Reader comments allowed?

To Doug Schneider,

I'm a fairly recent arrival to your site and have enjoyed it very much over the last few months. I was wondering if you had ever considered allowing readers to comment on articles, reviews, letters, etc.

I've usually found it to be a good way to generate discussion about topics covered and allows you, as the editor, to metaphorically take the pulse of your readership and get a better understanding of their views and what their interests are.

Keep up the great work.

Stephen Graham

We’ve always encouraged readers to write in and we usually post their comments here, positive or negative. We also provide answers if it’s warranted. This message is indicative of that. In fact, the “Letters” section on each of our sites draws many readers daily.

Insofar as allowing comments on reviews, etc., it is something we have considered a number of times, but we’ve not implemented it because of what we see happening on the many sites that allow direct user comments, as well as on the forums. Essentially, what starts off as a good discussion usually gets off-topic quite quickly and then degrades into back-and-forth arguments between a handful of people posting. So what starts off as a potentially valuable discussion rarely ends up that way. We’ve witnessed this kind of thing happening for the entire 16 years that we’ve been publishing. The Internet seems to breed that kind of negative exchange, so, as a result, we haven’t implemented comment areas or forums for any of our sites. That might change, mind you, if we can ever find a better way. . . . Doug Schneider