Washingtonpost.com, taking a bold step, has enabled user comments on many of its stories for over a month now -- and the move has been deemed a success by the site's editors. But eventually the feature will be put to the test as it is extended to every article on the site, including those in the Politics, World and Nation sections.Jim Brady, editor of the site, says readers have responded enthusiastically, posting comments on stories in the sports, metro and style sections and the site will soon include every article on the site:
So far, comments have been both "high-level" and on-topic, says Brady, and in many cases the newspaper's journalists have, in fact, learned more about issues based on reader comments. He notes that the paper has only had to remove only about 30 comments from the site in the five weeks since comments were launched.The conversation rolls on.
He admits, however, that "once you open there door, you can't choose who comes in the door," and that there will naturally be complaints about which comments are accepted and which are deemed worthy of removal. Brady anticipates this to be an especially complicated issue as the site extends comments capability to all of its articles, enabling readers to weigh in instantly on controversial articles of national and international signifigance.
"There are always going to be people who are abusive and try to ruin things, so we've been taking baby steps in rolling out comments into the other sections," he says.