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Jamie Butow, Californian community engagement coordinator.

Many frequent readers noticed a change in the online commenting system recently. While change is always difficult, we hope you're finding the new system better and easier to use.

Here's a look at some of the new features available with the Disqus-powered commenting system:

* More log-in options: Disqus offers several social login options in addition to using your account. Click on the comment box as if you're going to start typing and you'll see the choices appear. Disqus currently supports Facebook, Twitter, Google and Disqus accounts.

* Real-time commenting: The conversations stream in live, with sub-second updating, according to Disqus.

* Improved social sharing: Comments and threads can be shared to your Twitter or Facebook feed by hovering over, or clicking, the Share menu below any comment. This requires either connecting the service to your Disqus account or signing in to Twitter or Facebook when prompted.

* Starring comment threads: There is a star button at the top of each conversation. Click that star to let us and other readers know you like the conversation taking place. Once you've starred a conversation, you'll see the best comments from that discussion in your Disqus Digest.

* Disqus Digest: The Disqus Digest is designed to give you a customized daily or weekly look at activity on the network. You can change how often you receive the digests in your notification settings at You'll only get an email if there's new activity in a discussion you've starred, if someone replied to a comment you left, or if someone you follow left a comment.

* Voting: Also added is the ability for readers to view who has up-voted a comment. Below each comment there are up-vote and down-vote buttons which will add your vote to the tally. To view the people who have up-voted a comment, hover your mouse over the upvote icon, which will reveal a box of users. As for down-voting, only registered and logged-in users are able to downvote a comment. You won't be able to see who down-voted a comment. According to Disqus, "In the spirit of keeping communities positive, we only show people who have upvoted a comment."

* Improved sorting options: By default, comments are sorted by "best," which are the comments with the most votes. Click the arrow to change your sorting options to newest or oldest comments first.

* Improved notifications: When another user replies to one of your comments, you will see a notification in your "My Disqus" tab. It will be set-off with a red chat bubble. To view the notification, click the tab to see a feed of all recent replies.

* Image uploading: It's easy to drag and drop images to the comment box to post along with your comments.

The changes were pushed out from Disqus, but I'm sure you'll start to see the advantages as you become used to the new look and feel.

Anonymous commenting

McClatchy papers including The Fresno Bee switched to a new online commenting system over the weekend that uses Facebook.

Executive Editor Jim Boren writes, "Most people with Facebook accounts use their real names, and we believe the tone of comments will improve if commenters aren't anonymous. Our goal is to have a community forum where there is a vigorous and respectful debate of the issues."

The McClatchy papers are just the latest in a line of news organizations to get rid of anonymous commenting. In this case, readers need to have a Facebook account to comment.

At this time, is not considering any changes to our anonymous commenting policy. Aside from that, I've noticed more and more people on Facebook who aren't using their real names.

Would you comment on an article if it were linked to your Facebook account? Do you think the conversation would be improved if we did away with anonymous commenting?

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Network. Email her at Follow her at, and on Twitter@JamieButow.