20 thoughts on “Sunday open thread

  1. Dionysis

    Isn’t the MtX concerned that participation via posts has dropped off to near nothing? Even the mullet-wrapper AC-T is doing better after losing 90% or more of their post volume post Facebook.

    What happened and what, if anything, is being done to resurrect reader participation?

  2. D. Dial

    The implication to me of no response to the recent poll regarding the changes is…we didn’t like/appreciate the comments/public participation.

    • Dionysis

      Well, it is hard to come to any other conclusion. There seemed to be near unanimity regarding the criticisms and suggestions solicitated from the public, none of which have been forthcoming (so far, anyway). It makes one wonder if the request for feedback was even sincere, or if it was just a PR ploy.

      It seems a shame to see a venue that was so energetically used by so many just drop off as it has, with seemingly no concern exhibited.

    • bill smith

      Dio- Homogenizing comments vie required facebork registration is the hip new thing in media conglomeration. And the publisher of this particular ‘news’ source seems both confused by the internet, ad easily led into whatever the new trend is.

  3. Dionysis

    @ bill smith…I guess you are correct. I am not tempted the least bit by the “hip new thing” and feel that anyone willingly giving up all vestiges of anonymity to Facebook is making a mistake, and publications that insist upon it are making an even bigger one.

    I’ll pass.

  4. Margaret Williams

    Honestly, we’re perplexed about the drop-off in comments, and I don’t have all the answers you’re looking for. For example, I don’t know what specific suggestions/criticisms Dionysis has passed along or is referring to here, so it’s difficult to respond.

    I’ve heard some mention that it’s become more difficult to post comments at mountainx.com (since the redesign?). Our moderation policy has not changed, so is there some technical problem that hasn’t been brought to our attention? I have noticed recurring problems with our spam filter, with some instances of comments getting lost (we receive thousands of spam comments every day). Our webmaster has been working on that.

    As for the Facebook+comments: If you want to comment at mountainx.com, we don’t require Facebook registration. There’s a strong sentiment among Xpress staff that this social-media site should not be the only avenue for commenting on our site.

    On the other hand, we have considered various ways to make commenters and comments more transparent

    • Dionysis

      “For example, I don’t know what specific suggestions/criticisms Dionysis has passed along or is referring to here…”

      I was referring to some of the suggestions made early on by numerous people, such as (1) moving the classifieds off of the front page and (2) having the text of articles be displayed across the full length of the page, instead of crammed in the center, and (3) less emphasis on blogs and tweets. Those items, among a few others, were brought up many times during the past few months.

      With regard to the Facebook issue, the comment was general in nature, although all one has to do is look at the effect of this policy change on the volume of posts made at the AC-T now compared to before the policy change. As predicted, it has devolved into a boring venue with a handful of people agreeing with one another. While it is decidedly more ‘civil’, it is also stupifyingly borrrrrrrrinnnnnng.

  5. Barry Summers

    I’ll suggest what I think are a few reasons for the drop-off in comments.

    (a)The old website listed all letters, op-eds, current news articles, etc. by name, author etc. in the left column, along with the comment count for each one. At a glance, you could see who was talking about what, and whether there had been comments.

    (Still does: http://old.mountainx.com/ )

    The new design makes you click through each different topic area one at a time just to find out what’s there, which then also involves a lot of scrolling, and waiting for the next set of articles to load, because everything has to come with a picture now… What used to be covered with one glance now takes a couple of minutes of clicking and scrolling. Unless you saw something in a print edition, a lot of stuff just disappears into the bowels of the website. Me & Katie Hicks wrote a commentary on the water issue that in the past would’ve surely ignited a huge discussion, but as far as I know, it never appeared on the front page, and in spite of hundreds of ‘views’ it only received one comment.

