Every day, the editorial staff at the UKrant wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? ‘At UKrant’, an irregular column, we take a look behind the scenes.
Every week, dozens of UKrant readers leave comments on our articles. It’s a function that’s important to the editors; after all, the university is a place for discussion and debate where we exchange opinions and visions.
Many Dutch news sites that once had comments sections have either since removed them or have limited their functionality. Some of our fellow university magazines only allow comments from people who are demonstrably attached to the university in question, for instance through a verifiable email address.
So far, UKrant has decided not to do this, although we did sometimes ask ourselves if we should keep going the way we were. The reason is clear: every week, we see multiple people slinging mud, cursing, yelling, (political) nagging, bashing people, and writing nonsense.
Our comment sections have clear rules. Fortunately, most comments are actually constructive, on topic, and relevant. But not everyone follows the rules. That’s why we’re constantly monitoring both the Dutch and English sections. Whenever necessary, we moderate the comments (that means we remove them).
Every week, we see mudslinging, cursing, and yelling
Just to be absolutely clear: this is not censorship, like some hotheads might think. It’s our site, and you will play by our rules, which are entirely fair. How hard can it be.
In order to keep the comments manageable and legible, we recently added a rule: a thousand-character limit. Some comments ended up being longer than the article people were responding to.
In other words: keep your comments short and to the point. Needless to say, spreading out a long comment over several takes isn’t allowed either; these will be unceremoniously deleted.
People can now also respond to comments with a ‘thumbs up’ or a ‘thumbs down’. Responses with a lot of thumbs up, the ones that readers think are relevant or important, will automatically be placed at the top of the comment section.
Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief UKrant