Using the Online News Association’s discussion list, Jon Garfunkel of Civilities.net noted how the Ventura County Star has temporarily had to shutdown its online forums because (The Los Angeles Times reported[note: registration site]) of uncivil postings. Garfunkel asked:
- “Wouldn’t it be handy if there were resources available to summarize best practices with news-site commenting techniques?”
Every three of four years the topic of cacophony in unmoderated, anonymous discussion forums run by news organization arises. It was much discussed and analyzed in the pre-Web days when those forums operated under the umbrellas of CompuServe, America Online, Prodigy, and other (no pun intended) proprietary online services. It was likewised much discussed when the topic reappeared again and again throughout the 1990s, from Web-based discussion forums.
Now, it pops up again, as if it was something new. Time to whack this weasal once more!
A century ago, George Santayana stated that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” My guess is that his tone became increasingly strident every time he stated that. Likewise, so have my own postings whenever the topic of unmoderated, anonymous online discussion forums run by news organizations.
Here’s my latest: