Over the past few months, Reading Patch has published a number of articles that have attracted deep and often heated discussion.
In the eyes of some people in the community, many of those comments have crossed the line, and a few readers have asked why I hadn’t moderated the discussion more actively.
The answer to that question comes in two parts.
First, amid my many other duties as the local editor of Reading Patch, it’s simply impractical for me to address every comment that appears on the site—especially when a particular article becomes a hot topic.
I’m not sure how many of you realize this, but, as far as content goes, I am Reading Patch. Sure, I have freelancers that do some work for me, and I sometimes collaborate with other Patch editors, but I have no assistant editor and no staff reporter. With very limited exceptions, I either create or commission every piece of content that appears on this site each week.
The second reason why I haven’t moderated comments more closely is that I don’t want to run our Patch sites like dictatorships. We want you, the community, to decide what is and isn’t acceptable.
As I’ve said several times recently, my job at Reading Patch is to reflect the community, not dictate to it.
To that end, each comment posted on Reading Patch includes a link in the upper-right hand corner, which reads, “flag as inappropriate.”
If a comment strikes you as over the line, click the link. If a certain number of readers agree with you and also click the link, the system will automatically remove the comment.
Now, just as we ask you to comment responsibly, we also ask you to flag comments responsibly. Please, only click that link when a comment actually offends you. If you simply disagree with a comment, we’d prefer that you reply to it.
On a final note, I would like to take this opportunity to again ask that you use your real name on Reading Patch and all other Patch sites. We believe that one of the reasons that internet discussions often get out of hand, offensive and personal is that people are protected by anonymity. When people take a second to consider that their comments will be forever connected with their names, they tend to moderate both their tone and their language.
And that leaves us with less need to flag comments as inappropriate.