Delaware County Times distances itself from reader comments
The Delaware County Times recently made a change to how they organize their information online which dramatically affects how they are perceived online from search engines, effectively distancing themselves from much of the reader commentary which is pervasive throughout the site.
Anyone who has perused the Delaware County Times web site has found that the articles tend to be factual and well-written, and offer bi-partisan endorsements despite the Republican stranglehold on Delaware county. They appear to offer both Republican, Democratic, and alternative opinion pieces in their editorial sections.
Sure, they offer pundits who tend to offer extreme views, but they tend to balance it with other opinions.
However, scrolling down to the “comments” section of any particular article is akin to visiting the extreme left or extreme right rallying cry for a particular party. The “party lines” appear to be reiterated repeatedly, with heavy quotes “debate” tending to denigrate to name-calling and baseless accusations.
A recent endorsement article for the November 2nd election resulted in a back-and-forth commentary between both sides of the issue, each of which had its flaws and advantages, but ultimately seemed to show each side hitting its head against a brick wall attempting to convince the other side it was right.
For the uninitiated, any page on the internet is ranked based on the words on the page, and the links from the page, and the links to the page. It gets much more complicated that that, but for now, let’s keep it simple to explain this point. People link to Delaware County times articles, and the words on the linked-to page matter a lot in terms of how results appear in search engines.
That means that the vitriolic comments, name-calling, bigoted remarks made by many Delaware County Times readers will not “rank” for pages which link to the original articles, as they will not be counted as part of the words which make up an article itself.
In short, this was a very astute move on the part of the Delaware County Times.
In order to retain journalistic integrity, they have made a technical change which creates a solid line between their reporting and their reader’s opinions.
While our current media coverage of local issues is not perfect, it’s best when not tainted by the most active and most vocal individuals who may have more time than most to comment on every piece of journalism that comes out of an institution.
I have commented on issues which I care about, but often it’s against a tidal wave of ubiquitous dissenting voices.
In short: It’s a good thing. When anyone searches, the terms used by commenters will not contribute to the weight of the entire article for a page, allowing for the article to stand on its own.
And that’s good for everyone.