Brent Boyer: What's in a name?

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Brent Boyer

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

Coffee and a Newspaper

  • Wednesday, February 1, 2012, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Steamboat Pilot & Today, 1901 Curve Plaza, Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

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Anonymity.

What comes immediately to mind?

Do you think about the ability to post online comments without fear of retribution for expressing honest opinions?

Or do you think about the cowardice of those who aren’t willing to put their real names behind their words?

Granted, those are two very strong reactions to Web anonymity, but they’re also beliefs held by many Steamboat Pilot & Today readers. Few newspaper-related issues elicit as much passion from community members as our online comments, and it’s one we find ourselves revisiting often. And we’re doing it again.

We’re dedicating this Wednesday’s Coffee and a Newspaper morning gathering with community members to the subject of online comments. General Manager Scott Stanford and I will lead an open discussion about the Pilot & Today’s online commenting policies, and everyone with an interest in the issue is invited.

The ability to post comments to stories on SteamboatToday.com continues to be a popular feature for many readers. After first introducing the comments feature several years ago, we revised the sign-up process so that all commenters must register by first providing us with their real names and contact information. They still can choose to post anonymously, but we now know who they are and can ban them from the site if they violate our comments policies.

I think the tone of our online comments has been dramatically improved during the past couple of years, but I realize many readers still find it too caustic for their liking. Wednesday’s Coffee and a Newspaper gathering is a chance for all opinions to come to the table in an informal discussion with some of the newspaper’s top leaders.

Coffee and a Newspaper is from 7 to 9 a.m. in the Pilot & Today’s community room at 1901 Curve Plaza. We’ll provide the coffee and breakfast treats, and you provide the feedback. We look forward to seeing you.

Brent Boyer is the editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He can be reached at 970-871-4221 or bboyer@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

sledneck 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent, I would first say that I appreciate the blog as it currently exists and wish it not to change.

You acknowledged the posts are passionate and, therefore, must provoke thought. Isn't that a good thing? You acknowledge that it is "a popular feature for many readers". Isn't that good? You acknowledge that the pilot has the ability to identify posters and exclude them if it so wishes. You acknowledge that the "tone... has been dramatically improved..." Isn't that good?

In fact, the only negative argument I can glean from between the lines is that someone, somewhere, sometime may, possibly get their feelings hurt. To butcher Shakespeare, would a poster by any other name offend any less??? No. If I spelled out my name in capital letters would my words not cut as deep?

So the rationale must stem not from a desire to know names, for you already do. And those names can be shared with law enforcement or kicked out if it becomes necessary. So this can only come from a desire to mute comment by embarrasing or intimidating some or all anonymous posters. Is that tactic any more noble than some of the childish posts themselves?

Was Mark Twain a coward? Dear Abby? Voltaire? Ayn Rand? Dr Seuss? George Orwell? No, I think there is some external pressure (outside the bloggers) forcing the Pilot to perpetually revisit this topic. A topic I would describe as a tempest in a teacup.

My question to you, Brent, is: Are they REALLY offended by the tone, or are they really just offended that their point of view or actions or political decisions or desires are under attack? ay, there's the rub.

I have been called everything but a child of God on this blog. I have never complained. Nor would I. Others have given and recieved the same treatment. I have heard few complaints. Most of us understand the game and we enjoy playing it or we would occupy our time elsewhere, no?

The fact is that there is nothing in these posts that is any more malicious than the average 8th grader has to deal with every day. So my next question is: Do we want to know the minds of those with whom we share this community so as to form that "more perfect union" or do we instead want only to expose the identity of those with whom we disagree so as to silence that portion of the community? Is the devil we see really so bad as to be traded for a devil we might not see comming???

Finally, I would argue that having a face-to-face meeting for anonymous posters is akin to inviting a herd of elk to an october sportsmans expo.

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Scott Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

Hi Brent - I plan on attending. This is a good topic to discuss.

Although I read many of the posting, I typically only post on topics that relate to local economic issues. For me reading the postings are a form of entertainment and sometimes where I gain additional insights and perspective to a topic.

The exchange that takes place in the postings is similar to an electronic version of the exchanges that take place in a coffee shop. There is a lot of banter - sometimes it becomes loud and occasionally pointed but it rarely becomes personal. The key difference is that I know the name of everyone sitting around the table. I often do not know the real name of the folks participating in the postings.

I understand why some folks are reluctant to use their real name and prefer to post using a screen name. I am OK with that, until the discussion becomes personal and or is outspoken against another individual in the community. It is at this point I think the ability to hide behind an anonymous screen name crosses the line.

It is OK for us to have opinions about one another in this community. It is not appropriate to use the Pilot's posting exchange as an open form to express them publicy and not own them. As a recent example, I cite the comments made concerning Bill Moser. I am confident the person posting the comments would not have made the exact same comments if they were sitting around the coffee shop and we knew who they were. (January 25th - Talks about Steamboat business improvement district tax to continue). Bill did not deserve this "rant" in a public fourm from an anonymous source. I think the posting person got carried away. It can happen very easily to any of us when we forget how public these postings are.

Here would be a rather simple policy to put into place -

If a posting comment is directed to someone participating in a line of discussion, as long as the comments do not become harassing or threatening, I think there is a great deal of latitude that should be allowed. If we take offence regarding a posting, we have the option of asking for it to be removed.

If, however, the pointed opinion is inappropriate and directed toward a member of the community not participating in the posting exchange. I do not think the poster should be banned - only warned and told they are at risk of losing the right to post anonymously. Use a version of the three strike rule and than just allow them to continue posting but not anonymously.

At a minimum, I think this approach would improve the civility of the exchanges taking place..

I would enjoy hearing about what others suggest.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

At one time, I would have seconded (and did! I am unable to locate my previous pro-anonymity post on the topic, or I would have linked to it) sledneck's passion. I have since done a complete 180.

I am convinced that the vast majority of the childishness on this board could be eradicated by revoking the anonymity privilege. A Good Thing.

sled: While I am quite happy to engage those who disagree with me, I tend to take them more seriously when they're not cowering behind a veil of anonymity. Indeed, there are a number of regulars here (including those whose worldviews are more or less in alignment with my own) whom I ignore; whom I am certain would disappear if they were required to tell us who they are. It says more about them than they probably comprehend.

To all: that's me, with the Les Paul in my lap (full disclosure: the beard has been scaled back to a goatee, and there's more salt than pepper in my hair than this 3-yr old pic reflects). To those who choose to remain anonymous and are able to comport yourselves as adults, you have my respect. If the Pilot revokes the anonymity privilege and you choose not to contribute as a result, I'll miss one of you (MrTaiChi).

Brent: I'd love to attend your Wednesday get-together, but my schedule will likely make it impossible. I opt, obviously, for full disclosure when it comes to those of us who sound off here.

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Clay Ogden 2 years, 2 months ago

As usual, Scott expresses an opinion with calm logic and I think he makes some valid points designed to raise the dialogue above the banal tripe it sometimes drifts to ... usually because of the same offenders.

I believe we have a responsibility to take ownership of the words we willingly place in the public domain. Sometimes anonymity is genuinely necessary ... but even then it does not need to go hand in hand with incivility.

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addlip2U 2 years, 2 months ago

The best part of reading the newspapers on line ARE the readers contributions.
It does not matter that they are from anonymous wann-a-be writers :)) ...a pure entertainment and sometimes even funny...... at times I may gain additional perspective and insights to a topic, and that is educational and a healthy exchange of information. After all, the reporter does not "know it all".

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent, The blog is far cleaner than it used to be. I left for awhile, tired of the insults, but it got better. Thanks for the new policy.

I usually argue against anonymity. Mainly because none of my friends will post amidst strangers who malign, and most friends never read the threads for the same reason. And I've also once said anonymity should stay - I think after I saw something very difficult articulated well, and anonymously.

There is another reason people stay away. The lecturing rants. A few months back, I read a fascinating article on fanaticism. And much of it was a fitting description of a bad blog. Most notable was the concept that a fanatic is far more focused on his opponent than on himself. A fanatic is obsessed with teaching or destroying his opponent, rather than learning anything or saving himself. Maybe that's me sometimes. (I know I'd rather talk Wednesday about well permits in Routt County.)

I refer you to the comments below Lynn Abbot's letter today. Your problem is not entirely a question of anonymity.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

Scott F is a master at proposing sane and reasonable solutions that are unworkable in practice. Just like his idiotic post suggesting a constitutional amendment to restrict money in campaigns and trash free speech, the one truly great constitutional protection that individuals have, sounding reasonable does mean it is a reasonable idea.

So how would that comment be handled? He posted so I can have at him? That will make it more likely people will post?

