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Columbia Missourian

How would you feel about leaving online condolences in the life stories section?

August 15, 2008 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

Dear Reader:

One of the things I'm most proud of at the Missourian is the continuing emphasis on telling stories about people who died in our community.

Missourian life stories attempt to do more than record the litany of facts: age, relatives, funeral services, etc. Instead, when done well, these stories capture a piece of the person that might make anyone smile.

I don't know most of the people who die, but I read their stories anyway.

So let me try this on you, dear reader: What if you could add to those stories yourself?

At the bottom of the online version of the obituary, a little button would say, "Share your condolences and memories." Several newspapers have created this function.

There is potential for abuse, of course. No one is perfect. (And wouldn't life be boring if we were?) Jilted lovers, bitter business partners, estranged sons, daughters or parents all might have some not-so-happy memories.

I would think the standard applied for reader submissions would apply here: no personal attacks, no nudity, no profanities and no attacks on race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. There would be a button for you to report abuses.

I like the idea. I wonder whether you do, too.

Another thing I like about the new design of is the front page comments section. Some stories produce comments that turn into a regular dialogue among readers. Trouble was, I never knew which stories would produce comments before.

Now, everyone can follow them.

Cool, huh?