Since the beginning of online news, the comment sections have been virtual spaces to duke it out. While some news organizations, like NPR, have disbanded their comments sections, other sites have tried different strategies to engage with readers. During this election cycle, the discourse in comments sections on some sites has sometimes escalated to even more abusive remarks, threats toward authors, and hate speech.

In a recent piece on, our reporter William Bender talked to experts in digital community building to find out what other news organizations are doing to change the conversation from volatile to productive. As he notes, "Many are dominated by anonymous trolls who treat them like the digital equivalent of a rest-stop bathroom stall waiting to be defaced."

Can the comment sections continue to thrive? Or should more news organizations pull the plug?

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