As for his coffee house analogy, if the conversation is among several friends whom all know each other then that has nothing to do with online forums. Might as well be held over tea at his house. For the coffee house analogy to make sense, consider the situation of Scott F and his crew talking reasonably only for a guy in line to interrupt and say "The fed gave Wall Street $9 fricking Trillion in secret interest free loans at the same time these guys said everything was fine. Jamie Dimon should be in jail and Seal Team 6 should clear out Goldman Sachs". Now what happens to their conversation? Do they say "we will ignore your comments unless you tell us your name?". Or do they say that Jamie Dimon is not here to defend himself so the comment is to be ignored? Or as reasonable folks does Scott F's crew take the facts from the statement and consider more reasonable consequences of those facts?

Get real. The real line is that ideas are fair game and personal life is off limits. Call Cari Hermanski incompetent or a liar for saying she was surprised as head of City Council by US Bank's notice of default is fine. Mention something about her family life is unacceptable.

The feature these forums is missing is the ability to recommend or dislike a post along with an option to only read those above a certain score. So then poor posts could be moderated down and below the reader's setting of what posts to read.

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1999 2 years, 2 months ago

Please please please...don't take these opinion forums so seriously.

sometimes people get passionate about their opinions.

thats a good thing we need more of that in this country.

I appreciate good strong opinionated bantor. I want people to be passionate about their beliefs. I want then to defend their opinions with vigor.

The pilot has the right and opprotunity to remove personally offensive posts.

but please please please don't take these forums for anything more than they are......a place for people to spout off about what they feel and exchange (sometimes) offensive positions.

maybe people get offended too easily and take them selves and their position to seriously.

good grief......our country is in a hell of a position right now....we need people to stand up and shout out what they believe....not water it down or be afraid of repercusions.

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MrTaiChi 2 years, 2 months ago

Jefferson said we shouldn't fear free speech because it is the only way to sort out ideas and to allow the better ones to prevail in public opinion.

"When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of the Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Have you asked yourself, if it ideas, concepts and opinions were are discussing, why is it important to know the identity of the speaker? Is it some visceral perception that by this form of communication you have lost the freedom to retaliate in all of retaliation's subtle ways? If so, which is darker, the desire to remain anonymous, or the desire to punish beliefs?

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sledneck 2 years, 2 months ago

As usual Mr Tai Chi better articulated my main point. Are we open to ideas or are we open season on those who offend us with theirs?

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1999 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Mr Tai Chis last paragraph 200%.

ask your self....why do we need to know their identity?

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the_Lizard 2 years, 2 months ago

I also wonder how advertisers would react if you eliminated online comments or ask people to reveal their identities, IMO decreasing the number of commentors. I would click on the article once, read it, read the obits and be done. Perhaps many people that comment or like the comments click on your site more often or visit certain articles more often because of the comments, increasing your bragging rights for advertisers to number of visits. I also must admit I really enjoy the comments and find that at times I learn much more from the commentors than from the story itself. Right now, I've been reading ybul's comments over on the sustainability article. I disagree with some of what he says and am unsure of the techniques he's talking about, but am very much enjoying his expertise and opinions on the subject. Then there is the laugh factor, some people are just soooo.... something ... (Mr. Jones) but entertaining at the same time. I agree with 1999 and the others, don't change the comment section other than to add spell check for the spelling disabled among us.

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Scott Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

We cannot forget that the Steamboat Pilot/Today owes nothing to those of us that participate actively in on-line forums. As a percentage of their daily readership, we as active "posters" represent a very small fraction. Those that often read the posting but do not post represent a wee-bit more.

As a percentage of the Today's readership, I would be surprised if both groups represent more than 2 to 3 percent of total readership. I do not think there is a huge upside for them in attracting additional unique visitor traffic to their site by hosting the online forums. I hope Brent and Scott Stanford discuss this on Wednesday. I am curious.

The Steamboat Pilot/Today I am sure views hosting the forums as a community service. As such, each us that post need to view our ability to post as a courtesy extended by the ownership of the paper to us and not a right.

It is within that context of that framework I have made the personal commitment to be polite (civil) at all times. This is a personal choice. I understand I am a "guest" and not an owner. I struggle when the posting discussions shift from "banter" to angry and caustic. Typically, I choose to leave. The world has enough negativity without having to be willingly showered in it.

I am not opposed to allowing folks to post anonymously, but I think it is appropriate for the Steamboat Pilot/Today to revisit the issue from time to time. After all, we are visiting their house when we make the decision to post.

To Brent, Scott Stanford and Suzanne - Thanks for putting up with us. I hope collectively as posters we do not become more trouble than we are worth.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

The one area where anonymous comments, and even named comments, are an issue are on articles of a personal tragedy. Where there are suddenly allegations of drugs causing the accident and so on. To put it bluntly, stupid comments are an expected part of an open discussion. And the stupid comments are not totally irrelevant because it takes seeing the ignorance to know what facts need to be shared to help educate others. But articles on personal tragedies are not the appropriate place for an open forum.

For articles on tragedies where there may be relatives and friends reading the article that shouldn't expect to see a free ranging discussion then the paper should be able to mark the article as having moderated comments.

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snowbirds 2 years, 2 months ago

GOOD GRIEF!!! This topic certainly brought forth many comments. Wish we could attend Wed's discussion, but we're not in the area.

Without being too verbose, we TOTALLY agree with the brief, concise statement made by "addlip2U" - the current comment section is just fine the way it is, tho some folks tend to get WAY too wordy :-((

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

I hope this meeting, like most meetings, does not actually change anything; it just gives a few folks a chance to spout off, show off, and generally feel better. I rather like the way things are: Reveal your identity at your option. I can see reasons for desiring anonymity, employment and image not least of all. If I was marketing a product locally, I might seriously reconsider what I sometimes say, but NOOO, my fingers occasionally get carried away, and now you all think you know me. I get comments on the bus or at the store -- "Hey, I saw what you wrote about..." and somehow I feel violated, like, OH, you were in there too? You'd be surprised who is reading your words, just as you would be surprised who ISN'T. As I ask around, lots of folks don't even do the forums. The highwaystar means little to them, unless they're Deep Purple fans.

So revelation can have its price, but it works for me; others have other concerns. As long as we are all able to contribute freely what we are actually thinking, the forums will retain their validity. If anything is done to restrict or discourage that, they will lose their relevance, and thus participation. Nothing will be done, you don't need me there.

Lizard -- It's nice to be "soooo.... something" (as opposed to "so nothing" I suppose) I'll take that as a compliment; anything I don't want to be is REGULAR. I discovered long ago I have the ability to make people laugh, mostly from my distorted -- some might say warped -- perspective, but let's not discuss that now, okay?

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sedgemo 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent, I will wade in here (anonymously).

One thing I appreciate about anonymity is that it allows us (me) to grapple with issues rather than spout a petrified opinion. Our society seems to have lost this ability to mull issues without resorting nearly instantly to sound-bites and headlines. It's easy enough to parrot what you find, much harder to find your own thoughts on any given issue. The comments discourse allows this process room to occur.

If my name were posted this process of discussion would disappear for me. People are notorious for taking things out of context, and I hold different political views than my landlord and most of my clients. Though I am not a radical by nature (in any direction) our society would automatically pin me, like a butterfly to a board, with something written underneath like "NeoCon" or "Green" or "BANANA", leaving only a soundbite to identify me, a complex person trying to honestly engage the matters troubling our world.

You cannot legislate politeness or civility, but as other sites do, being able to incorporate some sort of modifier (like "three strikes you're out") may give you the comfort of pulling useless rants and pleasing your more gentrified subscribers.

I humbly suggest as well, that the issues being brought forth in the comments sections are often woefully glossed over by this newspaper (at least in the online version) though you have been improving lately. At a minimum your reporters have a gold mine of article ideas handed to them from your own readers. Why not make a forum where we could post ideas we'd like to see some better reporting about? There's a lot of sausage being made in this county, but we mostly see the packaged product.

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HowardRoark 2 years, 2 months ago

The comments I make here are anti-establishment, anti-big government, and pro-freedom, all very dangerous positions in a world of growing tyranny. If I can not post my thoughts and opinions openly here without the fear of losing my job for my views because people now know my idendity,( and who knows what nut-job with a gun I might offend that tracks me down and kills me) then I will not post my comments. There are already quite a few people in this forum that really REALLY seem to want to know my real name, and I take it from their comments that they don't want to know who I am to send me flowers. Having everyones names posted will not encourage open discussion, but public bickering, restraining orders, assaults and other nasties. This may be my last posting. I plan on being there Wed. to put in my 2 cents. For those of you that want to put my surname to my face let me describe my appearance; I am 2.5 ft tall, wear a green shamrock around my neck, I carry a pot of gold, and will grant 3 wishes to the one that catches me.

