Dear readers,

We know you value the opportunity to have conversations about stories with our reporters and editors, as well as with others in your community. We’ve also heard that our existing comment threads aren’t working for many of you. They can be hurtful, you’ve told us — more a home for vitriol, trolling and infighting than for productive discourse.

So, starting the night of April 17, 2019, we’re making some changes to keep the community healthy and offer you friendly new features.

A few highlights:

  • Clearer communication with you as a commenter: Our new Code of Conduct aims to ensure a respectful commenting environment for everyone. When commenters break rules, they’ll be suspended or banned with clarity on when and why that’s happening.
  • A “Respect” button: You can click “Respect” on a comment to show appreciation for well-reasoned input, even if you disagree.
  • More transparency: If a comment you wrote appears to break our rules, you’ll have an opportunity to edit the comment or to submit it to a moderator for review.
  • The ability to ignore a fellow user: If you don’t want to read what a fellow commenter posts, you can click “Ignore User,” and you won’t see them anymore.
  • Email notifications: In your profile settings, you’ll be able to choose whether to receive an email when someone replies to your comment. You may also choose to be notified only when a Seattle Times journalist replies to your comment.

For technological reasons, and in the interest of a fresh start, comment threads on articles published before the evening of April 17 will disappear.

Whether you’re a frequent commenter or you’ve always avoided the comments, you might have some questions. Join us over on this other post, and let us know what you’re wondering in the new thread. 



Who will be allowed to comment?

Commenters must be logged in as a Seattle Times user, either as a paid subscriber or with a free registration. Log in or sign up here.

How will I log in to the new system and comment? Will I need a new account?

If you already have an account, you won’t need a new one; you’ll simply log in to The Seattle Times’ website using your existing email and password. The first time you open a comment thread after we launch the new system, you will be able to comment there. Your username will remain the same.


What will happen to old comments?

Comments on stories published before the evening of April 17, 2019, will disappear. This is a fresh start.

How long will comment threads remain open?

Comment threads will automatically close 72 hours after a story publishes, unless otherwise decided upon by Seattle Times staff. This is in an effort to keep our moderators focused on the stories that have the most readers at that time.

Which stories will have comment threads?

We will continue to have open comment threads on most content created by Seattle Times staff. This allows our journalists to lend local expertise to discussions on topics and issues they are deeply knowledgeable about. We will continue to reserve the right to close comments for violations of our Code of Conduct and for particularly sensitive topics.

What is changing with commenters’ profile pages?

Commenters are able to see their own profile pages and track the respects and replies to their own comments. For privacy reasons, and to prevent abuse, other users’ commenting history and profiles will no longer be visible. Users will be able to see how long a commenter has been part of the community by hovering over their username.

What will happen to my comment count?

An individual user’s comment count will no longer be visible in the new system. The point of The Seattle Times commenting space is to create constructive conversation through quality, not quantity, of comments.

How can I change my username?

Edit your Seattle Times account profile under “My Account,” in our website’s top navigation. Your username can be updated every 14 days.


Why not make people start using real names instead of usernames?

We have considered requiring real names, and decided not to, for a few reasons. One is that we don’t have the resources to independently verify that the name a commenter uses is indeed “real.” Another: Research on commenting communities shows that using real names doesn’t actually compel people to act more civilly toward each other. Comments on Facebook offer countless examples of this. There’s also evidence that, when commenters are all using their real names, people with names that suggest they’re women or people of color are more likely to be harassed, and we don’t want to invite those kinds of attacks into our community.

The Coral Project, which built our new commenting tool, published an enlightening piece on this subject.


How can I alert moderators to a comment that breaks the rules?

Click “Report” to the right of the comment, and fill out the prompts that ask you why you are reporting it. You can also flag a username if a specific commenter, or the name they chose to use, is breaking the rules.

Who will review the reported comments?

The staff and other editors in the newsroom will review reported comments.



We know this is a big change for — one we hope will help neighbors connect with each other around our stories in more meaningful ways. Thank you to all our commenters, present and future, for working with us to make commenting a more positive experience for everyone.