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Kill the comments? Part three…

(Claire Schoen)

First of all, thanks to everyone who participated in our surveys. We are very grateful for your feedback.

It’s probably no real surprise to anyone, but the majority of you – 71%, in fact – think we should continue the comments section.

And 75% of you said that you find the comments section to be valuable; 27% find it to be extremely valuable.

(Claire Schoen)

But for those of you who said that the comments are driven by a small group of frequent commenters, you’re correct. Only 20% of survey respondents say that they comment more than once a month. The rest of you either comment really infrequently or not at all.

(Claire Schoen)

That’s a shame, because the whole point of the comments section is to hear from everyone, to provide what we like to call a ‘digital town square.’ Our readership is diverse, and includes many who are presently or formerly involved in a wide range of civic activities. If we only get to hear the loudest voices, we all lose out.

But what’s most encouraging to us is the encouragement we get from you. When asked if our news coverage meets your needs, 95% gave us a positive response, with only 5% responding ‘not so well.’

(Claire Schoen)

So, as you may have noticed, the comments section remains. But we’ll ask again, nicely: please be civil. Keep your comments relevant to the article at hand. And again, thanks for the input.

We will get back to you on the second and more complicated question of anonymous postings…

21 comments

Bill Kutik September 20, 2019 at 6:15 am

Nancy, you failed to ask who READS the comments, which I think is more important than how many people comment. Moot since you are continuing them.

Having run a LinkedIn Group of 25,000 very active members, I understand the value and hassle of moderation. But in politics — at least until recently — isn’t intelligent opinion supposed to drive out stupid opinion? Which means you might ease back on moderation and let them have at each other.

Put me down early as being against anonymous comments of all types unless they are whistle blowers, whom I assume would contact you directly instead.

Claire Schoen September 20, 2019 at 6:25 am

Really good point, Bill. What if everyone who reads today’s comments were to comment back with a simple “I do”. It’s totally unscientific and clearly not everyone will respond but it could be fun….
Don’t be shy…

niz September 20, 2019 at 7:50 am

good point bill… I like the comments even reactive ones, most especially the ones that reflect a contrary side. if you take away comments then I would not read your stuff. I look to comments, it creates dialog with the commentators when I see them.

Paul Cantor September 20, 2019 at 11:53 am

Claire, one comment about your comments about comments: you left out one important statistic. How many
people responded to the survey?

Kathleen September 20, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Nancy, might you be able to tell us how to add our actual, full names? I would like to do this. Thanks in advance.

Michael McGuire September 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Hi Nancy & Company

I think having the comments is the single most important aspect of this site. I believe NoN may be the single most important source of local news that Norwalk has ever had.

Consider that in today’s connected world the primary media news outlets, in both paper and print, still control the narrative. Here at least, the community is small enough and the issues specific enough that Norwalk residents, both business and residential, can opine in a meaningful way that “usually” add significantly to the narrative.

Allowing the comments creates a much broader and deeper discussion of the topics at hand. In addition, it allows knowledgeable citizens to share their understanding on complex issues with a larger audience.

Take POKO for an example. If the politico’s understood the power of your site we would most likely have a very different outcome today. The NoN comments section is the greatest source of “light” shinning into areas that most local politicos are just beginning to realize they can’t hide in anymore. This one aspect is forcing change in a historic manner.

I suspect this process of “shining light into dark corners” will take a decade or more to play out. Or until the politicos realize the “jig” is up and transparency pretty much rules the day. At that point there won’t be so many dark corners, or backroom deals, and a lot of the on-going nonsense will have played out.

Kudos to you and your team.

Andrew September 20, 2019 at 2:35 pm

The comments are great even the goofy ones. Sometimes they can be nasty but most of us are adults and are able to filter those out.
Please kee just the way they are.

ConcernedToo September 20, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Repeating some of the arguments I’ve said before:

Using your own name is actually a privilege. The people who use their own names tend to be older, more successful and relatively insulated from the backlash that comes if people disagree with their comments.

