The quiet changes to our comment threads

A few regulars at the virtual Editor’s Desk got talking about comments Friday on an old post, so I’m hitting refresh on that conversation with a new blog post and answering a few questions they brought up.

At February’s panel discussion in Poulsbo I shared a few ideas for online comment moderation that our fellow Scripps newspapers were planning on experimenting with. I said it was likely the Sun could take direction from those tests to change how our comments are moderated. Colleen Smidt asked for an update, saying that “just letting it go” is having consequences.

Those consequences are a fear of mine, of course, and in her comment Colleen painted a pretty discouraging picture. Believe me, I take it to heart when I hear readers steer clear of our journalism because of what goes on in the discussion beneath.

Contrary to Colleen’s statement, we have not been “letting it go” lately. In fact, a few of the editors and some reporters have been more aggressive than usual over the past few months in removing comments, banning users, and turning the comments off stories after a certain period of time — we’ve just done so quietly. We also posted a page with our guidelines, and made those more prominent on each story online. I preferred to do that to a big announcement about the strategy; not to sneak up on the commentors, but as an attempt to quietly correct or cull out some of the worst of our comment boards. We still contact commentors individually, so it’s not like we’re doing this in the dark. I generally believe in incremental change rather than abrupt shifts of strategy to achieve a goal, I suppose. I also believe that verifying everyone’s name, in today’s day and age, is a hopeless quest, and I believe that anonymity through a pseudonym is not only acceptable, it’s an important thing to offer, despite some of the headaches. So major shifts that involved either of those options weren’t part of the discussion.

Have our recent actions worked? Colleen’s statements make me think we haven’t moved the needle much, though even she admits she’s been reading comment threads less frequently. (Go ahead and correct me below, Colleen, if I’ve misrepresented your statement.) I know I’ve received thanks for removing one abusive commentor, and my anecdotal observation has been that certain topics are seeing less of the worst statements — the protracted conversations do still exist, but we’re trying to relegate those to the letters to the editor, which we rarely monitor closely. Opinion pieces like letters get a different treatment, because they are a forum for opinions.

Those heated threads for certain issues may always exist, and for now I’ve decided to err on the side of allowing that on our site rather than dictate what stories people can and cannot comment on, or try to shut things down altogether.

Exercising control over where comments appear was the tactic taken by my fellow editor and friend Joe Howry, at the Ventura County Star. I’ve shared his recent column (which had over 700 comments when I counted last week) with a few people, but essentially Joe got sick and tired of comments. Really sick and tired, if you read his acerbic column that calls his online community a “cesspool.” Joe doesn’t pull his punches. His decision — because a technical solution was not happening anytime soon — was to limit the stories readers could comment on, and then aggressively moderate those threads. He tells me he’s enjoyed the change so far.

Other ideas I’ve seen recently in the industry: leaving certain stories off-limits for comments (we have a modified version of this, with child sex offense cases, and I like parts of this idea); outsourcing comment moderation, like the Boston Globe has done (I don’t really like giving away that control, as much of a burden as it may be); verifying every single user who signs up with a phone call (this is pretty tricky tech-wise and staffing-wise, and may not really help much); or just turning them off entirely (that is, burying your head in the sand).

There may still be a technological solution, but we’re not inventing it here. We’re sticking with some simple principles we’ve believed all along that can apply no matter what software you’re using — participating in the forums ourselves to answer questions or explain policy, asking users to help by flagging inappropriate comments, making our guidelines clear and enforcing our stated guidelines as often as possible. We don’t get everything, some critics accuse. To me it’s like one person refereeing a fast-paced basketball game — some people get away with a foul because the ref doesn’t see everything, but that doesn’t mean the foul he saw you commit is any less of a foul.

It’s ongoing, it’s evolving, it’s a difficult question to get agreement on, and we’ll never make everyone happy — even in our own newsrooms. So let’s keep discussing it.

Now, I’ll offer a few answers to questions you guys raised on the other blog post.

Robin asked… I’d suggest creating a separate anonymous forum not directly linked to articles. There people could talk about anything they wanted. Staff could select user moderators and these moderators could direct the flow of conversation. Folks who enjoy trolling and flaming could have a board for that. Folks who want to discuss community issues in a civil forum could have that too.

I respond… Howry’s paper offers something like what Robin suggests. You know what happens? The trolls are kind to each other in that open forum, chatting respectfully about the weather or whatever’s on their mind. Then they find a story, and start trolling again. Separating trolling from a civil forum isn’t always so cut and dried, and trying to say “you guys play over here, the adults are talking over here” seems a little condescending and doomed to fail. We also tried open forums a few years ago, before we had comments enabled on the stories. They were a dud.

Sharon O’Hara asked… Do the blog posts fit in with and represent the position of the Kitsap Sun to inform and stay in business?

