January 23, 2009

Tired of ranting comments...

First off, I appreciate that so many people who leave comments have done as I asked and adopted some sort of moniker rather than "Anonymous." Using a name -- even if it's just an internet 'handle' - - is much better.
But I'm still unhappy with the tone of many, many comments.
I do know for sure that I am no longer going to post ANY comments that refer to people as "phonies," "crybabies," "whimps" or communists unless it is somehow part of an otherwise intelligent piece of writing.
But I'm kind of torn about what to do with someone like "Concerned Conservative" whose vitriol is often extreme even when he doesn't choose intrinsically inflammatory words. He's got an online identity, as I asked, but he simply comes across as hateful in so many ways. I don't really mind the constant jabs he has for me because, well, I put myself out there and I'm pretty good at considering the source. Yet I worry he's setting such a venomous tone that it drives away those who could contribute far more interesting and varied comments.
I'm curious to know what readers think I should do. I know I'm going to crack down further on the worst offenders, but how far should I go? Should I simply slam the door on comments from Concerned Conservative?
I have no obligation to let anyone comment on anything. But I like the feedback and I enjoy the give and take with people who have an interesting, different outlook (see, for example, the exchange I had yesterday with "Matt from Plymouth" in the entry on legal advertising in newspapers). What I can't stand are blanket denunciations of all Democrats, all Republicans, all media, everything that Ward does, everything that Cockayne does, everything that Colapietro does, etc. Those things, most of which I already kill before readers ever see them, just fill me with despair.
If you can't say something other than a stupid putdown, your words really have no place here.
*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shut him down, Steve. He makes conservatives look mean and stupid.

Go Steve said...

I agree with you 100%. Your moral compass is right on. You should toss the angry, hateful comments whenever you see fit.

Sale Pending said...

Here's the problem with what you're doing, Steve.

It's called censorship. It's un-American and goes against everything journalists represent, IMHO.

While I agree that hateful speech and ranting basically suck, I do NOT agree that it should be silenced.

Shut the whole blog down if you are leaning toward this type of arbitrary treatment of posters.

Furthermore, what happens if a poster makes some good points within a comment that also includes some ranting? It seems unfair that all of that message gets discarded while only a portion was against "the rules" you have set as the moderator.

I noticed you did this to a comment I sent yesterday regarding Schroeder's secretive ways and gag order imposed on the reporters who will possibly work for him some day.

Again, that sucks!

Steve Collins said...

Sale Pending,
Professional journalists represent reasoned, careful reporting not a bunch of wild-eyed rants from people who don't even give their names. There's nothing un-American about refusing to let every nut case have his say on my blog.
In fact, the wonderful thing about Blogger is that anybody can set up a blog and rant all he likes.

Anonymous said...

It should be all or nothing.

Not what YOU deem as acceptable.

Steve Collins said...

'ALL' would include obscenity-laden tirades, ads for porn sites and lots of comments that consist of "F--- Ward" or "F--- Bush" and so on. You really think I should let through?

Anonymous said...

Concerned Conservative and his many alter egos helped to destroy BristolCT.net forums. Now hardly anyone posts there for many of the reasons you gave.

Just like a free press would set rules and not publish hateful, mean spirited and vulgar comments you should be able to do the same.

Set the rules and if they are not followed then you do not have to post them.

Concerned Conservative does have a right to state his points but you have the right to ask that he be professional in his postings.

Steve you are taking the right direction with the blog. Let's stick to issues and stop the whining, name calling and hate.

Obey the Rules said...

Steve,

The only way this could work is for you to publish a list of what is unacceptable and then everyone knows the rules. Those who choose not to obey the rules will be disqualified.

Seig Heil !!!!! said...

Ban all contrary comments .

Only allow those that comfort you .

Only post comments that further your agenda .

Obama bin Biden would surely approve .

Concerned Conservative said...

I have never called anyone a "communist" nor have I used foul language. I do take issue in the reporting of Stave Collins at various times, but to call me hateful to any individual(s) is a farce and a personal attack from you Steve because of my criticism of your reporting, liberalism and over spending by government (three things I know you are for).

