Introducing Our New Comment System – For Real This Time

You may have noticed something different about Streetsblog’s comment system this morning. We’re doing a tech upgrade and introducing a new commenting platform called Disqus, which we hope will enrich the conversation here and make it easier for you to connect with other readers.  Los Angeles is the last Streetsblog to switch over to Disquis, so hopefully most of the bugs have been worked out by now.

Disqus is a popular commenting platform and you’ve probably seen it on other sites already. Having read the comment threads on the other Streetsblogs, I understand that there are some concerns folks have with using the Disquis platform, but we can make you a couple of guarantees: Streetsblog will still protect your personal information, you can still choose to post anonymously, and as moderator of the site I (Damien) decide what comments stay and go (and I think you all know I prefer to moderate as little as possible.)

If you’re new to Disqus, here’s how it’s going to change things at Streetsblog.

  • Threaded comments: You can now reply directly to someone else and have your reply appear indented below the original comment, instead of adding your thoughts at the bottom of the thread. The idea is to make it easier to track different discussions within a single comment thread. To reach a happy medium where the discussion doesn’t get too fragmented, we have the system set up to allow one level of replies, but not more than that. (So we won’t have endlessly indented threads delving into ever-more-off-topic digressions.)
  • Your identity: Disqus has some nice features that allow you to link your identity on Streetsblog to your accounts on social networking sites. You can now create an account with Disqus or use your Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts to identify yourself when you comment here. Your photo from this account will be pulled in beside your comment and other readers will know where they can look you up online. If you want to post anonymously, you still can. We have never and will never share your email or IP address with anyone else.
  • No more LivableStreets.com: Now that we have these better ways for commenters to identify themselves, we are going to finish shutting down livablestreets.com, where we’ve been hosting personal accounts for readers to share a little bit about themselves. A number of readers use those profiles to post comments here, but this is largely redundant given the integration between Disqus and other social networking platforms. If you have a livablestreets.com account, you will be receiving more information on this shutdown before it happens.
  • Liking and flagging: If you think another reader’s comment is spot-on, or is a nice addition to the discussion, you can now “like” it. The new system also lets readers help moderate the comments. If you read a comment that you believe should be removed, click the flag icon and a site editor will be notified. We do not want this feature to morph into a way to negatively rate comments that people disagree with, so here are three questions to ask before you flag a comment: Is it spam? Is it a personal attack? Is it hopelessly off-topic? If it falls into any of those categories, go ahead and flag it. If not, please leave it be.
  • Sorting: Streetsblog’s comment threads have always shown the oldest comments first. That will still be the default setting, but now you can choose to organize them so that the newest ones, or the most “liked” ones, are the first ones you see.

There are bound to be a few hiccups as we settle in to this new system. Please report any bugs to damien@streetsblog.org. If you’d like to give us feedback on the new system and how you think Streetsblog can make the most out of the Disqus features, please leave us a comment below.

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