Why we run comments through a filter

BusinessWeek's blogs check readers comments before posting them. This upsets many readers. But the policy is unlikely to change.
Stephen Baker

There's a doctrinal tug-of-war going on as mainstream outfits like ours take our plunge into the blog world. I've been reading through the comments, and picking up some common laments. We don't run a true blog, some say, because:
a) we put comments through an approval process, slowing up spontaneity and raising the suspicion of censorship
b) we have bandwidth-hogging ads on our site that sometimes make it slow.

Guilty as charged. Truth is, we carry mainstream baggage and we always will. This doesn't mean that the mainstream won't change, but it will always have two key concerns: protecting the brand and making money.

Yesterday we asked if we could let the comments run unchecked, as so many blog sites do. The response was quick and emphatic. No. The magazine doesn't want to run the chance that even a tiny minority of the postings will be racist, hateful, pornographic, libelous. So the vast majority of readers, who can be trusted to be responsible, must post their thoughts and then wait for Heather or me to give them the ok. It's a pain and I'm sorry about it. But it's not going to change as long as this site is part of BW. (If any of you have suggestions for how to satisfy BW's concerns while keeping the comments path open, please send them along!)

Censorship? If Heather and I had our druthers, we'd let everything in. Criticism makes for better reading and generates discussions. So far, we've held up one comment (for profanity). As long as the filter is there, some of you will not be satisfied, and some won't trust us. That's just a handicap we'll have to work with.

The ads? We haven't even asked about them. But I'm sure the answer would be even quicker and, if possible, more emphatic.

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