When comments get out of hand…

They get closed down. And I’m not talking about Slugger here (yet at least). A Californian newspaper with a committment to participatory journalism found its comment zone deteriorated to the extent that they decided just to switch them off.John Moore, assistant managing editor for new media and technology:

“Wonderful conversations ensued. Readers began talking with each other, offering opinions, raising the bar of discourse in the county. They were voices we didn’t normally hear from. The comments made many of us a little nervous. They were a little raw for our taste; language and opinions that we don’t normally see in print. But they were real. For awhile.”

But:

The viciousness of the comments began to escalate. We found more and more of our time was being spent moderating the comments. With comments posted on dozens of stories, it ate up much of our day.

We’ve no plans to do the same here at Slugger. But that does depend on you our readers. The comment zones at their best are informative, witty, great for developing wider context to given topics. But they also contain the dangers that led this paper to close theirs.

It depends on you. We don’t have the manpower (or desire) to pre-moderate your contributions. So we rely on you playing the best game you possibly can. Where we do moderate we make efforts to leave your argument intact.

So help us keep the flow and Slugger’s growing reputation, and play hard but play clean