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More comments on articles means a reminder on conduct

More comments on articles means a reminder on conduct

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Since the beginning of March, as more people have been staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic, more people have also been commenting on stories here on stltoday.com.

During the week of March 9, more than 740 commenters left more than 3,000 comments on articles. That number was the most comments made since we switched to the new commenting system in August. 

But the new record was last week, when 757 unique commenters wrote 3,571 comments.

And there is plenty to be talking about, as the pandemic spreads concern and various levels of government react. Without the ability to meet in person, people are turning to the comments to share their opinions and react to the news of the day.

With more comments can come more disagreement, and now is a good time to review some of the things we ask of commenters:

As I wrote when we introduced the new commenting platform, we don't ask that everyone agree, but we do expect people to refrain from insulting each other.

That includes using hurtful nicknames for political parties (DemocRATS or RepbubliCONs, for example), saying that people are mentally ill or suffer a kind of derangement syndrome, or hoping that people come down with a life-threatening disease.

There are several cases where moderators will delete a comment: referring to people as animals, using variations of the word "retard," or using overtly racist or sexist language.

While we ask commenters not to insult each other, moderators will allow comments about public figures that others may find insulting to remain on the site, for a few reasons. One is that those public figures will rarely be reading the site. Another is that they're public figures, held to a different standard than many private people, and naturally exposed to more scrutiny. Saying the president is stupid in a comment is different from saying that another commenter is stupid.

Moderating comments can be a tricky balance of allowing someone to express their opinion and seeking a polite conversation, even in disagreement. 

We hope that our comment sections allow for thoughtful interactions, even as more people use them in an increasingly divided time. 

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