From the editor: Reader comments return to HeraldNet

More than a year ago, we suspended reader comments from the Daily Herald’s website, Starting Thursday, they return.

The reaction to the December 2015 decision was mixed. Many readers called or wrote to thank me for putting an end to a stream of mean-spirited squabbling. Others expressed extreme disappointment that we had shut down a forum for engaged citizens.

At the time, I told both sets of callers the same thing: Community interaction is a great concept — if only we could keep it from running amok. Now, we hope we’ve found a technical solution that will encourage commenters to take the high road, focusing on issues instead of dishing out insults.

In our relaunch of comments, HeraldNet will rely on an online moderation tool called Civil Comments. Here’s how it works:

Civil Comments requires users to take part in moderating the entries of others before their own contributions are posted. When you post a comment, Civil Comments will ask you to rate three comments from HeraldNet or other newspaper websites in Western Washington. This extra step doesn’t take long, and it adds your voice to many others that will help define this community’s standards.

These evolving standards will allow the system to “flag” comments that might warrant removal by editors. To read more about this process, visit the Civil Comments user guide.

Additionally, Daily Herald editors have reviewed the kinds of content that previously provoked comments that were — intentionally or not — harmful or insulting. For that reason, some kinds of articles initially will not be open for reader comments. These limitations may be relaxed as HeraldNet gains experience with the Civil Comments tool.

Inappropriate postings will be removed from HeraldNet, and users are encouraged to read the site’s guidelines for comments.

Neal Pattison, executive editor

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