I respond… Allowing readers to comment isn’t part of the historical mission of professional journalism in Kitsap County, but allowing online feedback certainly has become part of the paper’s role. People go on and on with hypothetical “good” and “bad” examples of comments in this argument, so I know the danger in me doing what I’m about to do. One struck me recently, on this story, as a reminder of the value of anonymity. A homeless woman, who probably feels stigmatized because of her current place in life, had a forum to share her experience. It was a short comment, the lengthy thread itself had plenty of removed posts among the range of opinions on a high-profile issue, but hearing her voice informed me, at least in a small way that wasn’t part of the same old argument over the welfare state or concern for humanity. She had a voice. We try to facilitate the voice of the powerless when we report on issues like homelessness, and this was one other way we were able to do so. I think that’s in line with what we’ve always tried to provide, even with the baggage attached.

Colleen asked… Is the current environment of the comment forum driving down paid reader subscriptions? Is the current environment of the comment forum making it difficult to maintain or increase paid advertisers revenue levels? Will improving the environment of the forum with increased moderation even be possible with current staff numbers and or budget restrictions?

I respond… I doubt the comment threads have anything to do with print readership habits. Our print/online readers do overlap, but it’d be my guess that someone was fed up with the comment threads would be more likely to just stick to the print. I read the Seattle Times in print, for example, and as a result I have no idea what goes on in its online forums. Nor am I concerned. Print readership was eroding long, long before we started hosting comments, so I wouldn’t draw that conclusion from this new phenomenon. As far as the advertising question, the one fallacy I hear sometimes is that we like controversial comments because they boost page views. The fact is that isn’t the case. Even the stories with a large number of comments (letters to the editor) pale in comparison to our most read online stories (breaking news and obituaries) — and neither of those has a big problem with nasty comments back and forth. Advertisers want to be well-read, and our site experiences growth in that department nearly every month — because of our journalism and improvements in display or linking, not because of comments. And on the last question, I hinted at it above, but yes, I do believe it’s possible. We’re busy as ever in the newsroom, but we’ve evolved over the years to accommodate different tasks as they fit our primary task of reporting and editing. If it helps a staff member get engaged with the audience, they’ll spend more time in the comment threads, and thus the comment thread will improve. We don’t have a rule that reporters must participate in the comments, but it is encouraged. Maybe I’m hopelessly optimistic (actually I’m not, some mornings the comments put me in a sour mood), but I still think those comments can offer something worthwhile to the readers who chose to use them.

Ok, last thing, just for a read that’s interesting as journalism and anonymous comments continue this dance. The Everett Herald’s website was being used anonymously by a vested interest, and they called him on it. (Also interesting because the city of Bremerton uses red light cameras from an Arizona outfit, but not the same company as Everett.) I think this reinforces one of my tenants when I think about our forums and any online commentary: pay attention, but take it all with a grain of salt, and the truth eventually comes out.

—David

59 thoughts on “The quiet changes to our comment threads

  1. So I read your statement and then read the first question posed. Go figure it was by one of the worst offenders of what makes the comments section of your online version of the paper bad, then again the second question asked same situation.
    Had you looked into the question asker’s background you would see that Robin uses your comments section as a form to promote their own agendas, and they are the worst when it comes to the offensive back and fro volleys. Then had you looked at my comment history you would notice that
    A. my comment frequency has dropped considerably (due to the restrictions imposed)
    B. all my “arguments” seem to be with user Robin_in_Manette

    In my last commented story (http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/may/08/deputies-reunite-stolen-dog-with-rightful-owner/) you would have seen that he and another user teamed up to attack other users, then in a pathetic attempt to gain a bit of sympathy goes the whole why is every body picking on me route. So I told him and he confirmed. There are particular users that make your comment forum a joke.

    Here is a tip that would eliminate your troll problem. Limit comments to one per user per story. let them know up front that is your intention, negative comments will not be tolerated, and attacking another users thoughts will get you banned.

    To be perfectly honest your comment section is the only reason I will never use this site again or subscribe to your paper, you let long term users dictate how your comment forum works, and let a form of internet bullying go on in your web site. The above stated link is a perfect example of what I am talking about. Everyone does not get the equal right to state their opinion, RIM argues and has his cronies report differing opinions for removal when they do the same type of opinion bashing. But it is to late to save me as a user/reader but I hope you do something soon so you don’t loose all your readers because of Robin in manett and other shitty users. Oh did I just swear does not matter block me, ban me, do what ever it is you have to do, I no longer care as of right now I am no longer a reader of your second rate paper and comments section.

  2. Thanks for the very complete update David! I like the tag “virtual editors desk” it fits!

    What about that pop up survey? Did I imagine that or did it really occur:-)

  3. I allowed Mixted’s comment — curse, criticism, grudge and all — because he or she raises a point worth addressing. The comment says we let some users dictate how the forum works. That’s completely true, to an extent, and it’s exactly the reason why I have repeatedly encouraged users to flag inappropriate comments and help us keep the boards clear of stuff that should be removed. You dictate the discussion getting better also, and for a board to reflect community opinion it needs some of that freedom (which includes making multiple comments to develop a debate). In general, commentors who lose their accounts do so because others have flagged their stuff over and over again. We do listen to that feedback.

