Brent Boyer

Brent Boyer

Brent Boyer: Addressing online civility

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Brent Boyer

Contact Editor Brent Boyer at 871-4221 or e-mail bboyer@SteamboatToday.com.

— Steamboat Springs resident Paul Hughes’ letter to the editor (“Require identities”) in Wednesday’s paper certainly was well-timed. Web anonymity and civility is a subject being debated in news organizations and on websites across the country. And it’s an issue I’m reminded of daily as I help maintain the editorial content on www.steamboatpilot.com and approve user verification requests for folks who want to jump into the online fray.

We’re approaching two years since we changed the online user verification process for www.steamboatpilot.com. Before the August 2008 change, anyone with a valid e-mail address could create an account and post ad nauseam. Inappropriate comments and posters could be removed from the site, but they could return time and again by simply creating a new account with a new e-mail address.

We spent a lot of time two years ago debating whether to require the identities of all online commenters. The goal for taking such a step was simple: to foster civility on our website, which had become a place where anonymous posters hurled insults and accusations back and forth like kids on a school playground. Thoughtful discussions about important local and national issues quickly spiraled into off-topic debate among a limited number of posters.

Instead of requiring posters to comment with their real names, the management team at the Pilot & Today agreed to somewhat of a compromise. In hindsight, perhaps it can best be described as a first step.

Beginning in August 2008, we simply required that online commenters provide us their real names, so that we could verify their identity before giving them permission to post to our site. In so doing, we created a system in which abusive posters could be banned and prevented from returning again under the guise of another e-mail address. At the time, I also believed that if a poster knew that we knew who they were, they might be more likely to engage in civil online dialogue.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of that change, I find myself asking, “Did we accomplish our goals?”

Increasingly, my answer is “No.”

So what are the next steps? As I alluded at the beginning of this column, we’re hardly alone in grappling with this issue.

In the April 19 edition of The Wall Street Journal, a column titled “Is Internet Civility an Oxymoron?” by L. Gordon Crovitz addressed the same issue. Early in his piece, Crovitz painted a pretty accurate picture of many Web forums:

“The common practice is for news and other Web sites to treat all comments equally, whether made anonymously or using real names, via obscenities or reasoned debate. The hope was that people would be civil. Instead, many comment areas have become wastelands of attacks and insults,” Crovitz wrote.

Later, Crovitz hit the nail on the head:

“The Web is a great liberator, giving millions of people the ability to offer opinions with the ease once reserved for, say, newspaper columnists. The downside is that comment overload and anonymity create more noise than wisdom.

“Since it’s now clear human nature hasn’t improved with the transition to digital media, we should cheer efforts to make it as easy for readers to decide which commenters to trust as it has become to post the comments.”

Crovitz was referring to the comment systems being employed by an increasing number of sites that allow other readers to essentially determine the value of a comment, and thus affect that comment’s placement on the web page.

Of course, there are other options, too. Some websites display the comments of non-anonymous posters first, essentially rewarding those who choose to put their names next to their opinions. Others require additional mouse clicks to uncover the posts made by anonymous users. Still others allow the news organization, as well as its online readers, to rate individual commenters, with higher rated comments getting better placement on the page.

And, obviously, there is the option of requiring all users to use their real names.

The bottom line is that I believe readers are much more likely to think twice about what they write when their name is attached to it. The cloak of anonymity can tempt us to say and write things we otherwise wouldn’t dare utter in public.

But I’m also sympathetic to the reasons many folks in a smaller community like Steamboat Springs give for the importance of maintaining anonymity. Retribution — be it from employers, friends, neighbors or others — often is repeated as a concern that keeps some residents from speaking out on any number of issues.

So where do we go from here?

The short answer: I’m not sure.

The long answer: I’m increasingly supportive of requiring posters to reveal their identities when commenting on articles.

More than anything, I want www.steamboatpilot.com to continue to be a forum for fellow members of the community to speak out about issues important to us. And that means I want to know what you think.

Those of you who are active www.steamboatpilot.com posters, would you stop posting if you were required to use your name?

For those who don’t post comments to our website, would you be more likely to do so if it was on a forum that fostered more civil dialogue among neighbors?

Give me a call at 871-4221 or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

dave pieknik 4 years, 7 months ago

I think it is fair to say that when your name is out there- you think more before spraying at the lip- in this case fingers. I use my name because I support what I say, and expect to be held accountable for my words. Just a thought.

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

I am completely in agreement with Dave, and I believe that what one says carries more weight when they stand behind it.

However I would like to post a concern about certain activities that are impacting us by people who can retaliate against me without it being evident that it is as a result of having had their practices questioned.

How can this be accommodated?

.

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MrTaiChi 4 years, 7 months ago

Why are you presumably educated Americans so afraid of speech? MIss some of Jefferson's writings like the second inaugural address? Stupid, vile and hateful speech gives you a frame of reference against which to measure your values. How can you know light until you have seen darkness? Sure, the paper can censor uninhibited speech in this manner, and you can live in your little comfortable cacoon isolated from discord and nastiness, but isn't that what you liberals accuse conservatives of, small mindedness, insularism?

Cops know that if people vent obscenities it is better than silently abiding their time to lash out. Firghtening to contemplate Kieth Olbermann boiling in his hate until... he explodes. What a mess over at MSNBC.

May 13, 2010 at 7:

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Clay Ogden 4 years, 7 months ago

I think too many people post behind the veil of anonymity feeling free to spew bile without any sense of accountability for the veracity or even decency of their statements. The concept of protecting a ‘whistle blower’, to me, is a red hearing. There are tons of outlets these days for exposing ‘truths’. Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned but I believe when we choose to throw it out there for public consumption we should have the guts to take ownership of it.

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Clearsky 4 years, 7 months ago

Freedom of the press is protected by the US government. Employees are not protected. In fact an employee is considered "at will" meaning an employee can be fired for any or no reason. By requiring identification will be one more step toward the "Big Brother is watching you". Constructive conflict has its place. Better to manage conflict using text than having it build up in people, unexpressed and resulting in rage that can only hurt oneself and others.

