On May 18, 2009, we suggested getting rid of or limiting Web comments on our stories online, but readers convinced us we should keep them. We received a huge response in support of the comments and almost none against them, even after we ran a follow-up editorial specifically soliciting those against the comments. So even though the comments caused problems - people were slandered, falsehoods were spread, name calling was rampant, vulgarity was common, anger became the norm, and respect became uncommon - we kept this service.
That changes today.
We believe offering a forum to initiate intelligent conversation, provoke thought and raise awareness of issues is important. The speed of the online comment forum is important, too; it gives a good sense of people's reactions to the news. It also helps the Enterprise receive constructive criticism and suggestions that help us connect with the community and do what our readers want.
The intention was good, but some of the comments were really bad and have been getting worse in some ways. Unlike letters to the editor that are signed by the author, the anonymous comments on the Web let people spew their verbal vomit without accountability. We noticed the dull, negative clouds of comments were dividing our communities more than enlightening them. These people, if they met on the street after a town board meeting, would underscore their debate with some degree of understanding. But with their identities veiled online, they bickered and bullied shamefully.
Yes, bullied. It's something schools are trying to eliminate, for good reason. The Enterprise should, too.
Therefore, after months of careful consideration, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise will no longer allow comments to be posted on most of its articles. The only exceptions, for now, will be on our editorials, columns, polls, forums and blogs. Also, fans of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise's Facebook page will continue to have opportunity to comment on the Enterprise page. Facebook is a better way to comment on the news, we think, because commenters are identified.
We have chosen to disallow comments on all other online stories, to guard against these hurtful and offensive comments posted by contributors who cannot be held accountable for what they say.
In the future we will consider restoring the comments, once a system is put in place for making contributors more accountable for what they post. We apologize to our readers who have kept their posted views civil and on topic.
To all our readers, we encourage you to continue to submit letters to the editor in the newspaper's print and online editions. We'll get them published as quickly as possible. Your opinion and insight matter to us and are important to our readers.
Letters may be submitted to the editor, Peter Crowley by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), via the Virtual Newsroom on our website (click "Opinion in the top bar and then "Submit letters, commentary" on the left) or by mail (Letter to the Editor, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, P.O. Box 318, Saranac Lake, NY 12983). Please include the writer's first and last names, address and a telephone number where the writer can be reached.