Over the past two years, we’ve cultivated a unique community of informed, thoughtful, and diverse newsreaders. The Factual’s readers span all 50 U.S. states and are a healthy mix of socio-economic groups and political ideologies. This makes their votes and comments on our daily discussions quite interesting. So, we’re delighted to announce today that we’re expanding the discussion capabilities to allow for replying to comments and upvoting the best comments, making it even easier to find the best discussions on trending issues.

But as we add these features, we are keenly aware that most conversations on the internet wind up either as echo chambers or flame wars, as illustrated below.

Problems-with-online-communities

The vision for The Factual community is to be that rare oasis in the “valley of open-mindedness.” Our goal is to make it easy for people to understand why other knowledgeable people hold different opinions on an issue and how prevalent certain views may be — i.e., have productive discussions on the news.

To reduce the likelihood of creating another echo chamber, all user comments are anonymous so people can speak honestly without professional backlash or without feeling pressure to say what others expect of them. Also, you cannot see how many upvotes a comment has received, except your own comments, to reduce voting based on popularity.

To reduce the risk of flame wars, The Factual seeks to highlight the highest quality comments first. We determine comment quality based on several signals such as length, tone of writing, and, notably, how likely the commenter is to be knowledgeable based on how many “Respects” they’ve earned.

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Sample comment

Each reader automatically gains “Respects” based on how consistently they read and how many upvotes they get from other “Respected” individuals. The more Respects one earns, the more visible their comment will be on our site. For more details about the Respects system, see this FAQ.

We’re excited for people to engage in our expanded discussion forum and to facilitate thoughtful and respectful discussions. As always, we’re eager to hear your feedback so that we can improve and make The Factual the best news experience in the world.

Published by Arjun Moorthy

Arjun is co-founder and CEO of The Factual. Arjun has always been passionate about news from when he was a paperboy in middle school through becoming Editor-in-chief of The Stanford Reporter. Outside of work, Arjun spends much of his time with his family, dog, and praying for the Arsenal football team to have a winning season.