Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Reading Eagle Closes Door on Web Comments

From the Editor's Notebook: "We continued to see personal attacks, including many that were racial, sexual and hateful. Some people even posed as others and tried to make it look as if they were writing things they weren't. It may be a game for them, but it's not for those who are the targets of those nasty comments."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Maybe Ohare should re-read what they wrote. He allows and participates in good people being torn up on his blog. It is a real shame.

Sanctifying Grace said...

And exactly what is it that you are doing anonymously?

Peace, ~~Alex

monkey momma said...

This is an excellent case study in comment moderation. Who is responsible for vile comments: the host (blogger, paper, whatever)or the anonymous posters?

If the host is responsible for all content of comments, then it makes sense to simply shut down comments, from a legal liability perspective. But I have a hard time believing that society isn't going to eventually hold the commenters themselves responsible for what they say online. I do believe the days of anonymity are ending, and folks will eventually be accountable for what they say on the web, much the same way we're all held accountable for what we say and do in the "real" world. And, if the Reading Eagle sees a marked decrease in their online readership as a result of this move, they may themselves be part of the crowd that demands accountability from the commenters themselves and NOT the host. We saw this question arise on Donovan's blog recently.

Personally, I think killing all comments is a sad way to go about doing business in a country that guarantees free speech. Not all comments are vile insults, although newspapers do tend to get loaded with such. There must be a happy medium where anonymous comments can be hosted, but defamation is not tolerated. And, the liability for these comments must rest with the commentors themsleves, not the host.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Under some Telecommunications Act, a host has no liability for the hate speech poted anonymously on an unmoderated blog. But if a host moderates and then decides to publish an offered comment, he humself is the publisher of that comment and can be held responsible.