That’s not true for a large proportion of the population who would be silenced if real names were required. Speaking for myself, the day you require real names is the day I stop posting. If you want this to be a website where successful/retired members of the older generation hash it out while everyone under 45 stays completely quiet and is unable to contribute, then kill anonymous comments.

As I’ve said earlier, anyone under a certain age has been told to keep their internet profile as low key as possible because corporate hr departments look at that stuff and it may negatively impact hiring decisions. And that generation changes jobs frequently so it has to always think about the next HR department background check. It’s not even necessarily about being controversial, it’s about just being noisy and active that could cause concern.

It’s easy to post if you’re a millionaire who owns his/her own business, but as a random entry level cog, you’re just not going to participate anymore if your name is required. If you want the opinions expressed in the comments section to represent the privileged and only the privileged, then by all means, require real names.

Otherwise, do what you’ve been doing for a few years now, leave anonymous comments that enrich the debate and allow a broader range of opinion than you’d get otherwise, a true town hall discussion. It’s a great service and I hope it continues.

Ex Norwalkian September 21, 2019 at 7:57 am

Of course most don’t want it. The truth hurts. The problem is that the truth is now costing the citizens of Norwalk millions of dollars in taxes. Every municipal dept (with the exception of Fire) is corrupt. And for no good reason!

Diane Lauricella September 21, 2019 at 8:29 am

@ConcernedToo Sorry, disagree with your unsubstantiated comment that those wanting to end Anonymous commenters are all “privileged”.

Agree with much of what @Michael McGuire stated.

Like thought of MORE moderation, not less…that is key.

Please Claire, Nancy and Board….end Anonymous commenting.

Active citizens like me will stop commenting. It already reduces participation by people who dare to bring up controversial issues.

I’m sure anonymous types will attack me for saying “PLEASE can the Anonymous comments”.

I believe that those who claim that they won’t comment if they can’t go incognito will come back with a full name and identify themselves because they want the world to know what they think.

ConcernedToo September 21, 2019 at 9:11 am

Diane calling my claim “unsubstantiated” is an argument pretty much everyone can make about every post on here. I could say that your claim that active citizens won’t post anymore is also unsubstantiated. But I won’t because it’s dismissive argument that allows you to ignore what I’m saying.

I think what you’re really saying is that disagree with my prediction of the effects of this ban. It would be more effective if you stated why instead of dismissing it with a silly requirement that every statement on here that you disagree with must be substantiated.

Mike Mushak September 21, 2019 at 9:35 am

Please end anonymous comments, and the debates on NoN will immediately become more fair and intelligent.

Now it is unfair for folks who use their real names, who are often subject to attack by folks they can’t identify. It’s like fighting blindfolded.

The plethora of unique phony names on some articles, often with radical opinions to stir the pot, indicates some folks are using more than one name.

Trolling has almost ruined this site in the past, and there were many times I stopped reading because of all the hate being spewed by anonymous commenters.

I know many folks who won’t comment on this site for fear of being attacked by the anonymous trolls. Require verifiable real names if you want the integrity and honesty of debates to improve.

Steve Mann September 21, 2019 at 4:33 pm

Kathleen, very easy. Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” area, and just delete whatever that says now, and type in your desired name. Don’t forget to add, or modify your email address too. You can’t leave a comment without that.

Audrey Cozzarin September 22, 2019 at 7:54 pm

I’m proud to add my full name to my comments, and I hope very much that Nancy continues publishing comments. Reading the pros and cons to an issue is vital to our community’s dialogue, and I enjoy seeing varying points of view. All those commenting should feel free to give your name and not hide behind a pen-name. There are no enemies here, only friends.

All the best to NoN, an important voice of Norwalk.

Dawn September 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm

Don’t mind anonymous.
I do mind the diatribes.
Mushak and McGuire however knowledgeable they are I time them after the first ten inches. Probably missing good info but the droning on and on is tiresome.
Maybe you could add a character limit.
Would move conversations along.

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