Reflecting on the need to be civil – and my pledge to those who visit here

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When I started My Edmonds News last fall, my goal was to go beyond providing news and give people a place to talk about the events of the day. I believe that being able to discuss ideas online is mostly a good thing: It allows community members to air opinions, exchange ideas and come up with the solutions. But sometimes, people type things that they would likely never say in face-to-face conversation. It happens regularly on the websites of major newspapers across town and around the nation. And it happens here from time to time, and I’ve deleted many comments that have gone over the top.

But the last week has been a real eye-opener for me, and it has forced me to rethink my approach to how I treat comments on this site.

It started when I published a story, taken from a City Council meeting report in early July, on the alleged destruction of public property that involved damaging a tree, and the (also alleged) involvement of a former bank executive. The story itself is still unfolding. Until the police investigation is complete, authorities are not releasing additional information. The executive himself has made a full statement on this site disputing many of the details released at the council meeting. The homeowner on whose property the alleged tree cutters trespassed to remove the tree stands by her story, too.

The tone of the commentary that followed the posting of that story took me by surprise. I am not talking about those who lamented the loss of the tree or expressed concern about the legality of the process, the actions of the City or those who removed the tree. I am also not talking about those who criticized me directly, as it comes with the territory, and I accept that. I am referring to those who made disparaging comments about the executive himself — in particular, personal attacks from people who don’t even know the man.

It’s clear that our society has become much too tolerant of attack mentality — both nationally and locally. You see it and hear it on talk radio, on Fox News and MSNBC, and yes, online. But this is our community, and it’s essentially a small town where people know each other. So it’s not going to happen here.

Does that mean you can’t comment any more? Of course not. But I am asking you to be civil. If you disagree with someone, fine. If you want to point out why you think they are wrong, that’s great. But be thoughtful about it. Remember that there is a person on a computer screen somewhere who is reading what you say about them.

I reserve the right to delete any comment that goes over the top. I also will delete comments submitted by people who don’t identify themselves by first and last name when they register. And although I don’t require that your on-screen user name has a first and last name, it would be very nice to our community here if it did. For the story in question, I have locked further commentary as I believe that all sides have now been represented, and I have removed the comments that I believe violated the policy mentioned above.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have contributed in the continued growth and development of our online community. I appreciate your support, and I look forward to your participation for many years to come.

Sincerely,
Teresa Wippel, Publisher
My Edmonds News

11 COMMENTS

  1. Teresa,
    You are providing a great news service for Edmonds with coverage of just about all one could want to know. The discussions should be civil, and about the ideas presented. It is always disappointing when it devolves into name calling, personal attacks, and in my never humble opinion, silliness.
    There are many great ideas here from all points on the polictical spectrum. It is always disappointing to those ideas crowded out by the “shouting”.
    Thanks again for doing the MyEdmondsNews.

  2. Teresa,
    You’ve accomplished what many have tried and failed. A free flowing online-forum where folks of all beliefs in Edmonds can air their views. You are to be congratulated.

    And I completely agree with your policy regarding first and last name during registration.
    Thanks for all your hard work.

  3. Total class, Teresa. I am a member of a online forum, dvinfo.net , that requires first and last name to register. It really makes you think when you disagree with someone because you know that comment is going to be out there forever.

  4. Teresa;
    Concur with all above. Thank you for your dedication to maintaining an open forum, with standards. That is quite the challenge to balance open-ness with civility!

  5. I agree with you as well, Teresa. I think full names for registering is fine but you should also require them to be posted. If you don’t have full confidence in what you say you should not say it.

  6. Alrighty then!
    I’ve not used my full name, nor will I. I have full confidence in what I have posted, have said nothing out of line, and have been respectful and thoughtful in my posts. Using one’s full name will not prevent nor encourage disrepectful postings.

  7. I also believe that full names should be posted. Anonymous postings simply do not have much credibility – at least for me. Use of full names will not eliminate disrespectful postings, but I’m confident that it would reduce them.

    Perhaps somebody could educate us with the valid reasons for being anonymous.

  8. Online privacy, online security, prevention of security issues unrelated to a blog posting. Google search yourself and you will get (likely) more information that you are comfortable with anyone running a goggle search knowing. Personal communications is one thing, online is another. Just sayin’

  9. Diane:
    Thank you for your response. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to assess the degree of relevancy of your stated reasons. I believe that Dave Orvis has that knowledge, so I hope that he’ll comment on this.

  10. Teresa,
    I completely agree with the policy. Thank you for providing this online forum of news and community. I enjoy reading about my community in this online format. So, thank you again!

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