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Report to Readers: No comments, please

For the first time in at least a year, the Monitor today removed all the reader comments attached to a particular news story on concordmonitor.com and shut off the commenting feature for that story. It’s an option we use only rarely, and I want to explain the situation.

On this morning’s front page, we published a story about an alleged assault by a woman who coaches sports at Concord High School and was part of a high-profile stalking case in 2007 that involved her relationship with a teacher while she was a student there.

We knew the story would generate interest and, indeed, on the website it quickly became the most-read story. Trouble is, most of the comments posted by readers were problematic. Some were from readers who defended the suspect; some were from readers who were harshly critical. But many were inappropriate for one reason or another.

One of the first discussions we had before Tricia L. Nadolny wrote today’s story was whether to include some specific details available in the police report that might have identified the alleged victim. So far, at least, we have decided to keep those details out of our coverage. Some of the comments posted by readers early in the day, however, alluded to them. It felt inconsistent to allow commenters on our site to share information that our reporter had consciously omitted. Pulling them down meant pulling down comments written in reaction as well.

Other comments were simply gratuitously insulting toward the accused – ridiculing her physical appearance and questioning her mental stability.

At least one reader who wrote in to complain (anonymously) suggested there were politics afoot: “If this person was a Republican or, better yet, a Tea Party member, I believe the comment section would be the place to be for the liberal Monitor readers. A lesbian high school coach suspended for assault, who has a very weird past . . . no, no comments allowed.”

I hardly think we’re shielding this woman from public scrutiny; the story was published at the top of our front page and prominently on the website. But on the rare occasions when the comments get truly out of hand, shutting them off is our prerogative.

As a reminder, what we’re hoping for in the website commenting is a civil debate. This story is certainly fodder for public discussion. Unfortunately it got hijacked today by inappropriate comments.

Legacy Comments35

You guys are all cry-babies. Sayeth the King of moderation.

So mean spirited!

The Idea is to have fun !!!! Something the Monitor has FORGOTTEN !!!!!! No FUN no PAYCHECK !!!!! Understand !!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, NH Driver! So sorry about Charlie.

No comment Monitor staff?

Interesting to note Belman complained about this on her facebook page. "Alas, the perils of online commenting forums". Of course, it was 100% agreement there. Thats all you need to know.

Either you are connected on FB with her or she locked down the comments, interesting quote, however, it is all telling.

As I have commented before, the quality (and probably quantity) of the on-line responses would improve considerably if they were treated the same as letters to the editor or FaceBook postings. Have writers use real names, not anonymous screen names. John Corrigan

No surprise about that suggestion. Do you want that to stifle the debate. It reminds me of union voting and how they want no secret ballots. Anonymity stops people from taking action against you and trust me I have been a victim of that by several high minded progressives. Free speech is not just speech of people who are known, anonymity comes into play. We have the government telling us how to get our children to school, what to feed them, what we can own for a firearm and if people speaking out use their names, with progressives in charge, government could play games.....you, however have the right to put yourself out there, it is your prerogative.

Well Monitor, are you listening? Feedback is huge. We want to know how others feel about an article. Me personally I do not like articles that could crush a person’s future like the article on the MV girls. Teenagers partying not a big news story and it never should be on the front page. Also, a lawyer having sex with a prostitute also not much of a newsworthy story. Now a politician not paying her property tax and runs on a record of higher taxes now that is a story one that gut swept under the rug.

Still wondering why the complaint that I (anonymously) posted with the email I use as the account login and my first name is still considered to be a (anonymously) posted complaint after 24 hours. And still no apology.

It IS anonymous. Unless your "first name" is "GWTW" . . . but I think not.

Dan Dan Dan....You must have been feeling left out. I used the form on the Monitor site to suggest a correction: http://drupal.concordmonitor.com/forms/send-a-correction?location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.concordmonitor.com%2Fusers%2Fgwtw%3Fpage%3D1..........That screen has a field for your name, your phone number, and your email. I filled out all 3. My email is the same email that I used to subscribe to the Monitor. My phone number is my current phone number. Now I ask you..how "anonymous" was that?

I too have greatly curtailed my participation in online debates as well as the proverbial letters to the editor. But I haven't died yet. My sense of humor and self-deprecating abilities suggest others have probably considered my inactivity as somewhat fortunate. Admittedly, I miss the interplay between NH Driver, Bruce Currie, Earthling, Jonstah, Rabbit, GWTW, Fearless Leader, It's A Republic and many others whose monikers this geezer forgets but would recognize immediately should they reappear. All would be welcomed by me. In my humble opinion, things have gone to pot ever since the period shortly before the last state election. Ah, yes " . . . the good ol' days". I also strongly echo Bruce's observation in looking for website reprinting and commentary of the rather powerful recent op/ed pieces on ObamaCare and the shortfalls of TV meteorology.

WOW! This article highlights how the CM operates. They deem when the comments are out of hand, which is fine. The problem is, they do not apply that same scrunity across the board. By that I mean, they apply their censorship based on who they deem needs to be protected. We have not seen this scrunity applied to comments made about most reps, christians and conservative women. With them, it is open hunting season. This article did the CM no favors. The website is a disaster.