    Our guidelines make it clear what we will tolerate and what type of thing is removed, as Mixted requests. I’ve read the thread she mentions, there certainly were removed comments but much of it was a honest back-and-forth among people with strong feelings. I’m sorry she felt picked on by Robin (and please guys, let’s keep this one on the topic and not that stoy), but that’s why we have the flagging feature and editors to help make those calls. There’s going to be some disagreement on that, and our comment guidelines are an attempt to outline some expected behavior without putting too tight a leash (sorry for the pun) on topics that arouse some strong emotions, like that dog story.

    —David

  4. Colleen —
    Not quite ready to discuss the survey results yet. But the basic idea, as I think was explained in the survey, was asking readers about what information that are comfortable sharing when they register for sites online. Right now people can read our site without registering, which is fine but skews our numbers a bit when we try to analyze reader habits and interests. We’re working on a plan to make a simple, unobtrusive registration process (that came across loud and clear, which we expected) so we can improve the website experience for you guys (recommended stories based on your interests, ads you prefer/not prefer to see, for example). Probably have more on that later this summer, and we’ll be real upfront about it if any change is made to how you log-on to kitsapsun.com.

    -David

  5. In Robin’s defense, he has toned it down quite a bit from when he first started. Heck we all have, there is a bit of a tolerance, can of worms opening learning curve we all go through when we start blogging. Everybody makes a few mistakes in the heat of the moment and typically pays a price for it via wordy smack downs by certain responders.

    Posters worth getting to know and engaging in frequent conversations with do adapt, hone their skills and refine their arguments over time. The rest either leave and never come back or just continue to “troll” around as the “Kitsap Sun’s Most Wanted” repeat offenders.

    I have been fortunate enough to get to know Robin personally face to face. What you see is what you get with him.

    I find it somewhat contradictory in what the complaint really is about when the person complaining feels the need to offensively swear while making a complaint about other posters perceived offensive comments. Sounds like a circle that needs a mirror to break it up.

    Back at David, I am just happy to hear that this issue is still being worked on and worked out.

  6. Nice follow up, and I’ve mentioned before that Kitsap Sun’s updated guidelines were an excellent step in the right direction.

    However, it’s a bit disingenuous to characterise an industry-wide link between controversial news and increased traffic (and thus, more advertisers) as fallacious. Advertising rate sheets reference site traffic and the number of unique visitors as an enticement, and traffic tends to increase when strong opinions or controversial stories are run here. This doesn’t mutually exclude quality content as a draw.

    And just to be clear – my comment (“Advertisers pay for eyeballs, and controversy sells.”) was about more than online comments, though an increase in those participants is indeed counted as visitor stats made available to advertisers.

  7. I am curious how Mixted is able to use an anonymous handle here? I thought you had to use your real name in blog posts?

    I am sorry that Mixted felt picked on, I was simply trying to show that this person who claimed that the Humane Society says it’s OK to leave a dog unattended in a car is misinformed. Here is Mixted’s quote.

    “I volunteer at the Kitsap Humane Society and have for the last 13 years, and I am taking my pre requisite classes at OC so I can begin studying to be a vet tech and open up my own shelter. Why don’t you take a quick jaunt down to the Humane Society or your local veterinary office and talk to the professionals about leaving dogs in car.”

    I took Mixted’s advice, here is a link to the Humane Societies website and their policy about leaving dogs in cars.

    http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/travelling_tips_pets_cars.html

    I’d like to defend my actions using a quote from Mixted.

    “You on several occasions have attacked my opinion instead of seeing that people feel differently than you do and letting it go at that.”

    This is the difference, I do in fact attack peoples opinions. There is a big difference between attacking an opinion Vs. attacking a person.

    Here is Mixted attacking me personally.

    “You are cocky in your writing and very dismissive of differing opinions. Then you get offended and go on the attack when someone disagrees with you, again go back and read any of your posts. People hate your opinion because you do it to other people.”

    I did not complain about being attacked, I expect it. When you have strong convictions and are not afraid to express them, people who are less secure will feel threatened and lash out. I complained about being told to keep my opinions to myself.

    Also I’d like to point out that I had a stalker in that thread who ended up getting banned. I also had someone that same day leave an offensive voice mail on my cell phone. My real name has been figured out by many posters and they try to get me to stop posting by threatening me with that information.

    Here are a few of the responses I got in that thread.

    “i think you should shut your mouth unless you know what your talking about.”

    “Once again a Robin_In_Manette brainless post, one of thousands.”

    “Robin it is fine to have different values than others, but keep your values to yourself.”

    “I vote that Robin moves back to California”

    “Robin, you are a moron. Get a life.”

    “Robin, you mention providing common sense contrast, but the problem is you are providing none. Yet we will still pray for you to get better!”

    “The trouble starts when you become one of the wackos, Robin.”

    All because I said it was irresponsible to leave a dog unattended in a car…

    Mixted, my grandma told me that when you point your finger at someone you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.

    I have taken several actions to try and tone down my comments. I try to stay out of opinion stories, and if I post, I try to limit it to one or two posts. I try real hard to stick to the issues and not go personal. I put trolls on my Plonk list and just ignore their posts. But to be honest I sometimes enjoy sparring with folks who think I should just “shut up”.

