Friday, September 05, 2008


Well, that was fun. 

I wanted to allow unmoderated, anonymous comments on this blog to model the benefits of open, unfettered conversation. For nearly three years now, it's been wide open and generally worked well.

Now it's not. I have turned on the "moderate comments" feature, which means I'll need to see and approve comments before they appear. Anonymity is still okay, and I intend to approve liberally. I guess you'll be the judge of how well I do.

I'm not looking for more email or to make this clumsier, but I honestly think the degenerating flood of repetitive, often misinformed comments is a barrier to broader communication. This is my blog and I'd like to elevate the debate a little.

There are plenty of "hate McClatchy" blogs out there, and starting a blog is easy, so there's room all your name calling, ad hominem criticism and more. But not here.

I apologize for the inconvenience, which I will work to ensure is minor. Please continue to comment, to criticize and to contribute.


  1. Anonymous10:53 AM

    A wise move, thanks!

  2. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Often at newspaper sites, unmoderated community conversation often sees a similar pattern of degeneration over time. Do you think MNI papers should make a similar move on their sites to moderate comments?

  3. Anonymous12:22 PM

    Yes. Howard. You are the greatest.

  4. Anon 1211: So do, some don't. The software is improving and so is our capacity for moderating. I don't think there's a one-size-fits all answer yet.

    Anon 1222: Sarcasm noted.

  5. Anonymous1:41 PM

    It was the pedicure comment wasn't it? 8)

  6. marilyn atwood2:52 PM

    Howard Weaver is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

  7. Also: trustyworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

    And I have the merit badges to prove it.

  8. Anonymous5:35 PM

    I'm tired of the McClatchy haters myself. But Howard, you still haven't yet denied the pedicure rumor. Until then, I'm going to go with that as your reason for moderating the comments.

    -- Crinkle Fries

  9. Is this even allowed?

  10. Dorothy Korber7:27 PM

    Hello Howard -- I think you've reached a logical conclusion here. But I'd ask you to consider how much greater the damage is done by allowing cruel, crude and libelous statements to appear under our online stories. It's bad enough that the online comments attack the bylined journalists by name as lying, rumor-mongering psychopaths --and worse. But the downright racist and sexist slurs against the people we write about are not defensible -- even if they're up for only a few minutes. I cringe whenever I write about a vulnerable person these days. An example: One young black Sacramentan prevailed in his lawsuit over bruality at the County Jail and won a few thousand bucks in damages. Some of our online readers immediately posted he should have been beaten up worse -- and that he'd only use the money to buy malt liquor and hair braids! My god! His father read the comments and called me, outraged. What was I to tell him? That this is the free marketplace of ideas at work? I am very troubled by this situation, obviously. I've read your commentary on the shifting gatekeeper role and I think I get it. But I don't know if that means we are obligated to allow racists or homophobes to vent under the proud flag of the Sacramento Bee. And if there is a spellcheck here, I don't see it.
    With respect,
    Dorothy Korber

  11. Anonymous11:31 PM

    I'll take dorothy's comment a step further. So, Howard, you disagree with a post, and squash it...what the hell happened to free speech and our treasured first amendment? You don't wanna hear something or let others hear it and you edit it. I know this post won't see the light of day BUT you'll read this and KNOW you've gone down the wrong road. I would think responses to your little blog will diminish now since you have made yourself the KING and ULTIMATE ruler of this blog. I am SO ashamed to be a member of the McClatchy family with an egotistical windbag such as yourself at the helm. Perhaps you will join Gary on his journey into oblivion.

  12. Anonymous10:15 AM

    I'll shut up now.....I was more than shocked to see you posted the above comment Howard. I will apologize for the egotistical windbag comment.

  13. Stephen Crosby10:22 AM

    It probably has been bad enough to merit this decision. But I am glad anonymous comments were allowed for a time, because it opened my eyes to some things I never would have believed.

  14. I'm honestly not trying to stifle criticism or protect myself by moderating comments. (I've been yelled at by senators and governors and lawyers long enough to take it). What I'm trying to do is optimize this blog for the majority of its readers by keeping us within some bounds. I'll try to do that appropriately and will continue to listen to your advice.

  15. OMG. I H-A-V-E to moderate comments ( Isn't that a no-brainer? What I hate is the endless loop of registration/confirmation that's required on most sites before you can even POST. Thankfully--none of that here. So--you still can be "Anonymous". That said, I still have to go check the Spam bucket (Akismet is the plug-in) to see who got dumped in there by mistake.

  16. Anonymous10:11 PM

    Dorothy has brought up an interesting point. We (at The (Raleigh) News & Observer published a story on Sunday about a local county sheriff who ruffled some feathers by making some outspoken comments about latino's and the hard line he is taking against them. He was pretty blunt and to the point. After a backlash from local latino community leaders he issued an apology for some of the things he said. It set off an incredible response on our "Comment on this story" button. Mostly people were in favor of what the sheriff was saying... a lot of people disagreed with him...but the pointis...I went to check out what other responses had been posted and they were all gone. All of them. This is something that papers need to address...we ask for people to become part of the equation but when they start getting emotional or out of the bounds WE think are right we kill the posts. It is my opinion we do nothing but give our critics more ammunition about our manipulating the news. We ask for peoples input and when it isn't what we want to hear we delete it. In a sense it's what you have decided to do with your blog. No disrespect but it's kind of the old playground thing, "It's my ball and if you don't play the way I want to I'm taking it and going home."

  17. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Howard, that's funny. Shortly after you posted this, the comments returned on the stories about the sheriff....interesting.

  18. Sisuanna10:58 AM

    Howard, I will take responsibility for the Taku comment. The criticism still stands. When will management realize it's demoralizing to exhort the troops to be nice ("no pessimism") in the face of job loss, salary cuts and demands from the glass offices that have to do with yearly bonuses and not good business or journalism. Get real, sweetie. This remark is on topic.