It is always painful to see a newspaper or news website cease publication. This week an area website, the Clarke Daily News, posted its last story.
The site, online since 2009, was shuttered due to a difference in opinion in regard to how online comments should be moderated, according to this clarkedailynews.com story: "The experiment comes to a close."
If you've seen some of the comments posted at nvdaily.com and other online news sites, you probably have been shocked, amused or angered by them. Many times one comment can prompt dozens of others, and the result is a fascinating back and forth online community discussion. Those commenting rarely use their real names when they post, but what is posted with those weird, sometimes silly display names can be some of the most thoughtful and create the most thought-provoking public conversations.
The flip-side, though, is what has turned into a festering wound in newsrooms around the country since newspapers went online back in the mid-1990s. Many journalists are not fans of anonymous online comments, especially when barbs are aimed at their stories or when newsroom personnel or public and private figures are attacked personally. Then there are the comments that are added for shock value and to elicit outrage. You can almost hear the commenter of such posts laughing at the mischief or misery he or she has caused.
We view the commenting area online as a free speech zone, and we welcome comments that are anonymous as well as those that are signed. Many of the wonderful comments that are posted would never have been made public if we had wanted to exclude those who, for fear of reprisal, ridicule or some other reason, do not wish to reveal their identity.
Most websites today do not moderate online comments before they go online. Some sites have sophisticated programming that filter out filthy words and allow readers to police the comments through report abuse links or buttons. Other sites accept only comments by Facebook members.
Here at the Daily, we require commenters to register on our site and we authenticate their registration by email. We also allow Facebook commenters to post with their Facebook display name if they don't wish to register with us. Our online readers let us know when posts are objectionable and we investigate their complaints. We will remove posts that we feel are abusive.
It's sad when community dialogue has to be shut down due to the abuse of a few individuals. Don't let the abusers win. If you find objectionable posts online at nvdaily.com or any website, report them.