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Close to Home: A Q&A about online comments on PressDemocrat.com

Over the years, readers of PressDemocrat.com have been able to comment on our news stories, but it remains a complicated and controversial part of our online world. Our systems have changed over time, and our attempts to moderate or improve those comments have been well documented and much debated.

Here are answers to some common questions about this part of our digital news report.

Q: Are comments moderated, or reviewed, in advance of publication?

A: Sometimes. We feel the immediacy of a conversation is important, and we don’t want to get in the way of that. People who have registered with our commenting system are not blocked from being able to communicate instantly on social media platforms, nor should they be limited on news websites to having comments wait in some unpublished approval queue. People who haven’t registered have to wait to see their comments appear.

Q: Doesn’t that mean that offensive comments are shown on our website?

A: Sometimes. We have some moderation controls for people who are frequently posting offensive comments and some other tools we can use to help combat nasty comments from appearing. Also, anyone who is a registered commenter on our site can “flag” a comment as inappropriate. But there is no one-size solution, so some of our cleanup work remains a post-publication process.

Q: Who review the comments and decides what’s OK or not?

A: A group of about a half-dozen journalists in The Press Democrat newsroom has the ability to review comments every day, throughout the day and into the evening. This group includes assignment editors, senior editors and digital content producers.

Q: How many comments are posted on PressDemocrat.com?

A: Close to 20,000 each month.

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