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The Guardian is considering implementing guidelines for journalists participating in online comment threads, its head of digital has said.

Internal discussions have started at the paper about how journalists should interact with readers in comments.

The discussions precede the forthcoming launch of the site's new community platform involving Pluck, which will enable comments to be opened up across all content on the site.

Emily Bell, director of digital for Guardian News and Media, told that participating in online discussions is now seen by the paper as another 'multimedia skill' that journalists working online will need.

"We haven't got something which is nailed up on the office wall yet saying these are the ten rules for engagement, but we are having internal discussions about what these should be," said Bell.

"We will get to the point where journalists here feel very confident about user interaction, but it has already got to the point where it's something you have to learn."

Bell admitted that some journalists at would question the importance of participating in threads, but said such interaction is crucial to the future of the website.

"Instinctively we've got a lot of journalists who are very good at it [interacting with users online], but we've got a lot of journalists who feel a little bit uneasy about what they are allowed to do. There will be people who question why we have to do this," she said.

"For all content-based analysis and commentary websites, if you are serious about having news and analysis and having a community around that, these are new skills that we've got to develop."

Any proposed guidelines would be aimed at improving journalism on the site and helping journalists and editors better understand 'how to get the best out of their users and communities'.

Journalists should look to comments for 'story fodder' in particular those from the specialist audience's attracted to certain areas of the site, Bell added.

While implementing Pluck's technology will allow commenting facilities on more than just the site's blogs, Bell told an industry conference in March that comments would not be a 'default position' for all content on the site.

"You should make editors think about why they're opening comments. If the answer is, just to get a lot of comments, then don't do it. If the answer is, because you think people have got a lot to add or you want engagement from them then open comments," she said.

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