Community has always been an integral part of the Huffington Post - and comments are a big part of community. They make the site a two-way experience.
As Arianna has written: "People no longer want to just passively sit back and be served up information. We now engage with news, react to news, and share news. News has become something around which we gather, connect, and converse. We can all become part of the evolution of a story now - expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of view."
In fostering a conversation around the news, we have always strived to make this exchange as open, transparent, and civil as possible - something we have worked hard to ensure through comment moderation, using both human moderators and tech tools we have developed.
Today, we're unrolling a new and improved set of commenting guidelines to encourage an even more engaging conversation. In recommitting ourselves to an open conversation around the news, we have taken a few steps to make moderation more efficient.Check out the new guidelines here.
As part of this effort, we are encouraging our users to help out, and recognizing those who do so with our HuffPost Community Moderator badge. You'll soon see new levels of this badge that make the moderation process even more collaborative.
The new guidelines we're unveiling today depend on members of the HuffPost community continuing to engage in the moderation process. We trust you to help us increase our openness by helping rid the site of spam and also by flagging abusive or otherwise inappropriate comments.
One final note I'd like to make is about the role of anonymity. At HuffPost, anonymity is an option for those commenters who feel it allows them to express themselves more fully. While anonymity is sometimes identified as a door through which abusive or inappropriate comments can pass, we believe it's possible for civil conversations to take place with anonymous commenting, so long as we're moderating the discussion.
At the same time, a growing number of commenters are choosing to post using their real names. Either way, we have no doubt that comments will have a big role to play in the evolution of journalism, as informed and knowledgeable commenters provide new information to a story. Civil debate is central to our society and our democracy. And the Huffington Post is committed to being a place where people can go for these kinds of discussions.
Follow Adam Clark Estes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/adamclarkestes