Housekeeping: Let’s keep things positive in the comments

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Dear CyclingTips readers,

It’s come to my attention that we’ve recently been seeing more and more comments on the site that resemble those in more toxic corners of the internet. I thought now would be a good time to address this.

Throughout the years, CyclingTips has become known for the insightful, productive and genuinely interesting conversation that takes place in our comments section. Not only do our readers get many articles from us every day, but quite often we end up with many other points of view, opinions or additional information on a particular topic. Personally, when I read something on CyclingTips, I’ll head straight to the comments section to see what people have had to say, and then go back and read the article.

I can’t think of too many other places left on the internet where the comments are as positive and insightful as you make them here, and I think I speak for all of us when I say I’d like to see that continue. Most other outlets decided to turn off their comments years ago, which I feel is a shame but had to be done.

A few things I’ve noticed about the comments on CT over the years:

  • The first comment almost always sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. It can add tremendous value to the article and discussion if it’s intelligent or insightful, and it can also do quite the opposite. This is why we keep such a close eye on the first comments in a post.

  • Fewer than 1% of our audience are commenters. It sometimes feels like it’s a ghost town when there are no comments, but that doesn’t mean nobody is reading. Comments simply don’t happen when the topic isn’t polarising, or if people don’t have their own relatable view on a topic.

  • We used to get far more comments than we currently do, but that’s because the conversation around our content tends to sit on multiple platforms now. Instagram is usually positive, Twitter is not too bad for us, but Facebook is downright nasty (even though the commenters are sometimes the same people as on the site, just displaying a completely different behaviour!) Such large group environments often produce an effect called ‘diffusion of responsibility‘. Of course we would prefer it if you left a comment here. It adds value for everyone.
A cartoon published in the New Yorker in 1993, by Peter Steiner, for an academic discussion on website evaluation. What held true in 1993 still holds true today.
  • We are nearly 100% community moderated. There are a handful comments in a year that we might take down, but almost all other inappropriate comments are shut down almost immediately by our community. Due to the origins of this website starting as a personal blog, most people who come here immediately realise that this is a self-moderated community and that discussion is like it’s in somebody’s home. For the most part people are polite, considerate, and engaging. This is one of the things I’m most proud about when I look at the site and I thank you for that.

I’m happy to say that CyclingTips is growing at a more rapid pace than we’ve ever seen before. We have lots in the works that will be enabling a better and more engaging product for you and I’m excited to see those things come to fruition.

With growth also brings certain downsides, such as a more ‘robust’ commenting environment. I still have faith in our community moderation and our readership’s regard for our high quality discussion, but we also start to see some readers visit us more frequently; visitors who make the mistake of thinking we are like some other sites out there that have a less positive tone than we do here.

I’d like to thank the community for adding such value to what we do here every day, and I’d also like to welcome new commenters and readers during this exciting time of growth. If you haven’t already, please take the time to review our community standards. There’s really only one rule, and that is to speak to each other like you’re sitting in someone’s backyard having a BBQ. Also remember: nobody ever wins an argument on the internet.

Wade Wallace
CyclingTips Founder

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