  8. Robin, some comments can be -or appear to be – life threatening to the point my husband wanted me to stop posting. I considered it because he lives with me and felt threatened through association…but I’ll stop when I stop caring not because of threats and that’s the person he married a very long time ago.

    At least one poster has nailed me to the wall for not being clear and using ‘facts’ correctly…rightly so. Posting and reading here has been and continues to be a learning experience – one I appreciate, thanks.
    Sharon

  9. Sharon,

    Lately folks have tried to refute my positions because I linked to a wikipedia article. I find this argument kind of silly since wiki just compiles information and anyone who doubts it is free to check the links to confirm it’s veracity. Many people in these forums spout off facts and stats without ever bothering to provide a link. My 20+ years of engaging in online public forums have taught me to back up my information with links.

    But quoting facts will just further inflame folks who are only here to vent their personal frustrations with no regard to facts.

    My wife is a private person and would’ve been very upset had she received the phone message I got on my cell phone. I also have two teenage daughters and worry that someone willing to call my phone and leave a hateful message might come by my house and try to cause trouble too. We must all remember that it wasn’t that long ago that Americans were being persecuted for their opinions. But we live in a democracy and I think it is our civil duty to speak our minds.

    I may disagree with some posters, but I would never suggest they not be allowed to share their opinions.

  10. Robin… something I recall vividly is that people who are silent allow others to rule and more innocent to get hurt.
    In one case I know about a little girl was raped. The mother reported the rape and filed charges with the prosecutor’s office.
    Girls came out of the woodwork then and told the mother the fellow had done the same thing to them but they and their parents hid it – going back years.
    Fact is, this mother’s daughter and others most likely wouldn’t have been raped by this man had the first one stepped forward to stop him! When a child is raped, the family is forever changed.

  11. Point to note having a history of comments being removed tends to take on a nefarious undertone when at times there should not be one. This is because no explanation is provided by the Sun.

    For example this morning I posted a thoughts and prayers for the man shot by his daughter with the arrow. Because I used his first name my comment was removed and no explanation was provided. People see that removal and automatically think the worst of my post when that was not the case at all.

    Because the name has not been publically released the Sun will not allow any if even the smallest reference to it. But that only means the community is not getting that information here. It is already in a dozen other places where the ongoing conversations are taking place.

    The Sun’s practice of removing comments without a basic system of explanation such as “removed for profanity”, “removed because of sensitive information due to an ongoing investigation” “removed for physical threats” is actually contributing to the distrustful toxic comment environment while at the same time the Sun is expending efforts in other ways to clean it up. Seems a little cross purposes and frankly has me a little pissed off right now. I will go somewhere else to get my updates on this story today.

  12. David Nelson says,
    “I generally believe in incremental change rather than abrupt shifts of strategy to achieve a goal, I suppose.”
    Interesting, sounds like the proverbial frog who does not realize the heat is being turned up until it is to late.
    So on one side you have a completely free and open forum on the other side you have heavily controlled opinion forum that is even monitered by a foriegn company. David, I hope you find a balance. I for one enjoy the free and open banter. I have also have been the subject of disrespectful ridicule by your readers because of an article published about me and my appeal of a Red Light Camera ticket.
    Robin, perhaps you recall telling me to “stay the hell out of your town”? Sharon perhaps you recall dissing me as if the article was some sort of publicity stunt for my window cleaning company? One reader called me an idiot or something to that effect, I clicked on his name and found comments by him that revealed that he worked for the prosocutors office.
    David, Very interesting link you provide about an Arizona Red light Co. using the opinion forum to sway public opinion.
    David ends the article by saying, “pay attention, but take it all with a grain of salt, and the truth eventually comes out.”
    Excellent words of advice in this day and age and I will leave it at that as well.

  13. @RegisteredVoter — I didn’t say controversy doesn’t attract readership — I said the comments themselves aren’t an incredibly strong factor. We’ve been accused of offering comments solely to boost web traffic. But if you look at the numbers, a “controversial” or breaking news story will get thousands of views and have three or four dozen comments, maybe 100 at most. But those are always a fraction of the story’s overall page views, which leads me to believe most readers aren’t coming to comment. I don’t disagree that controversial stories or passionate topics draw interest (the “if it bleeds, it leads” clich´e has some basis), my point is that it’s the story itself attracting the majority of eyeballs.

    @Colleen — We’re careful not to name victims in our reporting, and this gentleman was a victim of a very serious assault. I realize your note was of encouragement, but that’s a line we have to draw. It’s a journalism ethics rule for us, and to make the rule worth its salt we’ve got to enforce it on the boards as well. We’ve occasionally stated why certain comments were removed, but it would be a burden to do that each time. But maybe there are places to do better, transparency always helps.

