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New website debuts — minus the comments

By now, readers who get their news online should be seeing our new website. Editor Cathy Noah wrote last week about the impending launch, and it happened Tuesday morning with only a few hiccups.

The address is the same: www.mailtribune.com for the Tribune, and www.dailytidings.com for Tidings readers. The layout is new: I find it less cluttered and easier to navigate, with drop-down menus across the top of the page and handy links to the Mail Tribune’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest page and YouTube channel.

You may also notice something that was there before but is no longer: reader comments.

You may remember discussions in this space about whether to continue allowing site visitors to post comments on stories, editorials and letters to the editor. In January, Cathy asked readers to weigh in on whether we should end comments entirely or continue to try to monitor them for vulgarity, personal attacks and other violations of the rules of polite discourse.

As she explained then, we want to allow readers to have their say on the issues of the day, but if folks can’t behave and treat each other with respect, we don’t have the staff to monitor every post and delete the offenders.

The problems were primarily confined to a relatively few individuals who seemed more interested in getting into flame wars with each other than in discussing the issues. All that did was discourage more thoughtful readers from engaging at all in the comments, and take up precious staff time to ride herd on people who apparently have nothing better to do and missed the lessons in kindergarten about how to play well with others.

When our new website launched, we had the option of paying an outside company to monitor user comments, but we want to spend the resources we have on reporters and editors, not playground monitors. We went with the majority of responders to Cathy’s query: take the comments down.

We think the absence of vitriol enhances the clean look of our site.

We are not silencing anyone. As I wrote back in January, the First Amendment does not give anyone the right to be published in our newspaper or on our website. We continue to welcome letters to the editor from those willing to abide by the rules: Use your real name, include a telephone number if we need to verify your identity or anything else about your letter, adhere to the limit of 200 words for regular letters and 150 for election endorsements or thank-you letters, and refrain from personal attacks on other writers.

If you feel compelled to comment online, you still can, on stories we post on our Facebook page.

Reach Editorial Page Editor Gary Nelson at gnelson@rosebudmedia.com.

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