Last week the Ventura County Star got some press for shutting down the increasingly nasty comments being posted by the public on the paper's news blog. The L.A. Times followed with a Saturday story. Today, the Star restored the comments function, but added a profanity filter and now posts each commenter's registered name. Those found to be using phony email addresses are banned from the site. John Moore, Assistant Managing Editor/New Media and Technology, explains on the blog:
And we are encouraging, imploring and, yes, empowering readers to police themselves. We're asking them to contact us immediately if they find objectionable posts. And we are still investigating the model of volunteer moderators (maybe not as extensive as Slashdot).
We recognize that the persistent ones can find a way around the wall. At least now they'll have to work at it a little harder. We've committed to devoting some initial staff time in the coming weeks to monitor the comments. We'll work hard at keeping them away. Our hope is that we'll spend less time doing that and more time working to grow and enhance the site.
The goal remains the same: Create a home for civil discourse stemming from today's news. We don't want to control the discussion; we want to make it open and free flowing and comfortable for everyone to participate.
Will this work? We don't know. But it's worth us trying.