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October 8, 2009

Comment concerns: Can we keep things civil?

I like allowing readers to be able to post anonymously and without having to register or go through a process where I review before I post. I don't want to erect barriers to people being able to express themselves freely and immediately.

Ultimately, I think this allows people to express themselves in ways that is different than, say, if they had to sit down and carefully craft a letter to the newspaper.

While both are valid forms of self-expression, anonymous online message boards, I believe, give people a chance to say what's really on their minds, at the moment they are thinking it. Of course, people also create identities when they are online--somewhat like Yours Truly--so a participant of online message boards, either as a writer or reader, needs to be discerning in how they judge anything that's posted, and that includes by me.

Overall, I've been really delighted by the level of conversations that have been taking place on CrazyinSuburbia message boards. People are thouthful and passionate. Sometimes they are snarky and funny. I've also seen instances of readers policing one another, admonishing others when they cross what might be judged, amongst readers, as a line of decency or good manners.

There is a risk to a blogger like me allowing anonymous comments. Sometimes a few bad apples can spoil the bunch, as they say. This happened overnight. Someone posted some really rude comments, obscene in nature, about a person, whom they named. The problem, as a reader astutely pointed out, is that I didn't check my e-mail until early this morning, to see that the comments had been posted. I immediately deleted them, but they had been up for several hours. I'm sorry that happened.

I moderate comments, but not constantly, and I would prefer not to have to start. And, again, I would prefer not to have to put up barriers on readers being able to comment immediately.

Someone suggested I hire someone to help me moderate comments. Well, I'm just me. I don't have a staff. I do this volunteer, pro bono. I do this blog because I love doing this blog, and I have no intention of making money off it. I enjoy getting a chance to rant about my own pet peeves regarding life in Walnut Creek and suburbia. At the same time, perhaps I am providing a public service, informing, commenting on aspects of our community of which the mainstream news organizations might not be aware or which they might deem not newsworthy.

I also see this blog as belonging to you, the readers. I try, but don't always succeed, in getting your ideas and tips up onto the site. I need to get better about that.

Notably, the message boards belong to you, really. So, I'm hoping that anyone who chooses to participate in them will make them worthwhile places to visit and exchange ideas.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree. And here's another gently policing comment: Leave personal attacks on the fourth grade playground. Unless they're indisputably -- and supported by actual facts and evidence -- deserved. I salute you, Soccer Mom. You do a great job with this.

MickeyMartin said...

Your work is wonderful. It is a shame that some bad apples are making it difficult. Keep on keepin' on though. It is a good read.

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom, I don't see an email address to use, but thought you'd like to see this article about the collective "Soccer Mom" phenomenon:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125496251691972245.html

Anonymous said...

I agree with your policy to allow anonymous comments. 99% of the time it is great. the 1% is the cost of doing business.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to shut down comments during the late night hours when the losers are usually making their nasty comments?

Soccer Mom said...

11:18:
That is something I might look into.

LeftCoast said...

Opps my comments above were accidentally posted to the wrong article.

Mind deleting it soccermom? I reposted under the men in speedo's comment section.

Soccer Mom said...

LeftCoast,
No problem with deleting that very "objectionable" comment from that one story. Just kidding of course. I started to read it. I can't wait to read the rest!

LeftCoast said...

Thanks SM. Looking forward to your thoughts if you care to post them.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't understand your blog process. You DO read the comments, don't you? What would be wrong with collecting the comments off-line until you have a chance to read them?

There is no barrier except a little delay which is worth it to filter out the really unacceptable material. Yes, I saw the posts last night and such things should never happen again.

If they do, then I guess you really are Crazy in Suburbia...

LeftCoast said...

The problem I see for SM in your post anon is that makes her the "subjective police" rather than the community sort of defining that starndard and hope that we do a decent job of it with our posts. It's usually not a black and white decision.

That having been said, it's her site and she can handle it any way she pleases.

Anonymous said...

Hi Soccer Mom,

I also saw last night's offensive post and it made me sad for you and all those who earnestly express their opinions here. Hope somehow there's a practical solution.

DumbAsBricks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DumbAsBricks said...

If you have a point that you would like to share, anonymous or not, make it a point to take the time to write it out coherently.

I don't have any problem with deleting the anonymous posts from my blog if they don't serve a constructive purpose. I really don't care what is on people's minds unless it has to do with the topic.

Castle Hill Bill said...

SM- I too saw the crude and derogative term used to descibe the councilwoman. I was disappointed that someone would write that on your blog, but not surprised. I guess it's just indicative of the whole lack of civility and decorum that we are seeing so much of on the news, you tube, and in our everyday lives.
My guess is that this forum is read mostly by adults who have seen/heard the term before and are not shocked by it. I happened to see it just as I was shutting down my computer after the Late Show. I really don't think too many people saw it except for the few of us night owls and its immature author. I hope that this incident doesn't cause you to change the way you manage your excellent blog, but it is YOUR blog.

Anonymous said...

All you white trash mofos can go f yourselves

Anonymous said...

I missed it, could it be republished?

then we all could comment on its censorship.