Reader comments on public forums are a great way for readers to express their opinions, share information, and keep the conversation going. But without some rules, comments quickly go off the rails.
The best example is the Delaware County Daily Times. As editor Phil Heron often says, ‘It doesn’t take long for any topic to end up being a discussion about race.’
I know for a fact that when the Daily Times first went online, Heron fought hard against his bosses who wanted to post all reader comments. The comments were so vicious and off-point that you’d often forget what the original story was about. A lot of vicious comments still get through, but someone on that staff has the unenviable and unending task of deleting a lot of comments.
When I started ChesterBlog.com, I couldn’t believe how few comments I was getting. Then, someone told me they didn’t want to revel their identity and would prefer to post anonymously. I resisted opening up comments to anonymous comments for a long time. I figure if I can put my name, email, and phone number next to a post, why should someone post a comment and not include their information?
I finally relented and clicked the button to allow anonymous comments. I don’t know what folks are so scared of. I always put my full name on comments I leave on other sites. I just think it’s the polite thing to do, especially if someone wants to get back to you.
Folks don’t have a problem sharing their life experiences on Facebook using their true identity, but when it comes to other stuff, they want to remain anonymous. I don’t get it!
Over the past 7 years, I’ve rejected only a few comments on this blog primarily because the comment had nothing to do with the blog post, or it’s a personal attack on someone mentioned in the blog post.
Just recently I rejected a comment because it’s a personal attack on me. Obviously, it came from an anonymous person and her comment contributes nothing to the blog post.
I’ve been taking pot shots for 11 years since I started on the this community journalism journey so the attack doesn’t bother me. The Butler, Linder and Kirkland administrations all have voiced their displeasure with my opinions.
I post my cell phone number and email for people who want to get with me directly. Or, you may see me at either of my homes in Chester, at my job in Chester, at my polling place in Chester on election day, or at City Hall paying a tax or two. I frequent the Crozer library, the businesses on Ave of the States, and enjoy meeting folks at Uno’s. When I get tired of being in Chester, I leave. Forgive me for my life, but that’s how I roll.
If you want your comments posted, the rules are simple. Stick to the topic and no personal attacks. If I had my way you’d have to identify yourself, but I’ve learned that if it’s not Facebook, people would prefer to hide behind another name.
For those who would like to discuss an issue with me, my number is 610.453.6501. Let’s talk about it.