From my e-mail Inbox:
"I have read the Bee online since it came on the Internet, I am seeing more and more comments which serve no purpose except to attack people, make comments which are just to belittle people, call people names."
The gentleman who e-mailed was not anonymous, but most of the people who leave comments on sacbee.com are. And the reader is right. Often, users take advantage of that anonymity to leave remarks that they wouldn't dare sign their names to.
With the redesign of our Web site, we will launch a new commenting system that we hope will allow us and readers do a better job of policing our message boards. The new system is not fool-proof, but it holds the promise of providing users with a better way of interacting with sacbee.com -- and each other.
The new commenting system is , one of the Web's leading purveyors of social interaction tools. Many other newspaper companies are using Pluck's SiteLife suite of tools and we're happy to be joining them.
How will Pluck make sacbee.com better?
- There will be a three strikes and you're out policy for inappropriate comments. If three different users flag a comment as somehow offensive, it will be removed from the site for moderator review. Currently, one flag removes the comment. The new system will cut down on the break out of "flagging wars" that some readers wage simply because they don't like what another person has to say.
- Pluck will help us better track abusers by assigning demerits to users whose comments are flagged. The system will notify us if any one user racks up a number of demerits. We can review that person's commenting history and decide whether he or she should be barred from discussions.
- Users will be able to message one another directly. You will be able to send a message to a specific user if that's what you want. No need to drag everyone into a conversation that meant only for two.
- You will be able to create "personas" to go along with your user name. You can post your picture, or an avatar. Share with others where you live, your interests, your background. The more we know about one another, the less we are the nameless and the faceless open to attack. For an example, see Dayahka's profile page on USAToday.com.
- You will be able to launch your own blog. Just in case commenting isn't enough to get your views across, or you just want to share more about life, you can use your Pluck persona to blog to your heart's content. If we like what we see, we'll feature your blogs on their own page, much like they do at SFGate, which already has Pluck in use.
Those features are just some examples of what Pluck has to offer. As I said, the system is in use on other newspaper Web sites like the ones noted above. Check them out and let us know what you think.