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Don Rogers: Comments get stronger moderation

The change in moderating online comments I mentioned a few columns back has begun, at last. Viafoura, our vendor that provides our comments platform, has taken over human review of the comments.

This may not come as good news to the dozen or so regulars who have made a cat box of the feature. But enough with the constant sniping, the tedious repeating of the same points about the same tired topics that for the most part have very little to do with western Nevada County.

Enough with the bullhorn partisanship, the misinformation, the propaganda. The bad sources, the doctored images, miscasting basic facts. The blame and all round bad feeling.

I’m done. We’re done. One of our sister papers, the Vail Daily in Colorado, recently quit comments altogether.

We’re not going quite that far yet. We’ll try the third party first. They’ve done the same for greater media organizations than ours with success.

I’m skeptical, frankly, still ready to turn comments off, put them out of our misery. I’ve always favored letters and Other Voices essays as much better, more appropriate means of expressing views, and we have a better variety of contributors from the community who do so.

But commenters, not to worry. There’s no end to the online blogs, Facebook sites including our own, for all the nasty gram and wildly inaccurate and exaggerated comments that a certain set of folks care to post.

I don’t read any of that, not on Fox, not on The New York Times, and I’ve long since abandoned Facebook, I’m afraid. I can’t read comments on NPR’s site and maybe a growing list of others because they don’t exist.

I’m looking forward to not having to read through the comments on TheUnion.com, either. The time suck overtakes the value in trying lasso what passes for dialogue into the kind of civil, thoughtful and even insightful discussions envisioned for these features.

Yes, the occasional good discussion breaks out. Some people do leave encouraging comments. The others have drowned them out, however.

I’d turn off the feature cold, and we may yet. But first we’ll take up our vendor’s offer to see if they can’t moderate the comments into the discourse they were envisioned to provide.

I expect the regulars to whine, to rage, as I hope their ability to vent and insult here is reined in. Write a letter, a guest column and make real points, ideally about local issues, with real sources. If you can’t do that much, there’s a whole wide sea of other online places you can snipe and rag and sow your discontent to your heart’s content.

But hey, you could always try actual civility, thoughtfulness, and maybe even fresh insight. No one is asking you to agree with anything, to hold a common opinion (where’s the interest in that?), to change your worldview, switch parties. You can offer strong criticism, a different take, a better way, all that, without being an ass about it.

Is that really so hard?

Don Rogers is the publisher of The Union, Lake Wildwood Independent, and Sierra Sun. He can be reached at drogers@theunion.com or 530-477-4299


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