New commenting rules draw overwhelming response

I announced Wednesday that we are changing one of the key rules for commenting on our website,

I can now report that while we have received criticism from some current commenters, the response to the new format has been overwhelmingly positive.

The new system, to begin Feb. 1, will require people commenting online to use their real names and home towns.

Previously, commenters have been allowed to use either their names or pseudonyms. Most commenters have chosen to be nameless.

The new rule corresponds to our requirements for letters to the editor and guest columns in the print newspaper.

Since Wednesday, 273 users have applied to become online commenters under the new system and 41 of those already have been verified and approved.

We were not expecting such a large response right off the bat, and our verification process takes some time.

So, if you have not been called, don't worry. We promise to eliminate the backlog by the time the program begins in February.

Online, the reaction from anonymous commenters has ranged from supportive to withering.

The people opposed to the change make some good points. They fear personal reprisals if they say something controversial and they predict the online discussion will be timid and less colorful.

However, for many years, letters to the editor writers have had their names and home towns go online after their letters appeared in the newspaper. We have done this hundreds and hundreds of times and we are not aware of any safety problems that have resulted.

We also understand that some of the commenting may not be as dramatic or entertaining after Feb. 1.

We hope instead that the comments are a bit more constructive and thought-provoking.

Perhaps we are bucking an inevitable trend toward more and more incivility in public discourse. And, perhaps, we are being unrealistic by trying to apply old ethical standards to a new electronic delivery system.

However, the Web is still a young, developing medium. Thousands of websites are trying new and different things every day.

This is also an experiment, an attempt to build a better online community with more illuminating discussion.

With your help, I think it will succeed.

(To register as an online commenter under the new system, please go to and click the "Register" link at the top of the page.)

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 's picture

You people are bashing me

You people are bashing me because I'm Catholic? The depths you'll go in your attempts to attack me knows no boundries. Is that what YOUR churches tells you to do?

 's picture

Well people, this is a day

Well people, this is a day that we Catholics pray for peace and good will to all, even you guys. I've got to get ready for Mass, so enjoy the day, I'll pray for you and I'll pray you see what's right. Joyeaux Noel!

 's picture

Remnants of the old South,

Remnants of the old South, some people will do anything and everything to preserve their right to hate speech in secret, since doing it in public isn't allowed anymore. It deserves to fail, time for TRUTH and JUSTICE to prevail.

 's picture

As usual, in your myopic

As usual, in your myopic manner you didn't want to read the most pertinent part, I said the OLD SOUTH. You know the one, where perjudice and hatred abound. I agree the South has changed for the better which is why some southerners are moving to Maine to try and save their warped way of life. Wont' work, America is changing for the better, so get out of the way!

 's picture

I have refrained from

I have refrained from commenting on this until I saw if there were any valid objections to the new policy. I have seen none. Anyone who visits here at all knows the reaction to some of my posts, and generally they disagree, sometimes very much so. But except from a confrontations from the mentally disturbed husband of my niece, I've experience no physical threats. The people complaining are, generally, those with mean spirited views, who despise foreigners, homosexuals and the elderly and handicapped. If someone doesn't meet their idea of purity and citizenship, they they're vilified. They understand, however, that is not acceptable in decent society, so they love the anonymity to spout their hatred without being held accountable.


 's picture

When stating your 'opinions,'

When stating your 'opinions,' at least be accurate. I did not refer to my nieces husband as 'mentally challenged.' I said 'mentally disturbed,' which is a big difference. And I didn't refer to armymom as a pedophile, I said she was a pervert, because anyone who trolls the internet, pulling people's personal identification and publishing it on line in order to make an arguement, is a perverted bully, so I called her out on it. Plus, unlike you, people know who is calling them out. I am not a coward, like you, who does it in secret.

 's picture

Funny, if the cause is so

Funny, if the cause is so near and dear to you, why are you afraid to have a full investigation into this 'certain person's' activities. Would it be better to have this 'certain person' under scrutiny, or have my 'references' ignored? And IF I called this 'certain person' a pedophile, and IF this 'certain person' was innocent, isn't it surprising that this 'certain person' has NEVER sought any legal action to clear this 'certain person's' name? Come on, let's all grow up.

 's picture

Tron is merely a posting

Tron is merely a posting name, my real name has ALWAYS been available and you are NOT the first person to state where I live, nor even publish my telephone number. Despite perverts like you, I still stand by what I say. I AM NOT ASHAMED OF ANYTHING I SAY. I just hope that your 'sons' who are allegedly in the service are not as cowardly as you. If so, this country is in a lot of trouble.

 's picture

Don't the Sun Journal

Don't the Sun Journal advertising sales reps get paid on commission? Somethiing tells me they are not going to be very happy come the first of the year when they a) start knocking on doors and b) start getting calls from all those customers who have been getting all those calls, emails, and letters from all of us. Having customers so unhappy with who you advertise with, that they are calling you, writing you, and emailing you about it tends get you to move your advertising.

Licia Kuenning's picture


My hearty approval for the change in policy. I have been using my real name in comments all along, and for those who are scared, nothing bad ever happened to me or my family members as a result. I don't hesitate to express controversial opinions. The only people who attack me for it are the anonymous ones, and they do it on line. I'll be glad to see an end to the ugly, irresponsible comments and a switch to a responsible forum among people who stand behind their words.


Not aware?

RR: ... we are not aware of any safety problems that have resulted.

Last March I notified you of exactly that. Here is your response:

On Mar 8, 2010, at 9:05 AM, Pattie Reaves wrote:

> I would suggest that you don't share comments in our community to which you would not want your name attached.

To which I responded:

Just over three months ago, my last published letter drew a similar cowardly, anonymous off-line response. In fact, stuff like this has happened often enough that my letter frequency is way down from previous years.

I don't mind having my name attached to an on-line comment and I'll debate it with anyone out in the light. But I don't have the resources to protect myself and my family from off-line threats and abuse from some in the community who operate only in the dark. There is accountability on one side only.

Forum anonymity encourages participation by people who might otherwise fear private retaliation from those who don't share the same public opinions. An obvious example is a whistleblower in a public position.

Exposing personal information encourages blandness and/or participation reduced down to the those who just don't care what happens on- or off-line.

Mark Wrenn's picture


"those who just don't care what happens on- or off-line." Or, how 'bout those not ashamed to identify with their beliefs?


You didn't read my post, Lilly.

Nothing new there. I'm happy to identify with my beliefs - until the low-life, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathers start playing games off-line.

Mark Wrenn's picture

Like Ben?

You mean like Ben, below?

Bob Stone's picture

Now, Please Dipense With the "Editorial Board" byline

As a poster who has been signing my posts for quite a while, I would suggest that the undefined "Editorial Board" now be eliminated and Sun-Journal opinion pieces now by signed by the person, or persons, authoring them.



Were you reading comments at ? You have a mighty low threshold of overwhelming.


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