I’m Lilah Raptopoulos, community manager at the Financial Times. We love Coral and the work they’re doing & I’m thrilled this community exists. Haven’t done this before, but thought I’d come in with a question I’m grappling with and see if anyone’s willing to compare notes.
Context: like many news organisations, we have a small moderation team, and we leave most stories open to comment - though we have a short list of very contentious topics whose news stories we close de facto because they just don’t encourage productive debate. (We do leave comments open on any opinion story about these topics.) It’s also worth noting maybe that we fundamentally think comments are valuable and our subscribers are overall smart and decent, with tons of insight and expertise hidden below the surface.
What I’m seeing is that as the US election becomes more heated, so does the quality of debate under all US election stories. Of course, the nature of political comments is that they lean high on ideology/opinion and low on unique personal insight (unlike, say, pieces on real estate or technology or management, where people have specific stories or knowledge to share). What I’m considering now is a targeted strategy to improve it, assuming no major technology solutions will magically avail themselves pre-election. Do we close US political news stories to comment for a few days and streamline the whole conversation into the opinion pieces (this feels too strict to me)? Do we set time limits? Do we give alternate private callout options for those who want to get involved in a different way? Do we ask our political reporters to respond more often? Do we give out more warnings? Or do we just accept that partisan bickering is just what our readers crave (as do we - I’ve jumped into so many political family email threads…), and let them get on with it?
Thought I would check in briefly to see if any of you are thinking about this what you’ve tried that’s worked - and failed!
Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.