Deseret Digital Media announces changes to comment boards at ksl.com, deseretnews.com

Published: Friday, Sept. 17 2010 12:18 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Deseret Digital Media announced Thursday that ksl.com will temporarily disable the news story comment boards on its website and that deseretnews.com will maintain its comment boards while improvements are made.

Russell Banz, DDM vice president of products, said the ksl.com change is meant to provide the company time to collect feedback and explore alternative approaches to offering a civil community dialogue that meets user expectations.

"Over the last year, we have tried a variety of different methods to improve the general tone and civility of our ksl.com website comment boards," said Brett Atkinson, general manager of ksl.com. "We have offered user ratings and profiles, community policing tools and partial editorial moderation.

"While we have observed some improvements to the tone of the discussions, we have not reached the point where we are meeting the expectations of our users or our own journalistic standards."

According to the company, ksl.com comment boards will undergo a detailed review incorporating user feedback and could be relaunched in the future. Plans for a revised system include removing anonymity, expanding moderation and prioritizing relevant comments.

Meanwhile, the fully moderated comment boards at deseretnews.com will see improvements, including enhanced moderation standards that rule out comments that contain personal attacks, violent or hate-filled remarks, epithets and racial stereotypes. Moderators also will remove comments that are irrelevant to the chosen story.

"Less than 1 percent of our visitors contribute and read comments," said Chris Lee, general manager for deseretnews.com. "At ksl.com, the percentage is even less than that. We believe that many more of our users would like to participate if we offered a civil and respectful environment for dialogue."

Deseretnews.com also has moved its comment boards off of its story pages. A link at the end of each story will allow readers to view comments and participate only if they choose to do so.

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