USA.gov does away with blog comments – Plus the 7 Gov stories

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  • Shutdown, furloughs, pay cuts – oh my! Last year was basically Groundhog Day for feds, each day an endless cycle of bad news – at least, that’s what it felt like. But how bad was it, really? A new survey tries to capture the data. We take a look.

 

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But up front: USA.gov does away with blog comments

 

The federal government’s portal, USA.gov, has decided to stop allowing comments on its blog, the General Services Administration has announced -- ironically, in a blog post.

 

Jessica Milcetich, a social media and digital strategist for GSA’s USA.gov, writes:

 

The way we consume and interact with content online has drastically changed since the early days of blogging.

Now if someone has an opinion or a comment about your content, they tweet it or comment on your Facebook page.

Think about it. When was the last time you left a valuable comment on a blog that moved forward a discussion? It’s probably been a while.

 

Read the full post here.

 

GSA is not alone in deciding blog posts are not worthy. The news media has done the same. National Journal recently decided to change its comments policy -- a less than clear headline since the real announcement is that that National Journal is no longer accepting comments on stories.

 

From National Journal editor in chief Tim Grieve:

At National Journal, we believe that public service is a noble calling; that ideas matter; and that trustworthy information about politics and policy will lead to wiser decisions in the national interest… But there's one place where those principles don't seem to hold: in the comments that appear at the end of our Web stories. For every smart argument, there's a round of ad hominem attacks — not just fierce partisan feuding, but the worst kind of abusive, racist, and sexist name-calling imaginable.  The debate isn't joined. It's cheapened, it's debased, and, as National Journal's Brian Resnick has written, research suggests that the experience leaves readers feeling more polarized and less willing to listen to opposing views.

 

The problem isn't unique to National Journal; it crops up on almost every news site. Some sites have responded by devoting substantial time and effort to monitoring and editing comments, but we'd rather put our resources into the journalism that brings readers to National Journal in the first place. So, today we'll join the growing number of sites that are choosing to forgo public comments on most stories.

 

It is an interesting -- and I think significant -- change and evolution.

 

On the face of it, I have deep concerns about not accepting comments. It seems an affront to the ideas behind having a blog -- or any other social media, for that matter. Certainly a part of me says, if you don’t want comments, don’t have a blog.

 

And I’m concerned that two institutions that seem to be distrusted by the public -- government and media -- are where you are seeing this trend.

 

All of that being said, there are two strong arguments: That comments aren’t useful and that they take a lot of time, energy and effort that could be used more effectively.

 

On Twitter, Milcetich said real conversations just aren’t taking place in comments and that the public isn’t using comments as a forum to reach people.

 

In the age of doing more with less, it is also important to make choices. Do we need to spend time assessing a proposal for creating a Death Star?

 

I’m curious: how do others deal with comments these days?

 

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Reuters: Senator plans bill to offer military veterans option on medical care -  “U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said on Sunday he will introduce legislation this week that would offer military veterans the option of private medical care, rather than endure long waits at facilities under the troubled Veterans Affairs Department.  Senator plans bill to offer military veterans option on medical care.”

  2. Washington Business Journal: It wasn't just Edward Snowden - “Cyber breaches reported by federal agencies spiked in 2013.”

    1. GAO report: Information Security: Agencies Need to Improve Cyber Incident Response Practices

  3. Defense News: House Panel Deals US Defense Sector Another Winning Hand- “The US defense sector is having a remarkable year on Capitol Hill. In fact, it is batting 1.000 so far, with three of four congressional defense panels protecting weapon programs and adding funds to buy platforms the military didn’t even request. Despite months of dire warnings and gloomy rhetoric about the ramifications of new rounds of across-the-board cuts, the House Appropriations Committee Defense (HAC-D) subcommittee on May 30 approved a 2015 Pentagon spending bill that would give the Defense Department $570.4 billion. It would add funds for fighter jets, electronic-attack planes and maintain 11 aircraft carriers.”

  4. USA Today: EPA to seek deep cuts in carbon emissions from power plants- “The Environmental Protection Agency will unveil a sweeping proposal Monday that will require deep cuts in carbon emissions from existing power plants, including a 30% national target by 2030, according to two people briefed on the plan.”

  5. Federal Times: USAF seeks space debris defense- “Last year’s National Space Symposium was all about survival — how industry and the US Air Force was going to make sure key programs made it through sequestration. In a way, this year’s show was also about survival, but in a much more direct fashion. The focus for both industry and service officials has turned toward tracking and analyzing threats in space.”

  6. Federal News Radio: Veterans Department to be led by career banker- “After less than four months at the Veterans Affairs Department, Sloan D. Gibson suddenly finds himself in charge of fixing the problems that led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. "Sloan, I think, would be the first to acknowledge that he's going to have a learning curve that he's got to deal with," President Barack Obama told reporters Friday after announcing that Gibson would replace Shinseki temporarily.

  7. GSA’s Sonny Hashmi has been officially named as the agency’s chief information officer. Hashmi has been serving as GSA’s acting CIO since Casey Coleman left that post earlier this year. Hashmi has been recognized for his work moving GSA into the cloud, recently named as a finalist for the Partnership for Public Service Service to America award.

 

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