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Krista Monger 4 years, 7 months ago

"For those who don’t post comments to our website, would you be more likely to do so if it was on a forum that fostered more civil dialogue among neighbors?"

If identity was required AND it cleaned up some of the dialogue I wouldn't necessarily be more likey to respond, but much more likely to READ through all the comments. I don't always like to spout my opinion (anonymous or not) but I do like to read about 2 sides of a debate and become better informed. For instance the 700 discussions really helped me clear out the facts and decide my vote (if I lived in the city anyway). However, lately I've given up trying to read the comments. They are so negative and filled with "wing nut" illogical opinions it's like watching my kids argue. I would support a decision to require identity.

Krista Monger

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

BTW, Brent I am still waiting for an explanation on why you pulled my post criticizing City Pro Term Cari Hermanski's public comments that I thought showed either ignorance or were intentionally deceptive.

I left you a message at your office. I previously posted that I was waiting for a response. A number of other people that saw the post said they saw no reason for it to be yanked I asked for a copy of the post that you yanked so that I could respond to false rumors regarding the post. And I have heard nothing.

Apparently these forums are your personal fiefdom which you see no need to respond to questions regarding your actions.

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seeuski 4 years, 7 months ago

This is getting real creepy people, last Saturday Obama gave a Commencement speech in which he warned of information being confusing and dangerous and that unfettered technology is a problem and a distraction from the big "change" that he is taking us through in this Country. Last Summer they set up a snitch line at the White House for people to email postings that were derogatory to the agenda of this Administration. And now people are supposed to feel free to voice their opinions without fear of retribution? I know I have rattled cages here because I am trying to expose what the Administration is up to and with whom they are associating themselves with. I remember the good ole days when we had a media that kept the light shining on those in power but no more. If those that are complaining about the content of some postings here want to quell the flow of "conspiracy theories" then prove it otherwise, but reverting to name calling like, teabaggers, Tim McVeigh, racists, old white people, wingnuts and the rest of it is where the discussion breaks down and gets childish. These are very contentious times we are living in and the problems we face as a Nation create serious passion on both sides of the issues and there are people who would seek what they believe to be revenge/justice against people with different ideas. Name calling is the problem Brent, not the opinions and content, let the members who disagree with each other disprove or provide an opposing argument that keeps the balance here and postings that get personal, throw them out and warn the writer. Three strikes your off.

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I'd probably stop posting. Not out of fear of retribution (that's me with the Les Paul in my lap; feel free to rattle my cage if you see me in town), although I can understand the concern. It wasn't all that long ago that a Steamboat resident called for a boycott of local businesses http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/2006/aug/09/christopher_lohmann_expressing_opinions/?more_like_this , as "punishment" for the Pilot's inclusion of Ann Coulter's column: "...I would be instigating punishment against owners, employees and co-workers (many of whom are friends and acquaintances) who have no real options concerning where they advertise."

It is understandable that someone may wish to insulate him/herself against zealots like Boycott Boy, and ought to be allowed the option. Stripping posters of that ability would be sufficiently unfair (in my opinion) that I'd probably say adios.

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 7 months ago

John Fielding, I did not understand your concern posted above. Could you restate it?

See, No, name calling is not the only problem.

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aichempty 4 years, 7 months ago

I might post some things under my own name, but I would have to think long and hard about who might take an interest in retaliating against me in other cases.

If you'd like to do a little bit of investigative reporting, you'd find that very FEW people in public positions are easy to locate by looking them up in the phone book. Even the real estate records don't help sometimes.

Try to find the home telephone numbers for Gary Wall, Joel Rae, Mick O'Hara, Elizabeth Oldham, and on down the line. Try to find their names in the real estate tax records. $#!+, just try to find a direct office telephone number for any of them.

People who are in danger of retribution for their public actions have unlisted telephone numbers and in some cases, have found ways to mask their ownership of property so their home addresses are not easily found.

Do the Pilot reporters list their home addresses and telephone numbers with their byline? Haven't seen that yet.

So, unless the Pilot is prepared to offer the same level of physical security for everyone who posts an opinion on the website, you're not going to get honest opinions or inside information from people who would have to change their telephone numbers to unlisted (extra cost, by the way) and establish a holding company to own their homes and property in order to avoid physical confrontations and telephone harassment for speaking their minds.

Then again, telling the truth about the rotten underground goings-on in this town hasn't seemed to make much of a difference.

So, I guess maybe I'll save you the trouble and just stop posting.

One down . . .

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

Look at that anonep post to Marie Matta's letter for an example of what is wrong. That is nothing but insults. No reasoned argument or anything that could be considered informative.


Brent you there? Ever going to say why you yanked my post on City Pro Term's Cari Hermanski's comments?

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

Lewi

It is simply that I am aware of problems in a powerful local entity that I dare not speak of because they could come down on me and pass it off as business as usual.

.

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pitpoodle 4 years, 7 months ago

I've got no problem speaking my mind with anonymity or not. I like to hear the opinions of others in this forum, it gives another perspective. If people know who I am, fine. If not, fine too. The problem is this: the Pilot strives to protect their favorite policy makers at the expense of the rest of us and if no one speaks up, the Pilot thinks that is ok. It's not ok. Scott W criticized one of the Pilot's favorites and had his comments pulled. Honest opinions from readers is generally a good thing and should be encouraged. Everyone can't agree and if you make comments that get criticized, that is the way it goes. If decision-makers can't take the criticism from community members and expect the newspaper to protect them, then they are in the wrong profession. If the Pilot protects their favorite people, they are part of the problem. It is apparent that this particular council only talks to their small circle of friends (judging from their votes on SB 700). This gives them an opportunity hear others honest viewpoints. It's good. Quit trying to censor.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

John, Well then nothing you can do. If there is no belief that there is some higher authority that will make sure there is no retaliation for disclosing your issues then you cannot act upon your knowledge. At some point maybe you'll decide you can survive their attempts at retaliation.