  14. Sharon, My aunt grew up in Kitsap County back in the 40’s. She was molested by a neighbor and my grandmother told her to hush up about it. So when people say to me that things were so much better in the “good ole days”. I think to myself, ‘maybe not’…

    Trust me when I say, they won’t be shutting me up anytime soon. 😉

    *************************************

    Sky, actually what I said was…

    “Go run people over in Port Townsend and pay your ticket. That is a very popular crosswalk for people heading to the transit transfer station. Before the traffic cameras were installed I saw a lot more pedestrians hit in that intersection. I am glad this dangerous driver got a ticket and hope he stays out of my town.”

    As I recall then you sent me a private message saying I’d pissed you off or something. Tough luck, pay your fine and stop at the stop lights. I’m curious, did you have to pay your ticket and court costs? I think folks who run silly issues like this up to superior court are wasting my tax dollars.

    *****************************************

    Colleen, I seem to get some of my posts deleted all the time. I try not to take it personally. In fact I’d have to say if you don’t have the occasional post deleted, you might no be trying hard enough. ;-p

    *****************************************

    David, We don’t see how many views each article gets, only if it shows up on the most viewed section or how many responses it gets. I suppose this may cloud our view of what stories are most popular.

    Could staff have just edited Colleen’s message and blanked out the name rather than delete the entire post?

    I didn’t see an answer as to why some folks are able to use an anonymous handle in these blog posts?

    *****************************************

    I’m enjoying the discussion here.

    Robin

  15. Robin, real good question about editing posts. That’s one concrete, absolute rule we stick to — we never edit a user’s posts, even if in some cases it seems to make sense. There have been times someone has made what I consider an insightful comment, but blown it by sneaking a curse word in that we just couldn’t let stand. Colleen’s post this morning is a good example of when, seemingly, we could just do a small amendment and a good comment stands. But we’re pretty strict, and here’s why.

    When we got started with comments we got a legal opinion on libel, because we were concerned with being sued if a reader posted something completely untrue about another person in the community. There’s wasn’t a completely cut-and-dry answer because the issue was so new and no case law existed. But one thing we were told is that editing posts, even once, would set the precedent as something we do, and thereby put all liability on us for what’s said in the forums because we’re demonstrating ownership (as opposed to the user being solely responsible for what he/she has said). I’m not sure if that’s still the consensus in the media law community, but I’ve never seen a news website vary from that.

    The other factor is that by editing posts, we’d be making it more difficult for moderators to follow our general guidelines. I trust our editorial judgment in here in applying the guidelines to remove comments (or not removing them, in some cases). But to add to that equation the redaction or editing… well, that makes things really tricky, and as we’re discussing, we’re already dealing with a gray area. Is is ok to drop one word? One sentence? Only curse words? What about when we edit a post with political leanings and get accused of changing the meaning because we tone done some strong language?

    Readers are already asking for transparency and clarity in what we allow/don’t allow. Starting to edit on our end would only make things muddier, and I don’t think that makes our job easier. Make sense?

  16. I did not “diss” you, Sky. I raised the possibility the court costs could be cheap publicity for your business. If you have denied it, so be it.

    “Sharon perhaps you recall dissing me as if the article was some sort of publicity stunt for my window cleaning company?”

    Robin, too many beneficial annon posters inform us and couldn’t do it if they used their real names. I have no problem with that.
    The problem comes with the creeps using phoney names and attacking posters.

  17. David, as you provide us with more information, like the libel issue, we become more informed about what is and isn’t possible. Since I started participating in your blog, I’ve learned why requiring folks to use real names won’t work, and why some posts get deleted. It’s helping me to understand.

    Sharon, I understand why anonymous posts have value in the article comments. But when I signed up to respond to these blog posts, I did not see where I had an option to use a screen name. I thought these were different than the article posts…

  18. Robin, What do you not understand? Can you not get it into that bonehead of yours that I am not guilty, I paid all the court costs out of my own pocket. I pride myself in being a safe and responsible driver. Do I not have a right to have my appeal heard? A fake judge, a cop who was not on duty, infractions issued by private companies….These matters should be called into question……you,you, YOU KNUCKLE HEAD……..And there you have it, prime example of how things get off subject and the tone quickly turns sour. So what is the answer? I purpose that The Sun utilizes people like Robin, someone who takes pride in their community and visits the online forum regularly. Hand them the keys to become an online moderator. Moderators work well in a variety of online forums and I dont see why they wouldnt work here. Set some guidelines and if people are clearly abusing the comment forums the moderators can ban the user, ask them to stop, warn them or whatever action is needed. I strongly oppose to outsourcing, use people within your own community.
    I believe in freedom of personal responsibility. I teach my kids that we have freedom of speech but with that freedom comes a responsibility for what we say.

    Robin, I have read your posts I have respect for the fact that you take pride in your home town. I have stayed true to my promise to stay out of your town. No worries.

  19. @RegisteredVoter — I didn’t say controversy doesn’t attract readership — I said the comments themselves aren’t an incredibly strong factor. We’ve been accused of offering comments solely to boost web traffic.

    I’ve not seen anyone say this, but did read a comment once that allowing anonymous comments has the effect of attracting eyeballs, thus increasing traffic stats in a manner which would appeal to advertisers. I don’t completely agree with this, but would be interested in the site traffic stats prior to offering comments. Also, if one is clicking on a story *and* to enjoy the trainwreck without necessarily partaking in comments, presumably they would be counted as interested in the story (yes, I know there are high-traffic story views which don’t have comments). I am curious, though: how would KS accurately differentiate between those there for the story vs. lurkers getting a preview before enjoying the real show in the coliseum?

