Our online readers will notice a change in the procedure and format for commenting on Web-based stories.
Beneath the stories, readers used to see a link that said "Article Comments." The link now says "Talk about this topic."
Clicking it will take readers to "Areavoices," the new online gathering place for people to comment on a story topic.
Commentators must register as a new user before submitting a comment. They need not register to see and read the discussion(s).
Commentator "trolls" beware. "Areavoices" will be moderated. A group of designated people will review and either allow or not allow the comment to "go live."
Moderators will also shut down a commentator's privilege if he or she abuses it. Generally, users will be warned at least once before being blocked.
The change comes as a result of longstanding issues related to comments such as commentators 1) harassing others or making untrue or uniformed statements; 2) joking about tragedies; 3) straying far off topic to include personal, unrelated rants; 4) impersonating other people online.
Rivertowns and its parent company, Forum Communications, agree that the change will help weed out the people who try to derail legitimate discussions or spread misinformation. The switchover should provide a more credible venue for readers to address the community issues important to them.
Commentators registering to "talk about it" must agree to the terms and conditions, which are: Keep it civil and stay on topic; don't use profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks; and don't harass others or joke about tragedies.
Users will notice more features, for example the ability to give a comment a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote. Readers can scroll to the bottom of the home page to find the "talk about it" topics pertinent only to New Richmond; or click on that story's link to see the discussion pertinent to it.
Please check out the new venue, register anew and whatever topic is of interest, talk about it.