Moderating the Social Media Marketplace of Ideas

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

Blog button medWhen we launched this blog nearly five years ago, we thought it would be a great vehicle for informing the public of the NRC’s activities. We also expected that the comments feature might be a new channel for dialogue with our readers.

On the first goal, we believe, the blog is a resounding success. We have posted more than 600 posts on a whole range of subjects, which, we think, have provided additional insight and understanding into the NRC as a whole, as well as into the actions we take and decisions we make.

With the comment section, we’re not so sure. One recent commenter observed: It soon becomes obvious to the casual reader that a short list of the usual suspects come here for no other purpose than to disrupt the conveyance of information from the regulator to the public.

And it is true that a small number of people submit a substantial number of comments to our blog. It’s also true that they tend toward the critical. (Six individuals account for 40 percent of the most recent 1,000 comments.)

As we approach the blog’s fifth anniversary, we have considered various changes — including the possibility of closing the comment function (as many federal blogs do).

We were reluctant to do this because of the NRC’s commitment to openness and transparency. We here in the Office of Public Affairs, which administers this blog, are proud to deal daily and forthrightly with members of the media and public who call, email, or post comments asking questions about the NRC’s activities.

We also decided at this time not to change our comment guidelines. We already ask that submitters refrain from personal attacks – and while some comments may come close to that line – the vast majority of comments submitted are approved and posted.

In the end, we decided it is important for now to keep the platform open to all points of view – even those critical of us or with which we might disagree. We do continue to ask for civility, though. And we hope that an expanded number of blog readers will see fit to contribute to the comment dialogue.

We will continue to try to address direct questions posed in comment, and to occasionally point out factual errors in comments. We will continue to refrain, however, from weighing in on every comment discussion. We feel it more appropriate for the blog visitors to be given the opportunity to share their views civilly with us and each other.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions on how to improve the blog.

The Open Forum is Open for Business

Holly Harrington
Blog Moderator

communicationwordcloudWe created the Open Forum section of the NRC blog more than four years ago. It was not part of our original plan, but our blog comment guidelines stipulated that comments needed to be related to the topic of the post to which they are submitted. We quickly realized there were a number of comments being submitted that didn’t adhere to this guideline and would have therefore not been posted, but otherwise met the comment criteria. And we wanted to be able to post them. So we decided we needed a place where anyone could bring up any topic they wish (related to the NRC).

And so the Open Forum section was created.

Since its creation there have been more than 300 submitted comments on a wide range of topics including climate change, nuclear power’s future and solar storms.

Comments on the Open Forum (as with the rest of the blog) are moderated and must adhere to the Comment Guidelines. Otherwise, the platform is open for any NRC-related topic you’d like to bring up or to comment on. It’s important to note that blog comments are not considered formal communication with the NRC. Questions and concerns can always be submitted in a variety of formal ways. Safety or security allegations should not be submitted via the blog, and will not be posted if submitted. For more information, go here.

You can easily find the Open Forum section listed on left side of every page of the blog. You can also sign up to receive notice of new comments to the section by clicking on “Reply” at the bottom of the comments and then clicking the “Notify me of new comments via email” box.

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