  20. David,
    Robin makes a good point. On many other publications just like the Sun’s that I blog on their software allows me to edit my own comments when I am logged in. I realized my mistake when I hit post and would have corrected it but didn’t have that option other print online news organizations can do it why not the Sun.

    As of the early evening news his name is out all over the broadcast media. What made the journalistic rule dfference?

  21. Sky, I had to read your post twice before posting. ;-p

    You never answered my question, were you found guilty, innocent, or is your case still pending?

    I’ll go on record as saying that I have a lot of experience with that intersection. My kids attended the nearby View Ridge Elementary and I used to volunteer with traffic safety there. I’ve watched how the red light camera works and I suspect that you are guilty.

    If there was a glitch in the system and I’m wrong I’d like to hear the results of your case. Now if you just manage to get it excused because you made it a big PITA for the city, then I stand by my request that you stay away. If you can prove that there was a glitch, I will apologize to you.

    Also, I agree with you on the forum moderation. I already have experience as a forum moderator, but doubt that I’d be a good candidate here. There are other folks with cooler heads than me who would be good for the job. But I doubt that will happen do to liability issues.
    *********************************

    Registered Voter, I’ve kind of made the comment that more posts equal more money for the paper. But as a small business owner, what I said was that I’d want to retain any attention to my forums. Even negative attention means more people visiting my site. I just can’t see how any for profit business could ignore that fact.

  22. Robin “…as a small business owner, what I said was that I’d want to retain any attention to my forums. Even negative attention means more people visiting my site. I just can’t see how any for profit business could ignore that fact.”

    If these forums break down into nothing more than noisy wordy stuff without real information and consideration – I’d be among the first to click off but I don’t know how that relates to the newspaper business. Newspapers mean information – why wouldn’t the forums follow suit without the negative garbage?

    We’re an online community getting to know each other and the issues affecting us and we each have something unique to bring to the table, I had thought. Perhaps not the sort of thing that makes money for the newspaper business though.

  23. Hey David, my post from my Nook last night did not stay on here. It was awaiting moderation, which I expected since it was the first time I had ever posted from that device. Was it because I did not login to my account first?

  24. I only read the Sun once a day for the News and 5 times a day for the comments. If I just wanted a little news, I would read the P.O. IND.

  25. Colleen – Whose name is broadcast all over and why? The Sun is pretty much my main blogging source and I don’t know what you mean.
    TIA Sharon

  26. Sharon, I hope Colleen won’t mind my answering this question for you. Colleen made a comment in the story about the man who Daughter shot him with an arrow. Colleen used the victims first name which had not been released at the time of the article’s posting. That’s against the rules and her post was deleted.

    What she is saying is that the mans name has since been published in other sources. http://www.kplctv.com/story/14739066/teen-girl-shoots-dad-with-arrow

    I hope that answers your question…

  27. It does answer my question Robin – thanks. Also learned that one should never write the reply then click on the url you offered before posting the comment…lost the whole thing.

    In a nutshell I like that the Sun has rules they adhere to with good reason as David explained.
    If the Sun changes position based on what other media does, they lose their uniqueness and leadership. Let the others follow.

    If, as is said, Fox leads TV media in folks who watch it…it sure isn’t because they follow the other stations in procedure or program content. Is the different Fox a successful media source or just another pretty face?

  28. Yes, the tv stations named him, but he’s still a victim. That’s a policy that we’ll cross at times (we have few hard and fast rules other than “use your head”), but there also needs to be a pretty compelling reason to name victims or people who are arrested and not charged with crimes. But we’re not going to do it just to follow the TV news.

  29. Registered Voter, I’ve kind of made the comment that more posts equal more money for the paper.

    I see. From the perspective that more posts draw more clicks on the article and comments, it would translate into higher stats to present to advertisers. A small business owner would want to measure the value to its overall model should increased “negative” traffic be driven to its forums.

    Several media colleagues have indicated it’s typical policy not to mention victim names until next of kin is notified, so it isn’t surprising a preemptive post might be deleted. In cases of rape, they wouldn’t name the victim at all. If another periodical was violating policy, simply following its lead wouldn’t be prudent without due diligence.

    Because KS does name victims and has a ‘flexible’ policy, this can cause the confusion being expressed by Colleen.

  30. Ha. Well, at least the blog owner used his real name to post an unscientific, ad hominem generalisation. Makes it all better… 😉

  31. I appreciate the KS Editor’s patience and thoughtfulness on this subject. Thank you.

    I agree with DN that amidst the noise and confusion and combativeness, there is a reason for being. My example of someone finding or having a voice are the victims of sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse that found each other on Josh Farley’s blog. I don’t know if their support group began on that blog, but his blog was certainly a catalyst for exchanging stories, contact information, and meeting times and dates for their new support group.

    Maybe the lack of online civility is an accurate depiction of a segment of our society.