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spidermite 2 years, 2 months ago

Howard, Your not that anonymous. Even I know who you are.

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RPG 2 years, 2 months ago

So how are your going to enforce true identity? Have them bring a government issued ID to the Pilot office?

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kathy foos 2 years, 2 months ago

1.Do the like and dislike on comments 2.Don't make people get called by the paper first to comment,its a little strange and makes people not want to register to comment in the first place.That limits the crowd of opinions gathered from the public.Most papers send an email confirmation and you are ready to go with whatever name real or made up.Some will only print the comment with your real name. 3.Its freedom of speech to be able to say the truth without revealing who you are.In my opinion it takes away from the pure thought of the writer to put your name on it.You pay the price and it's not fun.All people's opinion's matter to me and truths as they see them are eye opening.I wish I was able to be that way.Since my son was killed in the oil tank explosion and I'm outspoken on oil safety issue's,my circumstances predicted that people would know who I am anyway since I have to be honest to make my point for changes.I don't like it at all,just something I made the choice to do and will have to endure for the end product desired,which is a safe and clean oil industry in this valley. Please don't make people sign the real names,we need more people to participate ,not less,some of our best thinkers and writers are unnamed ,you will loose them and it's not fair.People need to have jobs and exposing everyone is just not worth the trouble and unnecessary to speak the truth,which is all that matters in the end,named or unnamed.

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

I think it would require a warrant for your ISP to provide the current physical location of your IP address -- through which you would otherwise be identified, anything else you provided being possibly deceptive. So maybe we are who we say we are, though I have yet to meet any of my more-voluminous contributors, such as myself. Judge Garrecht knows who I am, so I can't be TOO revealing, can I? He could sign the warrant.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

It's a rarity to find myself at odds with MrTaiChi, but I'm not buying full disclosure as dark and punitive. If identity becomes requisite and one chooses to quit the forum, any "punish[ment]" has been self administered.

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

Like I said, you can't really hide, so I figured why try to begin with? If you want to disguise your identity for whatever reasons, that's your business, just don't think they can't find you if they want to.

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

What's in a name? A lot. Part of the vibrant, off color HONEST opinions would go away. And that is what makes this forum so entertaining as well as educational.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

bandmama:

How would your identity preclude you from being "HONEST" (all caps, no less)? Are you only capable of honesty while in hiding? What are you afraid of?

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the_Lizard 2 years, 2 months ago

ITA bandmama! Rhys, my observation was absolutely a compliment, glad you saw that. You are something IRL I've no doubt, but i was struggling for a word to describe your comments. Unique is what I've come up with. A good thing to be sure!

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JusWondering 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok, I tried to stay out of this one because I have no real skin in the game but...

Sep, to answer a question that you posed to bandmama (I guess I am cyber stalking a bit, yes).

If identity were disclosed it could potentially have consequences for individuals who work for organizations that have very draconian social networking policies that govern how you represent yourself in the general public. Everything isn't about their little life in the 'boat... all 2 weeks or 2 months of it.

While the merits of these policies are yet to be contested in the courts relating to non-slanderous remarks of the organization some individuals may choose to keep their identity secret because they don't want to become the case that sets the precedent. In case you hadn't noticed, many of the contributors are not necessarily full-time citizens of the 'boat and may work for large multi-national conglomerations that would fire them and wait for the courts to sort it out.

I, personally, would hate to cost someone his or her job just because I wanted to weigh someone on what I know about them when I run into them at City Market versus the merits of what they have to say... or not.

For all the haters, even those posting about things that impact me or my family personally, I just scroll by them. It isn't worth the three seconds it takes to read their remarks.

As for Wednesday, I will do what I can to attend if the East coast conference calls don't run long. I enjoy a good cup of coffee and participating in a spirited debate.

As for me, if identity is required, I would no longer post. I don't want my IRL name showing up in a Google search that can be taken completely out of context. I never know who I am going to work for next.

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JusWondering 2 years, 2 months ago

Don't believe me... just Google your moniker and Steamboat to see what pops up.

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howard_roark 2 years, 2 months ago

spidermite, are you sure you got the correct red-headed architect?

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nurmidst 2 years, 2 months ago

If you want to be out in the public letting everyone know who you are and how you feel and what you believe in that is your choice, you can do that anywhere from a street corner to the council chambers. People who want to silence others must be used to a bully pulpit of some sort, this is a comment section let people make their comments if you don't like them over look them or let them be weighed by there own merit, why does it matter who someone is unless your intent is to silence those that you don't agree with! A good example of the anonymous argument is the MMJ debate if not for the ability to be anonymous it would be a one sided discussion! Which i guess is the motive behind this effort to get rid of Anonymous!

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

sep and just- While I may be completely honest on how I feel about a topic in this forum, I would not be so open minded, and honest in my opinions if put face to face with a client or customer. It is in my best interests sometimes to keep my big mouth shut. I am not "hiding" but am in fact cowering over what my honest opinions may or may not do to my financial well being. And yes, there is that fear of what being honest sometimes can do in causual conversation. This sort of forum allows free thought and opinions from many that may not otherwise be "spoken". Mr TaiChi said it very well. I would not like to insult a friend, co worker, client, customer with opinions that would not set well with my professional co horts. But I do have the right to state them when allowed to in an annonymous forum. When this topic came up last, we were given the option by the Pilot to continue to use this forum with the knowledge that they did in fact have our real names, and other info. Those of us who continue to post do so knowing that we can not just rant or attack others without repercussion. I did see a noted shift in the tone of the comments. Not a bad thing, has kept us civilized for the most part while still being able to read to opinions of our fellow community members. I do feel that we get a much more rounded view of this community by a few annonymous posts that harbor a bit of honesty. Just my opinion. If I choose to use my real name then I would start a blog. Mark Twian and others did just fine by using pen names. Just saying.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

JusWondering & bandmama:

You would have been preaching to the choir, not too long ago. I was on your side of the fence within the last couple of years, and weighed in passionately in this forum on behalf of your position, citing identical reasons.

On the other hand, I find that the annonymous among us all too often confuse liberty with license. To wit:

take a long look in the mirror, because you are nothing more that a Hitler supporter in 1936 Germany right now. You really, really disgust me.

YVB...does the word "boy" in your moniker refer to the fact that you are too puerile and self-centered to be referred to as a man?

you are poor white trash and a really poor farmer.call me some time or are you too scared PUSSY.

you really are a stupid whore

maybe that same bull moose can go a little natural selection on your fat ass, do us all a favor.

your day is coming punk

While imposing an identity requirement wouldn't guarantee adult behavior, I'll wager the discourse here would improve dramatically nonetheless. Some of the spew masquerading as civil dialogue & intelligent rebuttal on this board is the reason I rarely weigh in any more. I'm not lobbying for Oxford-style debate. Just a marginally higher standard, instead of the lowest common denominator.

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spidermite 2 years, 2 months ago

howard_roark, A bit of confusion. My comment was for HowardRoark.

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JusWondering 2 years, 2 months ago

Sep... there are ways to deal with the comments that you cite.

  1. I agree with you that such threatening talk (regardless if it is someone thinking they are being funny) should be dealt with. The Pilot has our info; deal with it and make a public story of your crack down. If someone is making a threat as in some of the cases above turn them over to law enforcement.
  2. This board's comments are moderated. If people can't stop from spewing out the garbage you show above then ban them... permanently; or atleast for a period of time.

While imposing these two items wouldn't necessarily stop the infantile behaviour you reference it sure would slow it down... after all it would only happen once if RSCO is at my door the next day when I threaten someone's physical or financial well-being; but then again, I don't know, some of the posters just seem to have no emotional intelligence and even if their name were shown would still act like morons.

I love some of the civil debates I get into on this forum, includiing with yourself... and can often leave agreeing to disagree with some of the more conscientious posters on here. I learn from some and shake my head silently from the other side of the screen at others.

Anonymity or not, you just aren't going to stop that part... especially when there are LOTS of posters on here that do not even live/own property in our fair communities. So, chances are pretty good, that I can't look across the aisle at City Market and laugh at their idioacy! Look at the history of postings by some of the most aggressive offenders and you will find east coasters, west coasters, people from Atlanta, people from the upper midwest, and yes, God forbid, even Texans :). What do I care if you have my real name... I have absolutely no skin in the game in your little town's politics 'cause I live 1,000 miles away and only come there once a year for 7 days to play baseball, ski your slopes, ride your race, etc.

Most forums just ban posters who spew the crap you show above. Great policy for the Pilot. 3 strikes and your out; you threaten someone and we turn your info over to SPD or RSCO. You espouse knowledge of a crime and we turn you over to SPD or RSCO. After all, the Pilot knows who we all are... they have the power in their current terms and conditions; they are just not consistent in their enforcement.

