The return of comments

Last Friday, we announced that we were taking a week-long hiatus from the open comments section -- a decision we anticipated a lot of feedback on. What we didn't anticipate was that a good amount of it would be positive. Here are some of the things we heard from readers via email and social media:

"So glad you're doing this concerning the comments section. I wish a lot of other content sections would do the same."

"This was a great move on Engadget's part since it is quite disgusting seeing what some people post at times. Thanks."

"Do you Engadget! I will remain loyal!"

"As a long time Engadget reader, and somebody who has never commented, I feel compelled to inform you I will not be frequenting your site again until the comments are turned back on."

Well, we have good news for that last person -- and everyone else who has missed the comments section -- because today, as promised, we're turning the comments back on. So... now what?

Not every single post will have an open comments section; much like before the comment break, some stories will not have comments because they concern topics that, in the past, have proven incendiary and difficult to moderate. We aim to eventually have comments open on all stories, and there's more on how you can help with that below.

One of the things that was most clear when we turned off comments last week was that our comments section had become a problem -- it wasn't serving you, our readers, with a great community. Readers were sidestepping our comments section like something unsavory on a sidewalk, while others were coming just to watch the insults be hurled and the fighting commence. The relationship between our editors and writers and our commenters was often antagonistic. In short, no one was happy with the situation.

So, consider this an olive branch -- we'd like to work with you to make this a better online community. We want a comments section full of interesting, informed observations, unique and well-phrased opinions, and some quality constructive criticism. We'll be working on rolling out features to make this happen, the first of which will be in-line moderator tools. This means we'll be looking for volunteer moderators -- because no one can moderate a comments section better than its own members. If you're interested in that, send us an email here.

Comments will be increasingly moderated; because there has been some confusion about what does and does not qualify for removal here are a list of the types of comments and behaviors that will get deleted. Please note, these are in addition to our standard set of guidelines which include no sexism, racism, homophobia, or personal attacks:

  • No more name calling. Oddly enough, calling someone an idiot or a fanboy rarely results in a productive or civil conversation. (I know, strange right? I always want to have lengthy discussions with people who start off by insulting me...Oh wait. No, I don't and neither does anybody else.) Here's the thing: This isn't a grade school playground and if you can't argue your point without being disparaging and disrespectful then what you need to do is improve your argument. This counts everything from "You're an idiot" to "Stupid fanboy" or "SJW!" or "Dirty Republican scum!" or what have you.

  • While we're okay with the PG-13 level swear words, anything above that is probably going to get flagged by our mods. Any time you're swearing AT someone, that comment is getting deleted, period. Don't drop those f-bombs please.

  • No threats or suggestions of violence or self-inflicted violence. That means no more "kill yourself" or "you should jump off a bridge" or "you sound like you need to get punched in the face." Those comments will absolutely always be deleted, and if you make them repeatedly, your account might be as well.

  • If you only come to Engadget to tell us how much we suck, to call us biased shills (without backing up that statement with facts), to tell us our articles suck and that you hate our website well then... We're probably going to delete your comments. We may even ban or remove your account. Because there's a difference between constructive criticism when we've left out a pertinent fact or misspelled someone's name, and those who apparently only visit to complain about articles that no one is forcing them to read.

  • It's (clearly) fine to debate the merits of your OS of choice, but having every article that mentions either Apple or Google (and even some that don't) devolve into people lobbing insults and arguments is getting really old. If you're singing the same iOS vs Android tune in an article that has nothing to do with either, we're just going to start Rick-rolling you.

I am...almost certainly not kidding about that.

In short, if you find yourself wondering if a comment is going to be a problem, ask yourself the question our mods do: Does this contribute to the conversation? And: Can I back this up with verifiable facts?

Now, another reason for the break was so we could get the moderation tools ready and we'll be looking to roll out more features consistently. Here's what we're working on for the comments section:

  • Log-ins: Currently, log-in certificates last about 18 hours which is why you need to log in to comment (even if you were logged in the previous day). We're trying to push that to at least 24, ideally more like 36 hours, but regardless we want to have a pop up box alert you when you start typing and aren't logged in yet.

  • Notifications. You will be notified when someone replies to one of your comments, or a new comment appears in a thread you've commented in or are following. You will. IT WILL HAPPEN.

  • Profiles. It clearly helps foster a feeling of community when you know who the members are. Because we do take pride in our community, and we want you to as well, we'll be rolling out full community profiles that includes a history of all that persons comments.

In the meantime, I'll be including updates on the progress with comments in the Public Access Weekly posts, and via social media. If you have suggestions, or feelings, or adorable animal GIFs feel free to leave 'em below. In the comments section.