So last summer, I made the decision to shut off comments on 3DownNation. I was going on vacation and I didn’t want to spend my entire holiday worrying that somebody would drop an n-bomb or an f-bomb or an R-bomb (which is anything critical of the Riders and sets off a firestorm.)
The reaction was mostly positive. It turned out there were a number of readers who had grown tired of the usual anonymous suspects going back and forth about the same old stuff.
But… well, I kind of missed it. Comments are a form of instant feedback – good, bad or indifferent – and it provides a certain level of accountability for our work. As we’ve recently become an independent entity that will be relying on our readers to sustain the site – with corporate backers, that wasn’t something we really had to think too much about – that accountability will take on greater importance.
And while there are always a few bad apples, my experience in the greater online community surrounding the CFL has been overwhelmingly positive. The engagement is inspiring and rewarding, a reminder the work we do isn’t just floating off into the void. Plus, there’s always a few great takes or perspectives we haven’t considered… the discussion has a value in and of itself.
But we couldn’t go back to the wild west of comments. The old system didn’t require registration, email authentication or accountability of any kind: people could just say anything they wanted with zero consequences.
So our new comment system will be integrated with Facebook. It’s an imperfect solution, no doubt: not everybody has a Facebook account and, while setting one up isn’t hard, neither is manufacturing a fake profile. And I’ve got ethical concerns about how Facebook collects and uses data (and might be murdering journalism by accident.)
But it does add a layer of accountability and that’s the main thing.
That said, there are still rules around our comment section and we still reserve the right to nuke the stuff that violates our guidelines. Banning the bad apples remains a viable option.
History says that won’t be necessary, however. The vast majority of our commenters just want to talk some CFL ball with other writers and fans who love the game as much as they do. Others want to tell us what great job we’re doing (or what a not-so-great job we’re doing.) That’s all well and good: like I said, engagement and accountability are more prominent goals in the new 3Down world.
So welcome back. I’ll be reading your comments with interest.