As a rotating ad advertiser I would be happy that the forums draw attention. There have been many a times that my lunch decision was influenced when I grabbed my iced tea, looked at the forums for 5 minutes before I went off to lunch at someplace that just caught my attention with their ad.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

JusWondering:

I'm all for banning the idiots; I've strongly advocated it here. My sense is that the Pilot (for whatever reason) is unwilling. The Pilot is a small shop, they may not have the resources to assign a babysitter.

I think it's instructive that those arguing the most vociferously against the identity requirement include every last one of the authors whose remarks I included in my last post. So presumably, they would go away - which I can only regard as a net gain.

I also think it's legitimate to wonder how much overall participation here isn't already being suppressed by that kind of nonsense, and how many others might decide to join the party if it evaporates.

If the Pilot is unwilling to suspend/delete the accounts of miscreants, the identity requisite seems the next best choice.

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JusWondering 2 years, 2 months ago

It seems the Pilot can quickly police without many resources... we all know who the idiots are and can quickly point them out to Brent. Doesn't seem like it takes much to send out a template cease and desist email or phone call and then a ban. Only takes a minute or so.

I agree that ultimately if the Pilot cannot manage their forum effectively the next best thing is a lackof anonymity... it just won't solve the problem though; some people aren't socially aware enough to know better.

sep writes: "I also think it's legitimate to wonder how much overall participation here isn't already being suppressed by that kind of nonsense, and how many others might decide to join the party if it evaporates."

AGREED! There have been numerous threads that I have checked out on when they start going downhill. It just isn't worth it.

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trump_suit 2 years, 2 months ago

I value my anonymity, and would probably quit posting if required to use my real name. In general, I feel that my economic health would be threatened if my customers view was different than my own. The forums allow us to put forth opinions and views that may not be popular or well received. I do however have some suggestions.

  1. Anonymous posters should be limited in both characters and number of posts per day. If you choose not to reveal your name there should be limitations on the volume of words allowed.

  2. If you have posts removed from the site there should be a three strike policy. Third post removed gets you removed also. Time frame determined by editorial board or citizen community representatives.

  3. If your post uses personal attacks or slander the three strike rule is super seeded and you can be banned from posting for just one personal attack. The committee in charge should have the leeway to choose a time frame from several weeks to forever. It could be the online community that gets to vote up or down on these postings. (No real opinion about who, this is a private business and the Pilot should decide/control this)

  4. Being as the Pilot knows who the anonymous posters are, they do in fact have control over your posting future. Even if anonymous posts are allowed, the Pilot does not have to allow the over the top attacks and completely personal slander that innundate the boards. We all know who those posters are.

Finally, I believe that we all know how to place a value on the words that we read. If an individuals post offends you then each of us will make a value judgement about that persons opinions in the future. I wold put forth that it is not the different ideas but the personal attacks and slander that most of us disagree with.

There is value in being anonymous and even the founding fathers engaged in anonymous posts in the publications of their day. It was the only way they could present their radical ideas to the population without being arrested by British troops. That same risk may not apply today but tomorrow? I personally value my anonymity.

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Brent Boyer 2 years, 2 months ago

All: Thanks for the good discussion on this issue. I hope the quality and tone on this thread is what we get tomorrow morning during Coffee and a Newspaper. I'm personally torn on the issue of anonymity. I think there are legitimate points to be made on both sides of the issue — and indeed, many of you have raised those points in your comments above. Ultimately, what I want most is for SteamboatToday.com to be a place where residents and others who love Steamboat Springs and Routt County can come to stay informed about the community and also engage in thoughtful, civil discourse (and yes, debate) on important local issues. I think Sep (Brian) raises an interesting point in his most recent post: How many contributors to these online forums are lost because of their distaste for anonymity and the sometimes vitriolic nature of online comments?

Brent

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MrTaiChi 2 years, 2 months ago

Sep, I appreciate your remarks and have reciprocal respect for your opinions. I think your comment tying all of us who wish to preserve our anonymity to the quotes you saved and posted is uncharacteristically reckless on your part and curious. If you are so incensed by these emotional excesses, why did you save,cut and paste them? Getting beyond my first reaction as the target of such rejoinders to something I posted, I am amused by them. My wife catches me watching Jerry Springer once in a blue moon too. I'm of the school that one can't know light until he has experienced darkness. To know who I am, I have to fit myself into the spectrum of human behavior. If my sample is narrowed to a bandwidth of polite Quakers, then I fear that I'd be like the monkey whose brain was kept alive separated from it's body and quickly deprived of stimulus, went haywire and insane. My wife has her opinions that I'm already there.

The Pilot has a policy about offensive speech. The Pilot has a mechanism for complaint about offensive speech. The chance that a reader will be exposed to the rawness of human nature from time to time is outweighed by the desirability of robust debate.

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mtroach 2 years, 2 months ago

IMHO, if you remove the veil, the quantity and quality of posts will deminish. Many times the comments hold more information than the story. This is a really small town, negative reactions to casual posts would eventually censor everyone and ruin the honest banter we share n this forum. I enjoy the shield that anomoyous posting allow and would have to rethink participation if posting under my real name.

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sashas 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent,

You say you think Sep (Brian) raises an interesting point in his most recent post: How many contributors to these online forums are lost because of their distaste for anonymity and the sometimes vitriolic nature of online comments?

What about all the people you will lose for displaying true identities? I think you are going to lose many more and especially the educated posters in this forum because as stated in general terms by the many other posters, no privacy will interfere with careers, family, and just life in Steamboat. It is the people who know much about certain topics and oppose other professionals that are looked at as nutty especially, but not entirely by the lesser informed. This is going to prevent the educated on various topics from speaking their opinions, while also disallowing other participants in the forum to learn from what others are saying. It will turn into a forum of only like minded individuals who will have no chance of broadening their views due to the suppression of information caused by the elimination of anonymity. The entire purpose of learning through debating will be eliminated.

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HowardRoark 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Boyner, It is very concerning to me that you applaud Brian Kotowski's comments even when he calls people that disagree with him an idiot. Mr. Kotowski, you post things (incorrectly, misquoting me among others) others have said that offended you as if you have clean hands. Everyone in this forum knows that you have written some pretty nasty things to people. I will never divulge my identity to you, but I know who YOU are, and I like it like that. Not only do I know who you are, but I know what you are, and I don't like it one little bit. That said, I respect your right to free speech, but you do not grant me the same courtesy. You advocate the quelling of freedom, and YOU DISGUST ME. Cherry picking statements by other posters from months ago really shows that your life apparently is shallow and that this forum is where you spend your time. Most of the posters here have real lives, with real jobs, and real consequences for their opinions in regards to holding their jobs. This is a small town, and it would not take very long for anyone to find a person if a name is provided. If I have posted something that offends you, good; that means that I am on target because you are an enemy of humanity and freedom. If I posted something that offends you and you know my real name, then I would not put it past you to try and do something to me to make life difficult for me. If you put so much time and energy into your fantasy world here in the Pilot cutting and pasting old posting that you are apparently still sore over, I shudder to think of what evil you would conjure against those that hold different opinions then you hold. And for Mr. Boyner to agree with you only thickens the plot. Ever hear of the NDAA? SOPA? We are losing our freedoms quickly, and I suspect that Mr. Boyner has an ulterior motive here brought about by those that run his paper in higher offices. He has already been told what to do, he is just letting people have a "discussion" to create the appearance of free will, but in the end the pilot will pull the anonymity, and I will know who YOU are Kotowski, but you won't know me. All that will be left in this forum are freedom hating people like Kotowski and their ilk bickering over who has the newest signed Ann Coulter book, regurgitating the same thing time and again, because the educated and informed will have left the building.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

MrTaiChi:

I'm all for robust debate. I have no patience for childishness and vitriol. You are the Poster Child for robust debate sans incivility; my apologies if you felt I was lumping you (and others) in with the delinquents.

Personally, I am generally in favor of retaining the anonymity privilege. I think this could be most easily dealt with by nuking the accounts of those who abuse that privilege (and suggested it strongly the last time this came up), but the Pilot seems unwilling to go there. Whenever Brent or Scott have framed the issue, it has always been through the narrow prism of anonymity v. disclosure. They appear uninterested in other resolutions. So if that's the only choice, I vote for disclosure and will miss your insights if you quit.

Finally, I didn't “save” anything. I just went trolling through random threads and the venom was depressingly easy to find. I pasted it into my remarks to illustrate the point.

