Salon commenters: What do you want from our community?

We know comments sections can be toxic; tell us how you'd make it better

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Published July 26, 2019 2:17PM (EDT)


You asked, we listened. And we're going to keep on listening.

Over the past year, we've been working to actively improve our community and the experience you have in our comments. Some of it has involved implementing stronger moderation tools so that less spam and less of the really toxic stuff gets through. It is not perfect, and if you're contributing to a thread in real time, you'll likely still see some of that crap before it passes through the moderation filters. We're trying! And we know it's not much of a comfort, but if you could see what doesn't get through some days, well, you'd see that filters do work.

We also introduced guest posting a few months ago. There are, we also know, pros and cons to this. Cons: TROLLS. Pros: Guest posting can be a means for people who prefer not to be identified to share their stories around our more intimate and personal stories. They can also let users try on Salon and its community before committing. Cons again: TROLLS. But if you've ever seen the comments on Facebook, you know plenty of people feel super comfortable being total wankers and putting their real names and faces to their garbage.

If you're a veteran of online communities -- including this one -- you know there are other strategies to consider, including having volunteer community mods (again, this brings its own drama). So let's talk about what you want. What works for you and what doesn't. I can't make promises, except a promise to listen and to keep trying new things. Talk to me!

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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