Chicago Sun-Times (Temporarily) Shuts Down Comments, Promises New Commenting System

By Jon Graef in News on Apr 12, 2014 6:00PM

A sage piece of Internet advice is often a simple one: don't read the comments. (No disrespect to, um, all of you.) But few sites actually take the step of either removing the comments section of their sites entirely, or reforming their comments section to ensure better quality comments.

In short, the Chicago Sun-Times is opting to temporarily engage in the former in order to set up the latter. That is, starting this weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times and all of its titles will not be running comments on their articles.

Sun-Times Managing Editor Craig Newman wrote a blog post published Saturday explaining the move:

The world of Internet commenting offers a marvelous opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas. But as anyone who has ever ventured into a comment thread can attest, these forums too often turn into a morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.

In fact, the general tone and demeanor is one of the chief criticisms we hear in regard to the usability and quality of our websites and articles. Not only have we heard your criticisms, but we often find ourselves as frustrated as our readers are with the tone and quality of commentary on our pages.

To that end, we are working on development of a new commenting system we hope will not only allow for free discussion, but encourage increased quality of the commentary and help us better police the worst elements of these threads.

Newman wrote that the Sun-Times was "not doing away with comments," and that they'd have more information about the new commenting system in the coming weeks.

Needless to say, the move caused quite the stir amongst some corners of the lnternet, including this exchange amongst two HuffPost bloggers.

Approach this news with cautious optimism. Nobody likes trolls, but we'll wait and see how the new commenting system the Sun-Times promises actually comes to fruition. Better yet, wait and see how discourse on the Sun-Times site actually changes for the better. lt may not. The new boss, after all, is often the same as the old boss.