Last winter I was quoted making critical comments of Oak Creek Public Works allowing so much ice to build up unchecked for 48 hours from a water leak that the ice dam had build up across the sidewalk and was encasing my building in ice and was causing water to flow into the basement. So the next day Public Works changes their snow removal method at another of my properties and instead of removing the snow that I move to the end of the sidewalk as they had been doing for YEARS, they call code enforcement.

So the problem continued on until we all spent an evening talking to the municipal judge and, in my opinion, we reached an uneasy truce in which they removed the built up snow pile and I shovel my portion of the sidewalk and they can shovel their portion.

I even had a conversation with one person in Public Works as to why I was not clearing the sidewalk to the end and I said that I don't like that sort of retaliation. Another Public Works employee had pulled up and heard that conversation and yelled a comment at me which, to me, confirmed that it was retaliation. And I said that why I am not going to clear the snow from your section of sidewalk. So maybe one Public Works employee disagrees with the retaliatory act of another employee even though management is okay with it.

But now, I have talked to new people on the Town Board that would like to do something about Oak Creek's reputation for favoritism and retaliation. They can see the damage that reputation causes because they know there are businesses and investors that refuse to consider Oak Creek because of Oak Creek's issues.

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freerider 4 years, 7 months ago

Brent
You're a smart guy . You already know the answer to the question regarding civility and posting online . I think the real question here is that what you really want ? If everybody was required to post their real name the online forum would be toned down quite a bit . Maybe too much . Do we really want to candy coat our opinion's to that degree ? Sometimes a heated passionate debate is healthy and entertaining . I would miss the MMJ vs. Aich on the marijuana issue's . I think it's great that both sides get a say on the matter regardless of what I think about it . If somebody is really out of line then you pull the post so what's the problem here ? Pitpoodle good post , the pilot should not be protecting council members and it would be nice to hear why the Scott W post was removed....hello ???

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

Hey Brent, Have the guts to write an online article that includes my post and explains why you yanked it.

People saw that post and think you protect your favorite politicians.

Or do you think that was a mistake and think that the only thing worse than making a mistake is admitting it? So it is better to appear to be biased than admit a mistake? So you won't discuss it ever again?

All I am asking of you is the same that any reporter should ask of our public institutions and certainly the paper's apparent favoritism is a valid topic of public concern.

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Clearsky 4 years, 7 months ago

Actually, Pilot, Brent, Please tell if you have ever given out identities of the people who post? I am suspicious that if a powerful person who spends enormous amounts of money on advertising wanted the names of certain posters, would the newspaper divulge that information?? Please answer- Has anyone's identity been given out without that person being aware??

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 7 months ago

Clay, Accountability for insults, I agree with. But your only complaints of insult have not involved an anonymous poster. And protecting a local whistle blower is no “red herring”. If you broaden your rhetoric to consider, again locally, “swimming against the tide”, the argument for anonymity is the civic choice.

Please agree, swimming against the pro-growth tide is more serious and painful than swimming with it. Consider the pro-SB700. We all watched Cindy Constantine pay a price for standing up. Her family business endured boycotting for her lead of the SB700 petition drive. They lost a lot of business during her effort. We all watched Steve Aigner suffer bruising personal embarrassment in this paper 3 days after announcing that SB700 petition. But in the end, they proved that tide only represented this paper and a powerful minority.

The potential pain of swimming against the pro-growth tide is now well published. Enter that current at your own peril.

On the other hand, perhaps some one can give an example of the perils of swimming with that tide? Your partner Jon is on city council and a huge supporter of SB700. Any boycotts called on your business? Any paper articles on Jon’s character?

If you want to reinforce the pro-growth echo chamber in Steamboat, requiring everyone’s names here is a good start.

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MrTaiChi 4 years, 7 months ago

I remember threats of economic retaliation in these opinion responses, once against Mr. Hoffmeister's jewelry store for his expression of a conservative opinion, and unmistakably in other contexts where a contributor's anger with remarks was such that it would be outside of human experience not to expect that there would be repercussions toward the author of the remarks if he or she was identified. I remember one contributor ferreting out information that the author of an editorial was posing as an imposter. I join in the inquiry above why is it so important to know who is doing the writing? Why isn't knowledge of the avatar and his disclosed personality sufficient? Are we so thin skinned that to think a contributor a jerk harms us somehow? It's clear to me that the danger of suppressing a dynamic dialog outweighs the offense that some may take at sarcasm, ignorance or pique. If you want a reason to lose readers where, let's face it, the news of the Yampa Valley generally isn't going to excite much passion without something spicy in the paper to look forward to, sure, censor the intemperate, the fringe opinions, and you'll have a product as dull as dishwater, fit, as one prescient contributor repeatedly observed, as a fishwrapper.

It's been fun, but change your policy and I'm out.

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1999 4 years, 7 months ago

whats wrong with a little name calling?

for me I'd rather not have the nastiness sterilized. I'm better off knowing what opinions are out there than acting like they don't exist.

By sterilizing our forum we actually drive opinions and movements underground that I think we'd like to keep an eye on.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

The Pilot has my contact information. If a comment I post needs to be addressed they know how to get in touch. By requiring my identity to be published, they would not be standing by the agreement I agreed to when I registered to post. The Pilot reserved the right to remove ANY post they felt was offensive or inappropriate They do not owe an explanationas to why they did. We ALL agreed to those terms when we signed up. Sorry.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

Note that there are no anonymous comments at this site any more. Brent and whomever else at the paper know every poster's identity. There is no anonymity, there is just who knows and who doesn't know. So the question should not be about anonymity, but whether it is reasonable to have the insiders that know and the outsiders that don't.

If you want to participate in the public debate then you should not expect to be able to make anonymous comments. A person should be able to stand up and state what they believe without hiding behind anonymous posts.

