Commenting to change | Editorial

If you read the Mercer Island Reporter in print and also online, you’ve probably noticed a disconnect. Letters to the editor in our print edition come with the name of the author. Many comments online don’t have them — and worse — the authors are often hidden behind a made-up name.

No more. The news industry is clearly moving away from anonymous commenting, and we are proud to be part of this change. Beginning Nov. 17, the Reporter will discontinue its online comment section as it is now and instead require all comments to come to us via Facebook.

The Facebook system encourages and rewards real identity; anonymous and negative comments — which put off many of our readers and hurt site participation — are curtailed. Chronic “trolls” are driven away.

If you are a logged-in Facebook user, you’ll be able to comment on our stories. And the chances are good that you probably are. Facebook has 800 million users.

There are other pluses for you, too. Buttons will allow Facebook users to recommend a particular story to their FB friends or subscribers, or more directly send it to specific FB friends or anyone via email.

Many other newspapers are already moving to using Facebook, including the Los Angeles Times, Gannett, Media General and American City Business Journals.

A few other things are worth noting.

These are nothing new, but they are worth repeating:

We won’t allow personal, hateful or other attacks, including derogatory usage of race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, region, disability, etc. However, we still welcome debate on these potentially sensitive subjects.

We won’t accept comments on stories of personal tragedy because we don’t want readers speculating or commenting irresponsibly on culpability for automobile crashes, unexplained deaths, sexual assaults or other stories where sensitivity is called for.

And, we won’t allow obscenities, profanities and sexual innuendo. We won’t allow numbers or symbols to fill in the letters of scatological and sexual terms.

Finally, remember that if you don’t have a Facebook account, you’re not left out. You can still send us a letter to the editor via mail, FAX or email and be part of our robust letters section.

We've attempted to answer the most common questions about this change at our Frequently Asked Questions page.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
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