Comments on comments: August recess, real problems, and change is coming

(Edvard Munch)

Dear Readers,

NancyOnNorwalk will conduct an experiment during August: all new comments will be suspended for the duration of the month.

As many of you know, the comments section has been controversial pretty much since NancyOnNorwalk first started ten years ago, when its founders stated:

“Our goal is to provide a forum for information and a healthy exchange of ideas – constructive, informative, entertaining or all of the above. We pride ourselves in providing an online venue where intelligent, mature people can debate, suggest, converse and exchange ideas without wading through the muck found on many sites.”


A majority of readers who use comments contribute in a positive way, and have helped to make NancyOnNorwalk the virtual “Town Square” that its founders envisioned. Sadly, some readers have pursued a different agenda, or have used comments as a personal forum for sharing grievances or to disparage others. Despite the stated policy (“Comment Guidelines” is available on the website here), more comment writers have sought to skirt these guidelines, and, indeed simple rules of decency, and complaints from NoN readers rightfully have mounted over the years with these trends:

  1. More people submit their comments under a pseudonym or otherwise choose not to identify who they are.  This practice is not ideal, but it is permitted in part because we do not yet have the resources to require and check users’ identities.
  2. People submit comments that are hateful, harsh, and profoundly negative – a practice which, when repeated, sullies the entire space and reader experience and detracts from the goal of the Comment section to provide a forum for civil discourse and for people to share their views and insights.
  3. Some people write comments too frequently, often repeat the same concerns or seemingly comment reflexively on nearly everything without having anything to say.
  4. People complain about stuff without trying to offer solutions.


Since Mark Chapman’s passing six years ago, Nancy Chapman has been responsible for moderating comments by herself.  It is an enormous, taxing, and thankless burden – and it was made worse a few years ago when we decided that EVERY comment must be reviewed before it is allowed to be posted to the website.   Because of this review, there are many comments submitted that you, as readers, have never seen. Some were simply blatant violations of the guidelines, while others were truly vile, offensive and disgusting – enough to offer the editors a disturbing glimpse of what there is to not like about Norwalk.  Nancy is rewarded for this service by some frustrated individuals with angry messages and unbridled hate mail.  It takes a toll.

Nancy and her board spend countless hours debating the merits of continuing to have a comment section and whether to modify the rules if it is to remain.  We expect the comment section will return on September 1st, possibly with some new rules.  Until then, please share your opinions and thoughts with your friends and neighbors using your own voice.

If you have an urgent need, legitimate concerns, or sincere questions, please feel free to contact me directly: [email protected].

Thank you for your continued support.


John Levin

Board Chair

Chapman Hyperlocal Media Inc.

Originally posted Aug. 2.

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