If you are a regular reader of United Church News stories, you've undoubtedly noticed the disappearance of the 'comments' section that follows news articles.
The question is, why did the UCC temporarily turn the comments off?
While we are proponents of the free exchange of ideas, and commenting offers a great way to share an opportunity for discussion, it also has the potential to turn an article into a forum for negativity, racism, and hate speech that detract from the content of the story.
We know this is not the only space on the Internet that attracts controversial comments. We also know that many of those who add responses are raising thought-provoking issues that contribute to the discussion. But even one snarky, rude or unrelated comment can skew a reader's perception of a story. Above all else, our pages need to be a space that is free of the hatred and vitriol that have come to define other areas of the Internet.
We want to be in conversation with our members and truly value your feedback. There are many other ways to talk to us, and to each other — such as Twitter, Facebook, email, and even phone calls. We look forward to those future opportunities for engagement, dialog, and growth.
Connie Larkman is the Managing Editor and News Director of the United Church of Christ.