Reader input welcome

Managing reader feedback in publications has been a growing challenge with the growth of the online world. has been around since 1995. Our website is one of the oldest in the industry, and this year you read approximately four million pages from the site. That’s big farm news.

Having been involved with the site from the start, I can tell you that we’ve enjoyed managing reader feedback.

It comes from a pair of shared histories in this industry: letters to the editor, which in our case is Open Forum dating back to 1923; and the earliest computer networks that farmers were using that preceded the internet.

Letters to the editor and larger opinion-editorials, written by readers, politicians and industry leaders, represent the voices of our neighbours and friends.

The early computer network forums and chat groups have spread into much larger networks of commentary, thought and group problem solving.

Farm groups on sites like Combine Forum and Agri-ville and on Facebook create forums where farmers with similar, and often heavily focused, interests can come together to discuss, or more accurately, express, the things that matter to them today. They can also share knowledge, which is an important part of farm culture.

The Western Producer’s comments sections after each story on our website are busy places as well. Readers can put their thoughts and opinions into play with our journalists’ work, adding value to the rest of our community.

Ours is a moderated system, so each comment that is added to a story is read and approved by an experienced editor. Not that we are stifling debate or silencing legitimate voices — we only ensure that those voices are respectful of others because sometimes passion will trump common values and push the discourse a little over the top.

We also will moderate opinions that make what we believe to be false claims or try to sell stuff.

Some of those comments are led by internet trolls, looking to pick a fight or to light a metaphorical opinion dumpster on fire just to watch others watch it burn.

However, our readers are mostly respectful, looking to join or en-gage their neighbours in discussion and grow the community through dialogue and shared experience — and we thank you for that.

About the author


  • Harold

    Why wouldn’t you leave it to public to determine what is a false claim and what is not? The Media today have lost the meaning of reporting and are now engaged in steering the thoughts of the public. Is it the position of the WP that you can understand a false narrative better than I can? Is it your position that withholding a false narrative from me has done me some sort of favor? Is it the Medias job to steer me away from falsehoods and bad language and the steering is no longer my Job? Is it the Medias job to save me from my emotions and my crying tissues? Is it the Medias job to rewrite the rights and freedoms of Canadians to a level that seems fit to the Media? Who will save me from the publics words said in public – the same words and “lies” that you delete? It is obvious that Media cannot know every truth and every lie where upon they can be a judge above anyone else. The comments left by the readers expose the falsehoods presented by the WP: is this not so? I certainly have exposed falsehoods, and have had my truth deleted as well – because you (WP) had no knowledge of it. The Media is not a Court of Law regardless of what the Media thinks or pretends. Your position is a high road that has never been earned by any Media or any Editor in history. The comments that the public make, unravel falsehoods unlike any media has ever been able to perform; total free speech is the tool. The public have a marketplace full of Ideas and that is something that the WP has not and can never be. The Media have no business steering that market place regardless of any opinions or content offered. If the WP believes that they are a “truth Island” unto themselves then eliminate the opinions of the public. Steering the publics mind is a Industry dependant and funded Media and I certainly know the difference. Is reader input really welcome or are you just saying that it is? The input from all readers never seems to earn your independent investigation. Nonetheless, your thoughts of my fragility are laughable to say in the least but perhaps the “snowflakes” will disagree with me and just might want your continued help; a nanny I don’t need.

    • richard

      I don’t see a conspiracy here to stifle contrarian points of view…. in fact I respect the fact that WP edits for table manners….. Many threads have become nothing more than a slag fest of innuendo and avarice…..Without the comments section here, WP and its clients would have no idea how disconnected agriculture is from food and those who really pay the bills……Without the pithy commentary of yours and many others WP runs the peril of becoming Pravda for those who view necessary change as an unnecessary evil…….

      • Harold

        I’m not sure why you used the term conspiracy; the term wasn’t relevant and I certainly wasn’t pointing to one. You may “respect” (or did you really mean appreciate?) WP edits but If the WP is obligated to provide “table manners” then just who are the “guests”; their children? Are you one of them and what does one paying for a subscription mean; tape over your mouth and WP control of your keyboard?
        Moreover, your last statement was a bit confusing. how does the Pravda compare to an industry dependent upon readership and corporate funding? Without a solid readership base they get no industry funding and the WP is gone and that is their peril; the two entities make the WP quite fragile and they represent their balancing act. On the other hand, the Government funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is Canada’s comparable “Pravda” The CBC gets taxpayer plus corporate support regardless of the content or customer (taxpayer) satisfaction. On a side note, there are a growing number of Canadians who wish to see the CBC abolished and they view the CBC as the government’s propaganda spreading machine or a total waste of taxpayer money.
        Moving forward, the “necessary change” and “unnecessary evils” have always been at the hands of the public to decide, but only when they engage themselves, but there are strong entities stifling the public at their every turn, for which I am sure that you have become well aware of.
        The bottom line is – the one you are never allowed to criticize it the one who is leading you – and the one telling you to shut up is the one controlling you, but your total freedom of speech relieves you from both; that is why it is called a freedom. With the freedom of speech come the many things that you do not wish to ever hear. Supporting all of the things that you hate to hear is the grief you suffer and is the measure of how deeply you believe in the freedom of speech; It does not come without a test of your depth in your own belief. The contrast exposes the weak from the strong and the fake from the earnest and so forth. Easter time is a good time to see what the highest test of one’s belief system entails. There are not many who want to go there to be tested let alone even to step near to the arena – yet say that they believe wholeheartedly.
        Today a few harsh words or criticism sends most into a tail spin crash. Remove a cell phone from a teen (even adults) and watch a total melt down occur before your eyes and totally dysfunctional until the phone is returned. Apparently an unedited and un-deleted bad post does the same thing and therefore it requires a “feels good” nanny.
        Thanks for your comment.


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