November 20, 2017 Last Updated 10:38 am

Crain’s Chicago Business shutters comment threads, directs readers to social media

‘Simply put, we do not have the personnel to manage this commentary, to keep it civil and fair and to halt the back and forth before it devolves into invective, name-calling’

The latest media brand to give up on comments is Crain’s Chicago Business which said that it simply did not have the resources to moderate its comments section to keep the trolls out.

“Since we launched ChicagoBusiness.com more than 20 years ago, we have employed a variety of tools—most recently a discussion platform called Disqus—to facilitate reader commentary,” the business publication said. “Inevitably, however, the trolls leave their trails of slime before we know it. Simply put, we do not have the personnel to manage this commentary, to keep it civil and fair and to halt the back and forth before it devolves into invective, name-calling and, in too many cases, outright hate speech.”

According to the paper, the trolls drive out readers and “sully our content, our brand and our sponsors.”

The ongoing problem of comment trolls shows no sign of finding a solution. A while back, when publications like The Daily Beast, Recode and several science publications closed their comment threads, there was a bit of a backlash from media observers sure this was a mistake. But since then, more publications, such as the Toronto Star, Vice Media’s Motherboard, and others have closed their comments down, as well (as has TNM).

Few publications appear willing to invest in a comments system that forces authentication and real name usage, or which limits comments only to paid subscribers. Closing down comments altogether seems to be the preferred alternative.

Like other media sites, Crain’s Chicago will be directing readers who wish to comment on their stories to social media. This, of course, only increases the power of outlets like Facebook and Twitter, while really doing nothing to lessen the number of trolls who will comment. But, at least, this becomes someone else’s problem.

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