You may have noticed that comments look a little different on ProPublica. We’ve switched to Disqus, a commenting system that we hope will give you more options to voice your thoughts and share your stories with other ProPublica readers. Here’s a rundown on how it works — and more importantly, how we hope to build more story-driven conversations going forward.
Our commenting policy and basic functionality remains the same. You are still required to provide at least an email address to comment on our site, but now you can comment by connecting your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus accounts also. You’ll notice that commenters — including ProPublica staff — now have avatars, a feature we hope will make it easier for you to get to know us. You can also find our staff in any thread by looking for the “ProPublica” moderator badge.
You can now respond directly to a specific comment by clicking “reply.” All conversations stemming from one comment will have their own thread, making discussions neater and more focused. You can also vote specific comments up or down, and share them more easily on your favorite social network. Clicking “newest” in the top left of the discussion panel also sorts comments by newest, oldest, or best-rated.
This week, we launched two projects that allow you to share more detailed stories with other readers. Our ER Wait Watcher, a database of average emergency room wait times across the country, allows anyone to share an experience from a specific hospital. As more people share, the discussion thread will include hospital ratings, wait times, outcomes and insurance types of ProPublica commenters. We're also using Disqus to power discussions about the cost of college internships, inviting people to rate internship programs at colleges and universities. As more participate, we hope to see how people’s experiences stack up to program guidelines.
We’re excited to move ahead with our improved commenting system, and hope you enjoy the new features. As always, we’re interested in hearing what you think — email us your thoughts or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to news developers Mike Tigas and Sisi Wei for helping make our community team’s dream come true with the new story-driven comments. Stay tuned for developer documentation on structuring Disqus comments from the ProPublica Nerd Blog in January.