You and GWTW make valid points but it remains to be seen where this will all shake out. Bottom line is that they are finally tackling some tough stories instead of playng to those looking for reinforcement of their own world view. I think that is "progress". Now, perhaps the new publisher is less 'activist' than the last publisher and understands that to increase readership and sell more newspapers (which is what advertisers want) you have to change. Time will tell.

To the posters below, the Monitor owns the site, they have a right to do what they want. Yes, they do moderate, I have been in perpetual moderation because some of you, complaining here have complained about me. What should be a civil forum of ideas has turned into a forum of posting long diatribes word for word from other sites. In reality it should be a conversation. Not every issue needs to be filled with emotion and one sided facts, it should be "opinion" and back and forth and some middle ground. The two news stories which the Monitor featured of late got a lot of flack. The MV drinking incident and this one today. It is refreshing to see the Monitor add another voice (Bosse) and to see them reporting stories that their readership may not appreciate......that is the mission of a "news"paper. People want to have their views reinforced and backed up but give the Monitor credit here, they are trying to have more broad appeal. Although some of the things written about this story were accurate observations, after explaining what Belman did makes sense. After re-reading the story, there were two sides to that story. As for asking the Monitor to change their format back to what it was, well, this forum has been diminished since the change. Maybe a few features could be added but it will need to be re-populated as well through being more user friendly. The one thing that needs to be changed and moderated, in my opinion is the lengthy, repetitive, copy and paste "facts" posted over and over again. Avatars are a good idea, voting means little as more folks from one side post here than from the other side. Weekend posts often do not appear but I believe that is a manpower issue and maybe this forum is not as important as many posters here think. I think we all need to take a deep breath and rethink overall discussion. I have been trying that lately and find that I get many more things posted by being civil.

I know I may sound like a broken record, but again I have to point out something that still to this day bothers me. That would be the front page picture of the "disrespect" of the speaker of the house and senate president at the state of the state speech. That entire piece and comment section was for one purpose, and it had nothing to do with "civil debate" as Miss Belman would have you believe. That picture was nothing more than propaganda, and the comment section was open not for "civil debate" but for a democratic insult party. I did in fact question this womans mental health...and for good reason. So did the school admins that suspended her. What Belman and the Monitor did with the "disrespect" picture was wrong...allowing comments on a lie is not a civil debate. My comments were in keeping with a "civil debate"...but they got deleted. This is why the future is bleak for newspapers like the Monitor.

I must admit, The little guy gave me more entertainment than I could ever believe possible.

We'd really like the old comment section back if at all possible. One with the avatars and voting box!

Hey Jonstah ! I like everyone miss the old system and the old crew. I have tried to remain a loyal customer. But if something fails to improve soon I will be forced to cancel my subscription. Avatars and voting would be a good start. NHD

I concur with Jonstah and Nhdriver. The old system, with ready access to the archives, an edit feature, avatar option, and a comment box that didn't time out after ten minutes or so, was far superior to the present system. I keep waiting for incremental improvements that have been promised. BTW: where are the Saturday and Sunday commentaries on Obamacare, climate change, and Grant Bosse's weekly contribution?

What? I thought Bosse took Easter off. I used to not read his column for free. Now I pay $10 a month not to.

Hey driver, you and Bruce each get a vote from me!

I'd post again if it was changed back or to a similar format

And while we are on it,,,,,,,,,,, Where the HE-DOUBLE CHOPSTICKS are our Avatar photos ????????

And why do we have to go through a ridiculously sketchy sign in procedure ( I sign in, then it says I'm not signed in, then I click sign in, then the screen goes blank, then I click refresh, then eventually I'm signed in), then write a comment, then click submit, and then lose what we wrote because somehow we're not logged in after the few minutes it took to write the comment? I'd like the old comment format back too, along with paragraphing, avatars, voting, most voted comment list, the list of comments by individual, etc.

True Earthling ! I wonder if any of our comments will be addressed?

No surprise. I didn't comment on this story, but I've submitted a few comments recently, all pretty tame, that never saw publication. I just figure the Monitor doesn't want anybody's opinion they don't agree with.

GWTW and I were talking about this and I concur that he did not send the comment anonymously.

Not for nothing, But at one time we would get hundreds of comments and yes some of them were rough and tumble. However THAT is one of the things that kept old readers and enticed new readers. The Monitor has continually over the last couple years made it more difficult and un-enjoyable to be a Monitor customer. Take note that many people who had paid subscriptions are now gone. Why? Because it is no fun to come here anymore !!!!! Nhdriver, Duke & Charlie

I bought a one month subscription. So far, I have gotten my perfectly acceptable comment deleted, and the the editor herself falsely states my complaint was anonymous. Fail.

I didnt complain anonymously! I left my email and real name. Please apologize for your error.

GWTW: Didn't realize it was you. Your complaint arrived with a first name but no last name attached.

Don't blame me for a system that allows an anonymous complaint. If you don't want your complaints to be anonymous, set up your web site so they can't be.

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