    Note the different groups popping up all over the country, not online moderator groups, but groups that are addressing the source of the bad behavior.

    South Kitsap is using a program called Rachel’s Challenge. I saw one of the principals interviewed on NWCN.com.

    http://www.nwcn.com/community/rachels-challenge/spotlight/Port-Orchard-students-principal-talk-about-Rachels-Challenge-121819319.html

    I wasn’t able to get over to the SIFF to see the documentary Finding Kind, but I might be able to stream it in a few months or get a copy for a donation. From the trailer, it looks like a film every woman or girl or anyone that knows a woman or girl, should see.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woZTiMgWYDo

    Dan Savage and his It Gets Better Project has done a very good thing for thousands/millions of disenfranchised youth.

    I have high hopes for the next generation. I find them smarter, kinder, more forgiving of bad behavior, and less likely to engage in that bad behavior.

  32. Speaking of real names. Do you think folks who use their real names ‘speak’ differently than if they used anon? If so, which is the real person speaking?
    I ask because I once had occasion to read comments in a social media made by a family member I know well – or thought I did – showing another side – remarks raw, unreasonable and ugly totally unlike the person I thought I knew. She used her real name so she spoke one way to me and was another person, it seems, to others.
    I dropped out of that social media. Like an ostrich, maybe.
    Made it all better…maybe. 🙂

  33. I think it depends on the person and purpose. If one is in a forum to abuse, that’s what they’ll do. If it’s intelligent exchange, they’ll do that. I’m the same online or 3D, though I find people tend to read less into my online “tone” once they’ve heard me speak.

    Many have different aspects to their person, and will not necessarily be the same in professional settings as they would be amongst friends and family. Hopefully it’s not a case of polar opposites, though “cutting loose” could occur if one environment is really buttoned up.

    I scaled back on social media today, from th personal angle anyhow. Too much noise, and a slew of ‘friend’s’ who care more about accumulating an audience than truly engaging.

  34. I think people are much nastier if they can be anonymous. I post as Robin in Manette on forums. I figured it would be anonymous to folks who didn’t know me, but folks who did would figure it out.

    But I find that complete strangers I meet at public events will ask “are you Robin in Manette?” This worries me because I have a small business. A friend of mine who also has a small business changed his screen name when he had a customer refuse to do business with him because of posts he’d made.

    I have received an offensive voice mail on my phone from someone I suspect didn’t like what I had to say. It worries my wife, if some one will call and curse me out on my voice mail, would they come by my house to cause trouble?

    Cowards are much braver when they can be anonymous. But I think that it’s our duty in a Democracy to discuss our varied interests and opinions. We must learn to get along and figure out how to reach consensus and get stuff done. As a progressive, I’m actively seeking out conservative so that we can figure out what we agree on, and work together to get it done!

  35. It’s officially a groundswell.

    The San Fransisco Giants put out an ItGetsBetter video yesterday. Mariner’s fans are petitioning the Mariner’s to do the same.

  36. I have to ask why the numbers troll? I don’t know what the numbers mean but it is becoming annoying and without value …to me anyway. The person could make a comment about the issue, not rack up the numbers game.
    Is the number troll hired by the Sun for a purpose beyond annoying?

    Karen makes a good point about Josh’s connection with the great people not only surviving but thriving and sharing to help others. Chris Dunnagan has the same sort of people helping others through his blog.

    Blogging should be to educate and inform, not badger and condemn the bloggers sincerely asking and giving their point of view.

    “Hopefully it’s not a case of polar opposites, though “cutting loose” could occur if one environment is really buttoned up.”

    A thought provoking comment – thanks.

  37. Robin – Your experiences actually make the case for why otherwise civil and accountable participants would opt for a nom de plume. Perhaps a tendency to mix it up is what raises ire and inspires some to locate you, but it’s still crossing the line. And then there are some who might voice an unpopular or disparate opinion with civility, and they are hunted down and threatened, punished in their business operations, or subjected to efforts to cull and misapply public information.

    Sharon – Some people need more validation and attention than others. Their way of engagement is a steady flow of outstream and ‘look at me’. I find quality is more important than quantity.

  38. Registered Voter – Government could run well if we had an open, nonjudgmental dialog between legislators and the taxpayer.

    I recently read a post explaining the enforced rules behind something I’d been protesting. We didn’t know the criteria already in place and enforced. Understanding, I, along with many others I’m sure, became supporters. These blogs do that and more.

    Blogging is like being in an unlimited classroom, being exposed to ideas and thoughts from people raised in different cultures and living different experiences – all bring new ideas to the table.

    The arrogant posters play without real value to anything other than self satisfaction during the play of their latest word game…or so it seems to me.

  39. I believe we’re talking about different venues. My comments are a continuation of our discussion regarding audience accumulation, specifically, Facebook. Those I referenced are people I actually know, and they aren’t arrogant or players of word games. Instead, their described behaviors are what some might simply term needy.

    And yes, there can be much value in discussion boards and the like. I’ve participated on several since the mid 80s. I’ve also been owner and moderator of a popular international discussion board since 1998, so have a firsthand appreciation of the issues periodicals like Kitsap Sun face.

