Readers, start your keyboards. ISKCON News Weekly is now enabling user comments on our Opinion pieces. The decision to allow reader comments – which will not be edited but will be monitored – is a marked but intentional departure from INW’s earlier editorial policy, and represents a new phase for our website.
When ISKCON News Weekly first launched, our editorial team felt that we needed to establish our editorial voice and ethos. After much discussion, we decided against enabling comments. The idea was not to censor anybody or deprive our readers the opportunity to share their thoughts. The idea was to make it crystal clear that ISKCON News Weekly is an online newspaper, not a blog.
Don’t get us wrong—we like blogs. Most of the members of our editorial team are blog junkies, and use aggregates like Planet ISKCON to help keep up with our favorites. We frequently read (and sometimes post to) “news-and-views” open forum sites like Dandavats.com or Chakra.org. We get what they do, and appreciate the value of it.
At the same time, we want ISKCON News Weekly to be something different. Our mission was (and continues to be) to be a reliable, balanced, and timely source of news about, and of interest to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. We want readers (ISKCON devotees, friends, curious web seekers) to be able to turn to us the way they might turn to their favorite news magazine for insight into not only current events within ISKCON but also in the secular world.
We think that in the world of Web 2.0, there is certainly need for both news and views, and there is room for both journalist and blogger.
So, lest anyone mistake ISKCON News Weekly for yet another free-for-all roaming the WWW (that’s Wild Wild West), we temporarily said no to reader comments. But now ISKCON News Weekly has had a chance to settle its roots and establish itself, and we think that it is time to let our readers have their say, too. We’re starting with the Opinion section (a natural place to invite reader comments), and if all goes well, we hope to enable reader comments for our news stories in the near future.
Of course, we’re not exactly opening the floodgates. Comments must be attributed to an actual person – no spam and no anonymous rants permitted. Commenters must include a name and email address (but these won’t be posted on the site or revealed to anyone without the express request of the commenter). Comments won’t be edited but they will be monitored and moderated; no foul language, hate speech, or generally destructive and offensive remarks will be allowed.
Yes, we’re still concerned about that peculiar and annoying tendency that exists for some reader comments to be, well, obnoxious. As Time Magazine columnist Lev Grossman recently put it:
“Internet anonymity is disinhibiting, and people are basically mean anyway... commenting either attracts loathsome people or somehow causes ordinary people to express themselves in a way that is loathsome.”
In a Vaisnava setting – where our etiquette should be based on the devotional qualities of humility, tolerance, forgiveness, service, and mutual respect – Grossman’s point is all the more telling.
Still, we think it is worth the risk. And we believe the majority of our readers are mature, thoughtful people who can not only join in the discussion, but help bring it to a higher level.
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