This has been a hectic few weeks here at the office. Regular visitors to the news area know that we launched a major redesign of the CompNewsNetwork about 3 weeks ago. The launch has been planned in phases, with the first being a complete redesign in format, along with the establishment of two new categories; Featured News and The Experts View. A vastly improved mobile experience and a “Member Management” system also accompanied that first round, since registration is required to access those new areas (more on that in a moment).

Other additions and improvements have continued to be rolled out. The News Search Area was added, along with a “Find an Author” system that allows people quick access to specific writers on the site. Yesterday, the new Comments system was deployed.

And all of it was accomplished without losing any archived content; news, blogs and user comments included. Our developers, most notably Marty Gworek, who headed the effort, have done an outstanding job. We have more stuff up our sleeve, and you will see it rolled out in the future, but we hope you are enjoying the new look and content as much as we have enjoyed creating it.

But since the Comments system has been added to the new system, I have some comments about comments.

My comment on comments, if it had to be boiled down to a single comment, would be this comment: As an industry, workers’ compensation simply doesn’t comment enough. And that would be my comment on comments.

Our old news center was receiving between 20,000 and 30,000 article views on any given day. Yet, if we had 5 legitimate comments over a 7-day period it would be a banner week. Sure, there were some exceptions to that. Certain stories would draw some significant response, and the employees of SAIF Corporation practically broke the old comment system expressing their frustrations over the firing of their CEO. But comments about my more salacious blog articles and major scandals are the exception. Generally, people in the workers’ compensation industry are as quiet as church mice, and follow the old adage, “If you post, you’re toast.”

I’d like to see that change. I personally think that the industry will improve with more people sharing ideas and opinions about news and events of the day. And you don’t have to be afraid of being publicly identified. Our system allows anonymous comments, although you must be a registered user to post.

And there is that “registration” thing again. We’ve had a couple inquiries asking about the need to register. I want to make sure everyone understands just what we are doing here. For regular visitors, you may still access the same areas you always have had access to; Current News, my blog and the Workers’ Comp Blogwire. We don’t require any registration for any of those areas that existed in the old system. We decided to require it for our new and original content, however, for a couple different reasons.

First, having people register gives us a much clearer picture of who our users are, what they do and what they are interested in. We do ask some probing demographic questions of our users – and I would note we do not require they be answered. Still, we hope that people will be complete and honest with us, as knowing your audience base is essential to serving them well. And while we will not share your information with anyone, the anonymized aggregated data that results from our rapidly growing list of News subscribers will be useful in securing needed sponsors to keep the entire effort alive.

We are making a very significant investment in order to provide the largest and most comprehensive FREE news service dedicated to the workers’ compensation community. Advertisers are the key to making that effort a success, and for users, free registration is the price of admission.

We think it is worth it, and hope you do as well.

So, those are my comments on comments and a little news about news. We have more new things coming, and are extremely pleased at the number of people who have registered as news subscribers thus far. We hope you like it.

And by the way, comments are open. Don’t be shy. Tell us what you think.

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