Why TheWeek.com is closing the comments section
In the age of social media, the smartest and most vibrant reader conversations have moved off of news sites and onto Facebook and Twitter
Here at The Week, we have a deep respect for the intelligence and opinions of our readers, and take very seriously our mission of concisely giving smart, busy people all they need to know about everything that matters, on all topics, from all perspectives. And as our site continues to grow and change — we're now averaging 10 million unique visitors a month, and have a beautiful new redesign launching in early 2015 — we want the work we do to drive more and more smart and vibrant conversations among thoughtful people from all ideological backgrounds.
But as our industry has changed in recent years, so too has the optimal forum for these conversations. There was a time — not so long ago! — when the comments sections of news and opinion sites were not only the best place to host these conversations, they were the only place. That is no longer the case. Too often, the comments sections of news sites are hijacked by a small group of pseudonymous commenters who replace smart, thoughtful dialogue with vitriolic personal insults and rote exchanges of partisan acrimony. This small but outspoken group does a disservice to the many intelligent, open-minded people who seek a fair and respectful exchange of ideas in the comments sections of news sites.
And so today, the smartest, most thoughtful, and most spirited conversations are being driven not by pseudonymous avatars in the comments sections of news sites, but by real people using their real names on the social web. It is no longer a core service of news sites to provide forums for these conversations. Instead, we provide the ideas, the fodder, the jumping off point, and readers take it to Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or any number of other places to continue the conversation.
That's why we will be closing the comments section on TheWeek.com at the end of the year.
I'm sure this is somewhat unwelcome news for our most devoted group of commenters. Please rest assured that we truly do value your opinions, and look forward to serving you for years to come. We want to hear from you, too — please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we want you to continue using the work we publish to jumpstart lively and intellectually rigorous discussions. It's just time that we acknowledged that those conversations have moved beyond the comments sections appended to the bottom of news articles, and onto the social web.