News-Democrat switching to Facebook commenting system

News-DemocratSeptember 14, 2013 

We've changed our commenting policy at

Readers who want to comment on stories at are now required to sign in with their Facebook account.

The reason for the change is pretty simple: We believe the quality and tone of the comments will improve and your experience on the site will be more rewarding.

Under the old system, most comments were anonymous, which encouraged a small, but extremely vocal, group of readers to turn what could be good conversations into a string of personal attacks, name-calling and worse. When other readers reported the abuse, we took down the comments as soon as we could, but the cycle continued day after day.

Commenters who failed to heed repeated warnings were banned from commenting, only to create a new fake ID and get back on the site to continue their mischief.

We believe the new policy will eliminate many of the abusive comments since most people on Facebook use their real identities, rather than hiding behind anonymity and throwing rocks.

If you don't have a Facebook account, creating one is simple. A frequently-asked-questions feature that accompanies this note at will explain how to sign up. The FAQ also addresses other questions you might have about this new policy.

Some of you may have used our old anonymous commenting system to share tips with our newsroom. If you feel uncomfortable passing along tips with the new system, you may send them to, directly to a reporter of your choice (their email address appears with their articles) or to me at the email address listed below.

We invite you to continue using's story commenting to join in civil discussions about important issues or to simply let your position be known. For those of you who have avoided reading story comments because of the sometimes nasty tone, please come back and give it another try. We believe using the Facebook sign-in will create a better experience for everyone.

Please let me know what you think of the new policy. As always, we thank you for reading the BND and visiting

-Jeffry Couch, editor and vice-president, BND and

You can contact Jeffry Couch at Follow him on Twitter @jcouch.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

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