News-Times launches improved website, new civil commenting

New www.whidbeynewstimes.com cleaner, easier to read, more mobile friendly

On Monday, if all goes as planned, you’ll be seeing a totally new website for the Whidbey News-Times, www.whidbeynewstimes.com

And no, it’s not a Halloween trick.

It’s the first major update to the newspaper’s site in years, and we’re very excited about all of the great options and features it brings to our fast-growing online audience.

The new website is cleaner, easier to read and is more mobile friendly. This is important, because we’re seeing a growing number of our online-only readers access whidbeynewstimes.com via their cell phones and tablets.

We invite you to look around. It may take a little while to get used to the changes.

For our online audience, the new website offers improved browsing, reading and enjoyment of all the things the News-Times’ website offers.

We hope you appreciate the cleaner, more vivid presentation of articles and images. Headlines are larger. Stories are organized and displayed in uncluttered groupings. With this website update, we’re also improving how readers make comments to online stories by giving readers greater control over the civility of those posts.

To accomplish this, we adopted a new online platform called Civil Comments, developed to improve the quality of commenting on websites.

Civil Comments relies on reviews by other commenters to help moderate submissions. The goal is to encourage interesting and civil debate and conversation and prevent spam. We hope that this will provide a overall better experience for all of our readers.

Comments are an important part of the www.whidbeynewstimes.com reader experience. They add information and varying viepoints. They can even serve to inform our own reporting.

We value that.

This new commenting platform isn’t intended to stifle or skew debate. We do want to improve the quality of the comment space, and we think Civil Comments can help us do that.

Here’s how Civil Comments works: First, set up your account. You can create one in the comment space below posted articles.

You can set up an account with an email address or your existing Facebook or Twitter logins.

Facebook is no longer required to comment, which has been a complaint of some readers in the past.

When you post a new comment, you will be asked to quickly rate two unrelated comments for quality and civility — and then asked to rate your own comment.

After your comment is submitted, it is similarly reviewed by other commenters.

Ratings are cross-checked by Civil Comment’s algorithms against other users’ responses. Users collectively help determine the tone of the comments and what’s acceptable.

Readers can also flag inappropriate material for newspaper staff to review.

Commenters who build a history of posting civil comments can earn “trusted” status. After that, peer reviews become optional.

No commenting system is perfect, but we are confident this one will allow readers to express their views and opinions in a more constructive environment.

Won’t that be refreshing in the Wild West world of the Internet?

Once readers are comfortable with this new commenting platform, we expect to see more people willing to jump in and join discussions about the issues.

Take some time to become familiar with the improved www.whidbeynewstimes.com. Test-drive it. Kick the tires. And be sure to let us know what you think.

You can post your comment under this column on our website, or send us an email at editor@whidbeynewstimes.com or kgraves@whidbeynewstimes.com

As always, thank you for reading and supporting the Whidbey News-Times, your community newspaper for 126 years.

n Keven R. Graves is editor and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times. Send your comments and questions to him at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com

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