Some commentary about online comments
Regarding the suspension of the online comments section in our local papers, I’m not quite sure what the newspapers are trying to accomplish.
This is what they have posted:
We are working to make this feature of our website better meet the preferences and standards of our readers and our publication. In the interim, we are pausing commenting on our website. We continue to encourage emails and letters from you to our staff and editor.
There have been complaints to both papers (PI and AT) by readers and those submitting comments. I have been one of those. My complaint was one of censorship. Upon inquiry, I was told that the software built into the system automatically tagged as spam any websites included in the comment, and thus the comment was deleted. This, however, did not always happen. Sometimes, in the comments section of an article, column or letter, one comment would be allowed to contain a website while, in my case, my comment with the attending website was deleted.
This is part of an explanation given to me:
“Online comments for a host of newspapers, all owned by the company that owns The Aspen Times, are funneled through the same administrative website. The comment function is actually hosted by an outside company that we contract with, and the spam issue and associated headaches (including what likely happened to your comments) is getting plenty of discussion.”
Others have taken issue with name-calling and foul language in the comments section; basically a lack of civility and politeness.
My position on this, after some reflection, is quite simple and should resolve the issues at hand. Anonymity should cease. When those who comment have to reveal their true identities, they are less likely to say things lacking in civility. They will be held accountable in the public eye. At the same time, censorship should cease, being repugnant to a free and open society, not to mention our First Amendment rights.
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