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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

Would you sign your online comment with your real name?

Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at 8:13 PM

It's time to call a truce.

It's time for common sense to prevail for all of our readers. This decree is directed mostly at some of our online readers who seem to enjoy posting disrespectful, vile, destructive, hurtful, disgusting and downright mean comments in the Community Forum that follows the stories we write.

Let's stop all of that senseless trash now, today.

Since April 2008, the GCDW's website -- www.gcdailyworld.com -- has allowed readers to comment on most stories.

Comments on our website can be made anonymously, hidden behind a screen name.

That seems to give some folks the poetic license to say about anything they want about any subject.

If you don't have to identify yourself, you can be pretty darn brave and hurtful. Some of the comments would not be uttered if you had to say them face to face.

We're not here today to debate whether comments to stories should be allowed in the first place. Our company has already made that decision.

But we are here calling for a truce to the dumb and disrespectful stuff some of our readers are posting these days. Our website is not Facebook.

Monitoring these comments can be a time-consuming challenge and I'll admit some of the inappropriate comments from the public have fallen through the cracks and made it online.

You may have noticed that in recent weeks there have been comments removed and not allowed on an increasing number of stories.

In recent weeks, we've had a situation where the good intentions of a local church pastor and community leader, who spoke of the ministering effectiveness in a hospital of a man found guilty of a felony crime, came under cruel scrutiny that were directed at both the minister and his church.

That's totally wrong.

We had a recent story about a retiring medical doctor who likes to hunt big game around the world. He was the victim of some unnecessary and disrespectful criticism from some readers who were obviously jealous because this man and his family have worked hard and been able to travel extensively and happen to have a large number of trophy mounts in their private home.

There was also a story about a man who had three guns stolen from a vacant house and rather than comment on the crime, some decided the victim of the crime was at fault because some thugs entered his vacant residence and stole some weapons.

We had to remove some comments from a story about watering and caring for downtown flowers.

We've had stories where coaches and young athletes in our schools have been called out by name in comments that were far from being kind.

Personally, I get upset with the "so-called experts" who like to comment on governmental meetings as well as county or city government or school boards and they know absolutely nothing about these topics.

They have never been to a county commissioner's meeting, a city council meeting, a school board meeting or probably never visited a city hall office.

Some also bash in a very negative manner the governor, elected state and national representatives, the mayor, the commissioners, the council and city council members, town council members, the I-69 project, the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife with little real understanding of the job, finances or the long-term impact on the entire county.

Some of our commenters are what I will simply call "stirrers." You know them, they post and say things just to get a nerve rise -- hoping to lure in a string of other readers on both sides of an issue.

Many of the policy violators have already been banned from our site. Others are teetering close to being banned. You've read their gibberish.

As stated in the "Terms of Service" for our website's Community Forums, it's pretty obvious that we are not going to allow obscene, profane, sexually explicit, libelous, slanderous, defamatory, harmful, threatening, illegal or knowingly false information.

We are not going to allow blatant expressions of bigotry, racism or hate, material encouraging conduct that may constitute or contribute to a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or violate any national, state or local law, regulation or authority, or any other material which our editors find objectionable.

Please, it's time to wise up. Think before you write.

Remember, posting a comment on our website is not a God-given or constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech.

We ask you to be respectful to others and know the hurt you can cause is real.

Probably a good rule to follow is -- if you wouldn't sign your name to it, you probably shouldn't write it.

Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at schneider.nick@gmail.com .

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