Friday, November 14, 2008

About those comments

If you’re reading this blog, then you have found your way to our Web site.

Since we made the change in our format, readership has been growing through the roof. So has the number of comments posted on stories.

Both of those are good things. Up to a point. But there is a down side.

Look, I’m a print guy, but I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into this new world of technology, the Internet and Web-savvy readers.

I love the options that the Internet gives us in terms of being able to deliver breaking news and updates to readers. The truth is we only print the newspaper once a day. But news now is a 24-hour process, and we’re moving steadily in that direction.

I also like the ability to have readers more involved in the news operation. One of the options they now have is the ability to comment on stories posted on the site.

Up until now, readers have been free to say pretty much whatever they want in terms of comments.

And that’s causing some problems.

I know all about the tradition of the Internet, the free-wheeling exchange of ideas, and the ability to push the edge of what is usually considered acceptable.

The problem is that many of the comments are not pushing the edge. They’re barging right over it.

I have been dismayed at the general tone of so many comments posted online. Instead of being part of a useful discussion, the forums too often quickly descend into name-calling, unsubstantiated claims, slurs and racial invective.

In the print edition, we make a person sign their name and list their town of residence that appear with every letter to the editor. We also ask for a phone number to verify the person who submitted it actually wrote it and gives us permission to run it.

For those who do not want their names attached we offer our Sound Off column, in which readers can offer their rant anonymously. I will tell you there are many readers (and some staffers) who do not believe we should offer such a forum to anyone who is not willing to have their name attached to their beliefs.

The Internet, obviously, is a different animal. I will be the first to admit there are things we can get away with online that we would never be able to do in print.

Up to a point.

Until now, our online readers have been able to say pretty much whatever they want in response to stories posted online. If someone finds the material objectionable, they can alert us by clicking on a link and sending us an e-mail. We then review the comment and have the ability to remove it if we also deem it objectionable. Not every objection is well-founded. Some people simply disagree with what is being said. That is not enough to have the comment removed. But the truth is much of what is appearing is objectionable.

That’s why this weekend we are changing the rules when it comes to posting comments.

Readers now will have to register with the site in order to post comments. The registration will require e-mail verification, along with clicking on a link that will allow us to detect that the e-mail is real and does not simply bounce back. Then the user also must click a link to verify they received the e-mail before they can begin posting comments.

We will continue to monitor comments and remove those we find objectionable. Readers also will still be able to alert us to material they find offensive and we’ll review those comments as well.

I love the way readers are interacting with the site. It is my hope that will continue. The last thing I want to do is see the comments suddenly come to a halt.

But I also don’t want to be in the position of hosting what amounts to a collection or slurs, name-calling and racial invective.

Feel free to comment on the change, and other suggestions for the site. We want you to become part of the process. We just don’t want to offend people along the way.


*
Howard Beale has nothing on the patrons at George’s Bar in Claymont.

You might remember Beale, as played by the late Peter Finch, as the mad newscaster in the movie “Network,” who urged fed-up citizens to go to the window and proclaim, “I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!”

The good folks at George’s didn’t have to go the window. They were just sitting at the bar.

When a Chester man and a couple of accomplices invaded their peaceful watering hole in the Darley Road Shopping Center, they must have figured they’d had enough.

Police say an armed Darin Shelton was working his way down the bar, taking money off customers, when he allegedly started accosting the bartender. At that point the customers decided to draw their own little line in the sand.

In the ensuing scuffle, Shelton apparently was whacked with a pool cue. Police say his two accomplices, who had chased a customer outside, fled when they saw the commotion inside.

The bar patrons held Shelton down until police arrived. The other two were picked up later when their car was stopped on I-95.

All three are now being held.

I don’t know if they were made as hell or not, but clearly the patrons at George’s decided they were not going to take it anymore.

Good for them.




*
We’ve had our dance (actually it was a parade), now it’s time to pay the band.

We’re about to learn the downside of winning a World Series title.

Yep, tickets at Citizens Bank Park for next season are going up.

You’re shocked, I know.

The hikes will affect both season-ticket packages as well as individual tickets, although they are not across the board. The hikes range from $2 to $10 per seat.

The cheapest seats to see the new world champions will remain $16. Same goes for standing-room ducats, which will continue to set you back just $13.

The most expensive, in sections 115 to 132 in the lower bowl along the first and third base lines and behind home plate, go up 10 bucks, from $50 to $60.

Most other sections are going up $2. But $32 and $22 seats will remain unchanged.

The Phils set an attendance record last year en route to their historic World Series win. But Citizens Bank Park has become more than just a place to watch a ball game. It’s become a hot spot, sort of “the place to be” in the summer.

Having a winning team helps, but a lot of people are simply there for the party. It will just cost a little more next year.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Bryan_SoB said...

Thank you. I really dreaded reading the comments during the election but couldn't look away.

Thanks also for the mention of the Help Kick Hunger drive we are doing.

November 14, 2008 at 10:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent! All would be well written:)

May 11, 2011 at 6:34 PM 

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