Since the first article was published on this website almost 14 years ago, our intention has been clear: Moneyweb has stood for the efficient allocation of capital, which translates into the promotion of free enterprise and nation building.
From this foundation we’ve weighed the difficult decisions taken in thousands of editorial meetings; invested masses of investigative effort in complex subjects; and assessed tens of thousands of articles written by our journalists. Of course, being human, there have been many mistakes. But for the most part we’ve managed to stick within those parameters.
Allied to this quest has been a determination to allow our community an unfettered voice. Long before it became popular to encourage free discourse with readers, Moneyweb provided an open media platform where anyone with a keyboard and an opinion was free to participate.
Here, however, we miscalculated. Freedom without responsibility tends to attract a minority who just can’t resist the temptation of abusing the privilege. We always hoped the silent majority would bring those making aberrant comments into line. It rarely happened. Hardy souls daring to question the bigots and racists attracted a firefight of abuse perfected by the self-absorbed. So they slowly stopped trying. Or, worse, drifted away.
For years we have been criticised, justifiably in my view, for allowing our platform to be vandalised by this tiny but vocal minority. We were reminded daily of how this behaviour was damaging the Moneyweb brand. Often we were asked how any casual visitor could identify the good we were trying to do if they couldn’t see past the bile-filled comments.
Like any true dilemma, there was no easy solution. Of course one could exorcise the bigots and racists by closing the comment facility entirely. But that was too much baby with the bathwater. So we gritted our collective teeth, worked at manually seeking and deleting the more outrageous postings and kept looking for alternatives.
We now have a solution. Thanks in part to the genius of a young man who entered his teens the year Moneyweb started publishing online. And we’re installing this facility throughout Moneyweb today.
Facebook, created by Mark Elliott Zuckerberg who turns just 27 in May, has provided the incentive for a revolution where its structure (and others like Twitter) stimulated an army of techies to examine the “comment” problem we share with other media owners. As a result, sites like ours can now access an outsourced facility that ensures posters are identified and, as a result, encouraged to stick with social norms.
Anonymous “Guests” are able to send in comments but will only be posted after being moderated by the Moneyweb team. Those who have verified their identity through Facebook and Twitter can go ahead with their comments without moderation anytime. They’re also linked back to their own profiles which, we believe, instils a deeper thought process.
If, for example, you’re one of the 400m Facebook account holders, the new comment facility will be automatically engaged after you’ve verified your identity once. Ditto with Twitter. If you don’t have a Facebook page or Twitter account and would like to post a comment under a Moneyweb article, you have two options:
1) Sign up for your own page at www.facebook.com. Around 2m do it for the first time every day so you’re in good company. I’d be delighted to “friend” you or get a Twitter account.
2) If you have no intention of opening a Facebook account (or Twitter for that matter) but still want to post under a story, sign in as a “Guest” commentator. Our team will make sure there’s nothing bigoted or racist and the comment will go up seamlessly.
As a final point, Moneyweb receives many tip-offs of corporate malfeasance and other story ideas from people who wish to remain anonymous. Occasionally this is done through them posting the information under the comments section. If that’s been your approach, in future please rather send an e-mail to me or to firstname.lastname@example.org. We protect the anonymity of our sources.
Changing Moneyweb’s comment facility is like a lifelong smoker throwing away his cancer sticks – it’s long overdue. Regretfully Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t born a decade or so earlier. But in this case, rather late than never. And a special thank you to the hundreds of people who have urged us over the years to do “something” about our most obvious failing. You have ensured the issue remained a priority. –email@example.com
*Alec Hogg is the founder and editor-in-chief of Moneyweb.