Having a tight-knit community is vital to any news site. We receive each day hundreds of comments about the news. The most impassioned and devoted commenters bring to the table their thoughts, questions and opinions on a wide range of Letters to the Editor, stories and columns.
But our Web stats show the majority of visitors to the site don't read or contribute to the comments. And a recent survey of our registered users rated the quality of our comments as average, scoring 5.3 out of 10, with 25 percent labeling remarks as "offensive."
We want to encourage and promote productive, respectful discussions on Columbian.com and encourage new commenters to join the conversation. To that end, we have written a set of community discussion guidelines to help clarify and expand on our terms of service as they apply to comments. These are more relaxed and easier to read than legalese and are intended to provide commenters with a better sense of what is or isn't acceptable to post on Columbian.com.
This is a final draft, but we expect the guidelines to evolve based on your feedback and our collective experience as we build our online community. What do you think of the guidelines? What changes would you make? We're listening and appreciate your thoughts.