Noozhawk readers are an opinionated bunch; in some cases, arguably a little too opinionated. For the next couple of days, I’m going to ask you to keep your opinions to yourselves.
Let me explain.
For several reasons that I’ll outline in a minute, our story comments feature may be temporarily offline at times this weekend so we can install a new system to handle them. Our new format will place story comments on a second Web page, separate from the article to which they’re attached. By doing so, we can keep the primary focus on our stories. (Update: Thanks to suggestions and feedback from readers, we’re modifying this to keep comments together with the articles; it may take us a few days to code the workaround.)
In addition, and it’s a big addition, we’ll be implementing a registration requirement for readers wishing to leave comments. I’ve written it before and I’ll say it again: I generally take a libertarian view of free speech and am only reluctantly taking this step. There’s a reason the Framers of our Constitution covered it in the First Amendment, and we should all be grateful that they did. But just because you can say something, doesn’t mean that you should — advice that often gets lost amid the easy anonymity of the World Wide Web.
To make the user experience a more pleasant one for the vast majority of our readers who respect our guidelines and post by our rules, we’ve concluded this is a necessary step to elevate the discussion we want to foster on our Web site. Most of our readers just want to make an observation, share what they know or ask questions about what they don’t know. We don’t think they’ll mind providing Noozhawk with their true identity, even if they’re posting under a screen name.
But, as most of you realize, this isn’t aimed at them. A former colleague, Bob DeLaurentis, often says that 5 percent of Internet users treat it as a bathroom wall. Those are the folks we’re targeting with our new policy, and we hope they’ll come out and join us. After they’ve washed their hands, of course.
Thank you for your understanding on this issue. We appreciate the diversity of opinions our readers bring to Noozhawk, and we’re gratified that so many of you take the time to write and submit regular articles and commentaries to share with others. We believe your participation is a healthy contribution to our community.