The North Adams Transcript has re-launched online comments on thetranscript.com, using a new and improved Web discussion tool.
We are following the lead of our sister paper, The Berkshire Eagle, in implementing Disqus (pronounced "discuss"), which lets users join online discussions using their social networking accounts, such as Facebook, Yahoo and e-mail, or by joining the Disqus online community.
Since The Eagle launched the new tool on Aug. 27, the paper has reported very few problems and a high level of accountability for users - something severely lacking in the former Topix online forum used by both The Eagle and Transcript.
The new comment section is located at the end of each story on thetranscript.com.
Disqus is used by thousands of sites, big and small, including CNN. Verified users can post comments immediately. Guests can post comments, but a moderator will review those comments before they go online.
The Disqus features are dynamic and fun to use. With a verified account, you can edit your own comments if you made an error. If you regret something you said, you can remove your comment entirely. You can review another's commenting history. You can track and manage your comments across the Web and follow what others are saying, too. You can "like" or "dislike" comments. Disqus also works on a "comment thread," which means online conversations are easier to follow.
The Transcript discontinued its online comments section in early August due to ongoing concerns that too many commenters were posting remarks that ranged from abusive to racist. While no comment tool is foolproof, the new online discussion is designed to do a better job of raising a commenter's level of accountability and to foster robust and insightful discussions.
How it works
To join the discussion, visit a story on thetranscript.com. At the end of each story, look for the comment section. To join the discussion and post comments immediately, verify your identity by creating a Disqus account. You can also connect through your Facebook, OpenID or Yahoo accounts. Type your comment and hit the post button.
With a verified Disqus account, you can manage your settings and your profile. For instance, you can share your comments on your Facebook news feed and/or use your picture.
Guidelines to be aware of
The Transcript will not tolerate "name poaching" or stealing others' identities. We will blacklist consistently abusive commenters, those who violate standards of decency or those who "name poach."
You own your comments - you are responsible for any liability issues.
"Guests" can comment, but our moderators will review their posts before they are released on the website. There will be a delay in the post if you comment as a guest; that's why we encourage you to set up a verified account. Visit http://disqus.com/about/.
As always, we encourage letters to the editor as a primary means of readers voicing their opinions and weighing in on issues. But we also must embrace the interactive age and realize its impact and its potential value. We hope you enjoy this online discussion, and we will work to improve and tweak the system over time. In the meantime, please let us know what you think. In fact, leave us a comment below.