Civil discourse in an online world | Editorial

From the reporter’s desk

Starting Nov. 11, all of the comments on BBJToday.com will be handled by Facebook, rather than the current system, Disqus. Though this will require commenters to have a Facebook account, it will improve the content of the comment section and hopefully increase social engagement.

If you’ve ever read the comments on a news website, you’d know that it is not a place for the faint of heart. Some commenters have legitimate points to make, but it often doesn’t take long for the discussion to turn into a melee of mudslinging and machinations by anonymous commenters.

One of the best ways to foster an environment of decorum is to encourage commenters to use their real identity — something that has been a challenge since the dawn of the Internet. Facebook offers a solution: not only does it have a proven system for handling comments, but it also enforces the use of real identities.

This is not an endorsement of Facebook per se, but their system offers the best way to encourage respectful interaction in what is designed to be a public forum.

Anonymity still has its places in the media, especially to protect sources. But in the public forum of a comment section, the public is best served without the veil of identity. Real people having real conversations is ultimately good for both this newspaper and the community.

The news industry is clearly moving away from anonymous commenting and The Bellingham Business Journal is proud to be in the vanguard. To learn more about our switch to Facebook commenting, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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