Opinion: Welcome to the new, improved ValleyRecord.com

Notice anything different about us lately? If you’re reading this on your phone, you already know about our new and improved website, but if you don’t get to www.valleyrecord.com very often, you’re going to be (pleasantly, we think) surprised.

We’re still the same Valley Record that has covered the news, sports and stories of the Snoqualmie Valley for 103 years and counting — and we still have the same goal of bringing you the important local news of the Valley — but in the past week, we launched a redesigned website that keeps us looking ahead, too.

Yes, things are a little different on the page now. It may take some adjustment, but look around and you’ll find all our current stories and, soon, all our past stories with one major improvement — correct dates on stories posted before 2008. Trust me, that one frustrated all of us, too.

You’ll also find a new way to browse for stories and a cleaner Web layout for pages and individual stories.

Headlines are larger. Stories are organized and displayed in uncluttered groupings.

Best of all, our new design is easier to read via mobile devices and tablets.

We’re also changing the way readers make story comments, and it doesn’t involve Facebook.

We’ve signed on to a new online platform called Civil Comments that was developed to improve the quality of commenting on websites.

Civil Comments is a fresh approach to story commenting, using reviews by other commenters to help moderate submissions. The goal: Interesting and civil debate and conversation, no spam and, we hope, a better experience for all readers.

We’ve all seen combative, uncivil statements in reader comments on various websites, and here at the Record, we’ve tried to watch out for those comments on our stories. We don’t get many, but we don’t need to propagate any of them.

Not accepting comments on stories was the quick and easy solution, but not the right one. Comments are important to us. They add information and other points of view, and they can inform our own reporting. We value that and want to keep it.

We’re not looking to stifle or skew debate. We simply want to improve the quality of the comment space, and we think Civil Comments can help us do that.

Civil is a Portland, Ore., startup that uses technology and peer review to keep things on track.

Here’s how it works: First, set up an account. You can create one in the comment space below our stories.

You can set up a Civil Comments account with an email address or your existing Facebook or Twitter logins, but you do not need a Facebook account to comment — you’re welcome, readers who don’t use Facebook.

When you post a new comment, you’ll be asked to rate two unrelated comments for both quality and civility, and then to rate your own comment.

Once your comment is submitted, it will be reviewed by other commenters.

Ratings are cross-checked by Civil’s algorithms against other users’ responses. Users collectively help determine the tone of the comments and what’s acceptable. Readers can also flag inappropriate material for us to review.

It’s a completely new approach.

Everyone’s comments are peer-reviewed to start. Commenters with a history of civil comments can earn trusted status. After that, the peer reviews become optional.

And speaking of Facebook, our regular feed there won’t be affected by the new commenting system.

Change is almost always a challenge, but take some time to get familiar with the new valleyrecord.com. Then, if you like, tell us what you think, what’s improved, what could work better, and if you find any errors. Send e-mail to editor@valleyrecord.com, or call us at (425) 888-2311.

Thanks for reading.