October 6, 2015 Last Updated 10:33 am

Vice Media’s science channel, Motherboard, shutters comments section, goes old school

The website will now seek comments via email, sort of a return to the Letter to the Editor style of accepting comments from media property’s readers

The Letter to the Editor is returning to favor, at least at the Vice Media tech channel Motherboard. Like other publishers, the editors of Motherboard are finding that comments from its readers are less than informative, adding anything to the conversation. So the site is going old school, calling on readers to send in their comments directly to the editor, as well as through social media. Readers had nothing to say about the change – well, with comments turned off, it is hard to gauge the reaction.
“What finally turned the tide was our belief that killing comments and focusing on other avenues of communication will foster smarter, more valuable discussion and criticism of our work,”editor-in-chief Derek Mead wrote.

Motherboard-screen-400Like many other websites, especially those involving science, they have found most reader comments to not really add anything their stories.

“What percentage of comments on any site are valuable enough to be published on their own? One percent? Less? Based on the disparity in quality between emails we get and the average state of comments here and all over the web, I think the problem is a matter of the medium,” Mead wrote.

While comments are increasingly leading to god-awful threads, they also rather artificially boost web traffic, and with it ad revenue. Probably the best example of this would be The Washington Post which appears to have made a conscious decision to moderate its comment threads with an extremely light touch – that is, not at all. The result is that a typical story will have a comment thread three or four times the length of a similar thread on The New York Times website, despite having far less web readership (though it is growing).

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