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sashas 2 years, 2 months ago

I was wondering if someone was going to bring up SOPA. I believe that was turned down, but now they are going a new avenue with ACTA. As soon as I saw this story, I thought the meeting had something to do with ACTA because Brent's higher ups are probably tied into that sort of thing. Here's a short article about SOPA being turned down, with ACTA now taking the stage: http://www.naturalnews.com/034802_ACTA_counterfeiting_piracy.html

And as far as my comments regarding educated, I should have used the word informed, as I don't want only education level to be associated, but also individual research and learning.

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Dan Hill 2 years, 2 months ago

I live in a small community in part because I want to engage with real people who I have the opportunity to know, not with anonymous entities - I could do that via a hundred other websites.

Whilst there are some anonymous posters who contribute to the debate in a rational and civil manner, on balance the anonymous comments are much less civil and much less rational. I generally find them a waste of time.

As I've mentioned to Brent before, I think the best solution is to allow those of us who chose not to engage with the anonymous posters to be able to simply hide their comments. Then they have a choice to make - keep talking to themselves or come out of the shadows and be part of our community.

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Brent Boyer 2 years, 2 months ago

All: Continuing — emphasis on continuing — the anonymity conversation has nothing to do with any proposed legislation in Washington, D.C. or any directive from anyone else at my company. General Manager Scott Stanford and I hear more from readers about online comments than about any other issue related to the newspaper. We've been conducting Coffee and a Newspaper gatherings for the past year, and online comments remain the one issue that comes up at every gathering, regardless of who attends. We thought dedicating a Coffee and a Newspaper gathering to the subject and advertising it as such might spur some good conversation.

Brent

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Marie Matta 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent - In asking "How many contributors to these online forums are lost because of their distaste for anonymity and the sometimes vitriolic nature of online comments?" you have raised a key question. If the anonymity provision were removed and many anonymous contributors bowed out, I believe they would be replaced by many more contributors who are not afraid to reveal their identity and take ownership of their comments, and I feel certain this would elevate the tone of the conversations.

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

Regarding banning individuals -- it's easy enough to get a new gmail account and open a new Pilot account as a new participant; in fact I think that's been done before.

Criminal charges against credible threats get way more interesting, real fast. First the investigating agency would have to obtain the warrant I spoke of, so when they backtrack the IP of the offender to their ISP, they can then knock on that door -- wherever it is -- to compel access to their log files. Then a trail appears, through routers and networks, as the message packets are traced to their origin. In many cases, especially if on a desktop, the physical location may then be easy to determine. If using a laptop or other hand-held device, now it gets trickier. The IP can be traced to the wireless router or cell tower, and it is at this point I get hazy on the techno; how to zero in on the receiver is yet beyond me. Every processor has its own unique fingerprint, included as part of the IP string the Internet uses in its header packet. So chasing a specific machine is very possible. It just might get interesting as it goes from the coffee shop to the library then home again.

I've got friends a lot savvier about snooping software and gizmos than myself. Up 'til now I've been a boring business programmer. This is just the cat-and-mouse chase I was born for. Have the detective give me a call; this could be fun.

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MrTaiChi 2 years, 2 months ago

MM gives us the answer we have been seeking to the question, "If we are discussing ideas, concepts and opinions, why is it important to know the identity of the poster?"

We have to own our ideas, comments and opinions, she says. Translation- your neighbors want to be able to shun you, boycot your business, curse you to their friends and acquaintences, and/maybe not or, in extreme circumstances split your lip.

If names are required, fewer posters will be nasty, childish and vitriolic, because.... your neighbors will then be able to shun you, boycot your business, curse you to their friends and acquaintences, and/maybe not or, in extreme circumstances split your lip.

Don't you see nasty things on the sidewalk that you step around every day? Aren't you able to relegate a level of importance to them to be quickly forgotten?

Do you want Brent and his staff deciding what is hate speech, beyond the usual fighting words? A long time ago I posted the inquiry whether at a nightspot gathering of the homosexual community whether it would be informative to poll them as to the manner of ther meeting their partners, and had the comment stricken. Do you want to unleash the censors who inevitably use as their measure whether the most sensitive soul would be offended rather than to apply more important factors like the importance of considering an issue. It's a slippery slope into the dishwater dull world of PC.

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nurmidst 2 years, 2 months ago

Maybe we should go one step further and make everyone declare their political alliances i wonder how many of the people calling for names are right wingers! I think it would make an interesting poll!

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spidermite 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent, How will all these earth shattering issues be discussed properly if we can't all participate? It's just not feasible. "It takes a village"

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spidermite 2 years, 2 months ago

and if someone does shoot HowardRoark it would be nice to be able to comment on this accident.

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

Curious, why is it so important to know the identity of someone with whom you are having an on line debate with? You know what their point of view is, so debate. As I stated above the Pilot requested our personal information and has reserved the right to not post comments they deem inappropriate. If you are looking for something other than the lowest common denominator this may not be the forum for you. And Sep, I find it highly disgusting and in poor taste to equate this with Hitler in 1936. Perhaps you should reaquaint yourself with history. The atrocities done to "supporters" were horrible. And many of those "supporters" were not doing so because they agreed with his ideals. They were forced into action by fear and violence. This thread is no where near the same. That comment (never mind the "whore" thing) is completely out of line. Love, The Whore.

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sledneck 2 years, 2 months ago

I think the "bull moose" comment was directed at me way back when; I would not want anyone at the Pilot to lay that to anyones charge. I have honestly forgotten who said it. No big deal. In fact I laughed my A** off when I read it. Some of you guys need a prescription, methinks.

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

sled- LOL! I hope all of us can pull on our big person britches and take a little heat when we throw ourselves out there. If not we have no business making a comment. And for everyone that desires a more intellectual debate? I would like to suggest a few places that one might find them, BBC, Mediamatters, Huffington Post, Politico, Rueters, Aljazeera and so on and so on. Those needing that bit of intellectual banter would find it at these sites and not the Pilot which rarely has any national/world articles that promote the debates such as this one.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

bandmama:

I couldn't agree with you more: it IS “highly disgusting and in poor taste to equate this with Hitler in 1936. ” That's why I excerpted HowardRoark's remarks on the topic: http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/2012/jan/06/conservative-ann-coulter-speak-steamboat/#c105689 Whine at him. Not me.

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sledneck 2 years, 2 months ago

Howie is definitly intense but you have to try to excuse him folks. He is holed-up in a bunker at an undisclosed location, eating MRE's, cleaning his guns and reading about plasticizer residue on the steel beams of the WTC, convinced the illuminati is looking for him.

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

The above comments in reference to my posts give justice TO my posts! If this were the Huffington post then yes, speak up with a name. But this little bit of....chitchat, in no way warrants (SP?) everyone's ID. This is NOT a major bit of reporting (although with respect to the Pilot, it has had many awards and HOOOOO-YAAAAAAAAHHHHA's that not many papers of this...nature/size get. It has some AWESOME contributors and hope to see this continue!!!!) One of the best things, in my opinion with this forum is the simple fact that this is a small close knit community, some (most) of my views, if spoken at a coffee or a brunch would not be well received as I do read,listen, and take to heart world views on so many things on every site daily that I mentioned. The few articles I do comment on sometimes touch close to home. I would never state so fervently my views on local matters face to face as I do here. Why? I am not a pussy, and if "puussshhhed" into a corner would, but it would be so darn disrespectful to my many friends, neighbors, employer, and co workers when I have so much to say 'thank you" for? Why instigate heated arguements/debates? I have lived in "big city". I had no fear of pissing off my neighbor, as I did NOT know them. Here I do!!! And respect them. All of you! Some may call it as double sided, I call it a mutual respect. Every Free Thinking, Loving member of this community deserves the right to point out views/opinions. Without the fear of running into the person with whom they disagree with at Safeway or Walmart. This community has many intelligent, well spoken members. Is it really worth the "I KNOOOOOOW who yoooooo ARRRREEE!!' mentality just cuz you dont agree with me? No! To me it isn't. And wont ever be. If mandated that I print my name on every thought? PAY ME. And/or I wont even give the Pilot the time of day. (Cept the crosswords, will have to continue that!!!!! LOL!!!)

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Kevin Nerney 2 years, 2 months ago

Here's my two cents on the topic(for what it's worth). I don't have a problem with anonymous posters' and in fact enjoy sledneck and Mr.TaiChi just as much as I look forward to Scott Fords insight. For me however having grown up in a house run by a former Marine and in the John Wayne era. I say stand up and be counted. If you feel passionate about something state that fact and be proud of it, regardless of outcome. I was watching "Shark Tank" the other night and a guy invented an invisible (hideaway) ladder rack for his pick-up truck. The "sharks" said it would be more profitable if he would have it built overseas. This guy stuck to his guns and said no it would be American made and employ people in his town. No one invested and this guy didn't get the hundreds of thousands of dollars he wanted but he walked off the show with his head held high and his shoulders back. I promptly went out and ordered one of his racks. Others have stood up for what they felt was right,George C. Scott and Marlon Brando come to mind when they refused their respective Oscars. It didn't hurt their careers. This type of thinking is getting increasingly scarce these days. Therefore I will stand behind my thoughts and in front of my name despite any backlash. Remember, a clear conscience makes a soft pillow.

