Comments: commit to them, or get out

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

The Financial Times is using comments to engage in a constructive discussion around Brexit.

Lilah Raptopoulos, community manager at the FT.:

“Creating a hub where it was clear that we were asking and listening really improved the quality of the comments that came out, because people had fuller ideas and thoughts, and they were more personal.

“We believe in moderated comment sections and I think they are one of the most direct connections we have with our readers.

Compare and contrast with this news from IDG:

We’re no longer taking comments on our websites —including,,,,,,,,, and Instead, we’re encouraging readers to interact with us on our social media outlets, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

It’s the familiar message: “goodbye, comments, why don’t you all pop off to social media”. This industry’s willingness to hand its reader relationships over to Facebook lock, stock and barrel concerns me.

Killing the community manager

Jason Snell, a former IDG employee, celebrates the decision, but makes an interesting aside:

We used to have a dedicated community manager, but that position had been eliminated years before and editors were forced to act as moderators in their “spare time.”

And there’s an even more familiar tale: taking away dedicated community management resource undermines any effort to have a positive community experience for the readers. As John Gallant, Chief Content Officer, IDG US Media says in the announcement post:

Second, while we’ve always valued comments, we’ve also had to deal with the reality of managing spam and policing inappropriate comments—comments that don’t reflect the professional nature of our audiences and diminish the value of community interaction. Moving the discussion to social media obviates those issues.

So does hiring community experts like Lilah Raptopoulos. But that costs money. If you won’t put you money and time into readers relationships – you don’t care about reader relationships.

commentscommunity managementfinancial timesIDGpublishing strategy

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.