Column: A healthy community forum for all

Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on March 12, 2011

Reader comments on the stories we post to our website sometimes can be wonderful community tools. Sometimes they point out an angle we hadn’t thought of that we can follow up on. Sometimes they kick-start a community discussion that really breaks down the points of an issue.

As such, we continue to believe that comment forums are a valuable and useful community tool.

But sometimes they are far less than wonderful, especially when they devolve into name calling, half-truths and pettiness. When forums sink into the dredges, the utility they provide to the community can disappear.

It is our goal to host healthy public discussions between our readers, and there are times when that simply isn’t happening.

Because of this, we have decided to re-evaluate our online commenting model and will be seeking reader feedback to decide exactly what that future model will look like and how we can best host a meaningful area for exchange.

We will be having a moratorium on comments during this re-evaluation time. Starting on Monday, there will be a two-week break in which no comments can be posted to any of our stories or blogs at http://www.kcchronicle.com.

During that two-week period, we will be soliciting reader feedback on our online stories that will help us as we revise our comment guidelines as we work to create better online forums for community discussion. These online response forms will be at the bottom of each story, where comments currently reside.

After receiving reader feedback and evaluating our options, we will announce the changes we will be making to our online commenting model after the two-week break.

Comments truly can be a wonderful community tool. We’re hoping to work with our readers to create a system that has them being a wonderful tool most of the time, not just sometimes.

Joe Grace is the editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com.

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