  40. No wonder. That explains why your input is valuable in these discussions. A new light – to me – of blogging and discussion on a whole new level. You seem reasonable and forthright though
    I have not of an Internet international discussion board, popular or otherwise. What do you talk about and more importantly – does the talk lead to action or is that it- an idea exchange? If you all agree, where do you get different ideas and thoughts from? What is the focus?

    Facebook – to me – is a vast jumble of junk – a huge time waster without value filled with family and friends and their friends – too many people I wouldn’t know in real life – wouldn’t want to know. It probably didn’t begin that way.

    Steve’s Podcasts is like listening to the radio of Olden Days but without the clomp, clomp clatter of the Long Ranger’s horse, Silver’s hoof beats. Different too is the story – no, Hi Yo Silver!. Another form of discussion, isn’t it?

  41. Not unless you mention if you walked over to Evergreen Park and happened to see a COPD cycle banner safety flag on a fairing clad recumbent trike… entered in one of the rides this morning…?

  42. The Well is probably less known than it was when it began, but participants are from far and wide. Care2 has discussion boards which draw an international crowd on a wide range of topics. Some are idea exchange, others are linked with activism, and still others are free-for-alls where squelch dominates. IDEA (The International Debate Education Association) tends to be more organised and most participants are former or current members of debate clubs or associations. Then there are discussion boards associated with The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy Association, and numerous other periodicals on a wide range of subjects.

    Ah, Facebook. Still some redeeming value, but getting to it can become quite challenging.

    I love Dilbert. I shared the May 22 one far and wide when it ran. Somecards.com also has some pithy messages.

  43. Mick, do you catch any grief outside the forums from using your real name? I have received some harassing phone calls and now someone has committed mail fraud against me by ordering stuff in my name. I think I’m going to have to create a new forum account with a less recognizable name.

    For the record, I enjoy sparring with you. I hope you don’t feel that I’ve been defamatory…

    Robin

  44. That is just sad that you have to do that Robin. I have not been forced to make a decision like that….yet. I get more personal backstabbing/backlash/grief by speaking out at School District meetings than anything from my column or blog posts.

    Mick, I do know from past discussions that the Opinion page here on the SUN is a pretty much anything goes environment. The stories get more moderation and the blogs get quite a bit of moderation.

    I rarely feel the call to post anymore for a host of reasons. Some of which is I am much more selective in my topics and battles now and the other part is that the SUN has stopped being a breaking community news source for me a majority of the time. Now that I am and have been so involved at the community level for several years and have worked to educated myself on a host of community issues, I hear about most of the stories very early on (community topics not 911) from the actual people involved. These are community leaders, elected officials, volunteers, public employees and so on. I am personally connected or have access to so many of them now that very little in the way of community news is news to me by the time it appears here in the SUN. So most times now, if I feel like commenting I save it for my column or other forums where I can still debate the issues with you and Robin in a less “trolled” and toxic environment.

  45. To be honest Colleen, I have to accept a big chunk of the blame myself. I should have chosen a more anonymous screen name to start. Also I fully admit to sparring with some of the trolls. I enjoy fighting fire with fire, but we all know that two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m trying to be a little more diplomatic. We’ll see how that works for me. 😉

  46. I have not had any ramifications from blogging on the Sun myself. I have heard from others , like Robin who have had bad examples . Had a person who stalked me on Facebook from the Sun bloggs , and it got me nervous . I notified the Sun and got a snarky comment from the staff , Miss Dice, I believe she was having a busy night with other duties. Never did get an apology which I thought was strange . I work with people, never have insulted a person who asked me for help or would my employer allow it .

    Then I got a reply from her saying she was watching me also . That sort of bothered me. Now the Sun was watching me ?
    The blogger was telling me I would be sorry if i messed with him , he was a bit wound tight as they say . That blogger , bremerton greg I believe was his name has deleted his account and all his comments were deleted also . You have to have the Sun do that so I believe he must have been very embarrassed or something . I got under his skin , but from his other conversations with others he seemed to let everyone get under his skin . Sort of of like this current spiritual blogger on the Sun now but instead of just attacking religious beliefs , greg was non partsian , he personally insulted everyone who did not believe as he did . ;0)

    I try to stay respectful, its not personal for me but I admit I do sometimes am agravated by the personal atatcks . Sometimes I feel insulted , which is why so many use personal attacks I guess , it tends to change the conversation . Actually have changed some of my opinions from blogging , had some reinforced also . In this case I just thought it was so blantantly a violation of common decency was not sure why it was allowed to continue so I threw it on this blog .
    Insulting people based on their race , sexual orienation , religion , etc , the protections we have in our state constitution basically for people , when you insult people based on those personal characteristics to myself is a violation of how I understand the word defamatory means . Also having a history with the SUN from my activist days I tend to believe they are so bias it comes out in my point of view with their staff also .

    But I will be giving blogging a rest I guess . No one wins, nothing is gained when it comes down whose Mother wears the bigger set of army boots.

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