...The recipe at The Atlantic and across major online news platforms has been simple: moderate and rank posts, vet commenters, and design the forum with threading and sharing features that streamline the user experience. By tucking comment sections under the editorial tent, trashy discussion can be redeemed.
“Readers are part of the conversation, and they’re part of the content of the site,” said Bob Cohn, digital editor at The Atlantic. Sometimes, he added, “the comment thread is at least as illuminating as the underlying piece.”
Thoughtful readers deserve a decorous, accessible outlet to voice opinion, to debate, and to further report stories from their vantage point, which can even spur fresh coverage.
But readers aren’t journalists. Still, according to new research, the distinction may be blurring....