In conjunction with that, if the public wants public debate of issues then there cannot be threats of boycotts or retaliation against those that participate in the debate. Otherwise, the only people willing to participate in the debate will be those with nothing to lose while those with businesses and jobs are intimidated into silence. Those that boycotted Cindy Constantine should be wary that her side won 62-39% and that maybe 62% of the people could boycott those that boycotted her.

Comments that some find ignorant have to be allowed so that everyone can become educated and learn. Occasionally, we learn that what appeared to be an ignorant comment is actually the most knowledgeable comment ("The King has no clothes!").

What does not need to be allowed is the posting of personal insults or lies about another person. There should be no tolerance of people hiding behind an avatar to attack people posting using their real names.

It should be possible to criticize a public figure for their actions and words as a public figure (especially when it is Steve Aigner and not when the public figure is Cari Hermanski?? The paper still has not said if any of the City Council knew of the ongoing issues/negotiations with US Bank that started prior to Jan 4, 2010 before the notice of default was received by the City).

And certainly, the paper should send an email to anyone whose posted were yanked along with an explanation of why it was yanked. Hello? Brent, you there?

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

OK I am convinced, lets leave it alone.

I will gladly endure 1999's name calling for a chance to read Mr.Tai Chi's insights.

Sticks and stones, you know.

And when I am ready to disclose what I know about certain corrupt practices I will find a friend to lend me his computer & email address. I know some guys who have nothing to lose, no fear.

So keep the comments coming, and whoever can't stand it doesn't have to read it.

.

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stillinsteamboat 4 years, 7 months ago

clearsky has a good point, I have often wondered who has access to the names and numbers of the bloggers and if they have ever leaked the names.

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

And Scott,

what do you do when the higher authority charged with protecting your rights is who you are criticizing? Oh yea, that's kinda what happened to you.

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

Scott,

Brent is NOT going to satisfy you with an answer after all this time so I think it is time to let it go!! How many times has he been called out on an opinion or a censor of a comment and how many times has he answered the reader? Not once that I recall . . . says a lot more about him than you.

Moving right along, I want to know what the skier days were this season. As I recall we never got an answer last season and I understand that this season was quite a bit worse. As of the last week of the season I heard a number of 650,000. Was it possibly that dismal?

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

Scott- did you sign a different agreement than the rest of us? Of course the paper has our names, was part of the sign up. Umm, while name calling is not nice it is up to the Pilot to remove those comments as they see fit, not us. Your comments have been more revealing as to who may be who than the paper ever could do. And really, are you always sure who it is you are "outing'? What if you are wrong and your comments caused problems for a completely non participating person? Not cool. If you would like a public forum knowing who is who and all, why not host a nice sit down coffee and donut chat somewhere and voice your opinions and views. This is not the forum to do so. We were given the choice to abide by the terms set forth by the Pilot, maybe you should look elsewhere to post your views if you dont agree with these terms?

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely fascinating topic and most engaging discussion!
As an anonymous poster myself, I feel the urge to opine on the subject, even if just briefly. Brace yourselves, because what I'm about to say may shock some of you...I agree with aich. I, too, will vacate my position as anonymous poster "mmjPatient22," should it become requisite to fully identify yourself in order to post an opinion. It's not anything to do with being cowardly to any extent, but more that I've yet to be shown/explained a single valid reason as to why I, or anyone else, should have to abandon the freedom of "anonymity." Again, tell me why? And it's not like the entity of "The Pilot," doesn't have my identity on record for this screen name anyway. I'm sure, if properly pried&prodded, Mr. Boyer might even be apt to give me up, for a high enough price. Speaking of our editor, I have joined the ranks of the curious. What could possibly be keeping him from acknowledging/explaining the removal of Scott Wedel's post about a certain so&so? Certainly not guilt, or anything like that....

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 7 months ago

There seems to be more than enough thin skin to go around. I have lost work because of my views but on the other hand maybe I have prospered under the situation too. I think that we might be taking ourselves too seriously. I don't mind anonymous blogs if they contain ideas, on the other hand ridicule and insults usually identify the blogger as a lightweight. The first time I refereed a basketball game I swore that I would never complain again, this reminds me of Brett's position.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

mmj & aich- I agree, just couldn't bear to put it in writing....HA! It has nothing to do with cowardness, but everthing to do with the AGREEMENT that we all read when we signed up. At least I hope the terms were clear when you had to enter your name and phone number??? And just a little FYI, I have emailed Brent a few times with a concern or whatever. I have ALWAYS been answered in a timely, respectable way BY EMAIL. And if one were to review each and every discussion I think that one would find that there are responses to legitimate questions. As far as a post being removed, let me again say, it is up to the paper to decide if a comment needs to go, they do not owe an explanation, again within the terms of the agreement.

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

I am shocked indeed to hear mmj agree with aich, but maybe not. Despite the vitriolic tone I suspect that behind it all there is one who will hold to his beliefs, even if someone he can't stand agrees with him.

Mmj you should not abandon anonymity. and no one should have to. I still maintain that ones views are given a little more respect when ones name is attached, but that does not mean those views are valid or worthy of respect beyond that level.

And mostly I get a kick out of the fact that those two can agree about anything. It would not be such a pleasure if they had not been so forcefully in opposition

Like I told George K the other day, how nice it is to live in a town where folks can have different opinions and interests but still really enjoy the sharing the community with each other.

.

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trump_suit 4 years, 7 months ago

I too value my anonymnity on these forums and believe that some of the viewpoints I have expressed would negatively affect my business if they became widely known and tied together. Some would argue that they put more weight on those opinions that they know the author's name. I would argue that each of us that posts with any regularity have already created an opinion for the rest that is either positive or negative. Some of us will agree with some aspects of a anonymous poster while being radically opposed to other viewpoints. See, Aich and I have all agreed with one another on some issues while being polar opposites on others.

