Last week I posted here about some changes we were making to try and better manage our comments threads. Among the changes was a system to automatically close comments after 24 hours to allow more effective moderation from editors.
Since then a few readers have been in touch to say that 24 hours is too short, that it often takes a little time to catch up with an article and engage in a thread. Some people suggested that keeping comments open for a shorter period tended to favour trolls, who say the same dumb things on every article, over people who wanted to genuinely engage and craft a more considered reply.
So we’ve listened to your feedback and have just implemented a change to keep all comments threads open for 72 hours. We’re hoping this will lead to better engagement and better conversation, but please do let us know if you’ve got any more thoughts on how it is working. (And we do reserve the right to close the threads early where this is a legal risk or the discussion can go off track.)
We are also pressing ahead with all our other plans to try and keep The Conversation civil. Our editors are trying to allocate more time to engaging with the comments and guiding the discussion in a constructive direction. We are going to continue to ask academic authors to do question and answer sessions in which they engage with commenters.
And editors still have the capacity to manually open comments, so on a thread that is particularly interesting it’s possible to allow the conversation to go on more than 72 hours if there is a compelling case to do so.
Please keep us posted on what you think – you can comment below. And we promise to keep listening and deploying the best technology, trial and error, and a fair bit of guesswork, as we try to make our comments threads the best on the web.