This week was, quite frankly, a disappointing week for comments on the site.
Without going into detail, there were way too many assumptions being made about groups of people, way too many off-topic political trolls and way too much mean-spiritedness.
Moderating comments after they’re made can only do so much to rein in the trolls. It’s a big task when you get more than a thousand comments per week — especially when you’re trying to report the news at the same time.
So starting today, we’re taking a proactive measure to try to improve the conversation in the ARLnow comments. We’ve turned off the option to comment as a guest, without registration. From now on, all comments must be made by registered users.
We know there are some long-time commenters who are not registered. We know there are some insightful comments that come in from unregistered users, who perhaps cannot register to comment during working hours due to the nature of their job.
However, we also know that there are sites like DCist where a community has developed and there’s no shortage of comments, despite only allowing registered commenters.
Our ambition is first and foremost to have civility in our comments. We also hope that the comments are consistently interesting, thought-provoking and entertaining. We hope that our comments help engender a sense of community. What we don’t want is comments that are mean-spirited, monotonous or off-topic.
With registered users we will take a more hands-off approach to moderation. However, we will not hesitate to wield the banhammer for trolls, racists or spammers.
Feel free to discuss this change, or any other topic of local interest, in the comments.