A while back, we asked readers for their opinion on the posting of online comments and whether we should allow anonymous comments, as they seemed, sometimes, to be rude and disrespectful. The idea being, when you have to put your name behind what you say, you’ll likely be more civil.
While there were plenty of pros and cons, there were more who believed they should be able to say what they wanted without fear of repercussions. They worry if they give their name, people will track them down. Some pointed out that most of the online comments are reasonable and fair and just a few are really into bashing and attacking others. We agree, with some reservations. So for now, unless the situations degenerates, anonymous comments will continue to be posted on TGI news stories.
But we are instituting a new policy starting today regarding the posting of comments on letters to the editor printed in The Garden Island. Here it is: Comments will no longer be posted on letters to the editor and guest commentaries. Why is that? Simple. We require letter writers to The Garden Island to provide their name, town and phone number for verification. Once such letters appear on our website, commenters have at it. If the conversations were always respectful and courteous, that would be fine. Many are. But many are not. There are many times the comments are rude, disrespectful and flat out mean, personal insults. Letters writers willing to put their name and town behind their views should not have to fear being blasted in online comments by people they don’t know, by people they’ve never heard of, by people they have never met. It’s just a matter of being fair to our letter writers.
For anyone wanting to respond or comment on a letter to the editor, they still can — by writing a letter to the editor. No one is saying you can’t share your views, too, if you want to argue or agree with a letter writer. But it does mean putting your name behind what you have to say, which may discourage some people. But we hope not. We hope all people can feel safe and confident enough to offer their opinion without someone attacking them. Reasonable, respectful letters and comments are always welcome. Unfortunately, such is not the norm these days.
Commenters can still chime in on news stories and continue to do so anonymously. But again, we ask the conversation be civil and respectful. And that doesn’t seem to be asking all that much.