread divide.
10. Will we see the return of links that control the chronological order of the comments or enable us to sort them by "newest", "oldest" and "most popular"?
There will be no return of clearly marked sorting functions/links, but there will be another method in order to view the comments in few different ways; we'll share that info in the Help section at some point in the not-too-distant future.
11. What happened to the "next" navigation arrows/links in the posts?
They're gone, sadly.
12. What happened to the permalinks to specific threads or comments, and how do I respond to more than one person at once in a comment?
The permalinks to specific comments/threads will be back shortly. As for responding to more than one person, you can type out an "@" sign before a commenter name or you can simply write a separate comment for each response.
13. When I click "show all comments" is it showing all the comments, both featured and non, on that page of comments, or all the comments overall?
14. Can you explain the point of the new system? It seems very [insert "unegalitarian", "Orwellian," "antifeminist," "censoring", other descriptor here].
The new system – which is, again, active on all Gawker Media sites – was created to give editors and moderators the ability to curate and highlight the best and most relevant comments on any given post by designating them as "featured comments", thereby providing a snapshot of the most interesting, engaging ideas/discussions currently going on. No comment system that includes auditions and moderation for quality control can ever be truly democratic or egalitarian; in fact, with regards to the comments on Gawker Media sites, egalitarianism was never the point. There are plenty of sites on the web with unmoderated comments, if that's what floats your boat.
15. The open threads are difficult to navigate with this tiered system; can anything be done about it?
One solution is to "view all comments" when participating in open threads. (See #5, above.)
That's all, folks. We won't be putting up any more posts about the comments after this, but you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding issues - particularly technical ones - we didn't address. Thanks for all your queries...and your patience.
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