Urban Milwaukee Changes Policy On Comments
Historic change in publication will accept comments from members only.
Oh those trolls. Right-wing trolls, left-wing trolls, often anonymous with fake names and spurious email addresses and so many scores to settle.
We here at Urban Milwaukee have lost patience with them. After years of discussion about this, and despite a long-standing reluctance to limit the dialogue, we have concluded there is too much nastiness, too much score-settling and too many digressions that take the discussion far from the topic at hand.
We began this publication with a firm belief in a free publication that is free to all readers, all views, all dialogue and discussion. We still believe in that. But like most journalistic publications, we have come to the conclusion that a free flow of dialogue is inhibited by a small group of verbal pugilists whose comments scare away other readers and discourage a constructive exchange of views. And we fear that the trolls and political snipers make the reading experience less pleasant for the vast majority of Urban Milwaukee’s readers. Indeed, we have heard from some longtime fans asking us to limit the comments.
We have decided that the comments section from now on will be open only to Urban Milwaukee members. These are folks we know are not fictitious creations with made-up names and fake emails, and who are not out to undermine the publication.
In the short term, the policy will result in less comments, since most now come from a small cadre of non-members. But in the long run it may actually lead to more comments, and certainly to a more constructive interchange of views. Long-term, the comments section might even become a draw to people who value the exchange of views and want to become Urban Milwaukee members to join the discussion.
And yes, we want to do all we can to encourage membership. At a time when Google, Facebook and other massive entities have taken over advertising and driven down the price that can be charged, we believe our members program is the key to our long-term survival.
Where does our new policy leave non-members? The publication is still free to all, and all of its articles can be read, all of its photos viewed and enjoyed. Non-members can still sign up for our daily email update of news stories and our daily email of new arts and entertainment coverage.
How does our new policy affect feedback from readers and the community? We have always gotten emails and phone calls from readers, and that is still open to all, and of great interest to us. We do publish letters (though we’ve seldom received them — that may change given our new policy); send any letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also run at least five Op Eds per week, and that remains an option for someone looking to advance a different view or provoke discussion. We also run about 100 press releases a week, more than any publication in town, and probably the entire state. These are from politicians, businesses, non-profits, businesses and other groups and individuals and include unfiltered information from them that helps us all to better understand our metro area and state. All of those outlets combined should assure the publication is as open to reader response as any publication in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Urban Milwaukee continues to grow its editorial offerings and readership. We see this change as part of that maturation process, as something will make this a stronger publication that is less distracted by verbal food fights and freed to be more responsive to the community and to all of readers.