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

Kevin- John Wayne??? Try BIG Brother in the form of BIG MAMA!!! LOL! You have had the experience of a money making thing here. Some of us have not. We are the voiceless majority, and while "you" can and DO have the guts to put forth your opinions, others. like myself would be outcast!!! Again small town mentality. Forget that John Wayne/Marlon Brando thing, we have to live and EARN a living here. If I were to walk into your place of business and state a mayhap difference of opinion? How fast would you be calling Joel Rae and having my butt hauled off? Think about that. Small Town, and everyone knows someone who knows someone...and so forth. While I respect your view, YOU do have a HELL of alot more pull locally and all than I do. A HUGE reason to maintain an annonymous posting standard on this site. This is NOT your average small town. Money and such talks, alot!!! Those of us that are ordinary working "joes" are here and would like to remain in that status. We help YOU earn a living. Is the discord in a public stance worth me (a working class "MAMA") worth it to you to loose money because I choose to shop elsewhere cuz you called me out??? NO!!! Not at all. In the very small geological/bubble "O" small town we live in. It is not, in my opinion worth having my name in print on views that impact the community I live in. Allow me the grace and freedom to express my views in this small forum. Otherwise? I may choose to frequent someplace else for lunch, clothes, CD's, gas, groceries...ect ect ect.... being a little annonymous allows a sense of freedom in a small town that promotes discussion and improvement without pointing fingers. And those in favor of NON annonymous postings are doing just that!!!! Pointing fingers. Instead of debating an idea or thought is non productive. Calling one out in this forum is sort of silly, in this Valley we call home.

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Brent Boyer 2 years, 2 months ago

A big thanks to the 30 or so community members (some of whom are regular contributors on this forum) who attended Coffee and a Newspaper this morning. I thought it was a really good discussion with many good viewpoints on both sides of the anonymity issue.

Brent

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

Sorry I missed your meeting. Day off, skied yesterday, fell asleep during Nuggets, just too dang early.

And as usual, I fall outside your predefined boxes. While I opted for full disclosure from Day 1, I can fully understand the many reasons one may wish to retain their anonymity. Though I claim to be a programmer, that business is NOT cutting it, I need supplemental employment, and I suspect I have missed opportunities I might have otherwise gotten, but for my comments in these forums.

Nevertheless, I can't be who I'm not, and I think my comments have also MADE friends for me. Turns out a lot of people agree with my many and divergent opinions. So disclosure has worked for me, largely. Things come up in here, that just don't, in normal conversation, and I get to spout my irrelevant experiences, which would otherwise remain buried (as they probably should anyway). I get to practice my creative writing.

John Wayne I am not, but he was never a real Marine. Be who you want.

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HowardRoark 2 years, 2 months ago

To all of you that I have offended; I am sorry. I know that what I have to say is very difficult to hear, and harder to accept as true. The reasons I am so frustrated and brash is not because of the ridicule I receive for what I say, but the reluctance of so many to ignore what I say as “conspiracy theory” and ignore the very truth in front of your face with a confused laugh. I am well aware of how my views affect my well being if I am open and people are capable of putting a face to a name. I have lost work for my beliefs in the past, but the truth is the truth regardless if one is mentally capable of ingesting it, and the truth does not care if one believes in it or not; the truth stands alone. What is most frustrating to me is that people comment on what I say with hubris-driven pleasure and condescending insults. I am a human being, just like you. I say the things I do not to get attention or to “get a rise” out of any of you; I say what I do because I truly believe that we are all in grave danger. I know that what I say makes people angry, but from my point of view I have no choice; for me to remain silent at this point in our history is treason to me, so I speak out with great risk to my person and future. I did not come to believe the things I now know to be true whimsically; I have done my homework, and I would encourage all of you to do some research concerning these issues for yourselves rather than attacking the messenger. I do not find it quaint or funny to downplay the fact that 9-11 was an inside job, that no one can explain how WTC 7 fell, and that military grade nano-thermite was found in the rubble of the WTC, and peer reviewed scientific papers have been written on this subject, available for all to review with a simple search. I take no solace in the fact that 9-11 was used to go to war with Iraq; a country that had nothing to do with 9-11, yet many of you still believe we went over there and killed over a million Iraqis (many of them innocent women and children) because of 9-11.

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HowardRoark 2 years, 2 months ago

. I am disgusted that my fellow steamboat citizens blindly swill the fluoride in the water even though the CDC five years ago stated that children under 5 should not consume fluoridated water, and that formula for infants should not be reconstituted with fluoridated water. The ADA has recently admitted that 42% of our kids today suffer from dental fluorosis; a mottling and weakening of the teeth (I am sure many of you have seen this in our youth) that is only caused by ingesting too much fluoride. It absolutely blows my mind that barium and aluminum are being dumped on your heads daily, you and your children are breathing it in, and none of you notices it. Instead I get comments like “I would like to comment if Howard Roark gets shot”, or that I am in a bunker hiding from the illuminati, as if the illuminati does not exist. As if the Bilderberger meetings are fictitious, as are the CFR, the club of Rome, the trilateral commission, PNAC, and false flag terrorism do not exist. Dick Cheney has been quoted as saying that it would be a good idea to paint US boats with Iranian colors and attack a US aircraft carrier in order to launch us into another war. Don’t believe it? Then for goodness sake, look it up! I can’t, and won’t make these statements unless my identity is obscured, and the sad thing is that most of you would rather I just go away. Unless all of you wake up to the corruption growing around you, your children will grow up in a corporate fascist’s dictatorship. I am sorry that I have failed to wake any of you up, I am sorry to my child that I have failed to educate any of you, and I am sorry to you all for failing you all by getting upset about your reluctance to look into the information I have been trying to share with you and letting my emotions get the better of me. I am just a human being after all. May your chains lie lightly upon you.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 2 months ago

Been a little busy with mom this week, but I've been following this and just have a couple things to say. A lot of really good, first-rate debating on this issue; the way it should always be, I think. I have no problem with anonymous postings; I fully understand that in this small town and in some small minds, a divergent opinion could adversely affect one's job and relationships. Sep, a few of the comments you gave as examples were from personal attacks on people "walls" and not general discussion, which makes me want to ask the Pilot if it would be possible to have the ability to remove posts from our own walls? Either they should be private, or we should be able to delete offensive comments. I also wouldn't mind a button allowing us to remove our own comments. Something like "I was having a bad day/in a dark place/ etc. and said something stupid." Our own personal "mea culpa" button :-) Finally, just an observation ... a few people noticeably absent: seeuski, greenwash, thalgard. I, for one, am grateful.

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

Phoebe has a great suggestion -- one should be able to delete one's own posts. I've immediately regretted saying things before, caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Howie -- Fear not; you're not alone. Just because people choose to ignore the threat does not make it any less real. Go ahead, hate me too. And where is that bunker?

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

A very nice meeting. Thanks to Scott, Brent, & Co. for the opportunity.

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pitpoodle 2 years, 2 months ago

1999, sometimes I agree with you and sometimes I don't.
"maybe people get offended too easily and take them selves and their position too seriously."
"good grief......our country is in a hell of a position right now....we need people to stand up and shout out what they believe....not water it down or be afraid of repercussions." This time, I do. Personally, I try to say what I think -- in person, in a letter, or in this blog. Anything I have said here, I have also said face-to-face and/or signed my name to the bottom of a letter. If some of the primadonnas who read here don't like my opinion or tone, it's their problem.

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George Fargo 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent – I was unable to attend your meeting, but I wanted to add my opinion.

I would like to see the anonymous feature eliminated. It seems that most of the name calling and vitriol does originate with anonymous commenters and so I think it would make the forum a better place to reasonably discuss and debate issues.

I think any comment that would cause a person to lose their job, spouse, customer, friend or even freedom, would be best rephrased or not said at all. Free speech has nothing to do with this – nowhere is it written that the Pilot must give anyone a forum to say whatever they want.

As a side note to your statement about people staying away because of the tone on here, I can tell you that is does cause me to participate less and I’m probably not the only one. I comment very sparingly and the replies I get are generally not very complimentary. If someone calls me a sucker, smurf and idiot, just because I have an opinion different from theirs, it doesn’t bother me, but why would I waste my time with a reply.