Tim Gamache said...

11:20AM: You're correct in relation to CCs' chasing away a good number of posters on BristolCt.net.Once the posters there stopped being "roped in" with his/her obvious "baiting" tactics, he/she brought their lame act over to Steves' blog.CC:I disagree with your assessment of your own postings.You are in fact VERY hateful at times(I know because I myself was the target of some of your childish baloney),extremely condescending and rarely bring any intelligent ideas to the conversation.It's obvious to me that the posters here will have no more interest in your usual vitriol than they did on Rons' site.I know I won't miss it at all.AGAIN I note that I at least sign my real name to my posts.

Anonymous said...

I think I found Concerned Conservative's first comment back in December 2007 when he insisted that Guiliani, Romney or McCain would all easily beat Hillary or Obama like an old rug.

Steve Collins said...

As I read these comments, I can't help thinking that perhaps it's time to stifle many of them. I'm frankly tired of the stale charges that fly from a few on here without the slightest substance to them.
As for the idea of publishing a list of what you can't do, I think that's impossible. I could never list all the crazy things people try to post.
Instead, perhaps I can list what I will publish as comments. I can do that rather more succinctly.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

First off, thanks for all the work you do on this blog for which you are not paid. I think it brings (mostly) good discussion about our community. I also agree, that as this is a blog that you own privately you're free to publish --or not -- anything.

But, I have to agree with much of what Sale Pending said. As a journalist I think you should tolerate a little more than the average person. I don't advocate tirades and obscene language nor have I ever agreed with CC's viewpoint, but its a slippery slope when one person decides what's acceptable or what's not.

It seems that you have established some good, common sense guidelines and you appear to weed out the worst offenders. I don't think you should take it much further.

Steve Collins said...

Let's take a first crack at something here. I welcome suggestions for revisions.

"Comments are encouraged on this blog but only if they are thoughtful and polite in both spirit and tone. They may be amusing but they cannot aim to wound others. They should open the door to more discussion, not attempt to prevent opposing views from getting a fair, full hearing.
My goal is to allow comments only so far as they might benefit the community. They should be factual, reasonable and kind. They should treat those who disagree gently. There is no place here for harshness.
Let's use this comment feature to build up our community, not rip it down. Let's treat each other with dignity. Let's debate with civility in the shared understanding that truth emerges from the clash of ideas, not from the clash of individuals.
Be nice to each other."

Steve Collins said...

Sale Pending,
I almost never kill comments that attack me. I'm pretty thick skinned, after all, and I don't really give a damn if anonymous people say mean things about me. Now if my mother did, well, I'd have to assume I deserved it.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

How does a comment "benefit the community"?

As an example, if one person agrees that the City was wise to buy the mall and anoter person disagrees, then which one benefits the community, if any?

Anonymous said...

I think Blogger allows you to turn off the comment feature. Maybe that's what you should do?

Concerned Conservative said...

Apparently one can put me in the same place as Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Sara Palin etc etc who have been unfairly, cunningly and maliciously labeled and demonized by the liberal media and liberals.

On the other hand I do get some kind of humorous enjoyment out of posting comments that are a bit over the top. I will try and be more diplomatic although I feel I have already been trying somewhat.

Have a nice day :)

Edward said...

Steve- requiring people to put their name out there would solve most, if not all, of what you seek to stop. I recognize it will likely eliminate most discourse here, but the fact is most of the hate passed on in our society is done through the no-names on any side of an issue. I rarely visit this site for that reason-

Lisa said...

As I usually agree with CC's opinions, I imagine my view of his behavior is biased. That being said, I have had no objections to any of his comments. I have a dim view of the westconn student, but to tell you the truth, I'm not sure it's because of his/her attitude or because I disagree with each and every opinion he/she voices.

I think you just have to check yourself, Steve, and be sure you don't KO people just because they are conservative. It is hard to be objective when you are passionate, I know.

Anonymous said...

