The Comment Approval Process

By: Chris Mossman
By: Chris Mossman

We get hundreds of comments a day from our readers at witn.com. Most of them are quickly posted on witn.com, some of them take longer for us to review and some never see the light of day.

We get hundreds of comments a day from our readers at witn.com.  Most of them are quickly posted on witn.com, some of them take longer for us to review and some never see the light of day. 

Folks who share their comments are often disappointed or mad at us when their comments don’t show up shortly after they submit them.  A number of comments that we delete are ones that virtually everybody would agree are downright offensive.  Others are not so clear cut.  We have established a list of procedures for our editors to follow that we call “Hey, Read The Rules.”  However, while we do try to be as consistent as possible, you will find different interpretations among the dozen or so employees who edit comments. 

We don’t expect the comments section to be like a campfire where everyone sits around singing “Kumbaya” in unison.  We’re striving more for a town hall scenario where everybody gets a chance to voice their opinion in a civil manner.  We want the wise folks among us to share their thoughts and feelings but we also strive to give a voice to the “town idiot”.  Trust me, we don’t always agree with what we post.   We’re also more apt to post a comment that takes the “I believe……” approach rather than “These are the facts about…..”.

We will occasionally take some grief for being either “too right wing” or having the “typical liberal media slant” with the comments we receive.  We’re also accused of being “politically correct” and I guess I can’t really argue with that one.  Remember, there are things people say when they’re having an intense conversation with best friends that they shouldn’t say in a “town hall” scenario.   And as far as that age-old liberal vs conservative argument, trust me, both sides are well represented at WITN and Gray Television. 

We find the comments feature to be very helpful with our news gathering operation as well.  People feed us tips on stories, give us story ideas and help keep us straight when we make the occasional mistake or typo. 

So what is the process we go through before a comment gets posted?  Most comments go into an “unapproved comment” section while some go into “blocked comments”.  Anything in unapproved gets looked at whenever one of the editors (News Director, Asst. News Director, News Staff, Me) logs into the system to look for comments.  The blocked comment section does not get looked at as often.  Essentially any comment with one of Carlin’s words gets tossed in there along with some other words that are tame enough to be spoken on prime time television.  Unfortunately words like crap and screwed get tossed in as well.  The Blocked comment filter can’t sense the context of a comment so a sentence like “Dick Jones tried to push it but it was too hard on him to finish it.” would be rejected for four different reasons.  We’ve tried to get this fixed through our content management system, but we’ve had little success as of yet.  I try to look at the blocked comments once a day, post those that are ok and slightly edit others.  Some, unfortunately, just sit in the dreaded “comment purgatory” but that’s a blog for another day.

To all readers who post comments on witn.com, thanks!  We like to know what you’re thinking. 

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