The New York Times Wants Your Comments! But Not All Of Them

Like just about every other Web publisher, the New York Times has figured out that encouraging commenting on its stories is one of the best things it can do.* And like just about every other Web publisher, the NYT is trying to encourge commenting on its stories — by highlighting the fact that people are commenting on its stories (see above right).

So the paper of the record wants its readers to sound off. Great, right? Absolutely. With two decent-sized buts:

  • The NYT doesn’t want everybody’s comments: Comments on each post are moderated, by an actual NYT employee, before they’re published. This has obvious upside for the paper (keeps spam and awful invective off the site), but we worry that it may also filter out some interesting commentary. It also removes any sense of real-time discussion among commenters. Also, that means the NYT is paying someone to waste a lot of time reading comments.
  • The NYT doesn’t want everybody’s comments, even if they pass muster. The Maureen Dowd piece that had 470 comments when we took the screenshot above now has 500 comments, and is no longer accepting more.

But we’re not carping. It used to be nearly impossible for an average reader to find their name in the New York Times. Now it just requires a Web browser. That’s got to be a good thing, right?

*If you’re cynical, you can argue that this gives the paper both more free content and more page views; if you’re hopeful, you can argue that reader input adds bona-fide value to each story. We’d go with all of the above.

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