When news is a conversation…

Sometimes people have to be told to shut the hell up.

Here’s why the Spokesman Review stopped putting reader feedback at the bottom of stories:

First, it was very labor-intensive to gather that feedback. Once a day on weekdays, an editor had to read through each of the comments to make sure they weren’t libelous, or obscene, etc. That also meant the comments weren’t posted in a timely manner, especially comments posted from Friday through Sunday.

Second, a small number of readers habitually commented on numerous stories every day; it never was intended to be a platform for individual users to repeatedly air their political or social views.

Third, many of the comments were rude and obnoxious. The intent of reader feedback was to allow for constructive criticism, offer candid commentary and/or suggestions. Too often the comments were uncivil and pointless.

I’m not sure what to think of this: Are the SpokesView folks being too anal, too unwilling to cede control? Are they simply unwilling to put people to work making feedback work? I’ve seen plenty of moderated discussion boards that work fine as long as there’s somebody around to punish scofflaws and maintain decorum. But that takes people away from other productive jobs.

Or are they saying this “news is a conversation” business is a fantasy perpetuated by self-appointed Internet visionaries?

Could be a little bit of all three.

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