My wife spent some time Wednesday in steamboatpilot.com's Reader Forum.
"Those people really don't like you," she said.
I know. "Boodog" thinks I'm a moron. "The Colowoodsman" has called for my resignation and suggested that I be run back across the border. "Average Joe" thinks that I advocate treason, aid and abet terrorists and that I am shameless because the newspaper continues to carry Maureen Dowd. "Numbers" thinks I coddle child molesters.
The good news, I guess, is that I'm not the only one at the receiving end of their anonymous barbs. Posters to our Reader Forum don't seem to like anybody, including one another.
There is a debate in journalism circles about the value of the "Blogosphere." Blog is short for Web log, an online journal maintained by an individual, usually about a specific topic and usually in a format that allows blog readers to post responses. Some think blogs are the journalism of the future -- civic-minded writers exchanging news, comments and criticisms with one another. Some think blogs are nothing more than self-indulgent shouting.
I think they're a mix of the two, but you do have to weed through a lot of the latter to find the former.
I monitor our Reader Forum. Technically, it's not a blog. But in essence, it does the same thing. The forum consists of about a dozen regular posters, a dozen more who occasionally respond, and who knows how many lurkers reading what they write.
Here are a few of the forum's regular "bloggers":
Average Joe: Joe is far and away the most prolific poster. He recently switched his name to Average_Joe because someone stole his anonymous ID "Average Joe." Joe is a self-proclaimed true conservative. He has a list of hot links, doctored photos and cartoons at the ready to skewer anyone or anything he perceives to be liberal. He hates government assistance of any kind, especially for housing.
LCDR Woxof: If Al Gore invented the Internet, then LCDR invented the Reader Forum. Most forum posters are cynical, but cynicism comes with a special ease to LCDR. The primary object of that cynicism is Routt County's judicial system.
379664: "Numbers" -- as her fellow posters call her -- is a crime fighter. She's a fierce defender of the police and the military. She likes to see bad guys suffer.
Others: "Angelina Jelly" uses pop culture references to get under the skin of fellow posters. "Boodog" and "Colowoodsman" are staunchly anti-immigration and are convinced that the 12 million illegals in the U.S. can be traced back to editorials I've written. "Morty" and "Dogd" spend much of their time waging battle with uber-poster Average Joe. "EFEII" has a unique writing style, but I usually have no idea what he or she is saying.
The Reader Forum is not a place for the timid. It's competitive keyboarding -- a place where an idea is much more likely to be shredded than floated.
Our forum likely will never evolve into anything more than it is today. But even if it never serves a larger civic purpose, it is, at the least, quite entertaining. If you haven't visited, give it a try at www.steamboatpilot.com/forum.
From the Editor appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today. Send questions to Scott Stanford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 871-4221.