Comments Return to VenturaCountyStar.com Now With Restrictions

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By: E&P Staff

Comments are back at the Ventura County (Calif.) Star Web site — but this time with new protections.

Last Wednesday, the paper discontinued comments on articles posted on its site after an upsurge of offensive comments took too much of the Star’s staff time to moderate.

In order to minimize the staffing burden, the paper instituted several new measures to streamline the commenting process and increase accountability, John Moore, assistant managing editor for new media and technology at the Star, announced on his blog yesterday.

First, all comments are connected to the site’s regular registration system, which in turn connects every comment to an e-mail address and a name. Though users could fake their name, administrators can now ban users whose contact information comes up false.

Next, the comments will be put through a profanity filter, which, while still posting the comments, will replace “a growing list” of offensive words with asterisks.

Finally, the Star is asking readers to report objectionable posts, and it is considering a system of volunteer moderators similar to those on tech blog Slashdot, though “maybe not as extensive,” Moore wrote.

Moore acknowledged these new measures wouldn’t keep out all “trolls,” or disruptive users.

“We recognize that the persistent ones can find a way around the wall,” he wrote. “At least now they’ll have to work at it a little harder. We’ve committed to devoting some initial staff time in the coming weeks to monitor the comments. We’ll work hard at keeping them away. Our hope is that we’ll spend less time doing that and more time working to grow and enhance the site.”

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