The Post-Dispatch has been aware of the problem with comments on stltoday.com for some. Kurt Greenbaum, Social Media Director for the Post-Dispatch, even wrote a piece titled, “6 reasons we’re lazy about story comments.” You may know Kurt as the person who informed a local school that someone had typed the word “pussy” in an stltoday.com comment, not once, but twice!
The Urban Workshop has called on the Post-Dispatch to increase comment moderation and implement a more robust comment interface. Perhaps the calls for changing the existing system and the added attention brought by “Pussygate” have led to changes. Looking at recent stories, the number of deleted comments has increased and each comment now has a “Report Abuse” button. Clicking on the button brings up the image below.
Although at this point there’s no telling where the report of abuse actually goes, or what effect reports of abuse will have, but I hope the feature is well used. This may help curb the worst abuses, but falls well short of either a community-based system or a true registration system that authenticates accounts and ties them to social network profiles. It’s good to see the Post-Dispatch doing something and significant changes can take time due to bureaucracy, technology or money (or all three).
I have not seen any mention of the changes on the stltoday.com website and several people I have contacted could not confirm what changes have been made or may be made in the near future. Some also though the “Report Abuse” button has been on the site for some time. The two images below illustrate the differences I see. Strangely, I can current get both comment section formats to show up on their site. Any suggestions as to why that may be?