As most of you reading this blog already know, late last week the editors of the Daily Pilot decided to change the way online comments are submitted to that newspaper. Just as the Orange County Register did some time back, anyone wishing to comment on the Daily Pilot now MUST do so through Facebook. You must have a Facebook identity to post comments and, apparently, Facebook rules apply.
TOO MUCH WORK
As was the case with the Register editors, where the comment threads had become so vile that they were almost unreadable, the Daily Pilot editors finally tired of having to plow through the comments submitted trying to identify those that met their standards for language and civility. It's my understanding that this chore became overwhelming in recent months. So, they made a change.
DP COMMENTS NO LONGER REVIEWED
An interesting element of their decision was that the editors will no longer review comments before they are posted. In my view, that's a big roll of the dice. I hope it doesn't bite them later. And, all the previous comments submitted under their previous system were lost once they converted to the Facebook model. That's too bad.
WILL IT WORK?
It won't take long to see if this system works. So far the comment threads seem to be much more tame than previously. If that was the goal, it seems to be working. It's far from foolproof, however. If you and a person who has "unfriended" you on Facebook are both participating on a comment thread you likely will NOT be able to see his comments, so some of the threads may not make much sense to you.
TIRED OF IT
Which brings me to the real reason for this particular post. I, too, am tired of reading comments submitted here that stray from the subject of the post and that have become simply nasty and hurtful. I've tried to be tolerant and have allowed some to slip through when I felt the remainder of the content of a comment outweighed the negative segments. Those days are over.
THE "FACEBOOK SOLUTION" NOT AVAILABLE
I do not have available to me the easy solution chosen by the Register and Pilot editors. Simply using a Facebook identity for comments isn't available to me here. If you post here you still must either use your own name - my preference - or a pen name - anything except the moniker "Anonymous" - and send it in. And, I will still be reviewing every single comment before it's posted. I tried not doing that for a couple weeks not too long ago - it was a disaster.
I DO WANT comments here because I think they can enhance the discussion of important issues. I DO WANT well-written views on both sides of an issue to help stimulate the debate. I DO WANT you to be patient when you send a comment my way - sometimes it takes me a little while to carve out enough time to review them.
I DO NOT WANT flaming for flaming sake. Using one person who has been a frequent target as an example, I'm just plain tired of reading what an idiot Jim Fitzpatrick is, and how he's on a Twinkie diet, for example. If you want to tell me he's a bore who has worn out his welcome among city staffers or you want to offer an opinion of one of his opinions, fire away. If you send me a comment that is otherwise useful it won't appear if there are similar zingers included. I CANNOT EDIT your comments - they are either a GO or NO GO. So, please don't corrupt your valuable insights by including unnecessary personal zingers.
I'm VERY GRATEFUL for those of you who actually do try to present your views with clarity and civility. I also understand the temptation to slam someone or make an unfounded allegation about a person's character. The line is going to be dicey for awhile, but I'm the sole arbiter on what will appear, so please err on the side of civility.
To the rest of you who have tried to use this blog as a spleen vent, your days here are over. I know this means folks on both sides of recent issues, but that's the way it is. I know some of you will test the borders, so we'll just have to see how that shakes out. Since I don't have a way to communicate back with you, the only way you'll know if you've crossed the line is when your comment doesn't appear. Of course, when in doubt you can always send me an email, but that would require you to identify yourself, and I don't think that's going to happen very often.
Thanks for playing here. I hope you all will continue to participate, but if the new rules are too restrictive for you - thanks, and adios, amigos.