There are currently 478 “verified commenters” on The New York Times’ website. These special people are allowed to post their thoughts on Times articles without having to go through the vetting process, which involves 12 staffers sifting through comments, and then deciding which make the cut. How were the 478 chosen? Magic! Well, not really.
Sasha Koren, the Times’ deputy editor of interactive news, explained the process to the Times’ public editor:
Verified commenters are selected algorithmically based on the breadth and quality of the comments they have submitted over time. First, we require a certain number of total submissions over the course of their entire commenting history for the Times, and we also require a certain number of submissions over the past few months. Then, in both of those categories, we require a very high percentage rate of comments approved by our moderators versus those rejected.
In other words, if you want to be the 479th verified commenter, comment a lot and don’t be stupid.