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From the Editor: How You Can Moderate Others' Comments

We ask you, the community, to moderate your own discussions.

In recent days, a number of commenters on Charlestown Patch have grown increasingly agressive in their use of our comment boards. They have made personal attacks on other readers and community members and used language that generally wouldn't be used in polite company.

In the eyes of some, many of those comments have crossed the line, and a few readers have asked why I hadn’t moderated the discussion more actively.

The answer to that question comes in two parts.

First, amid my many other duties as the local editor of Charlestown Patch, it’s simply impractical for me to address every comment that appears on the site—especially when a particular article becomes a hot topic. 

I’m not sure how many of you realize this, but, as far as content goes, I am Charlestown Patch. Sure, I collaborate with other Patch editors, but I have no assistant editor and no staff reporter. With very limited exceptions, I either create or commission every piece of content that appears on this site each week.

The second reason why I haven’t moderated comments more closely is that I don’t want to this site like a dictatorship. I want you, the community, to decide what is and isn’t acceptable.

As I’ve said in the past, my job is to reflect the community, not dictate to it.

To that end, each comment posted on Charlestown Patch includes a link in the upper-right hand corner, which reads, “flag as inappropriate.”

If a comment strikes you as over the line, click the link. If a certain number of readers agree with you and also click the link, the system will automatically remove the comment.

Now, just as we ask you to comment responsibly, we also ask you to flag comments responsibly. Please, only click that link when a comment actually offends you. If you simply disagree with a comment, we’d prefer that you reply to it.

On a final note, I would like to take this opportunity to ask that you use your real name on Charlestown Patch and all other Patch sites. We believe that one of the reasons that internet discussions often get out of hand, offensive and personal is that people are protected by anonymity. When people take a second to consider that their comments will be forever connected with their names, they tend to moderate both their tone and their language.

And that leaves us with less need to flag comments as inappropriate.

Just a person! August 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM
I agree.
Linda August 31, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Should we write your articles too? Oh, that's right ... you want us to do that too! You have a policy, do your job and enforce it.
Jay K. August 31, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Thanks Matt. I appreciate the approach, and I completely agree with your final point about anonymity. There might be a place for trash talking or trolling in other corners of the internet, but this is our community. Some of the things people say on here they would never say to their neighbors' faces - at least I hope not. Linda ____, I think Matt is doing his job quite well. Do you not agree with his point about self policing? Why should we ask Matt to serve as thought police when we can correct one another when we get out of line?
Vincent Caristo August 31, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I agree with Jay as well. Linda, chill. You do have a nice idea. Perhaps we readers of the patch should write some columns. This is a great place to read about our community. Those who are in the fray and really know what's going on would do us all a service by informative input. I have seen other sites go under when the site master gets overwhelmed. I hope Matt can hang in there.
Joseph August 31, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Linda, you're critical of Matt for not being in touch with the community cause he doesn't live here. What does he do? He asks for community input so he can improve the depth and scope of what's happening around Charlestown. Now you're critical of that. You obviously don't like him, so stop reading the Patch! Matt, keep up the great job. Please don't let the likes of Linda get under your skin. She's just a biter person who can't be pleased.
Working Man August 31, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Hey Linda Take your ball and go home ....
Ima September 01, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Peple like Noreen, Bette and Linda are not people that can be taken seriously. Frank, brutal language and the expression of dislike and real formed opinions scare them. They have to conclude that strong language and analysis that goes beyond the surface is hate. And you Matt have supported their need to be offended and their inability to not take the heat, because THEY entered in and chose not to stay out of the kitchen. Matt, why cow-tow to cows! Why bother to reiterate an obvious policy or push button function to the ladies with hurt sensibilities. Your kind of weak and I am suspect about your positions with respect to the issues and articles you provide. Do you want debate and the disemination of information or are you just a trumped up writer for Todd English, Tom Meninio and the T--providing little more that the barebones information, then suggesting how to clampdown on the debate via comments?
Marianne Faithfull September 01, 2012 at 12:55 PM
But I don't wanna get beat up by da Townie women, they're tougher than the guys and run in packs (six to be exact).
Ima September 01, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Yeah, like beer, a six pack of carbohydrates. Give me protein, give me meat/substance, give me opinion, give me freedom of expression without the sad, sorry hurt and offended sensibilities--over what, TODD, freakin' ENGLISH, a culinary con-artist!
Noreen Manning September 02, 2012 at 01:19 PM
...and the hate spews again.
Mary C. Long September 02, 2012 at 02:18 PM
How very opinionated you are, Ima! That anonymous logon is like a magical cloak, hmm? Maybe your diatribe would hold water (and YOU could be taken seriously) if you used your real name. But that would be too scary. Because then this "accountability" of which you speak would apply to you too! Ooooo. And before anyone intentionally misinterprets what I mean by "being held accountable," it means showing your true face to friends and neighbors and standing behind your words. Bet you can't! I always wondered how it felt to be a coward, Ima. Why dont you tell us about THAT?

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