Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Silence Is Deafening!

Monday, January 21st, was a milestone date. In addition to being the d
ay set aside this year to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this year, it's also the day that our local newspaper of record, the Daily Pilot, implemented a registration process for those readers wishing to post comments on it's blog.

From that date forward the atmosphere on the Daily Pilot blog changed - for the better, in my humble opinion. All of a sudden things have gotten very calm. In recent months many of the comment threads on the blog have been akin to a school yard screaming match, with folks I referred to as GAPs (gutless anonymous posters) trying to shout down those folks interested in expanding the debate on many important issues.

The management of the Daily Pilot did not require those wishing to post comments to use their own names - anonymous pen names were acceptable. What they did do, however, was require information similar to that required when submitting letters to the editor for publication in the print edition so the identity of the poster could be verified by the editors. Apparently, those who had flooded the blog with comments defaming other commentors and derailing the debate don't have sufficient strength of character to let their identity be known, if only by the editors who provide them with the forum.

As I predicted, most of those scurrilous characters have disappeared, choosing to slither back under their respective rock
s instead of registering so they can continue to post comments. Their unwillingness to be identified with their comments - at least by the editors - says much for the validity of their views and their true intentions.

One guy, th
e self-named Mr. U. Know-Who, has long been suspected of being the author of many, if not most, of the more offensive posts on the Daily Pilot blog. It is widely suspected that he posted using several pen names on the same comment thread, thereby giving the impression to readers that his views were widely held. The imposition of a registration requirement has caused him to not only cease posting comments, but to sit in the corner, pouting and whining about it on his own blog. Apparently, despite the fact that he has a prodigious intellect, he's unwilling to be associated with his more pernicious views. Considering the nature of his own blog entries and the hundreds of essays he's written on far, far right-wing web sites, this is an almost inexplicable irony. He has consistently spouted that he writes to be read when folks criticized his racist essays. I guess that doesn't really apply - yet another misuse of the "truth" (one of the many pen names he's used over the past many months).


The management of the Daily Pilot rolled the dice when they made the decision to require registration before posting a comment. The free-for-all that existed before this requirement generated lots
of hits on their blog - and hits translate into potential ad revenue. This may have been a tough choice in these days of shaky financial conditions for most of the print media. Their options were 1) do nothing and permit the electronic school yard taunting and screeching to continue or, 2) implement the registration requirement knowing it would screen out the cowards and bullies - whose childish taunts provoked hits on the blog. The guy mentioned above gloated about that in one of his blog entries, implying that his "contributions" would be missed as sources of revenue for the Pilot. He might be right - the statistics his corruption of the blog created may be missed, but his self-serving manipulation of the blog will not.

We here at A Bubbling Cauldron think the editors of the Daily Pilot made the right choice. We think the Daily Pilot b
log is a wonderful venue for expanding the debate of important issues in our communities. We also think it had been corrupted by those folks who appeared to have only the criticism of others and the disruption of civil discourse as their goals. We hope the editors will hold firm on their resolve to have the blog comments be, in fact, an expansion of issues and not return to the days when the blog was a virtual electronic grafitti-filled wall.

As far as that guy who sulks in the corner is concerned, his "contribution" was obvious to those of us who recognize his "style". He's a really smart fella who is wasting his prodigious talent with his venom-filled, racist rants. The predominant theme of his drivel has been, "If it ain't white, it ain't right." To him I say, "Adios, Mensa Man - find another venue for your hate."

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Anonymous Bruce Krochman said...

As one those voices encouraging the Daily Pilot to implement changes, I am glad to see that, so far, things have calmed down. Doing research amongst my peers in the community, I had found many in the Newport Mesa area avoided the blogs because it meant wading through too much filth to find anything of value. Only time will tell if the changes have a long term positive impact on the discussions in our little virtual neighborhood. One can only hope.

1/28/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, thanks for your observations. I, too, have my fingers crossed in optimistic anticipation of the expansion of civilized debate on the blog. Tony Dodero's column today was interesting, addressing this issue with candor.

1/28/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

I have been a little concerned at the slow pace of postings and then the subsequent removal of posts. The article on the car-jacking in the alley behind Mission is a great example. "LBose" posted a comment, to which I replied. Now both are gone.

Civility is the plus, but perhaps the Pilot could require a more benign registration format. Many, many people won't want to put in that much info just to post.

Many large newspapers only require an e-mail address, which they keep confidential, and then allow you to use a name of your choice.

I think that would be a preferable system.

1/28/2008 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, One of the glitches that apparently still exists with the Daily Pilot online blog is that if someone updates a story online all accumulated blog comments are lost. Something as simple as correcting a typo knocks them out. I know they're working on that one, but it's existed for many months. Yes, it's frustrating.

The registration is not all that intrusive. I'm not sure why they need the birth year, but the rest of the stuff is consistent with their requirements for print publication. You only have to enter the info once, not every time. You and I are there, right? If someone has something relevant and important to say they will register and post it. If they just want to play games and derail the debate they may not. They'll just have to go back to pulling wings off butterflies..

1/28/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Krochman said...

Rob and Geoff, I just noticed the disappearing thread glitch on the article Rob and I have been commenting on. Our War and Peace commentary has been wiped out. Oh well. Good discussion Rob! Look forward to the next one.

1/29/2008 04:21:00 PM  

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