The Chronicle took the rare step of shutting down comments posted underneath the Jay Weinberger stories this weekend.
The ‘bizarre’ circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Weinberger attracted a great deal of attention. It is among the most well-read stories of the year on our site, and this news is the talk of the town.
Some of you noticed the comments cutoff, many of you didn’t and a few considered it a conspiracy.
You should know it was my decision alone. Not a single person suggested this move to me. I did it based on experience and out of a sense of decency. This fairly innocuous move was driven by the following concerns in order of priority:
1) The comments were arriving at a rate too high to manage and were becoming a distraction to us working on developing news. The intensity and volume of people visiting the story went ballistic – elevating this concern. Staffing levels on the holiday weekend were a concern against the work we had before us.
2) Every now and then, a shot for human decency just has to be sounded. This will be a rare step, and comparing it to other stories and comments allowed is “apples and oranges.” I’ll accept all criticism and learn from it. I just thought, “The guy is being buried today under crazy circumstances few have even begun to understand. Timeout.”
3) We didn’t stop people from commenting on this topic in other parts of the site. It was my hope the inconvenience may cause someone to pause before being particularly insensitive. That didn’t work completely, but it did limit everyone’s exposure to the inane.
Is this some kind of precedent by the still-new editor?
Probably not. Every now and again, the human part of you takes over and you try to inject some decency into a forum. It may not have worked, but I tried.
Moving forward, functionality on these stories reopens today – along with some latitude.