The debate about comment sections on web sites can be as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently The Verge and The Daily Dot closed their comments sections because they’ve become too hard to manage.
Moderating comments is a significant task at many news organisations. Comment sections can also attract racist and sexist remarks.
If you enable comments, then as an organization you have to engage with those people who comment, and if you’re not active and by active I mean responding and moderating, what ends up happening is the mob shouts down all the other people on your site. On a site that isn’t properly moderated it becomes about silencing voices and not about opening up voices and having a dialogue between the organization and its public.
Many organisations do police their comments sections. They engage with users in ways that stimulate conversation and where appropriate the tone is often light hearted. Offensive remarks are deleted and those users are blocked. This level of engagement takes time and effort so for some organisations it just isn’t economic.
Where it isn’t economic to maintain an open and respectful online environment then the organization should close down their online comments capability and refocus their efforts onto social media. Which also requires pro-active participation but is less susceptible to trolls. The organisations channels of communication must remain open and be maintained. But clearly the future of the online comments sections is now under scrutiny.