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Newspaper readers write fewer comments

Over time, reader comments will add more perspective on local stories

Dec 28, 2012 | 14 Comments


We’re starting to learn more about people who want to read local news on the Internet. One of the first lessons is that they don’t comment on stories nearly as often as occurred when the online newspaper stories were open to everyone.

In the past, our stories occasionally drew dozens of reader comments – mostly with anonymous display names. There almost always were double-digit displays of comments on multiple stories.

As all can see at the lower-right portion of our pages, there now are far fewer comments following the change that limits reader access to paid newspaper subscribers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

We anticipate that with this change, fewer comments will be seen as inappropriate in terms of language, personal attacks, etc. As paid newspaper subscribers, we think online readers will feel and show an extra degree of responsibility toward fellow readers.

We still allow readers to use anonymous display names in posting comments. However, there is less potential for true anonymity since they are paid subscribers to the newspaper. That may change in 2013 when we install programming to allow single-day subscriptions to the website.

Meanwhile, we don’t mind the smaller number of comments. And it’s good to see that in just a few weeks there are about 500 newspaper subscribers registered to use the website – a number that is growing daily.

Over time, reader comments will add more community perspective on the news and commentary articles – perhaps providing opinions that find their way onto the pages of the newspaper.

- Jeb Bladine
publisher

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Comments

09:02 am - Mon, December 31 2012
kona said:
I disagree. I think there will be added interest to all stories if anyone can make a comment on the articles. The "leverage" gained (for the News-Register) from comments only if an online subscriber is (will be) minimal. More interest is added if the entire public has an easy opportunity to comment. Less interest will be noticed if only the same people (from a smaller reader population) are enabled to comment with each other. This idea should be changed to allow all of those who wish to comment be allowed.
06:41 am - Thu, January 3 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
"This idea should be changed to allow all of those who wish to comment be allowed." --kona

I think people are not commenting because they no longer choose to. It really boils down to making a personal choice. The News-Register at the current subscription price of only $6 a month delivered, is, quite affordable to those wishing to comment on it's published articles, stories and/or editorial opinions.

So, what's actually holding a larger number of people back from posting their comments (in my opinion) here, equates to less than one would pay for one small 'popcorn & soda' order in a theater.

But ... I could be wrong as usual, kona.

06:57 am - Thu, January 3 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
....and if this isn't a theater, I don't know what in the hell is.

Any thoughts?
10:10 am - Thu, January 3 2013
Don Dix said:
In general, the people who are allowed to comment anonymously will have more to say and usually be more confrontational, especially in areas of personal emotions. Some have called that 'hiding behind a handle', but usually it's the content that is opposed. Wailing at anonymous commenters is just a feeble attempt to change the focus from the subject. So with the restrictions of membership in place, many will just find another site to vent. That alone reduces the overall participation.

That said, I would like to see more comments. Different perspectives offer ways to understand any subject from another point of view, whether agreeing or not. So I would agree (with kona) that comments be open to all, if only for the sake of variety.



10:53 am - Thu, January 3 2013
kona said:
There is a low percentage of the readership who will make comments. Limiting that population to a considerably smaller sub-group will greatly inhibit anyone from posting comments. Either the comments get opened up to everyone or the comment section will not have any more than very few of the same participants. Commenting is generally spontaneous. If a person has to jump through hoops to make a comment, it won't happen. It doesn't take much more than one hoop to discourage most people.
12:13 pm - Thu, January 3 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
"There is a low percentage of the readership who will make comments." --kona

I agree, and that has always been the case going back over the last 10 years it seems, with numbers typically hovering around a core of 6 to 8 people participating most often.

I'd seen that over on the old 'Online Forum' feature of years ago. Even though it had been... 'Open to All' ....and no registration required to participate.

"In general, the people who are allowed to comment anonymously will have more to say and usually be more confrontational, especially in areas of personal emotions." --Don Dix

I would agree to some degree on the last part. Perhaps Jeb might consider re-installing the old emoticon feature, you know, for the whoa-is-me-chomping-at-the-bit-I'm -so mad-I-could-spit, folks ..or.. maybe just an abiliiy to register a thumbs up, or a thumbs down on each comment might have a somewhat less confrontational feel to it.

Question, kona...how would someone be able to comment on an article they can't read as a non-subscriber?

06:59 pm - Thu, January 3 2013
kona said:
You asked, "kona...how would someone be able to comment on an article they can't read as a non-subscriber?"

I think there will always be a "tease" to all of the articles. And, if a person read the printed edition, they would have an opportunity to comment online about what they read.
08:21 pm - Thu, January 3 2013
Katesoren said:
To comment, one must be able to log in, don't they? If you're not subscribed, how can you log in? Just wondering.
07:47 am - Fri, January 4 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
"teaser" --kona

Interesting concept, kona. Perhaps, if theater owners were to invite non-ticket holders into their lobby for a bag of free popcorn & small soda, so as to allow them to co-mingle with the paying crowd so that they may discuss....

.... 'The Big Picture' ... people at some point might stop demanding the free stuff?

My understanding is that there are a large number of small town theaters faced with the possibility of going out of business because of the high cost in switching from film ..to.. digital projection.

I dunno, any other thoughts out there concerning the big picture?
05:31 pm - Fri, January 4 2013
troy prouty said:
of course. I do it because I have a big mouth (so it may seem)..

Actually, I believe that having people post and comment and discuss is valuable to success of community. In fact we need more of it. Maybe people wouldn't feel so isolated like they can't speak to someone so instead of taking a gun to a mall, they would communicate and get help. Communication in my opinion is the answer more than staying quiet ever will be.

Democracy isn't a spectator sport - It requires commuincation to work!

Posting might bring our representatives to read and think about issues. It also helps hold people accountable, staying quiet just allows them to continue which might not be best for them or the rest of us.

Sometimes I come across arrogant, radical or like Susan Paynter described "When politics get to personal", but I would prefer someone open up and comment and hate me, then someone be quiet and like me. Because expressing one's self brings change, which in my opinion opens the doors for a better Democracy.

Troy Prouty*
07:13 am - Sat, January 5 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
"Sometimes I come across arrogant, radical or like Susan Paynter described...." --Troy Prouty

I don't read you as any of the above.

07:26 am - Sat, January 5 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
In fact, I've always read you as being a caring and well intended person.
01:27 pm - Sat, January 5 2013
troy prouty said:
thanks,

I try, but I'm pretty direct about things and sometimes that sets people off. At the same time you can't guess where I stand.

troy*
03:03 pm - Sat, January 5 2013
Dances with Redwoods said:
"....I'm pretty direct about things and sometimes that sets people off." --Troy Prouty

That's just a basic quality that we all possess, heck, even monkies do that, especially the howlers. As for your "big mouth" statement...you might take that up with your dentist the next time "(so it may seem)" that he's able to work with both hands in your mouth.

I'm sure that he ..or.. she would be way more than happy to verify the voracity of that claim. Just asking couldn't hurt anymore than it already does. Could it?

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