In the words of Bill Clinton, “We feel your pain.” And we’re doing something about it
Topics: Inside Salon
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and respond to the piece “Fearless Journalism Has a Price.” We truly appreciate your feedback and, as David Talbot emphasized, you—the Salon community—are what keeps the site alive.
Beyond your financial support, your comments are a big part of what makes our site so engaging. We appreciate that many in the Salon community are interested in having genuine conversations. At their best, these conversations are witty, insightful and truly expand on the concepts explored in the article to which they are responding. The readers who comment on Glenn Greenwald’s columns, for example, often submit sources and content that are included in Glenn’s signature “updates.”
Salon was one of the first Web-only news sites and since we launched at the dawn of the digital era, we have recognized the significance of intelligent interaction in online “town squares.” This is why we take your feedback about problems with the functionality of our comments section seriously and why we’re making this our top priority.
Regarding a few of the problems, there is consensus on what needs to be improved. Here’s how we plan on responding:
- Installing a “preview” button, so you can review comments before publishing.
- Making comments searchable, so you can find your comments via Google or another search engine.
- Allowing blocking comments of users you don’t want to see.
However, regarding other requests, the path forward is not as clear. For example, some users want to be able to sort comments chronologically while others want comments sorted by popularity, which would be determined via up- or down-voting. Some users prefer a nested, threaded system while others want replies grouped together chronologically. We may be able to offer choices in how you personally display the comments, or it may be that there really is a strong preference for the way the old “Letters system” worked. Let us know what is important to you.
Since you will be the primary users of the new system, we want to know how you want us to proceed. However, we need to be clear that these are not “easy fixes.” We’re well aware that free software and plug-ins are available, but these solutions simply don’t work when applied to a site with as much traffic as Salon. Our numbers have been increasing nearly every month for the past year and we’re on track to hit 8 million unique users monthly soon. The programming and development needed to update our comments system is costly and time-consuming.
The bottom line is that we have been in firefighting mode regarding some basic site issues, and are now turning our full attention to comments. We are currently exploring solutions, both in-house and with a number of popular vendors, for our comments system and our focus is supporting the vibrant, opinionated dialogue that makes Salon such a rich community. Obviously, the implementation timeline will vary depending on which option emerges as our best pick, but we very much understand the need to provide a robust solution as soon as possible.
In response to the many questions we’ve received since last week about whether Salon is planning to erect a pay wall that would block content for non-Core members: I’m very proud to let you know that we have absolutely no plans to block anyone’s access to our articles. However, your support is used to pay our writers, so if you appreciate fearless, independent journalism—of which David Talbot provides a great list of recent examples here—please consider joining Salon Core to sustain our ability to continue this work.
Lastly, we are aware that one of the most common complaints is that comments are not functioning on many mobile devices. Optimizing Salon for mobile is on our list of priorities, but this is a major project that will take months, not weeks, to accomplish. Unfortunately, this is not one of the upgrades that will happen in the first round. We are currently exploring various mobile strategies and, as you requested, we’ll be more transparent and communicative about the progress of our efforts.
Liam O'Donoghue is Salon’s communications director. He writes about what’s happening at Salon and manages Salon’s social media assets. You can follow him on Twitter @Liam_Odonoghue. More Liam O'Donoghue.
More Related Stories
- How I ended up in a pyramid scheme
- My bipolar partner beat me
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Teenagers care more about online privacy than you think
- The Maker kids are alright
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- Portland's senseless war on fluoride
- Graphic video reportedly shows possible London machete attack suspect
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- What economists get wrong about the jobs crisis
- Kicked out of the mall -- for an anti-cancer hat
- Amazon introduces fan fiction publishing platform
- Ted Cruz: "I don't trust the Republicans"
- Why do men pretend to be women online?
- Hickenlooper strikes major blow to death penalty
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- Glenn Beck: "The American people have just been raped"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11