You can leave comments on LeftMN, sort of (
by Tony Petrangelo
Nov 19, 2012, 11:00 AM

On comments

As many of you may have noticed, we don’t have comments on LeftMN.

To be clear, that’s not by design, at least it wasn’t at first. A few weeks after we were supposed to launch we had the site ready to go, except for the comments. Rather than wait for those to be ready, we decided to go live without them. We’d roll out the comments, in a week or two, was the thinking at the time.

That never happened.

I could get into why that never happened; I mean it’s not exactly rocket science to put comments on a WordPress site. But that story is boring and involves things like APIs and Facebook integration. And frankly a bit of ambivalence about comments in general.

The point is that we don’t have comments, and in some ways that’s a problem. In some other ways, not so much.

It’s a problem because we don’t get much interaction from our readers. It’s not a problem because we don’t have to moderate the flame wars that are bound to erupt when readers interact on political, especially partisan political sites like this one.

This lack of comments has been the topic of some recent internal discussions here at LeftMN. Should we have comments? Who should be able to comment? How heavily do we moderate the comments? There are valid points to be made on all sides of the issue, but in the end we had to make a decision one way or the other and the current state of affairs, no comments at all, wasn’t anyone’s ideal.

So we’re rolling out a new feature here at LeftMN, Comments! Sort of.

On the left sidebar is the author box, with a nice looking picture of yours truly, hi there. My name is below the picture and then some social share buttons below that. The thing that’s new to the author box, the thing that is the point of this post, is the thing right below the social share buttons, the “Send Feedback” button. Behold its glory.

Pressing this button will take you, through the magic of the internet, to a feedback form on which you can craft your very own feedback message. When you are done composing said feedback message you can send it to us with the button marked “Send.”

But, and you knew there was a but, here’s where the whole thing stops being like comments, which is why we’re not calling it comments, we’re calling it feedback.

Your feedback won’t actually appear on the article page. Instead it will go into the feedback moderation queue for the LeftMN editors review. And even after we’ve reviewed it and approved of its awesomeness, or its not awesomeness, or it’s neutralness, as the case may be, it still doesn’t get posted on the article page.

So what happens to the feedback if it doesn’t get posted to the article page? I’m glad that you asked.

Feedback will be dealt with in one of two ways. First, if there are a bunch of comments about a specific thing or post, those comments about that specific thing or post that are good, or not good, again as the case may be, will get wrapped up into a Readers Feedback type post, probably with just as generic a name.

The second way in which these comments will be dealt with is through a new weekly feature, The Week in Comments (speaking of generic!). This will bring all the best comments and worst comments and maybe even some middling comments, into one place for observation by the wider readership.

There may also be other, as yet unimagined ways in which we will utilize these comments, but that is what Donald Rumsfeld would call a known unknown.

This particular commenting model is what I’m calling the Andrew Sullivan commenting model. It’s not something unique, other bloggers, namely Andrew Sullivan, have used it to great effect. Through this way of handling comments we feel that we can engage our readers while at the same time maintaining editorial control over what actually appears on our site.

If it doesn’t work we will revisit the issue, but in the meantime you can utilize our new commenting system to tell us what you think of it. Just click the “Send Feedback” button!

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.