Posted September 29, 2012 | comments 1 Comment

Editorial: Don't let abusers win

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.

1 Comment | Leave a comment

    This is the only forum on which I have used my real name. There is still a risk, however.

    Those of us who have posted at various boards over the years learned the hard way that personal attacks can come in many "not nice" ways. Some of those nasty methods include spam attacks and worse that compromise our use of the Net or even our personal safety.

    Several years ago MSNBC hosted a variety of boards, but eventually dropped the whole idea because of various technical difficulties caused by the trolls and stalkers.

    Private folks picked up where MSNBC left off, but in a much more limited way. One of the former MSNBC moderators has fallen on hard times and has been appealing for financial assistance.

    For several years I tried to build a site that I hoped would take off and become another Facebook, but that never happened. As a matter of fact, out of a USA population of 300 million, the active "regulars" on all of these boards totals not more than, say, 500. Of the
    boards I am familiary with, the number is not more than about 50, or even fewer.

    My own goal for setting up a site has been...


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