I thought I would take a moment to explain an issue that has been discussed with several National Pain Report readers in the last week or so.
This involves the comments section of our website, where readers can react to the stories and share their opinions.
People are wondering why their comments aren’t always published. I even had one reader who threatened me via email with taking his comments to Facebook and criticizing us on social media. I left him my phone number, he called me, we had a good conversation and he understood what I was saying. At the end of the conversation, I suggested he should try his hand at writing a column.
As I thought about that and other conversations and emails I’ve exchanged, I came to the conclusion that I should write this letter to all of you and explain why we at times reject comments, dozens of them over the course of a month.
The answer is rooted in what I believe the National Pain Report really is which is a news vehicle that covers chronic pain and provides information that can benefit pain sufferers, their families and their providers.
We actively encourage input, ask for story ideas in our emails to readers and at the end of many of our stories and publish comments from you. We also occasionally do stories on the reaction itself, as we will do this week with an NFL player who is holding a camp to benefit fibromyalgia.
What it is not is a place where anything goes.
Some of the comments that I’ve personally rejected have personal attack and include profanity. Those are easy. We reject those out of hand.
No chance of them being published.
One ground rule is that we will be civil.
Some of the other comments that I’ve personally rejected come because the comments have nothing to do with the story we have published.
Some of our readers always pivot to the opioid controversy, even when the story isn’t about opioids. We do a lot of reporting on opioids, but when the story is about something else, and there are a lot of other things to talk about, and it has nothing to do with opioids, we reject the comments.
Other readers–a small but vocal group– like to pivot their comments to a particular source of chronic pain–Arachnoiditis. We do a lot of reporting on it; in fact one of our new columnists suffers from it. It is a serious issue. However, when comments are submitted about Arachnoiditis or any other disease that have nothing to do with the story or advance the discussion of the story, we will continue to reject it.
Our readership has doubled in the last several months. I ascribe that to the fact we are doing more and different type of stories and running more guest commentary from new and fresh voices in chronic pain. That search continues and we look forward to continuing to get your ideas on how to do that.
Starting today, the following will guide our decisions on which comments to publish.
All comments are reviewed for approval by the National Pain Report editorial team. Comments that are not pertinent to the story published, don’t advance the discussion, and include profanity or personal attacks will not be approved.
I hope this explanation helps. As always, I look forward to your response.