Starting Tuesday, only identified readers will be able to comment on The Anniston Star website and only substantive comments will be accepted — no name-calling, no personal attacks and stay on topic, please.
The Star is renovating its website and the most notable feature for commenters will be that they’ll have to log on through their Facebook page to comment.
“In the past, folks have done that anonymously,” said Bob Davis, editor. “There’s a growing body of wisdom that that anonymity has led to a lessened quality of online comments.”
At The Star, that anonymity created a two-tier system for readers who wanted to speak their minds through the paper. Speak Out writers were required to give their name with their opinion and to refrain from the name-calling and personal attacks that were often tolerated in online comments. With the new website, both types of commenters will be operating under the same rules, Davis said.
In March, Facebook started allowing websites to use its network as a conduit for commenting.
“According to a Business Week magazine article, 17,000 websites in the first two weeks of its launch went to Facebook commenting,” Davis said.
The Dothan Eagle and the Los Angeles Daily News are among the newspapers moving to Facebook commenting.
Consolidated Publishing, The Star’s parent company, started working on the redesign in March, but the Facebook commenting was really the last piece put into place, said Justin Thurman, multimedia director.
The look of the home page also will change Tuesday. The live updates on the home page will be expanded to include the Twitter feed, breaking news from around the state as well as local breaking news.
“I wanted to highlight all of the ongoing content that is on our website,” Thurman said. “We want people to realize how much information gets put on our website each day.”
The new community bloggers will also be featured more prominently on the page. The Star has about a dozen bloggers who responded to the opportunity to blog about their community. Those blogs will be included in the live news feed and a link to the community bloggers’ posts will be available at the end of the live updates and near the bottom of the page, Thurman said.