EDITORIAL: Vitriolic words online merit a time out

2013-04-07T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Vitriolic words online merit a time out nwitimes.com
April 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Somebody said silence is golden.

We’ve come to the conclusion that should apply to online comments that accompany many a story we publish.

For several years we encouraged people to join in an online conversation.

We expected serious dialogue about serious issues in our community.

Boy, were we ever wrong.

Knowing they didn’t need to identify themselves, many of those posting online comments often let loose a string of vitriolic words.

Many times the cutting comments were directed at an individual or a business, a school or an event.

All the while, the writer was sheltered by a cloak of anonymity, writing what they want without concern over those it might embarrass, anger or upset.

Then, too, there were accusations found among the comments that simply carried no grain of truth. Again, the perpetrator of the lie goes unknown.

For several years we have combed the comments daily trying to police them, but often to no avail.

Those determined to write their hateful words would even stay up during the night trying to sneak a hateful comment online.

Too often, we have seen comment threads devolve into back-and-forth bickering with users hiding behind their anonymity to make insensitive, hateful or bigoted comments, just to provoke a reaction.

It should be no surprise that increasingly we have received reports critical of allowing people to comment without identifying themselves. It’s argued that to do so is simply unfair, unkind.

Well, we have come to the conclusion that those objecting to comments posted anonymously are right.

As a result, starting Monday we will discontinue the comments function of nwi.com.

We’re sorry it has come to this, but our attempts to encourage valid comment while policing derogatory language hasn’t worked.

Our aim will be to eventually restore the commenting function to our website but with a requirement users register and their name accompany their comments.

That will make it a fair playing field with abusers easily singled out for ejection from the site.

In the meantime, we believe the silence from the absence of all the harmful comments will be golden. Enjoy it!

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