I look on this forum as a place to discuss and debate issues that affect all of us here in the Yampa Valley, and to learn from others. It is not a form of entertainment – there are lots better out there.

So I would urge you to eliminate the anonymous category – at least give it a try for a while. Thanks.

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cindy constantine 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent-- While I only post on local issues and editorials I feel most strongly about, I feel anon posters should be welcomed. Please add an up or down vote next to posts for everyone. If you are an employee of the city, ski area, chamber, etc. you are privvy to information that you may want to bring to the public's attention without fear of retribution from your employer. I feel that "inside information" can be very valuable and may not be available otherwise. I would appreciate the Pilot taking some of the legitimate information obtained from this blog and do a little investigative reporting which I always find to be sorely lacking in this paper. I was truly amazed by the public's lack of complete information regarding the latest tax increase which was approved. If a thorough job of reporting ALL sides of a sensitive issue was provided by the paper, the negative tone of some comments may change. After all, some of the most negative and outlandish comments are most often directed at the paper . . . .

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Kevin Nerney 2 years, 2 months ago

Bandmama--- I don't want to get into a long winded discussion here, however I think it important to clarify a few things. 1st about that money making thing-- I was erroneously accused of supplying roofies out of my establishment, think that didn't hurt business? Next if you think I would run to the PD against you or anyone else in this town not only don't you know anything about New Yorkers you don't know anything about me! We had a saying back east "Nothing is on the level". I'll explain it for you sometime. And if you think I have any kind of pull in this town I can show you my bathroom that I have wallpapered with rejection notices from both the city and county ( why do you think I work for myself) (once a civil servant always a civil servant). I'm 2 short of finishing that bathroom project and it ain't exactly a small room. Never said I was against anonymous posts just that it wasn't for me. Not that I want to give a cheap plug for myself but if you want to " help YOU earn a living " . Stop by the new Soup Kitchen on 11th and Oak and it'll be my treat. Highwaystar-- Thank you for your service. Never said John Wayne was a marine but since he was college educated he wanted to go in the service as an officer and they told him no so he chose not to go at all. YVB- the powers that be know about my gun but I would rail against anything that would require those with 50 guns to have to register them all.
Howard- Some things I have to believe in order to sleep at night. Like when my older brother told me "Maybe you shouldn't have retired, you might have saved a few guys" Sorry not going to live with that guilt for the rest of my life.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

I think the room this morning was more or less 50-50 on the anonymity issue. The one area of near-unanimity was that the tone & tenor of the comments needs improvement, and the incivility curtailed. I suspect that identities will ultimately be required, principally because it's the least work-intensive option available. The Pilot has not detailed a babysitter to the forum, and seems unlikely to assign one.

I was struck by a couple of business owners who weighed in, who never participate or even look at the comments, but were nonetheless appalled on occasions when they heard from friends or associates that they were being trashed in the comments. They were appalled not necessarily at the invective fired at them, but by the overall tenor of what frequently occurs here. And not even the really vile nonsense like the crap I highlighted earlier. But, for example, the endless vindictive typewriter wars between people vying for the last word while doing nothing to illuminate the issue at hand. Both these business owners have out-of-towers among their clientele/potential clientele and typically email Pilot links to their customers, and strongly believe that we reflect poorly on the entire community.

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sedgemo 2 years, 2 months ago

Brent, I am wondering what happens to our old posts if you decide to eliminate anonymity... would they still be visible online, only with our names attached?

Will they be erased, or can we make a choice to delete them all?

If the paper changes the terms of agreement arbitrarily, then by definition the new terms are NOT what I agreed to, which constitutes a breach, no?

I haven't written anything out of bounds (to my knowledge) and have tried sincerely to elevate the discussions and educate myself, but hadn't considered the terms would change after an agreement was reached.

I wanted to weigh in and learn more about the fracking situation on our doorstep, which is why I signed up in the first place. I'd be happy enough to disappear but wonder what that looks like, exactly.

How would the paper handle this issue?

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

YVB:

If the business owners I referenced choose to announce themselves here, that's their privilege and not mine. I respect their desire for anonymity here, just as I respect yours.

Personally, I believe they are worked up over very little. Those of us who sound off here do so for the same reason my dog licks the empty sac where his testicles used to reside: because we can. And I think that most casual observers will take that into account.

Regardless, the perspectives of those business owners are entitled to the same consideration as are yours or mine.

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Scott Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Brian it was a worthwhile meeting. I gained some insights.

There is no easy answer to this one and it may need to simmer for some time before the Pilot staff makes a decision. Scott Stanford made a compelling case of why being anonymous has its place in the exchange of ideas and perspectives. However, it cannot be a shield to hide behind and spray vitriol.

Cindy - A very good point. Kevin - My office is downtown so you can be sure I am going to drop by. I need my New York folks fix once in awhile.

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sledneck 2 years, 2 months ago

YVB just threw a 10 megaton bomb into the bs fog.

OMG! Sep you gotta be kidding me.

Those business owners who favor squashing anonimity; the business owners who are "appalled" at what annomity does to the discourse, they won't give their names ????????????????????? Can't make that s**t up. Not possible.

And I submit to all you bloggers that "business owners" and the "city council/ commissioners" is where this squeeze is comming from.

They must be "cowards". Why else would they possibly want to hide their identity...

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bandmama 2 years, 2 months ago

Kevin, let me state that my comments were not directed at you personally. Just an obsevation as far as business in a small town and thank you for the response. Your response to my comments is a good example as to why annonymous posting in such a small bubble is a good thing! I state my opinion, you state yours. you dont know me (although ya do! WINKwinky..think of the name BANDmama..) and I dont know you. But our opinions on local views do matter and do have impact. It immediately becomes personal when one knows... one who knows...and so on. I find it a much more dignified way of expressing MY views, knowing I dont have to stand in line at Safeway discussing my views with my neighbor/co worker or friend. But at the same time I find it very....much, a learning experience to read those views on the local paper forum. I really do believe that we get a much more rounded view of our neighbors by not stating names. It allows us to be honest and forthright without fear of local "Golly gee darn...you dont see it MY way". The annonymous posting really has given me the opportunity to rethink how I appraoch a "hot local topic" in general conversation. Now, if I still lived in the big city, and YOU still lived inthe big city. Who would give a ....ya know. But we do live here, small town and everyone deserves the respect to state ones point. Am I gonna and do I want to engage in this whatever topic at the store while I am running home trying fix dinner? NO. I dont and wont. But after dinner, and when my mind is in the right frame do I feel the....need (for lack of a better word) to get some things off my chest? YUP, I do. But I really dont want my workday to start off with some jacka$$ in my face saying, "YOU SAID" while on the clock??? NO!!! I would prefer to join in a bit of freindly banter as to local topics. Steamboat, thankfully is still small town. And I like it that way. And I will take you up on your offer at the Kitchen! Best wishes! (ummm,when are you there?...LOL!) Again sorry if my post offended you. I DO know the guts it takes to state a name! And Ya got em! I dont, at this time.

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sedgemo 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm curious why a mere "two" business owners think "we" reflect poorly on our community. Aren't "we" the community? Is there a mantra which we must agree to be considered more genuinely reflective of this community?

Seems to me everyone on these boards can read and write, type and post on a computer, and think, and communicate their opinions... and cares enough to do so. There may be poor spellers, or unclear thinking, or bad math (!) but that doesn't equal a "poor" reflection. If you define "poor" as impoverished, in fact, the more people post the richer the dialogue.

The community at large is more poorly reflected by the singular focus on whitewashing everything presented to non-residents.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

sedgemo:

There are roughly 3500 registered users on this site who are entitled to post in the comments section. Of that number, about 200 actually participate. So of the participants who actually weigh in, you and I and all the rest represent point-something-something of one percent of the Pilot's readership, and of the population of Steamboat/Routt County. Hardly a representative sample.

Why do you believe that you and I and others here who comprise the point-somethng-something are in some way superior than the business owners you excoriate - who identified themselves face-to-face, in person, IN PUBLIC - to you and I?

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MrTaiChi 2 years, 2 months ago

Hope I'm wrong...

I've dealt with bureaucrats in government and in the private sector who, challanged to make a judgmental decision in a controversial area, deign to allow the public the delusion that their input could actually affect the decision, after they have decided what the policy will be. This current exercise by the Pilot staff has such an aroma. This is because the issue was visited in the past and nothing new has warranted looking at it again.

I've been posting for about four years or, perhaps slightly more, and remember emotional responses characterized by the invective complained about as some recent phenomenon. I do observe that the IQ of more of the fringe posters seems to have dropped. I doubt that the psyche of readers was damaged or that they put off reading the paper.

