Network Norfolk readers think that user comments and forum posts are an important part of the website and add positively to articles and the site.
In a recent survey, 170 readers gave us their thoughts and 89% said that they read forum posts and 77% think that comments add positively to the articles and the site.
A third of users say they have left a comment and a fifth have done so more than once. Some 71% of readers believe that comments should be in forums and on articles
Opinion is much more evenly split on whether just signed-in members or anybody visiting the site should be allowed to leave comments.
Website editor, Keith Morris, said: “In the light of these results we have decided to restate and slightly amend our policy on forum posts. Currently we only allow signed-in users to leave comments on most articles, whereas anybody can leave comments in our Guestbook section, which is very well used.
“From now on, we will be more rigorously enforcing our policy, which can be found by clicking here. We will also be limiting forum posts to 300 words to discourage people from merely cutting and pasting copyright material from other sources. We will also be moving the latest posts off our home page into a special section under Resources. We will also add a sign-up box at the end of articles to encourage people to sign up and then be able to make a comment.
“If the small number of people who regularly abuse the comments facility continue to do so, we may at a later date have to restrict comments to signed-in users only, which would be a shame.”
What users said:
“I think the policy you have now is adequate, but mustn't stifle opposing views. However these views must be expressed in a way that will not offend.”
“Opposing views need to be allowed, even encouraged. If one group of Christians is apparently promoting something which is held to be sin by another, that debate needs to be heard. However, the manner of all statements made on the website must always be civil, expressed with grace and humility.”
“In general it is better to refute than remove negative comments.”
“I guess by allowing anyone to comment it may give us Christians a REAL view of what some non-Christian opinion is and we can use it as a tool to break down those barriers and learn to understand how to reach people.”
“The important thing is that comments and debate can make people think, when today all too often people are fed instant ‘answers’ and don't think for themselves to test them out. If comments are not allowed after articles they are far less likely to be read and stimulate the thought that people need.”
“Uncalled for critical comment should be removed from the website and the moderation policy clearly articulated and defended from those who want to hijack the great work of Network Norwich.”
“The site is great for news and updates - the random opinions are not news, they are usually ill-formed and often incorrect. Therefore protect the news status of the site by not having people make silly comments.”