MinnPost has been publishing reader comments on stories since its founding in 2007 as a way to encourage civil, thought-provoking and high-quality public discussion. We’ve encouraged the public to engage with our editors and writers and with other comment posters.
But after a careful review of story comments over the past year and an assessment of the resources it takes to manage comments – including the corps of amazing volunteer moderators – MinnPost editors have decided to stop publishing comments on all stories starting today.
Before I explain that decision in more detail, I want to emphasize MinnPost’s continued commitment to reader engagement and to creating spaces where readers can connect with our newsroom and with each other. Now more than ever, Minnesota needs civic conversations to help surface solutions to complicated problems and create connections between people who can work together to strengthen their communities. MinnPost and other news organizations play a key role in sparking these conversations and connections.
MinnPost will continue engaging with readers through events, including this month’s MinnPost Festival and regular MinnPost Socials where audience members can interact with our journalists in a casual atmosphere. Our reporters and editors already respond to reader questions and comments via email and social media and will continue to do so. The newsroom accepts Community Voices and counterpoint pieces and has also worked to engage readers on specific topics through regular call-outs in our newsletters and/or in links on stories.
I’m interested in hearing your feedback on these efforts, in addition to inviting reaction to this most recent decision to end published comments. I know that some readers will miss the opportunity to weigh in via comments, read comments, or both. Members of our staff will also miss reader comments. For example, our Washington, D.C., reporter Ana Radelat told readers of the D.C. Memo today that she continues to invite their ideas, thoughts and criticisms via email.
Here are the factors that went into our decision to stop publishing comments:
- Comment quality. Our editors and volunteer comment moderators have noticed the quality of comments deteriorate in recent years. We see more commenters picking fights with each other or having off-topic conversations that have little or nothing to do with the story on the page.
- Comment participation trends. Editors analyzed the last year of comments and found that of 19,000 approved comments on the site, 55% of them were made by 20 people, and 77% were made by 50 people. MinnPost’s goals around source diversity and engaging and serving communities across the state require us to be intentional to ensure we’re including and reflecting the views of our broader audience. Dedicating resources to a commenting space dominated by a small group is not furthering those goals.
- Editorial capacity and priorities. As a nonprofit, MinnPost has relied on volunteers willing to read and approve comments, and we’re extremely grateful for their commitment and dedication over the years (if you’d like to express your appreciation for them, please do so here). One of the newsroom’s editors has been managing the volunteer schedule, and staff sometimes must fill in when a volunteer is unavailable.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, it makes sense for MinnPost to end comments and redeploy our resources to engage with readers in other ways. We also encourage readers who want to express their opinion to consider writing and submitting a Community Voices opinion piece or counterpoint.
In addition to thanking our volunteer comment moderators, I want to thank our readers for sharing their insights, perspectives and humor in the comments section over the years. I look forward to hearing from you on this decision (I’m leaving comments open on this page, or you can reach out by email or on Twitter/X). Going forward, please use feedback(at)minnpost.com for comments on stories, news tips or to notify us of possible errors in stories. Editors monitor the inbox during the day.