Steve has skin like a rhino. He puts up with WAY more than the average person.
Steve would never say CC or anyone else has no right to say what they think. He's a staunch believer and supporter in the First Amendment. He would defend their right to start their own blog and rant all they want.
That is free speech.
But he doesn't have to allow any comments here. I think it's remarkable that he posts all kinds of critical comments about the paper and about himself. I don't think he's trying to shut down the discussion. Rather, he's trying to have a decent one.
If CC were at a dinner party at your house, you'd toss him out because other guests would be offended and possibly leave before the main course. Then you'd have to repair those friendships.
As for CC, he wouldn't be invited back.

Anonymous said...

Stupid putdown! Stupid putdown! Stupid putdown!

Anonymous said...

I don't think Steve is asking posters to be professional in their writing. That's his job, or profession, after all. He just wants people to be polite.

I Understand said...

It is mean driven, nasty personal comments that give Bristol a bad name. I wonder what people thing of Bristol surfing the net ??? If it was me I would not even think about shopping, working or living in Bristol. Most importantly we have a international company in Bristol ESPN. I hope we can keep it........

Odin said...

"Concerned Conservative" is his own worst enemy. When people like him speak, they expose their type of conservatism for what it really is. Let him continue posting. Or, as the ex-President would say, "bring it on!".

Frank Johnson said...

Steve:

I believe newspapers generally reserve the right to edit comments that are submitted for publication. [Except the ridiculous “Sound Off” in the BP] Thus you could edit comments that are hateful or mean spirited but still make one or more valid points. Leave in the valid points, leave out the vitriol.

But I do agree that anonymity brings the hatred and accusations to a level that turns many people off and would eventually inhibit on-line advertising on a blog. Who wants to advertise on (and appear to endorse) a hate-filled site?

Thanks for keeping the blog alive. I am sure it is a lot of work and requires a lot of mental wrangling every day.

Steve Collins said...

Frank,
My understanding of the law is that as long as I don't edit what people write, I bear no responsibility from a legal point of view for their words. If I edit something, it leaves me (and the paper, too) open to a lawsuit should someone decide he's been libeled.
I don't want to go anywhere near that.

Steve Collins said...

As for the suggestion that I require names, I can only ask: how? I can't take the time to verify every comment comes from the person whose name is attached to it or that's all I would ever do. I can only trust, not verify.

Change is good said...

Steve:

The "Leave your comment" interface configuration you have set up allows a poster to choose an identity that includes two choices that are essentially being abused, and are unverifiable. I say you should eliminate those choices (Name/URL and Anonymous). Keep the Google/Blogger and OpenID identity choices. This will force everyone to be "registered" and traceable. It will certainly put an end to much of the negativity on this blog. It will also put you in a much better position in terms of liability.

Frank Johnson said...

Okay Steve:

Sadly then, I must leave you to your own devices. Best of luck to you in your mental wrangling. I trust you will do the right thing.

Steve Collins said...

To comment now, you have to be registered. Let's see how that goes.

Concerned Conservative said...

In keeping with your new policy Steve, I will avoid a rebuttal of Gamache's analysis of intelligence.

LOL!

cseguin said...

A couple of things:

1) I'm a conservative myself (extremely conservative on economic issues), and I've never felt unfairly edited by Steve. In my opinion, he's always been fair in allowing people of all political leanings to comment on the blog. So, I would disagree with any accusations of an anti-conservative bias.

2) There's a big difference between allowing free speech, and making sure that the blog doesn't turn into some sort of hate-filled shouting match. I think Steve does a good job of walking the line, allowing comments while at the same time making sure that things are controlled. I'm all for free speech, but Steve has a right (and a responsibility) as the blogmaster to limit what is said on the blog.

Concerned Conservative said...

Frank:

Will you be supporting Chris Dodd in 2010 as you did in 2004?

patti said...

csequin ,who recently posted ,in his/her second point seems to sum up the thoughts of most of the bloggers. Follow that & we'll continue to have an interesting dialogue.
Thank you csequin and thank you Steve.