The real measure or weight to be applied to an opinion is based more in the words and ideas of that individual than in how nice they are. Sme may find it necessary to always attack the opinion and person of others and we each know how much value to place on that opinion. Others comment infrequently with well thought out arguments and idea's. We also know how much value to place on those thoughts.

Bottom line is that there is value in being anonymous that can allow ideas to be expressed that would never be heard otherwise. I think that we need that in these forums. A better control point would be to limit the sheer volume of posts allowed by anonymous posters. If you choose to be anonymous, you are also choosing to have a limited number of posts allowed. By default this would limit the worst of the abuse and still allow for those opinions to be heard and valued.

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1999 4 years, 7 months ago

hey John... i don't think I've ever called anyone a name............... but have suggested someone was acting like an idiot.

I'm not afraid to hear my ideas and opinions are stupid. perhaps those criticisms can make me rethink a position or perspective.

I'm passionate about my opinions.as I am sure everyone is who writes here. the truth is...I think we who write here care enough to field discourse....back in oklahoma we call that passion.

I often think about our military who has died for our right to speak freely....do you think my grandfather would care if someone was cussed out for thier opinion????no

do you think he would back down from someone calling him an idiot?no

do you think those guys in Tienniman Square facing off with the tank would be offended by a passionate and sometimes nasty interchange NO..

they have died for the rights of all.

lets not stiffle that.

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

I think the consensus is if the posting is respectful and informative, it should not matter if the poster is anon or not. Seems like there is a BIG tendency to "beat a dead horse" on many of the subjects, though. If there are over 50 postings, there is a lot of repetition often by the same poster. Hence my effort at trying to change the subject in the above post.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

I think some of us also forget that this a FREE paper, six days a week. Of course the Pilot depends on advertising dollars, and no, considering the economy, do I feel that they should dispute an ideal given for or against an opinion. The Pilot also employs a few local folks. Thay spend money at the local bussinesses who pay them to advertise. It would put them in a very sticky spot to censure. Appreciate that this is a free publication and no one forces the locals to read it (apparently many do...) and no one forces one to comment (though we do). This is not the TImes... it allows the community to express ideals or opinions in a "safe" enviornment. If one doesn't want to discuss topics with faceless folks, again I sould suggest breakfast or brunch at one of our fine dining establishments. Stimulate the economy....LOL!!!

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

Bandmama, When have I ever "outed" anyone? I have not even speculated on anyone's identity. I know who several people are, but I have not posted that.

Cindy, Maybe Brent is not going to answer. That does not mean that we should let it go. When we let it go then we give them free reign to arbitrarily yank posts that offend their favorites. At the very least, if we keep their actions in the spotlight then it makes it harder for them to do it again.

I now often save my posts so the next time they yank a post then I can take the yanked post to The Local and see if they will print it. Obviously Brent has the right to yank any post he doesn't like, but we don't have to suffer in silence and we can publicize that Brent is apparently far more protective of the paper's favorites.

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

1999

"fred...don't be an idiot."

Not exactly name calling, I guess you're right.

I only thought that since you think that it's ok you might participate in it too.

Now I'll be disappointed if you don't.

And I agree with you. On this.

.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

99- yeah he is such a hottie! Scott- do you need a big fluffy pastry???? On LIncoln during rush hour? Look!!!!! I think I just tried to offend you. If this comment is deleted it deserves to be done. (but Brent, you little hottie, dont pull the cutsie comments about you, might as well serve your agenda..HA. HA. HA) Ahhhh... the issues, Scott that you DEMAND a response to, are up to the free local paper to address as they see fit. Like it or not it is what it is. If you want your views known... start your own publication???? Go for it, I bet you would find it very NOT cost effective. And the Local does address issues more bluntly than the Pilot....ahhh HELLL-LOOOO...that is what they do, It serves a customer. Last time I read one, I didn't have to pay for that either. GOOOOOO TOM!!!!! (love it!) WHOOOOO YAHHHH for free speech. And yes,you keep bringing up boycotting a certain someone or something. I would say that that constitutes as an "outing". Who gives a ****????? This is a community, it is where I live and work. It IS Steamboat, not A major city. I for one appreciate the bubble I live in. I love the fact that I run into very few A$$holes, as most choose to be a member of this, isoloated, community. I feel very grateful that, for the most part, I have neighbors that I would never find elsewhere. (well, there are those darn stepford wives in other far-fetched urban places..who make others look really bad in a mini......) and I know that the person I may be debating online could be one of those best friends at work. I RESPECT the fact that they can expess thier views online and I can express mine.Without all this petty "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE" crap. It sort of keeps things civil in such a small town, now doesn't it?

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

Way to go Brent, you have restored online civility. I never thought I'd see such a lovefest here.

(I bet you look hot in a thong).

.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

EWWWWWWWWWWWWW..... John, no MAN looks good in thong....or speedos....or HOLY SHEEP SH*T...t If this isn't deleted it should be........

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Jon Quinn 4 years, 7 months ago

Brent - Anonymous posting should be allowed. Although it may not always inspire the most thoughtful or considerate posts, it is important to allow it or you will certainly stifle the conversation.

We should all just remember that this is a small community. We are passionate about the issues and we pay attention. This forum brings out some good and some bad, but it does get us talking.

Like all of us, I am far from perfect. I am perfectly... human. Thankfully this forum reminds me of that most every day... assuming my family or coworkers did not have the chance to do so first!

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Jamie Morgan 4 years, 7 months ago

I feel hiding behind anonymity is a little cowardly. I read a lot of posts citing freedom of speech to justify anonymous posts to prevent retailiation, loss of employment, etc.

It is a little awkward to use such protections in justifying anonymity when the right of free speach originally came from the American Revolution and the subsequent Bill of Rights / Constitution. Our founding fathers were bold enough to pen their names to the Declaration of Independence that began the process of our country's establishment. The only retaliation they faced was death for an act of treason against Britain---seems a little more harsh than the concerns about community retalliation or loss of employment.

