Missourian comments policy follows the golden rule; you should, too.

Friday, April 24, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:17 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Reader,

I’ve been asked several times to ban some of our more angry commentators on stories. I’ve resisted on the notion that the best antidote for poor speech is more speech.


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Missourian policy allows comments that are uninformed, lazy, grammatically tortured, unintelligible, hyperbolic, dense or dull. Mixed metaphors may soar like trees in arid land. Incomplete sentences — OK. Follow a tangent wherever you like.

The rules on comments are simple. The newspaper asks that commenters leave their real names, and a few actually have the courage to do that. The policy also says: “Comments containing personal attacks; profanity; nudity; attacks on race, creed, or religion; or illegal material are prohibited.”

I haven’t run across any contraband or cuss words. Same for nudity. Unlike some newspapers, the Missourian has been blessed to not have hateful talk about religion or race.

Personal attacks are another matter.

Some of our commenters just can’t stop. They engage in war of words against their neighbors, not just their neighbors’ ideas.

So I’ve given the go-ahead to opinion editor Jake Sherlock to ban those who regularly violate the policy. He’ll give some warnings. Then he’ll block the person for 30 days. If it continues, he’ll make the ban permanent.

Neither Jake nor I intend to monitor every comment, so if you find offense, we’ll rely on you to report it.

Writing this feels silly. I have no desire to become the assistant principal monitoring this virtual playground. (I also hate making “policy” statements — too often, policies are used to circumvent critical thinking and common sense.) But some enforcement appears to be necessary.

Please note: Appropriately placed vitriol is still OK.

You might, for instance, choose to say: “Warhover’s policies on comments are stupid. Given the choice of this policy or root canal, I would ask the dentist to have at it with gusto.”

What you shouldn’t say: “Warhover is stupid. He is about as intelligent as a dentist performing a root canal on an octopus. “

The regular commenters are pretty good about policing others when things get out of hand — and you can, too, by politely directing the conversation back to the topic at hand.

This is simple enough, isn’t it? Didn’t your mother teach you not to call someone a dumb, lazy, good-for-nothing-no-account-KU-loving ne’er-do-well?



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Elaine Janes April 24, 2009 | 1:26 p.m.

Hooray! I subscribe to the Missourian because I love the articles and the in-depth look that is given to people and events. I often email links to great articles to friends and family. I do NOT, however, appreciate the constant barrage of mean-spirited vitriol that constitutes Comments after many articles. It's the same three or four people that rarely have a kind word to say -- about each other, about life, about anything!! They are very sad people who just need their mommies. Thank you for this policy addendum! I hope the Missourian world can be a kinder, gentler place. (How can we get the Trib to follow suit?)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 24, 2009 | 2:55 p.m.

Ladi da ladi da. I occasionally read an article written by a Missourian reporter, but usually only read every other word, or skip a few paragraphs entirely, so that I can go directly to the profound commentary section and participate in the intellectual banter of those who have the best understanding of the story. Sometimes, I will even venture to be the first poster with limited knowledge of what I'm talking about, in hope that some other astute neighbor will clue me in on my pitfalls. (In this case, Ms. Janes beat me to it.)
Having posted on this site, since August of 2008, I am now the proud of owner of almost 2,000 self-perceived pithy statements. My first of which was, ("A "good parent" includes his or her adult son or daughter in their life. Likewise, a "good" son or daughter includes their mom or dad in theirs. When adults with disabilities are treated as children by their "parent" it becomes a dysfunctional relationship. Especially when the adult's strengths are ignored or not appreciated. When adults with disabilities are treated as inferiors or "less than perfect human beings" or overly policed by government officials, it becomes irresponsibile. Additionally, children seem to have more rights today than adults with disabilities. Both however are sometimes abused by those who bully and are insensitive or afraid. Worse yet, they may hide behind "just doing my job." Lessons should be taken from special ed teachers and occupational therapists and not from bureaucrats or politicians.)

I didn't have a clue of what I was "talking" about and it was my first
feeble attempt to communicate in cyberspace. One Ed Ricciotti, followed with a much poignant comment, which I then acknowledged as being a posting which said exactly how I felt. My next 1,999 comments were probably just as bad.
I come on this board at least once a day in hopes to finding the Missourian on-line comics page. (That Beetle Baily was my favorite!) But alas, I am always disappointed to find "news." (What kind of Jounalism School are you guys running, anyway?)
I will try to watch my P's and Q's, but will probably wind up dottting my t's and crossing my eyes.
I don't need a mommy. Just a good special ed teacher.
Thank you, Mr. Warhover. Your picture is so much easier to look at than Colonel Miller's.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin April 24, 2009 | 3:19 p.m.

Join The Beat Board at the Columbia Heart Beat:

We're self-moderated (a team of posters actually has the power to delete posts, etc.), and that seems to work pretty well.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 24, 2009 | 5:52 p.m.

