At the Financial Times, we have long believed in hosting space below our stories where readers can expand on our reporting, meet each other and our journalists, and have meaningful conversations about the issues that affect our world. Comments are the most direct connection we have with our readers, and our journalism thrives when that connection is strong. Your insights, feedback and tips have been invaluable to us over the years; and how could they not be? You work in and study the fields we cover, live in the regions we report on, and provide a healthy critical eye to our editorial choices. You add extra analysis, a range of opinions, and a bit of humour to the topics at hand. So at a time when other news organisations have closed their comments and given these conversations to Facebook and Twitter, we have chosen instead to invest in making ours better.
After months of behind-the-scenes work, we are happy to announce that we are relaunching our reader comment platform in partnership with Coral, from Vox Media. Coral began as a project led by the Washington Post, the New York Times and Mozilla. It has done pioneering research on online communities, from academic studies to interviews with more than 150 newsrooms in 30 countries. The platform is informed by conversations with journalists, editors, commenters, non-commenters and even trolls. It uses AI and new tools to encourage community and civility on news sites.
Here are some things you should know, and new features you will see:
- Commenting will still work in essentially the same way: readers will still be able to comment, reply and recommend comments. You can still report comments that you believe violate our guidelines to our moderators, which we encourage.
- The process of migrating all past comments to our new platform will happen in stages. When it is complete, by the end of 2019, readers will be able to access their entire commenting history in one place (this is a feature that you have been requesting for many years).
- FT journalists and editors will be able to host conversations below the line much more easily, by posting questions at the top of the comment box on individual stories.
- Readers can ‘mute’ other commenters if they don’t want to see their contributions across the site. This mute will only apply to the individual reader’s experience.
- Readers can edit a comment for up to five minutes after posting.
- Our moderation team has substantially improved tools to moderate on the back end. Over time, this means readers should see improved quality in the comments below our stories.
- We will still offer email notifications, but they are a bit different. The FT can alert you by email when someone replies to your comment, your pending comment has been reviewed, your comment is featured as an Editor’s Pick, or a journalist replies to you. However, those notifications will no longer include the content of the comments for legal reasons. You will need to resubscribe to email notifications in your settings.
If you have any questions or feedback about the new system, please feel free to share — as always — in the comments below. We will be actively responding.
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