Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tim bobs and weaves on comments

Here's a good example of my experience in asking for reasonable treatment of Courier readers:

Q: * I'm still waiting to hear why you do not post all comments submitted on articles. I've talked to many people who have submitted comments only to never have them appear. I would think that a newspaper would believe in Freedom of Speech...

A: Editor Tim Wiederaenders answered: We try to post all comments that do not violate our Terms of Use agreement for the site. The Use of Service states, "If you use the Service ... you agree to abide by and be bound by the following:

1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of another’s privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but don’t attack. The Daily Courier encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use."

To include as many comments as possible, we try to edit out the offending parts, but some comments are beyond help. We try to e-mail the people who post such comments, but their e-mail addresses are not always valid. If you have further questions about this, please call me at 928-445-3333, ext. 1095. Thank you.

Well, Tim, my personal, direct experience has included comments that are at least as compliant as others you routinely post being edited arbitrarily and simply disappearing without notice and without any attempt to contact me by Courier staff. I have read similar complaints by many other reliable commenters. Your response to this question is blatant hooey to anyone who's been doing this more than a couple of weeks, and I guarantee nobody's buying it any more than I am.

I maintain this blog as a safe place to speak for myself and for other readers. I recommend that commenters compose comments offline and keep copies for reference, including the day and time you upload them to the Courier. If your comment goes missing or is edited unfairly, I'm happy to host it here (subject to my own comments policy, at left) and call the editors on their behavior.

What would help build credibility on this issue is if the Courier appended the comments policy with a statement promising fair dealing, direct notification for the user and explanations of edits (seeking permission) and deletions, and editorial-side compliance with the policy banning personal attack, including user-on-user attacks. Everything's being handled far too capriciously as it stands.

PS, Sunday: A questioner asks about online content vs print.
"A: The printed Courier will always contain more by it's very nature."
There's no diverting the blame for this one, the Q&A section is clearly marked as written by the Courier editors. Pardon my geekiness, but an editor who doesn't know the difference between the possessive and the contraction, or who can't see it in his/her own copy, should be interning, not editing.


Richard Cady said...

I am, alas, a local political junkie. Utterly fascinated (generally disgusted) with the wondrously kooky politics of Prescott and Arizona. Several times a week I respond to letters and articles in the Courier that catch my eye. I use my correct Email address and often my name. I write concise, occasionally clever, meaningful comments. I can spell; have Fowler and Strunk & White at my side; write in complete sentences, and if pressed could even diagram a complex sentence. A number of my blogs disappear. Or are edited and dumbed down. I hate that. And they don't seem to me to go over Tim's line of acceptability ... but may very well not be what he wants to hear. And I have NEVER EVER been contacted about my disappearing comments. Never! Ever!

Use To Do said...

I too have had notes disappear after submitting them to the D.C. I figure that on several occasions, my attempts at irony have just been misunderstood. A great loss to the public, no doubt. But my issue is with the letter writer. It annoys the heck outta me when someone infers that their freedom of speech is being infringed upon if their letter is not printed in what ever publication is being addressed. Hey, go scream your views out on some street corner. Nobody is going to stop you. (Unless you forgot some key piece of garment that morning). It's freedom of speech. It's not a guarantee of publication. Go out and do some speechin'.