My opinion is that if you feel strongly about something, take the position to the public and be willing to stand up and be counted. Anonymity does not reflect well upon a public discussion---it is just too cowardly to hide behind the veil of a screen name. If you lose your job or your neighbors appear angry---so be it. Get on with your life and continue to pursue your opinions in a public discussion.

The beauty of our protections is that you will not face any firing squad for stating your opinions publicly--no matter how unpopular they may be within the community. Our country provides everyone the right to be wrong and unpopular yet to continue to live their lives as they see necessary.

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John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

.

Well that comment didn't get pulled so I guess it is not inappropriate.

(Or maybe somebody just appreciated the compliment)

But it did get a few laughs, that's something we could use more of.

Speaking of laughs can we share ethnic jokes here?

Did you ever notice every ethnic joke starts out the same way? With a quick look around the room. (To see if there's any of Them in here).

.

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JLM 4 years, 7 months ago

At the end of the day, a blog is just a marketplace for ideas. Only ideas. All ideas are met and measured equally when the authors are anonymous.

Ideas which are advanced under the signature of an individual are weighed, measured and assessed by the status of the author thereby rendering some ideas more equal than others.

When an idea is advanced which seems to have been cogently crafted and slyly convincing, then the identity of the author is meaningless to the argument. The idea itself becomes a direct participant in a meritocracy of ideas.

There is a great American tradition of anonymity cloaking ideas. The biggest ideas of the American Revolution were presented anonymously. There is a great American tradition of anonymous pamphleteers who advanced arguments which were not only treasonous but would ultimately contribute to the initiation of the American Revolution.

America was shaped by the ideas of Common Sense (Thomas Payne), The Crisis and the Federalist Papers --- these were the blogs of their day.

When ideas wrestle in the open, better ideas result from the attendant friction. The best ideas are thrown into the ring when the identity of the authors is not revealed for business, personal, ethical and retribution reasons.

So, the dilemma for the Pilot and Brett Boyer becomes very simple --- do you seek the best ideas or a level of comity which may filter the quality of the ideas?

A revolution was started on ideas --- a very important one, the American Revolution. Revolutions are a tad untidy and require a bit of bloodshed --- intellectual bloodshed these days hopefully.

For my two cents --- let all ideas wrestle and let no author be discouraged from speaking from the heart in the great tradition of Thomas Payne. Let freedom ring!

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks JLM---On an updated note read Glenn Beck's "Common Sense, The Case Against an Out-Of-Control Government" which was inspired by Thomas Paine. And for those of you who would rale against me for my promotion of this book, remember Glenn did not like Bush anymore than he likes Obama. He throws all career politicians out the window.

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 7 months ago

Jamie Morgan:

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published the Federalist Papers under the anonymous pseudonym of “Publius.” Patrick Henry published anonymously as “Senex.” Benjamin Franklin, Mother Teresa, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, & Orson Scott Card (just to name a few that you are likely to recognize) have all anonymously criticized the polity of their times. Would you characterize any of them as "a little cowardly"? If not, why not?

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freerider 4 years, 7 months ago

Just another thought on this ....the way it is right now it's like watching a UFC cage match ...ugly at times but people find it entertaining . If you make everybody post their real name then it would be like watching the house of representatives T.V. channel ...boring to the max ....If I ran the zoo ....ummm I mean pilot I would go for the entertainment value alone and vote for the UFC cage match .....JMHO

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 7 months ago

I support anonymity as a piece of our local conversation. But Jamie Morgan is right - there is still an important difference between standing behind your words and not standing behind your words.

As Jamie points out, men put their names to our declaration of independence. JLM, to say "the biggest ideas of the American Revolution were presented anonymously" shows little understanding of what these men did. Yes, important work is done anonymously, but never the most important work.

When Americans die for our values, they never die anonymously.

Imagine soldiers sacrificing their bodies to uphold the rights of America, with free speech being their rallying cause. And then watching Americans speaking only from the shadows, too afraid to exercise that right.

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 7 months ago

1999 comments above, “I'm not afraid to hear my ideas and opinions are stupid”. Of course not. The opinions of "1999" are not your own. You have no skin in here.

It would help the level of civility if anonymous posters understood this difference.

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JLM 4 years, 7 months ago

@ steve #2 ---

What sheer utter nonsense. As anyone who has ever served in uniform knows, soldiers do not die for noble causes --- they may have joined for noble causes --- they die for their buddies. Their units. As Napoleon observed, they die for little colored pieces of ribbon.

Having served in elite units, I can assure you that nobody was sitting around the campfire talking about the First Amendment. We were mostly thinking about a shot of leg, getting home safe ourselves and killing off the enemy as a necessary evil that stood in the way of that end.

Or we were thinking about evening up the score for lost comrades but the "right of free speech" --- well, no that was not even on the list. Having a close personal relationship with ALL of the Radio City Rockettes? Sure!

In the case of those who fought for our Nation at its inception, the First Amendment had not even been written. They were fighting for basic freedoms and their neighbors.

The even worse news --- most men in combat do die anonymously as the fight goes on around or past them. At death's door, men call for their mothers and die hard and alone. Maybe with a medic at their side. But mostly anonymously.

Please refrain from speaking about things about which you have absolutely no knowledge. It will be easier for all of us.

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JLM 4 years, 7 months ago

To the issue of anonymity, again there is a great tradition of American thought and literally revolutionary ideas advanced under the cloak of anonymity by some of the greatest minds of our times.

The advancement of ideas is a task best served by the safety and Dutch courage of anonymity. In this manner, all form of revolutionary ideas can be advanced, tried out and allowed to wrestle with other ideas to create a better idea. Unfettered discourse is really the objective of free speech.

As others have pointed out, this is not only a time honored American tradition but it was also the work of the brightest people of their times. Frankly these times call for such quality of thought as we find ourselves dealing with a progressively more oppressive and wrong headed government taken to stifling free speech while conducting its business with an unhealthy anonymity behind closed doors.

