Reach has rolled out a new comments system across its regional websites, to promote “better conversations.”
This week it’s been added to the Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News websites and will be put on more platforms over the next few days.
The publisher says that the “sophisticated interface” should “generate better conversations and improve everyone’s experience.”
It comes following a number of stories about prolific posters on newspaper websites. The Hull Daily Mail banned 1400 readers from its Facebook page, while The Argus removed one reader who left almost 1500 messages in the space of a year.
The Manchester Evening News stated:
“We know that, at times, our comment sections haven’t been particularly nice places to hang out – and we want to change that – and get more of our readers involved in meaningful conversations.
“These are remarkable, unprecedented times – and now more than ever the conversation we have with our readers is a vital part of what we do.”
The new system means that readers will have to log in with a verified email and will be notified whenever there’s a new post on an article they’ve commented on.
Reach has also set out a code of conduct saying what kind of comments they’re looking for – and what will break the rules.
“We want balanced and fair comments that are relevant to the story they are written on. We also encourage you to respond to other comments, as long as you do so respectfully.
“In some instances, you will also be able to ask questions to members of staff and have them reply to you – again, as long as you do so in a balanced and fair manner.
“When we see a comment that we think makes a fantastic point, we’ll flag it as an editor’s pick which means everyone will see it first.”
“We won’t allow any comments using bad language. Adding a couple of asterisks or spaces between letters doesn’t mean it’s fine.
“Hate speech in any form breaks the rules too, which includes insulting other commentators. You can debate the point with them all day long though, but just stay within the rules
“Our new system should pick up spam comments before they see the light of day, but any spamming or trolling is out. Commenting names that include bad language are not allowed.
“Additionally our reporters welcome constructive feedback on their work, but personal attacks or insults won’t be allowed.”
The publisher stated that if readers broke the rules, they could be banned from commenting.