March 26, 2007
I think I have gone over this before, but I will try again. We can get up to 100 posts each day, sometimes more when there is a specific story of interest. We allow posters to remain anonymous, though users can change their anonymity settings and tell people who they are as a handful of posters have done.
When I am dealing with anonymous postings, it's very difficult to determine the credibility of the poster and the accuracy of certain claims. And trying to debate an anonymous user is a little like trying to box a ghost.
That being the case, I generally don't spend a lot of time weighing whether a specific post should stay or go. When someone suggests that a post be removed, I get an e-mail notification with a link to the post. I'll read it quickly - almost always, the post contains one of the following:
1) A personal attack.
2) Offensive language.
3) A one-sided story that cannot be verified that reflects poorly on another individual.
4) The suggestion that another person be physically harmed.
In these cases, the person suggesting removal gets the benefit of the doubt. Elected officials get less slack. To use Gwen's case, I'll allow harsher criticism of a School Board member than of a principal and harsher criticism of a principal than a teacher. Each, in my mind, is a different level of public figure.
If a post is completely benign, I'll ignore the suggestion for removal. That is rarely the case.
I went through this before in my Coulter column when Kielbasa questioned how closely I looked at comments suggested for removal before deleting them. He suggested that my post explaining how I decide to remove posts be removed. I did not remove the post.
The comments on stories add value to our Web site. It's an interactive feature that users truly enjoy. But ultimately, it's a moderated forum. We define what's appropriate and there really isn't much room for debate.
It amazes me how posters who have their comments removed are so quick to claim they have been censored. Nobody here is stopping anyone from launching their own Web site, printing their own pamphlets or shouting their perspectives from the steps of City Hall. We're just deciding what gets to stay on our forum.
An old editor of mine once taught me to presume good intent unless I had evidence to the contrary. I think that's sound advice that would help some posters ensure that their comments remain visible on our site.