It is worth noting that the President's current SCOTUS nominee has written extensively on the government's supposed right to "ration" free speech. Her writings are particularly troublesome as they are really about freedom for the left to censor the right.

Just for grins --- who really anonymously wrote the 2000+ page document which became the healthcare bill in just a couple of days?

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 7 months ago

JLM@xyz, Sorry to hear you say that soldiers do not die for noble causes. That sucks!!!! I'll keep believing they do. I was wrong to presume what matters to American soldiers in the middle of the fighting. You are probably right, its about the guy next to you. But their sacrifice is also for me, no?

This blog should keep anonymity as an option. I will use my name, or some version of it. This is Steveboat after all.

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JLM 4 years, 7 months ago

@ steve of Steveboat ---

There is a reason why suicide bombers and soldiers are typically very young --- because they really don't know better. I know this personally as I was a soldier --- pretty damn gung ho --- in my 20s and would sure not be one now. I didn't know how sweet life was in those days.

If jihad and the virgins are such a damn good deal how did all those terrorists live into their old age? Why didn't they strap on the one way ride to the land of the virgins? Cause it's all a bunch of baloney.

There is almost nothing worth dying for --- likely not Iraq or Afghanistan or Viet Nam. Or President Obama.

The funny secret of military might is that if we are strong --- really strong ---, we will likely never have to use it. If our Nation remains strong and is prepared to use a bit of antiseptic military action from time to time, no Mother's sons will have to die for anything.

Most of soldiering is just raw adolescent adventure. It is all just one step removed from skinny dipping with guns. It's fun until the feathers hit the fan.

I pray that no soldier ever has to sacrifice for anybody --- you or me. I've had to tell Mother's their sons are dead and that really sucks. Trust me on that one.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 7 months ago

Hi My Fellow Posters - The Pilot is missing is a business opportunity. Here is an idea. If you want to post anonymous there is a monthly fee. If you want to post non-anonymous it free. All the same terms and conditions would continue to exist. This really results in having folks put their money where their mouth is.

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kathy foos 4 years, 7 months ago

Oh,HA.HA.(Ive been busy on real forum, with real issues)your paper is the only one in 32 in the world that I belong to ,that requires a personal phone call from someone,Brent to get in.You place your name in London,but who cares,None of you guys would be reading it anyway, as no one discusses the actual views of the world here......Oh Brent _is_Hot,.......Im glad that he is using the picture that I like best.You are cute...... ,and you know it .......!Please do not mention the spiff ,with Scott,it would demean my own edit problems Ive had in the past with you,...no one cares about my comments when pulled,who cares about Scott s.,?Bandmama is right,you whinner Scott,!So what,get a soap box,go to safeway,write a petition,...... Im Rude,..yes,we all are down deep,and smart asses too!I dont care who says what, If you must use your name, just dont throw your weight around with your name!!!Special attention for special people. Oh Bandmama you spelled a word wrong above(ha),you are normally so terribly perfect and right,Just thought Id keep you on your toes,well now,maybe that is what the pilot doesnt like is being corrected all of the time.You dont have to like us ,we dont have to like you,the truth speaks for itself I quit smoking 3 days ago,sorry Im such a B....xurghhh...(I think Brent could win an Mr.editor Contest ,and you know that there has to be some tough competition ,any calendars?) But Im LAUGHING NOW..but you know if I type in my name on the web,(Kathleen Foos)guess what comes up,?A story June 27,2007 with a big fat picture of Mike Lawerence,taking about the explosion where my son died Sam Hedemark,in the Routt national forest..No one stopped the horrendious commentes about me(not true)and the investigation following in favor of the oil industry and even blaming me for being in the bar etc .I was never ibn the bar and always home etc.(that is a whole nother canoworms).After the Cargo tasing incident,you changed the rules,but you fried me and sam in your paper,everyone who ever looks this (my name) on the internet sees this skanky picture of mike lawrence and this detrimental article,Lawyers didnt even want to help me over it.words do last a lng time,have a long arm,Storys and rubbish the pilot printscan last forever for the world to see.What about that Cutey Boy?

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kathy foos 4 years, 7 months ago

Oh Scott could you please copy the above comment for me to preserve, it as I dont think, I will last long,If you dont hear from me for awhile, Its because they got me! I vow to get back onto you after the censor.(I wont loose any sleep over it though,dont really talk aboput much people)You will never shut me up.

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

Scott,

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? Grab another cup of coffee, my friend. Think how little humor would be left on the blog. We need the "old" guys with their wisdom, knowledge and life experiences (I am speaking to YVB, JLM and of course my personal favorite, AICH--you had the best post of all time and you know the one I mean). Those of us that post under our own names tend to take ourselves way too seriously and I read the posts as much for the info as for the laughs!! How about the Today replaces some staff that have long out-lived their usefulness to save some money!!

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 7 months ago

yampavalleyboy:

No freedom is absolute, including speech. Post some profanity or links to your favorite pornography, and I'll wager that your Pilot account will be disabled, and your freedom to "speak" here will be unilaterally abolished.

This is a forum owned and operated by the Pilot. They can establish any rules they choose. Our participation here is subject to whatever requirements they impose. I require that even my friends obey my own rules and regs - no smoking in my car, example.

While I don't agree with Scott's proposal, I did find it amusing. Almost as amusing as your outrageously outrageous outrage.