    (Shameless plug: http://mountainx.com/article/38977/Private-business )

    (b)The flow of new entries to the central ‘articles’ section is so constant and so voluminous, nothing stays visible for even a day. And everything is given the same weight, in the sense of how much time it is featured on the front page. A major news article about a topic that will shape the region forever can get knocked off the headlines and down the memory hole, by a couple of throwaway ‘busker’ stories. Sure, you can click and scroll and search to see what you missed if you didn’t look at the site everyday, but how many people are likely to do that?

    (c)The email notifications option was great in keeping a thread alive – you comment once, and then you’re kept aware of the ongoing conversation. Now, especially since the articles, letters, etc. that we comment on either aren’t visible on the front page at all, or for only a very short time, you have to constantly click around to see if anyone else has commented on a story. Maybe we got spoiled, but it’s suddenly become work to be part of the dialog.

    (d)The new front page is so crowded with tweets, blogs, likes, ads, and classifieds, that it’s just doesn’t motivate me to stick around and participate in anything. I know you have to raise revenue, and that connecting your site with social media is all the rage now, but is it really worth it?

    This town desperately needs a venue for discussing these issues. I hope you can find a way to draw people back…

    • Dionysis

      I tried to reply to Barry Summers’ points three times, clicking on ‘reply’, typing the text in and hitting ‘send’. Nothing shows up.

      How irksome.

  6. Dionysis

    “Criticism bounces off.”

    It wasn’t criticism that was attempted to be posted in reply. It was in reply to this…”I hope you can find a way to draw people back…”

    One way, it seems, would be to revert back to what worked, such as The Old MountainXpress.

    Either that, or recognize that with these changes, the need for another local publication to provide what this one used to (i.e. a lively community-based forum for discussion of significant local news items) is glaring.

  7. Dionysis

    “Criticism bounces off.”

    It wasn’t criticism that was attempted to be posted in reply. It was in reply to this…”I hope you can find a way to draw people back…”

    One way, it seems, would be to revert back to what worked, such as The Old MountainXpress.

    Either that, or recognize that with these changes, the need for another local publication to provide what this one used to (i.e. a lively community-based forum for discussion of significant local news items) is glaring.

  8. Dionysis

    Sorry for the double-post, but when the ‘submit’ button is clicked, nothing appears to happen, only getting an ‘error on page’ warning. So I hit ‘submit’ again. Nothing. Five minutes later, both posts show up.

    How is it that these kinds of problems didn’t occur previously, but with the new format, they seem to be the norm?

    Lastly, does anyone associated with producing the MtXpress really believe this ‘new’ format is an improvement?

  9. Margaret Williams

    So… make it less like work! (and fix these odd glitches; we are having some technical, deep-background issues that are proving stubborn).

    Dionysis, we have many an interesting debate about the new site at Xpress and are weighing the options and opportunities, perhaps a re-do of the re-do, or a back-to-the-drawing-board direction. Right now, fixing problems is a high priority, I hear from the Web department.

    Meanwhile, I have things I like and things I don’t like about the new site. I hope you can all remain cautiously optimistic. We do hear you!

  10. D. Dial

    Why not revert to the old site and make the corrections that have been suggested in tis thread (excellent y’all), meantime tweak the new page and present a beta testing option? That way we your loyal citizen participants can assist in what’s working and what to discard, or move to another part of the site.

    To me, the new web experience was kinda like a slash and burn of the old features. As it had many options that made it work for use to easily interact. (Most mentioned above, so I don’t need to be redundant.)

    Also in the interest of better comments, require a real identity.

  11. Dionysis

    “in the interest of better comments, require a real identity.”

    I don’t know about everyone else, but when I first registered to post here, I had to provide my real name and email address. So ‘real identity’ is already known by MtXpress staff. Do you mean publicly identified ‘real identity’? And how would you define ‘better comments’? I can see how comments would end up being watered down and ‘safe’, but don’t know how that would be ‘better’.

  12. Margaret Williams

    Perhaps because I’m getting older, I forget who you are, Dionysis. And

  13. Dionysis

    “I’m getting older, I forget who you are, Dionysis.”

    That’s okay; a few more years and I’ll forget who I am.

    Aren’t there moderators (like you) to keep the lid on things?

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