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PhinneyWood adds Facebook commenting

Since PhinneyWood went live in July of 2008, we’ve worked hard to make the site an open and inclusive place. You’ve responded with thousands of comments, forum posts (more on that in a moment), Facebook comments, Twitter mentions and emails, making PhinneyWood a vibrant gathering place for the community.

But recently, several longtime site participants have written us to say the comments have become such a frustration that they’ve stopped visiting the site: “(I) avoid clicking on links to PhinneyWood because of the nasty comments… I didn’t realize the anonymous nets could be ugly!” Another reader wrote to us saying, “(T)he comments are out of control. Any thoughts of doing away with them?”

The vast majority of the comments posted here are a large part of what makes this site a valuable resource and we don’t want to lose that. At the same time, we’ve seen some people engage in behavior meant to disrupt the site, including posting under multiple names and engaging in personal attacks against other commenters.

So after carefully considering options and ruling out eliminating comments entirely, we’ve decided to change the comments platform to Facebook, as many other sites are doing, including our sister site, MyBallard. You can still leave comments, but you’re required to post under your Facebook name, which is your real name. In effect, this ends anonymous commenting on PhinneyWood stories. The forum is not affected by the change.

While we may see a decrease in overall comments, other sites that have done this have seen an increase in the quality of the comments made once the veil of anonymity is lifted. On the other hand, you may think twice about leaving a comment with a news tip if your real name is attached.

That’s why we’re leaving the forum as an open discussion area, and you can always email us with an anonymous tip ([email protected]). But for story comments, we’re trying Facebook. Please let us know your thoughts in comments or in the forum.

As for the forum, we are working through some technical challenges to improve the functionality and reduce spam comments, of which we’re painfully aware. Thanks for your patience in the meantime.

And thank you for your support.