Yup Beat Board is a great site and this other community based forum board is looking to grow as well.

Columbia Citizens For Change

It has a very strong Mission Statement. I welcome all readers to read first and foremost to actually see if the forum is or might be the kind of commentary place you want to participate on.

Both Beat Board and Columbia Citizens For Change were created because the old Trib Board closed it's doors.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 25, 2009 | 4:16 p.m.

This policy borders on being titled "crap"!

The people that "need their mommies", are the ones that have to report others for saying things that they don't like and in turn interpret as a "personal attack". In the real world, if you walk into a convenience store and someone walks up to you and calls you some names, you don't get the kind of "shielding" from that you are getting here. You have to make a choice as an adult, ignore them, argue with them, or punch them. The wise thing to do would be to ignore them; and that is what a mature adult would be expected to do under our current legal system.

This is a board for discussion, people are going to get passionate about making their point. Things are going to be posted that may be harsh or rude. And all this policy does is coddle to those that are so sensitive that they would rather use more energy reporting the things they don't want to see posted than just ignoring them. It takes more time and considerably more effort o report a post than to just ignore it.

I had this discussion with Jake Sherlock a while back, and he seemed to believe his job was to coddle the "sensitive babies" that could not make the mature decision to ignore posts that seemed to "attack" them. And I point out how ironic it is that a Newspaper that would file lawsuits, gripe, complain, and publicize any attempt for the government to impede on it's right to free speech and a free press, would stifle free speech from it's own community, on it's forum.

It is not the popular speech that everyone likes and can agree with that needs protecting, it is the offensive speech that people take issue with and offense to that needs protecting; because that is the very concept of what free speech is.

For those that would stifle free speech, in my personal opinion, you are just a bunch of Nazis that have no concept whatsoever as to what it means to live in a country that grants more freedoms than any other country in the world. And I for one, hope that in regards to this issue, what comes around goes around!


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 25, 2009 | 4:36 p.m.

What a way to run a business...

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 25, 2009 | 4:39 p.m.

To elaborate on the "what comes around, goes around" comment. IF, and that is a mighty big IF; but IF there ever comes a time when the Federal Government threatens or attempts to take away this Newspaper's right to free speech and a free press, I will be the one person that is defending the Federal Government's stance based on the fact that you are doing the same thing to your community that the Federal Government would be doing to you, so you would have NO reason to complain. In effect, you are now condoning the what the Federal Government would be doing IF it attempted to impede your right to free speech and a free press.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 25, 2009 | 5:48 p.m.


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 25, 2009 | 6:06 p.m.

Ooops, you offended me Chuck, I think I'll report that comment, now that we get to nitpick the paper over what others post on here, if it offends us..... Nahh, I am not like you, Chuck. I have thick skin. And I can handle what others have to say about me; without crying to the paper over it. Unlike you...

Actually Chuck, you have it in reverse, the "cry babies" are the ones that support his type of moderation.... Like you, for example....


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 25, 2009 | 7:17 p.m.

Who is to say who I was talking to by my last comment posted Rick?

For all you know I could have miss posted on the wrong thread/topic.

That does happen you know.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 25, 2009 | 7:24 p.m.

Chuck, there are legitimate excuses for doing things, and then there is "obvious BS excuses" for doing things.. Your last posts fits in the latter category.....


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 25, 2009 | 8:00 p.m.

You are just paranoid Rick.

(Report Comment)
KEN GERINGER April 26, 2009 | 1:24 a.m.

Why don't you two just call and have a conversation?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 26, 2009 | 3:20 a.m.

Because Chuck does not believe in phones! LOL.

Nahh Chuck, I am not paranoid, I just know BS when I smell it....


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 26, 2009 | 4:50 a.m.

Ricky Gurley then you smell alot of it in your own home I imagine then unless you have become desensitized to your own that is.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 26, 2009 | 7:52 a.m.

Charles Dudley Jr April 26, 2009 | 4:50 a.m.

Ricky Gurley then you smell alot of it in your own home....

I don't recall you ever being in my home, Chuck...?


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 26, 2009 | 9:23 a.m.

Read the post again Rick.

(Report Comment)
Katie Walley May 13, 2009 | 6:26 p.m.

I believe the whole point of this policy is to help aid legitimate discussion about the stories that are posted on the Web site, not bicker at each other. How does name calling contribute to the conversation? Does it just inflate one's ego? When people can debate, ask questions, ask the reporters for more facts, point out holes in the story — in short, make us do our jobs better. That's what it's all about. I want to know what we, as journalists are doing right and wrong and what you like/ dislike about our stories. This isn't a boxing ring. If you want to fight, I suggest another arena. Passionate debate, even heated debate is fantastic — as long as there is some substance to it. That is what is lacking in these personal attacks, except to those that are making them.

(Report Comment)

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