Regular commenters on this site may have noticed some slight differences in our Disqus comment system recently. It's never been perfect -- and we still may have a few bugs to sort out -- but I wanted to explain some of the more significant tweaks.
First of all, we've implemented "Facebook Connect" (that new blue button under "Add New Comment") to allow you to use your Facebook account to login and leave comments on God's Politics blog posts -- rather than creating a Disqus account. If you already have a Disqus login, you may want to log out and try Facebook Connect, since it has features like allowing you to post comments to your Facebook wall for your friends to see (though you always have the choice not to with each comment). Of course, if you're not a Facebook user, you can still create a Disqus account and login the usual way.
Second, instead of "show more comments," there are now numbered pages of comments. I'd been asking for this feature for a long time, and am glad it's finally been implemented to allow you to reach the end of a comment thread more quickly and easily.
Perhaps most importantly to our community moderation model, the "up" and "down" rating buttons on each comment are now gone. I don't know if anybody ever used those anyway. Now, each comment now has a "like" and "report" link. Click "like" if you like a comment and want to spread the love, and "report" if you feel a comment violates our code of conduct, which has been updated and clarified to reflect the change. I'll paste it here, and direct your attention to the last two points for emphasis:
Comment Code of Conduct
I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree -- even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)
I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)
I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)
I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)
I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)
I want to emphasize that we're relying on you, our readers, to report abusive posts -- this is what we mean by community moderation. Real staff people do review flagged posts, and delete those that we agree are in violation of our code of conduct, regardless of the political viewpoints that are expressed.
And, to be absolutely clear, if someone is determined to be a repeat offender, they are blocked from making future posts. Our operative metaphor is that of a party to which you've been invited as guests. And while we expect and encourage lively discussion, we are prepared to show the door to anyone who is repeatedly abusive. This includes the smarty pants types who re-register under different user names. Please don't come back to the party with a different costume.
We deliberately do not advertise how many "strikes" before you're out, because again, our operative model is one of hospitality, not legalism. Nor do we have the capacity to issue warnings with personalized explanations, or to haggle over whether this comment or that comment constitutes abuse. We realize and accept that these determinations will always be subjective, and suggest you do the same.
We have limited staff capacity in general, and believe it is better stewardship of our donors' dollars to prioritize staff time for the provision of content than the micro-management of comments. That's why we depend on and sincerely appreciate your active participation and cooperation as members of our online community.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners and a photographer whose work can be seen at www.ryanrodrickbeiler.com.