Often I get asked what a community editor does, a question I sometimes find it hard to answer.

But increasingly I tell people that it’s the community editor’s job to say what everyone else is thinking.

Here’s an example to show you what I mean. On yesterday’s story about the Twitter trolls who sent rape threats to activist and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, one Times reader left a comment that was too good not to reply to.

anonymous user times

The comment was recommended 21 times, a third of which were readers who had left five or fewer comments and were either relatively new subscribers or people who hadn’t engaged in commenting for some time for whatever reason. (Interestingly, the pseudonymous reader apologised, asked for their comment to be taken down and said their emotions had got the better of them)

A similar situation occurred in November on a story about an ITV News presenter who decided not to wear a poppy for Armistice Day, leading one reader to call her a ‘bigot’ without much justification (something I didn’t think was particularly fair).

bigot comment

As with the Twitter abuse example, this comment attracted recommends from readers outside the core group of commenters, engaging people who lurk, don’t usually leave comments and who are hard to reach.

In both cases, my response was relatively easy for readers to get on board with. It echoed what many readers were thinking and, in recommending my view, helped them associate both with me, as a Times journalist, and with each other (something Rich Millington talks about in regards to useful/non-useful discussions).

Sometimes it goes a long way to just say what everyone else is thinking.