Leslie Lovejoy: An end to the sleaze

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Thank you to Brent Boyer and the Steamboat Pilot & Today for taking a stand by eliminating the anonymous commenters. I feel as though allowing anonymity is a sleazy practice through which some folks hide behind anonymity and get away with hurtful, often untruthful slandering and more.

Life is all about accountability. I think that I will come to enjoy comments made by folks who hold their words accountable.

Leslie Lovejoy

Routt County

Comments

rhys jones 2 years, 7 months ago

Accountability doesn't prevent slander. I've had many posts yanked in two heartbeats, while far more offensive entries from anonymous donors were allowed to remain, leading me to believe it was a conscious effort to discredit all anonymous participants.

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

We're turning into a texting society. Doesn't matter which device, QWERTY or all thumbs, we less and less speak to each other. I can't read the tone of your text, yet I can hear the tone of your voice.

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Robin Craigen 2 years, 7 months ago

Agreed. Texting and email is taking over. And we forget sometimes that tone is everything. Without audible tone, we really have to think about our emails and texts, and how what we say will sound to another person. The elimination of anonymous commenting adds weight and accountability to our words and I hope that it gives us another reason to think twice before hitting the "post" button. Read, re-read, have a think about it if you are not sure, then post.

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Matthew Stoddard 2 years, 7 months ago

When the Pilot changed the forum a couple of years ago so that you had to register & be confirmed to the Pilot only, the same things were said before- "everyone is going to leave."

Well, as you can see to this day, it's thrived & for all the old posters who left, plenty of new names showed up. In fact, a good portion of the new ones even came in without anonymity already. There will be a lull and then more people will post just like before.

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Brent Boyer 2 years, 7 months ago

Matthew: That's how I remember it, too. And like you, I believe we will see a stronger forum sooner than later. Hope all is well, Brent

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

Last time the difference was from true anonymity to the SB Pilot verifying the identity of the real person behind the anonymous persona. And the Pilot faithfully kept the persona confidential so the authentic desire by many for not being publicly associated with your comments was preserved.

And there was a genuine problem last time of certain anonymous people posting extremely inappropriate comments and then if that account was blocked then they'd return under another account. That was a problem affecting all more responsible posters, named and anonymous, and could only be fixed by having a verified persona registration process. So it made sense to have verified account prior to posting to control that sort of completely irresponsible behavior. That time the paper's solution did directly address the problem.

But this time the situation is far different. To the extent that some don't like the tone on the forums then that is because how named and semi-anonymous people have been communicating on the forums. Semi-anonymity has nothing to do with that issue. Changing the rules so that MrTaiChi is barred from posting means that most everyone including myself should be barred.

The problem is there is no clear standards of what are acceptable posts. What if I were to say "Brent Boyer and Scott Stanford are too stupid to recognize what they had recognized and said before - that it was important to some people in order to be able to speak freely to not be publicly associated with their posts". Does the post get banned? Who knows, sure a bit of a personal attack, but far less than in other existing posts.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

I think Robin Craigen's experience is what is wrong with the forums. Some months ago after posting about bike issues then others including named people started commenting on his property management business.

The paper FAILED to protect him from unfair personal attacks by deleting comments and sanctioning people that repeatedly failed to follow the posting policy.

So the lesson that most would learn from that experience would be to register an anonymous persona and do not post under your real name. Oops, but that is what they choose to ban.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

I'll miss MrTaiChi and one or two others. Their absence aside, I'm betting our discussions here will improve a good deal as the result of the new policy.

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Fred Duckels 2 years, 7 months ago

I will miss all the bloggers, we are all in a different place in our lives, and sometimes the chance to vent is important to us. We can't have the habitually offended looking down their noses at others, this is why many have moved here. If we can clean up the cheap shots it will definitely help.

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kathy foos 2 years, 7 months ago

Five precepts of Soviet intelligentsia(intellectuals) Don't think If you think ,then don't speak. If you think and speak ,don't write. If you think, speak , write and sign,then don't be surprised....

There aren't many jokes about freedom of speech ..What is more useful,newspaper or TV?Newspapers of course,you cannot wrap a herring in a TV.You cannot wipe yourself with a TV( refers to a toilet paper shortage in the Soviet Union).

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Matthew Stoddard 2 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, Brent! All is definitely well. Just waiting for vacation to cruise to Hawaii with my wife. Otherwise, for now, I will most likely not post a whole lot just like the last year. Better things to do with my time, especially with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim out. Lost in XBox 360 Land when not working! LOL!

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Robin Craigen 2 years, 7 months ago

My problem with the comments posted before was that people were making a comment in a public space and not being accountable for their words because they could hide behind an anonymous identity. It was one set of rules for them and another for the rest of us.

I have no illusions that inappropriate comments will disappear. But that is the same as I have no expectation that people will not spout filth in public just because you are standing next to them with your 9 year old kid. Some people just don't know any better. The difference is that now there is no hiding in your basement in anonymity and we can only hope that more people will think before they hit "post".

The comments about freedom of speech wash over my head in this debate. For me this is not at all about free speech. You are welcome to start your own blog if that is what you want. The issue for me is about what is worthy commentary alongside our community newspaper / online media articles, and for many people the anonymous comments were frequently the lowest point in our otherwise amazing days in Steamboat Springs.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

There is absolutely zero freedom of speech in this forum. Anyone who doesn't understand that hasn't read the terms & conditions we all agreed to when we signed up.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

Robin, But the "anonymous" posters were only unknown to you and the general public. Their true identity was known and verified by the paper. So the whole argument that people were allowed to hide behind anonymity is simply not true. It was what the paper chose to allow.

Considering that semi-anonymous people when hitting the "post" button knew the paper knew their real identity, and all of the inappropriate posts from named posters then I see no reason to believe this policy change will change anything besides expelling a large part of the online community.

Prior to Tuesday the paper had stated that being the information business that they recognized that not everyone with information that should be publicly known would like it to publicly known that they released that information.

With the new policy then there is only anonymity in obscurity. If you name is Rick Smith then you can post and claim it is some other Rick Smith. Or if you are a part time resident renting an apt then you can post and no one will ever know who you are. But if you are a Ski Corps employee then you cannot say a thing without worrying about your job.

This policy is going to fail because it is has expelled so much of the online community for a problem that nothing to do with the people that were expelled. Look at what Rob Douglas is willing to spew. If a professional communicator feels free to post that then clearly it is illogical to think that self control will improve the tone of the forums.

http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/2011/may/23/steamboat-springs-city-council-re-election-bids-ar/#c94863

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Robin Craigen 2 years, 7 months ago

What people will post when their identity is known is different to when anonymous.

Whether the comment is inappropriate or not can be a fine line and in the past many participants could sail close to that line without fear of consequence (other than the potential to see their post removed) or without concern about personal accountability for their words. I saw people push that line all the time in the past and unreasonable comments were given airtime before being removed based on complaints. Often by then the damage is done, and what is the good in that system?

Let's give this a try.

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