I don't accuse Brent and his staff of a cynical meeting where the decision was made to eliminate anonymous postings. Rather I suspect that as wannabe Pulitzer recipients, as all newspaper newsmen are, they have brought a subconscious bias to the decision making process against extreme views and passionate argument, (therefore by definition, 'irrational'). They don't want their paper 'stained' with irrationality. It's too bad there's not more H.L. Menken in their makeup. It's too bad that nannystate mentality has crept into the newsroom of an amusing little regional newspaper, knowing better what we should want and what's in our best interest, which coincides with their best interests.

A vicious press probably had more to do with Washington leaving after two terms than anything else. Since then the press has had a monopoly on information dissemination until the internet era, before which the only mechanism to criticise a newspaper was in one of its rival newspapers, thus the comment, "Never pick a fight with someone who owns a barrel of ink." The Pilot will obviously have the last word here.

I am saddened that on the eve of a Presidential election that there will probably be a change in policy. Many of the wittier and amusing punches and counter-punches of conservatives and liberals will be lost. I had hoped that JLM would return to these pages, but that won't be; Trumpsuit, gone, Cooke, gone; replaced all too often by people with a narcissistic need to have their names and faces appear in public places.

Pilot, leave a good thing alone.

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trump_suit 2 years, 2 months ago

Trump is not gone yet......

I call for the pilot to allow anonymity to continue. What say you Brent?

Having control over the sheer volume of anonymous postings would surely give the Pilot some assurance of limiting the most unruly users. There have been many examples where a limitation of one post per day per article would have the immediate effect of controlling the worst offenders. Many of these individuals choose to flood every article on the site with their particular belief of the day. We would still see the personal attacks but at a much more acceptable level.

Limiting anonymous users would stop the worst offenders while still allowing the community to speak. Check out the comment boards on any national publication (CNN, USATODAY, NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST, FOX) and you will find much the same conversation taking place including everything that is offensive on our local paper. Why does the Pilot feel the need to try and control our local conversation?

In closing, I am a business owner also and purchase several thousand dollars per year in advertising with this publication. Does my opinion count as much as those business owners that found time to attend your coffee meeting?

Brent, your information tells you who I am. What say you?

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sedgemo 2 years, 2 months ago

Sep, no superiority issues here. I thought the business owners you mentioned were anonymous. On re-reading it seems they voluntarily attended coffee at the Pilot house. Great.

More to the point, does the paper turn at the whim of two business owners, who represent something near the point point point point... percentage you described, too.

The issue is freedom of expression, the paper's reporters are limited in number and consequent depth of reporting. There is a lot of stored wisdom in the community which can appear in these comment boards, anonymously or not. I think that knowledge is worth wading through the occasional rant, just as in any group conversation.

Nothing superior going on here at all, I think we can discern wheat from chaff on our own. Gentrifying the paper limits the points of view published. Most folks who post I will never meet but I am interested in their opinions.

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Scott Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

An option that other papers across the country have done is to integrate their articles comment section with the poster's Facebook account. Apparently, this is very doable and there is a great deal of technical support that allows papers to do this very easily. What this would mean? - No Facebook account means no posting. It is my understanding that Facebook is against anonymity and therefore makes it almost impossible to do anything anonymously.

I think there is a reasonable likelihood that the drift will be toward integrating the posting section of Pilot/Today with Facebook. There is a lot of momentum with other newspapers (large and small) doing this and many advantages. Many of the advantages have to do with elements of "social media" I do not fully understand. To put it simply, the paper gets more visibility with a larger network of folks exponentially.

This maybe a very attractive option for the Pilot/Today because it is relatively low cost and very low maintenance option to adopt. It also shits the anonymous vs. non-anonymous issue to a Facebook policy and the Pilot/Today's decision to use Facebook as the framework for posting comments as a business decision.

At a minimum we are not the only community struggling with this.
http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/gannett-papers-ban-anonymous-posts_b5967

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cindy constantine 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey Scott, better check the missing "f" in paragraph 3. Typo makes for a laugh!!

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 2 months ago

Scott F - It is extremely easy to open a facebook account under any name, except the actual word "anonymous" probably (unless you're those hacker guys). You can get as many facebook accounts as you have email addresses. If the Pilot decided to link comments to a facebook account, it would be very easy to set up an fb account just for that purpose with no friends, security and privacy settings set to 'friends' or 'only me'. Anyone with any "technical savvy" knows this. That's why I have always suspected that publications deciding to implement what I would liken to a babysitter ... has more to do with creating another advertising target than making sure we behave ourselves.

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Scott Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

Hi YVB - I do not have a Facebook account either. However, I may get one if for no other reason this seems to be the way my children communicate with each other all the time.

In an effort to be clear about your position, if (and this is a big "IF") the Pilot/Today starts using Facebook to post comments on their articles you are done posting?

Phobe - I think your comment has some merit. The Pilot/Today wins when there are more page views. According to Scott S, they are averaging about 1 million unique page views a month. If the integration with Facebook were to occur and all of its intertwined connections worldwide, would this increase unique page views from "friends" just curious about what we posted? Perhaps.

Scott S, said repeatedly during Wednesday's discussions regarding the comments has nothing to do with money. I am going to take him at his word.

In the end, this will come down to a business decision that the Pilot/Today will make. We cannot forget it is their paper and they need to do what they think is in their best interest. I appreciate balancing act between community service and what supports the long-term interest of the paper. I am not going to second-guess them.

I agree with you that almost any system can be subverted. Sometimes it is just too much work. If one's view of the world is that we are headed to an Orwellian end, you likely could teach a workshop on how to subvert Facebook targeted to those who are fearful and yet want to continuing posting.

I doubt anyone will give you their names when they sign up. Also, need to be sure nobody sneaks a camera or a recording device into the room. All cells phones must be checked at the door and all lights kept off.

I still think subverting the system is too much work just so one can continue posting. I think for the most part what is being said (including me) is usually noise. Most "noise" is not all that important. However, I make an attempt to always keep my "noise" polite, but that is who I am.

Since I am not familiar with Facebook, does it allow one to "hide" comments from others?

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 2 months ago

I am less anti-anonymity than I am anti-idiot. I thought trump_suit made some useful suggestions earlier in the thread re: policing the discussions; among them was using some sort of citizen editorial board, likely comprised of forum members. It would require putting some skin in the game - a personal commitment of time and effort by multiple individuals. I believe it may be the only way to preserve the anonymity privilege, as the Pilot exhibits little interest in hall monitor duties. If trump and other like-minded members are serious, I recommend they contact Brent. I think you'd find him receptive and reasonable.

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JLM 2 years, 2 months ago

When ideas wrestle, better ideas emerge.

It is the immediacy and the anonymity of the Internet which allows ideas --- perhaps not fully formed ideas --- to get into the ring and wrestle.

I do not have to know who you are to understand and evaluate your ideas or you mine.

In this anonymity --- in the tradition of Payne and others of our Founding Fathers, great pamphleteers --- is lost the coloration of the sponsorship of the idea and therefore the idea itself stands preening before you to be judged only for its own merit.

I suggest that if the showmanship of our President's fantastic oratorical delivery were stripped of its trappings of grandeur and only the ideas themselves were laid bare naked before us, we would all have a different perception of their quality.

I also think that there is some young person who has a fantastic idea but who might otherwise be reticent to eat at the big table with the adults (ugh!) and therefore that bit of genius is lost.

I want the ideas and could care less about their author's identity.

The editorial page itself of great newspapers is rarely signed and associated with a single author.

Good, goose, gander?

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 2 months ago

Scott- Yes, you can hide comments from others. You can hide pretty much everything. When you first set up an account, you just need to take the time to change the security and privacy settings, as the default is "public". It just takes a few minutes, but you actually have quite a bit more control over your privacy than anti-facebookers would have you believe. My personal policy is that, even though my settings are pretty tight, I never say anything on fb that would offend anyone or cause me any embarrassment to begin with, so it's just not an issue. If I don't put any garbage in, no garbage can get out. I got sucked into fb for the same reason you're thinking about ... kids. If it wasn't for fb, it would be much more difficult to keep in touch with my sons, since they work, go to school and have girlfriends/wives and keep odd hours. As far as hiding things ... I'm pretty sure they block me frequently, so as not to offend mom's delicate ears, lol. That's fine with me; I don't need to know every minute of their lives, and "protecting" me from some of their comments (and their friends'!) allows me to maintain the fantasy that they are still pure and perfect :-)

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sedgemo 2 years, 2 months ago

I have no desire to be on Facebook and have studiously avoided it for years. Even checking a reply from someone brought me massive amounts of odd emails and cookie streams.

Again i will ask Scott and Brent, what is the path out of here if you decide to take this sooooooo public? I made no such agreement with you.

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