Two years ago Microsoft killed off commenting on its online MSN News platform. The firm had battled with trolls and incivility fora while before finally going back to the drawing board, and now it is back.
Ditching Facebook comments, Microsoft has partnered with Spot.IM to power its new commenting system. It won’t make comments open on all articles, and users won’t be able to post links in them, but it’s better than nothing.
Pre-empting comments of viewpoint discrimination, there is broadly only one rule. Be civil. As per the new guidelines, “differences must be expressed in comments that are civil, legally acceptable, and do not cause offence to other community members or to casual readers.”
Microsoft said back in 2017 when shutting down the comments:
We do not intend for this to be the end of user contributions, but a first step in creating a better way for our audience to engage in discussion around issues they care about. We are working on developing an entirely new discussion platform that will enable open debate, and at the same time go much further in protecting the user community from abusive and offensive posts. In the short term, the commenting feature won’t be available. However, it’s a necessary step in order to allow us to create a solution that welcomes open and intelligent debate in a respectful environment.
With the return of the comments section, it seems that the firm’s short term promise held true after all. Microsoft warns that if users repeatedly violate guidelines, it’ll have no choice but to shut down the commenting platform again. In other words, play nice or lose your toys.