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Change a-comin’


In the next few days, things are going to look a little different. At least, they will look a little different on The Western Star’s web page.

Editorial

We’re moving to a new, faster web platform — though that increased speed will be felt primarily behind the scenes.

One of the most noticeable changes will be for mobile users. The new site includes responsive design features which will fit our website to match the screen of whatever type of device you see our pages on, whether it’s a smart phone, tablet or computer.

The new site will also be clearer and easier to navigate, with substantial improvements in the back end to allow reporters and editors to post stories, photographs and video more quickly.

Our aim is to bring the news to you more quickly, no matter how you choose to connect with us.

One of the biggest changes you’ll see, however, will involve what are — regularly — some of our harshest critics. (And everyone else’s harshest critics, too.) It involves the way we handle comments on Western Star articles, columns and letters to the editor.

With the move to the new platform, we will be changing our comments system to a full registration model — commenters will have to create an online profile and register with their names through a working email address in order to post comments.

Among other things, we believe the change will help to improve civility in the commenting process, along with removing the ability of posters to masquerade as other people and post under multiple identities.

The new system will also enable moderators to ban and deactivate commenters who choose to consistently violate comments standards, and will allow us to establish a direct connection between comments and their authors. The hope is that, by being connected directly to their own words, commenters may choose those words more carefully and, dare we hope, politely.

It should also bring to a close the era of the drive-by commenter, who posts material merely to try to inflame or get a rise out of others seriously debating an issue.

Moderators will continue to post comments that advance the debate, rather than those that simply insult or enrage.

While some will argue that this infringes their right of free speech, it does not — people are still free to speak their minds, within the confines of our commenting standards, which we have the right to set. But freedom of speech does not exclude being responsible for what you say. And anonymous cutout avatars aren’t actually covered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The changes will start to appear shortly.

In the beginning, bear with us; as always, there are likely to be teething problems, which we will address as soon as we can.

Here’s hoping it will be a better experience for everyone.

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