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.