The Scoop

A blog about what's new and changing on

May 22, 2009
Searching the web for cool links -- you can help

We've started a new feature on called The Links List. Plainly stated, it's a list of links to stories, videos, photos or blog postings that you might find useful, funny or entertaining. You can find it on the right side of our home page.

We'll look around for interesting items to feature, but you can help.  If you have a link you'd like us to see and consider for the home page, post it in our Scoop forum.

If there's a Sacramento tie to your link, that's great but it's not required. 

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Ken Chavez

May 12, 2009
Looking for your comments on comments. Be nice!

Remember that third-season episode of "Sex and The City" when the hardworking attorney, Miranda, finally gets fed up with the juvenile behavior of her bartender boyfriend, Steve?

"I'm so sick of you being the kid here," she says, frustrated. " . . . This isn't going to work, Steve."

"There's good stuff here," he protests.

"Not enough," she says.

That's where we stand at when it comes to public commenting on our site. We're in a rough spot with some of our readers. Feelings are being hurt, nasty words exchanged. Despite our rules against personal attacks, vulgarities, rudeness and just plain boorish behavior, people are engaging in just that, giving rise to a virtual breeding ground of taunts, name calling and ridicule that you'd find on a school yard -- except meaner.

Still, there is some good stuff here. Some people have used the comments to console families whose personal tragedies have made news, such as in the Sandra Cantu kidnap and murder case. Others have proffered news tips to our reporters who are investigating possible government waste or corporate corruption. Some are sincerely offering solutions to the myriad problems confronting our communities, from the drought to the state budget.

For those reasons and more, we are hesitant to take drastic measures to severely curtail - or simply do away - with commenting on our site, but we do want to clean up the commenting environment. I would like to hear from you on this issue. I've purposely suspended comments on this blog post and created a new forum where we can discuss this issue and others related to Please follow this link to the forum to offer your thoughts. does face some technical and staffing issues related to the monitoring of comments. I'll be happy to discuss those in the forum, but if we hear loudly enough from many of you on how you would like commenting to change, it will help us prioritize our work.

We will be looking to improve the tone of comments as well. So far, we've made our commenting rules more visible on story pages. And, while people always have had the ability to report abuses via the commenting system, we've made an email link to our Webmaster,, a more prominent part of our posting rules.

Now, we know that is not enough. We're inquiring with our Web site hosting service whether we can have the "most recommended" comments display first under the stories instead of the "newest" comments. Currently, each user can use a drop-down menu to display the "most recommended" comments on any given story. I've tried it and I've gotten better results. Readers tend to reward or "recommend" comments that are genuine instead of mean-spirited. Give it a try and see if it works for you.

Our sister paper in Merced, The Sun-Star, is turning off comments on local stories after three days to help curtail the work load that comes with moderating an open-ended commenting system. The paper also has disallowed comments on molestation and rape cases, among others, because of the propensity of those stories to draw offensive remarks. Some at The Bee wonder that's a move we should adopt on all crime stories for that very reason.

Let us know what you think. If you like these ideas or you've got some of your own, share them in our new forum. I'll be there to listen and respond.

Ken Chavez
AME/Interactive Media
Sacramento Bee
May 4, 2009
Lingospot: dynamic topic pages come to

We continue to work on all kinds of new and interesting technologies to deploy across The Sacramento Bee's Web sites, and one of the newest and most notable is the rollout of topic pages on

We are using Lingospot, an agreggator, to crawl and analyze the content of to pick out the most relevant topics to our users. The technology's key strength lies in the selection and ranking of topics based on the likelihood that our readers will be interested in each one. Once the topics are selected, Lingospot directs traffic to topic pages, which include content from a variety of sources - first and foremost (articles, blog postings, photos) and external sources such as Twitter, other local media, blogs, Wikipedia, the Associated Press, and more.

What does this mean to you, the reader? It means that you will now start to see words and terms hyperlinked within the body of a story. Clicking on that link will take you to our "topic portal" for that subject.

For example, you may have noticed that our on-going coverage of the swine flu has links to this page. You can find our current topics page by clicking on the Topics link under News in our navigation bar. There are also "Related Articles", "Related Topics" and "Popular Topics" widgets on every story page.

Our goal with this technology is to deliver more information to our readers from a variety of sources. As soon as a topic becomes "popular" it will automatically be linked across, and topics pages will refresh automatically to bring you the latest news. (A perfect example: expect to see "Santa Claus" become a timely, popular topic as Christmas nears.)

There are lots of interesting developments taking place in the shop these days, but this is one of the more notable and exciting ones, and our hope is that it will quickly become a popular feature of our site. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

About The Scoop

The Scoop is a blog where the managers of talk about new initiatives and our plans for You can reach us by at the e-mail addresses below or you can comment on our postings.

Tom Negrete is managing editor of The Bee and oversees the daily work of journalists who produce news content for the newspaper and Negrete, who has been at The Bee since 1994, has served as assistant managing editor for business and sports, sports editor and assistant city editor. E-mail him at or reach him at (916) 321-1171.

Seán McMahon is The Bee's Director of Digital Media, overseeing the interactive efforts of the company. His e-mail is

Linda Gonzales is digital team leader for and has been an editor at The Bee since 1995. You can email her at

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