Introduce yourself!


No problem at all - and congratulations on the job move! Thanks so much for recommending this board to Vox colleagues, we’d love for you all to share your expertise here, and to seek ideas from the community.

Speaking of which, Ryan Gantz from Vox came to our recent event in Boston. We hope it proved useful - make sure he gives you a debrief, if he hasn’t already.


Hi Ken! Can you tell us more about how you promote civil discourse? And did you come to the event at MIT? If so, what were your takeaways from it?


Who are you? Jared Bataillon or Mark Klein?


Hi everyone,

My name is Adam Horowitz and I’m co-editor of the website Mondoweiss. Mondoweiss is a news and opinion site that follows the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so as you can probably imagine, our comment section can get quite heated.

I’m here mostly to follow the conversation. I’m interested in learning best practices and to try to figure out new ways to make our comment section as engaging and welcoming as possible.



Hi all! Ariel here. I’m currently the Community Manager at Curbed and love the work you guys are doing!


Welcome, Ariel. Good to see another Vox Media friend here :slightly_smiling:


Hi Cynthia!

Thank you so much for you presentation at Beyond Comments, It was exciting to have you there. I would love to know the focus of your political communication work!


Hi Lisa ,

Welcome! What’s the coolest thing you’ve though of so far? What is exciting you about engagement now?


Welcome Trevor! So glad to see you at CB . What’s really exciting you digitally in news right now?


Hi Adam,

Welcome. Glad you think here is a place to learn ! What are the scenarios/tools you are looking for ? Is it a way of knowing conversations will go from warm to scalding on the head index? Are there any specific scenarios in your community that repeat themselves we can think around conversational dynamics


Sorry for the confusion, Christoph! Mark and I have been communicating in this forum under a single account under my name. If you are interested in learning more about our work, please do not hesitate to contact either of us. Thanks, Jared


Great question, and I’m not totally sure the answer.

The crux of the issue is that we deal with a highly partisan issue and people come to our comment section specifically to fight about it. The internet (meaning websites, social media, and comment sections) have been identified by people on all sides of this issue as a place to engage in rhetorical combat. That being said, of course, there are plenty of readers and commenters who are not interested in that and are (most likely) turned off or intimidated by it.

So far we have had a rather hands off approach except to moderate for the most offensive and violent comments, but that isn’t really a solution. The plus side is that we have a very active commenting community, the down side is that it is a constant brawl.

One thing we have considered is to seperate out the comments section into a discussion board and then keep the comments on our articles, so at least then the ongoing debate can be separated out and those who what to engage there know where to go. That only solves so much, but might help new readers who are turned off by the comments as they are now. Not sure.

We are also a relatively small shop, so we need to decide how much of our time and resources we can devote to moderating and facilitating a comment section/discussion board.


Hi Jared,

thanks for clarifying. I know quite a bit about your work. Your argumentation had me convinced that debates should be organized as argument mapping. I am not convinced anymore though, because the approach keeps failing (recent examples: and I came to the conclusion that debate has to be organized as dialog.

If you want to talk about it here, -> Reply as linked Topic :wink:


YEAH!!! HI AGAIN! Such a pleasure to see you here . We so enjoyed our student meeting


Hi Christoph,

Thank you for your thoughts. The vast majority of “argumentation” websites (such as Arguman, Reasonwell,,, or are debate-oriented. Debate sites are only suitable for gathering the pro and con arguments for a yes-no question, whereas deliberation maps enable deliberation (raising issues, generating and evaluating ideas) about how to solve a problem. While debate sites are valuable for improving critical thinking, our work is more focused on harnessing the power of collective intelligence in order to solve problems.

We hope you were able to access the map we created based on the Washington Post comments. Here is the link in case you missed it: Pleasure hearing from you! Jared & Mark


I may move this out or message you after this one if that’s alright but I’m interested in how people are welcomed to your comments.

Is there any kind of on boarding when someone signs up for your site? Has there been a discussion of the comments by your commenters?

I may poke around a bit today but on highly contentious sites usually you see meta and I wonder what the commenters think about your community.


That is a great question and there is no on boarding that takes place. I agree that would be helpful. We currently have a comments policy that is public, but I’m thinking something more in line with a code of conduct would be helpful. Both for our commenters but also our moderators.



sorry for the delay. wow i took my time on this.
openness means everything in my work personally, and i try to apply that to everything i do with sunlight, although sometimes it doesn’t align 100%. sf’s mission is open data and open gov related, so i’m not complaining, there are just other aspects of openness that i adhere to and would like to see applied in everything we do. more importantly, each is not entirely accessible without adhering to the rest of the facets of openness. its the common theme you see in many open arenas of needing a term defined clearly so adherence can be weighted and valued.

i’m not 100% on what you mean by terms of community…community building? engaging? all of our work is for the good of the community as a whole, so society. specifically we host meetups/engagements ranging anywhere from deep data dives, code skills, learning to code, dark money discussions, etc. its a very wide range of tech, data, journalism, and civic engagement. in a nut shell.

again, apologies for the delay.


I’m Jim McBee, designer and cofounder of The Ann magazine in Ann Arbor, Mich. I’ve been interested in news-based discussion since 2005 when I was involved in Bluffton Today, a tiny upstart news daily in South Carolina that gave anyone who wanted one what we called a free “blog” on our Drupal-based platform. It was a freewheeling deal before Facebook was ubiquitous, and we “reverse published” raw commentary to fill print newshole. Readers loved it.

Then the trolls came, and not just the easy-to-ban type, but respected online community members who formed a clique and began to accuse us journalists of sock-puppeting and selectively killing comments — you know, all that tripe that plagues news-comment sections and discussion boards to this day and, presumably, scares many people away. As if any of us had time or energy to conspire against our readers.

My current project has an anemic digital presence — we intentionally focused on print as that’s where the revenue was — but we’ve long dreamed of developing a digital conversation that can drive news coverage, rather than just follow it. We get very little traction in story comments or social media postings, so there’s not much to build from. Upside: If we do something new from scratch, we haven’t lost much.

Ideally, I’d like ways for community members to influence news coverage and provide a meaningful knowledge/source base journalists can use to deepen their work. And I suspect that involved readers will be loyal readers. We have a hyper-intelligent, highly educated, upscale population that is underserved by withering local news providers — when Ann Arbor lost its daily paper, it was then the largest city in the U.S. not to have one. I think a new, engaging approach to local news could really hit the mark in college towns across the country.


Welcome Jim ,

Glad to have you here! I love talking bout dreams when it comes to online comments. I think it really helps in finding out specific goals for communities. What would your ideal discussion space look like? Is it always comments?Ideally what would you like to get from your audience?