Our live coronavirus blogs during the four Victoria lockdowns have been incredibly popular, keeping the moderation team busy. Our moderators kept abreast of the latest scientific and medical knowledge on the causes of epidemics and the deployment of vaccines.
They will reject COVID disinformation and conspiracy theories on the basis that Age does not harm public health and does not spread lies. I know there will be arguments as to what is right and wrong about some of these issues, so you need to use your judgment, but this is a responsible starting point for Age. Most of the time, simple moderation of the coronavirus live blog requires a full-time moderator.
Not all articles are open to comments. Our moderation resources are limited, which means decisions need to be made about hosting discussions in our comments section. We almost always open comments on live blogs, as we appreciate that they benefit from the talk and interaction of readers. I loved our comments on our blogs because it made them feel like a community, with readers sharing information, ideas and how they are doing.
You should also know that the higher a story appears on our homepage, the more likely it is that reader comments will be open. Australia’s libel and contempt laws are also factored into the decision to open or not to comment. For example, stories about court cases and legally contentious issues rarely allow comment. We know this may frustrate some readers – we haven’t opened comments, for example, on some early articles on the treatment of women in the Federal Parliament, and we know some of you weren’t happy with that. . Decisions on which articles are open for comment are made by Age editors.
Some of you may not be aware of our comment guidelines which readers can find here. The rules are quite simple: criticize ideas, not people, be respectful of each other and constructive.
Many readers contact me or contact other editors about reader comments, but our moderation team also responds to questions and welcomes comments. You can contact them via [email protected] I have been told, however, that due to the volume of reader comments we receive, it can be difficult to find just one in our system to respond to a query. You can ensure a faster response by providing the following information: What is your nickname ? What is the link to the article to which your comment was submitted? Are you a subscriber? What is the email address associated with your subscription or registration?
Some recent innovations we’ve introduced to underscore the value of a solid debate with readers include the weekly “What You Said” article written by our editor Orietta Guerrera. The article appears online this weekend and in Saturday age functionalities section, Overview. It highlights the articles that have generated the most comments and discussions.
Our staff have also shown interest in spending more time responding to reader comments online. They perform either at scheduled reader events such as David Crowe on Our Return to National Polls, Jessica Irvine answering readers’ money questions, Peter Hartcher on the transformation of China from becoming ugly, or more regularly as part of the of the journalists’ working day.
Hope this answers most of your questions. Email me if you have more and I can pass them on to the comment experts. And honestly, we don’t censor comments based on your political views! The very idea is against everything Age means.
Gay Alcorn sends out an exclusive newsletter to subscribers every week. Sign up to receive his editor’s note.