From the editors: Episcopal News Service to disable comments

Posted Aug 30, 2018

[Episcopal News Service] When we invited our readers to comment on Episcopal News Service stories nearly seven years ago, we did so in the spirit of generating and encouraging discussion related to our content.

However, increasingly, some voices have come to dominate the discussion, which at times has strayed from the stories themselves into theological and ideological arguments. We value our readers and we value civil discourse, but we can no longer offer a comment function on our website. Readers may still, however, comment on ENS stories on Facebook and Twitter. Readers who would like to comment directly to us may do so via news@episcopalchurch.org.

We are far from alone in this decision. Beginning at least in late 2014 and continuing to now, media organizations far larger than ENS have decided to stop allowing comments on their stories. They range from Reuters and USA Today to the Atlantic and National Public Radio. We regret this trend and the polarization that promoted it. We pray for a time when people can, in the words of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby “learn to disagree well.”

The editors 


Comments (12)

  1. Fred Fenton says:

    I have noticed the same trend toward disrespectful comments adding nothing to the subject under discussion. I think you have made the right decision.

  2. Elizabeth A Triano says:

    I am sorry to read this, and I certainly understand your decision. Thank you for all that you do.

  3. Anthony Price says:

    This is a real shame. Why not enforce some guidelines rather than pulling the plug outright?

  4. Jim Cutshall says:

    Sad, being afraid of comments and discussions on gives on side or point of view. That is a problem when that occurs. Sorry the “bosses” are afraid to let others speak.

  5. Wink McKinnon says:

    This decision only reflects your unwillingness to accept the fact that not all Episcopalians agree with your point of view on many of the issues you seem to espouse. Very sad, indeed.

  6. Marylin Day says:

    So sad…some comments are very thoughtful. Is this an austerity move? Can you pay for monitoring and removal if not within guidelines? Here’s hoping you are making the correct decision since as people become more disengaged, your readership may decline substantially.

  7. william dailey says:

    I agree with this decision. The direction of the church will proceed much more smoothly if those who disagree (agreeably or disagreeably) are silenced. The discomfort to those who disagree with those who disagree must be recognized and avoided at all costs. After all we do live in a grown up world-don’t we?

  8. Douglas Crellin says:

    Cowardly is the first thought that comes to mind, but then I reflected and realized it is not cowardly it is strategic to silent dissenting voices. Trying moderating and removing objectionable content and contributors. I am sure this is a lesson learned from our brethren in the Catholic church who are shut down from commenting on the appalling leadership that led to and in some cases allowed the outright disgusting abuse of children. Shame on you, shame on you. One more reason to leave this “church” that has become more interested in becoming a progressive political voice than a place of worship. I find no reason to subscribe now since this will just be one view with no feedback loop. Sad, truly sad. I will pray for all of you.

  9. Douglas Crellin says:

    And I have one last comment.

    This is the year of evangelism yes? How does that stand hand in hand with shutting down discussion? Good luck with your new evangelism model of we preach you listen, your response is no longer requested.

  10. Dagmar Hamberger says:

    It’s an understandable decision that ENS does not want to have to moderate multiple discussions on multiple platforms. The time and effort can hopefully go in maintaining and adjusting over and over the quality of the site to developments in society and technology.
    After all, the change is not even a paywall, it’s still free (and ad-free!) content that everybody is free to share and comment on whatever social network they use.

  11. Stuart Ibberson says:

    While I lament this decision I certainly understand it. Over the past few years I have seen many media outlets do the same thing; not do stifle discussion and respectful dissent, but to avoid the hatred, vitriol and name calling that so often accompanies comments. Some UK-based newspapers have moved to a model whereby comment-making is disabled on controversial stories, and left intact on not so controversial stories. I myself have been on the receiving end of such attacks, up to and including death threats. As it is, ENS has preserved the option of commenting on various stories via Facebook and Twitter – so we can still have our discussions, just not on this platform.

  12. Lou Schoen says:

    After seeing some of the hateful dialogue about race-based issues during General Convention, I can only say ‘thank you.’

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