What do you think of Tampabay.com's new changes to comments area?
There's two big changes coming to the comments area on Tampabay.com:
Threaded discussions: Members will now be able to reply to comments in threaded discussions. Readers have asked for this feature for a while, and we think it will help allow for more fluid dialog between readers.
New page for comments: As you may have noticed, readers will now need to open a new page to view comments and/or share theirs. We know that not all readers want to see comments. And for those that do, it's just one click away.
These changes took effect for online stories today and will migrate to the blogs tomorrow.
One change implements a feature users have wanted to see for a while, another takes the back and forth among the comments to an area where those who want to indulge discussion can. But those who don't -- especially readers who might want to avoid particularly contentious online arguments -- now can read stories separate from the comments.
Newspapers have struggled for quite a while to deal with comments on stories -- wary of the way they can seem like published additions to the newspaper's work, but also hesitant to shut down debate totally by closing or removing controversial comments.
As a media critic, I have often advocated separating the comments section from stories, so people get a better sense that the comments are separate discussion sparked by the news story, written by the general public. Given that some newspapers have shut down comments on certain kinds of controversial topics wholesale, this seems like a more reasoned and measured approach.
And as much as I may be asking for it with this sentence, I still wonder: What do you think?
Weigh in on the comments conversation with your own comments below. And try to keep in mind the guidelines at the right to keep the conversation civil.
After all, what good is it to make a point if no one listens?