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From the Editors

Why we are opening fewer comment threads and moderating them with more rigour

I’d like to take a moment to update you on some changes to the way we handle comment moderation on articles published on The Conversation.

As you probably know, The Conversation is powered by a small team of journalists who commission and edit the articles you see published on the website every day. Given our size and resource constraints, these editors are also responsible for reading comments to ensure they are respectful and constructive and they comply with our community standards.

However, over the years and as we have grown, it has become clear editors who are out chasing stories about COVID vaccines, inflation figures or the latest on the Labor government often struggle to give adequate time and attention to comment moderation.

This has sometimes meant comments that do not abide by our community standards, and may be misleading or harmful, stay up for too long or are not moderated at all.

A recent decision by the High Court of Australia placed the responsibility for comments on news media articles and their social media pages firmly on the owner of the site or social media page. This means if a defamatory or otherwise legally dubious post was to remain on one of our articles, The Conversation would be liable.

As a not-for-profit newsroom we rely on reader donations and we have to take any legal risk very seriously. With this in mind, we have taken a decision to more actively monitor comment threads. To do this we need to be selective about the number of threads open at any one time. In recent weeks we have moved from opening comment threads on the majority of articles to opening a smaller selection.

We hope that over time what we lose in breadth from fewer threads we gain back in depth and a better tone of discussion. We thank you for engaging with The Conversation and caring as deeply about the quality of public debate as we do.

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