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Public editor: An update on our new commenting system

I've heard from a number of readers about what they like and don't like about the new commenting system. Below are some of those complaints with the answers from Globe editors and digital staff.

Anjali Kapoor, director of digital news strategy, said, "We value the conversation that appears on our digital sites and we are committed to improving the experience. Our new comment system we released a few weeks ago has triggered some great reader feedback and we have been working to fix some of the issues in the past week. We will continue to evolve our comment system in the coming months and year, and hope you continue to give us your viewpoint."

What some readers like:

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The ability to delete previous comments. A number of you have said thanks for that.

The introduction of premoderated comments on some articles. You hope this will improve comments on sensitive subjects.

What some don't like:

Scores on comments: The total number of likes and dislikes on a comment is not included. While the system shows an overall score on a comment, many readers want to know more. "There is a big difference between one thumbs up in total and 99 thumbs up and 98 thumbs down," one reader noted. Response: Globe staff reports that they are working on restoring this functionality. Expect to see total positive comments, total negative comments, and overall score restored in the coming weeks.

Sorting comments: Some readers also want a return of the ability to sort comments by most active, as well as highest score and newest to oldest. Response: We recognize this is a feature many users have asked about, and our staff hopes to restore this feature in the near future.

Pagination of comments: The comments used to be displayed in numbered pages that you could navigate (if you sorted by time or most popular, that was helpful). Response: Not all of the features of the previous comment platform are available in the new one. Numbered comment pages, or pagination, is one of these features that unfortunately is not available. The number of total comments on a story is still clearly displayed at the top of a comment page, and we are able to provide sorting based on what our readers use most; highest score, oldest first, and newest first. Staff realize navigating pages with several hundred comments can be a challenge, and we will continue to find ways to improve the navigation and sorting options available to our readers.

Ability to click to an individual comment: Readers miss the ability to click on a comment and be taken to where that comment appears on the comment board thread. Response: Staff are working with the provider of our new commenting platform to see whether this functionality can be restored.

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Removed comments: The previous system displayed a message when a comment had been removed by a moderator rather than just disappear. Response: Staff are investigating whether this functionality can be restored under the new system.

Setting profiles to private: Some of you want to retain the ability to set your user profiles to private. Response: "This feature was not used extensively by many of our readers and so we decided to retire it. You can still track all of your comments on your profile page, but everyone will be able to see them. We think this is a step closer to better openness of comments on our platform," Anjali Kapoor says. If you have concerns about any of the comments you have posted that appear on your profile page, you are able to delete it (which will also delete any replies that were made to your original comment).

Display: Size of text too small and columns too narrow. Response: If you would like to enlarge the text, you can hold down the Ctrl button on your keyboard and press + until the text is at a desirable size. Pressing Ctrl and - will make it smaller.

If you would like to contact me regarding this or any other journalistic issue, feel free to email me at

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More


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