The Scoop

A blog about what's new and changing on

September 11, 2008
Sacbee "Pluck"ing away at a better commenting tool

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 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 -- 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 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
  • 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.



September 5, 2008
Is the World Wide Web big enough for football fans?

Can't Raiders and 49ers fans just get along?

That's what I want to know.

On Thursday, I showed Bee Sports Editor Bill Bradley plans for the football section in the upcoming redesign of our Web site.  The page would twin coverage of our "local" professional teams, the Raiders and 49ers.  Bill would get everything he's been asking for - live scores, schedules, rosters, leader boards, standings, videos and prominent real estate for our popular Raiders and 49ers blogs.

Was he a happy man? No.

He looked at me like I'd just invited Planned Parenthood to Bristol Palin's wedding.  "You can't have Raiders and 49ers on the same page!" he hollered.

I did my best Gary Coleman impersonation: "What you talkin' about, Willis?"

"Raiders and 49ers fans hate each other," he said. "They don't want to see anything about the other team."

Now, admittedly, I'm not that much into football. When I go to a game, it's to eat bad food and drink beer.  But I do love tennis.  If I'm reading about my favorite player, Rafael Nadal, do I cringe at the mere mention of his upstart rival, Novak Djokovic?  No, I want to read about him, too.  It helps me size up Rafa's upcoming competition.

I'd think football fans would want to read about both their favorite teams and the teams they love to hate.

In any case, sports editor Bradley is taking his case to our boss, Managing Editor Tom Negrete, for a ruling on the best approach to football coverage on the new site.

Like a good tennis player, I'll abide by the ruling from the chair. 



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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