| The New York Times invites comment – with caution ::ranking & rankling commenters::


The new system… places reader interventions directly below the stories (often directly bashing the reporters’ work), a rather large concession from a paper that often strikes an Olympian tone. And, following the Washington Post earlier this year, they’ve introduced a tab highlighting “reader picks”, comments that users vote up – though, classically, there’s also a second tab for “NYT picks”, and the two never match.

Designing a newspaper comments system is a Scylla-and-Charybdis problem: make it too restrictive and nobody will use it, make it too open and you diminish your brand by letting the crazies run amok. The Times’s solution has been to create a class of “trusted commenters”, a status earned over time and meted out via some hidden algorithm, who will be allowed to post their comments immediately. The rest of us poor souls – untrusted commenters – must wait for editorial approval before our rejoinders hit the site.

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