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mike arndt 4 years, 7 months ago

I find it amusing that someone would post anything on here anonymously.If you really feel that passionate about your opinion,you should be willing to back it up with your name.I can not believe that you could try to belittle someone else and not put your name.I'm sorry,but that is gutless. Mike Arndt

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

I must ask again---Does it really matter if someone posts anon if their opinion is respectful and informative? There could be many reasons not to post under a name, but the forum would lose a lot of good debate--not to mention humor---if everyone posted under their own name. Perhaps a posting of the rules at the top of the discussion page to remind every poster the ground rules and the specifics for censorship.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

First of all, it really isn't anonymous as I have pointed out before, the Pilot has our names, phone number and in some cases maybe a first born child. So... if you choose to tell everyone who you are and express your views openly with no fear of pissing anyone off or offending someone that may otherwise think ever so highly of you, that is your choice. Mine too and I choose to post under "bandmama". Second Sun----- only ONE mispelled word??????? I am slipping. Ever so sorry!!!! LOL! Scott Ford- while amusing, not a good idea. Remember the Pilot is financed with advertising dollars and therefore favors those who pay for that. By making the rest of us pay I believe it would constitute a conflict of interests. (Yes, dripping sarcasm on the last remarks to Scott......) :)

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 7 months ago

Mike Arndt:

Anonymous critiques of public policy have been made for centuries by some of history's most prominent figures. Early American political philosophy was heavily influenced by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon's "Cato's Letters" - published anonymously. Ditto for Thomas Paine's "Common Sense". Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published the Federalist Papers anonymously. Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin (who anonymously belittled "...the motives of men, manners, and the age" as Poor Richard), François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), Samuel Clemens, Lewis Carrol, and on and on and on.

Does your disdain for anonymity extend to pop culture? How about Ann Landers & Dear Abby administering advice on how to behave - anonymously. John Lennon in the studio backing up Harry Nillson and Elton John - anonymously - as Dr. Winston O. Boogie.

Of all the aforementioned, who are "gutless", and who aren't, and why?

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seeuski 4 years, 7 months ago

I see we have people who want no anonymous postings who never step up to the plate with their own. First post is to complain because they don't know who is saying something that gets their goat. It is becoming very obvious who wants to know and for what reasons.

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 7 months ago

The problem is that too many here leave their droppings for no other reason than to "get [someone's] goat." It's all about tit-for-tat & gotcha. You & Stoddard are pretty good examples. Provocation for provocation's sake.

I don't agree with proposals to exempt the anonymous from this board, but I'm sympathetic to why Brent may be tempted.

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Jeff_Kibler 4 years, 7 months ago

Scott Ford was being facetious. He is hardly humor-challenged.

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for pointing that out Jeff, I don't think some of us would EVER get that about Mr. Ford!!!! LOL!

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

Do I have a consensus among the posters to award the "Golden Plated Pony Tail" to skiusee for "beating the dead horse" the longest? I bet there is some great new snow on Buff Pass and Rabbit Ears, too. How 'bout we see-u-ski?

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seeuski 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Cindy, as a customer of yours I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

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cindy constantine 4 years, 7 months ago

Hey sus,

Just trying to inject some humor. Just do the bookkeeping and houskeeping at the gun store. Thanks a bunch for your business!! BTW, my roof just slid and I have a pile in the back yard. Want to come over so I can see-u-ski? LOL Life is short---try not to take yourself too seriously or you won't live as long!! Also just got a bunch of bear spray in for those who like to ride and hike in the woods.

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exduffer 4 years, 7 months ago

Maybe if we all enjoyed some of that award winning medical MJ these posts would be a lot more civil. They would not make any sense, but they would at least be civil.

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sledneck 4 years, 7 months ago

Civility is overrated. It's one thing to expect and show civility in public. I'm all for that... 100%.

It is quite another to worry about what is said on a blog. For people who can't handle in-civility over the computer I'm not sure WE anonymous wordsmiths are the problem. Far too many people ride the "feeling" bus through this world, wringing their hands over every percieved offense. Get over yourselves!!!

Far too many others want to shut the rif-raf up every chance they get.

As I once explained, killing, or in this case gaging, the weatherman won't stop the rain. If this opportunity is taken away it's just one less reason to engage this newspaper, its readers and the community. Who is the ultimate loser????

Card Check anyone????????????????????????

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exduffer 4 years, 7 months ago

Brent- what percentage of the hits on the Pilot website are from people posting or reading comments on the stories? I have got a deal for you. If everyone who posts or reads the comments promises to click on one of your adds each time they read/post will you leave us be? Think of how much money the paper will make! I just gave you a freebee.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 7 months ago

Especially after spawning this article, I find Mr. Boyer's absence from the ensuing discussion rather odd. Most odd, indeed.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

mmj, well if Brent were to comment on any aspect of this then he'd also be pressed to explain why he yanked a post criticizing Pro Term Cari Hermanski's public comments that were probably lies to quiet the masses while they commit city reserves to bail out the URAAC.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 7 months ago

I think it's safe to say, at this point anyway, that the silence speaks for itself.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

Zach Frindell's article mentioning that unemployment reached 9.2% article was not published in the online edition of the SB Today.

Simple accident of pure coincidence or just part of trying to present the best economic news possible?

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

And by the way, the 9.2% unemployment rate may be the headline, but the more important number is that we are down to a number employed for April that we have not seen since 2005. That we have lost more than 4% of the jobs we had April 2009.

I disagree sharply with Scott Ford's analysis of last month that there are hopeful signs pointing to a recovery this fall. I think will be a bad number for Scott Ford's methodology because the workforce did not shrink far enough fast enough. I think it is fundamentally misguided to use a metric that includes workforce for Routt County because so many workers come here if there are jobs and so many leave when there are not jobs. So it is critical to focus on the number of jobs and changes in the number of people looking for work to affect local predictive economic indicators.

For me to see signs of a recovery then I am going to need to see signs that we are no longer shedding jobs compared to the same month a year ago. Or at least indications that the rate of job loss is moving towards 0 and not steadily losing significant numbers of jobs. It might be a good sign that this year we are down 4% compared to last year being down 10%, but I think it is bad to be worse than last year because last year we already lost just about every construction job and such. We don't have about 600 fewer jobs this April compared to last year because 600 fewer construction worker have jobs. We have fewer jobs because the economic weakness is continuing to be felt in other sectors as well.

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