How Proud the N&O Must Be

Why do I bother participating in OrangeChat, the News & Observer's blog on Orange County?

The reporting is fine, but the comments are terrible.  It is mostly a bunch of snarking from John "Elvisboy77" Kramer and a few others.  The comments are only occassionally enlightening or penetrating.  The ones worth reading are so few and far between that it hardly seems worth bothering with.

For example, two days ago Mark Schultz posted a blurb about Elizabeth Edwards opening a store in downtown Chapel Hill:

What's the response?  Let's hit some highlights:

What she NEEDS

"I'd like to see Shaq make this PIG squeal all night just once. She NEEDS it bad."

Pigs is good people..

"Percy, I agree with you 100% about what Liz needs, but why do you have to insult pigs? Pigs are pretty cool. I'd a whole lot rather hang out down at the the hog lot than in the 28000 square foot mansion. Actually, it'd be a breath of fresh air!"

And there is a whole bunch more of that.  Terri Buckner, a frequent participant on OP, is thoughtful enough to call these people out for the jerks that they are (for which I am grateful), but why should she bother to comment?  Why should I bother to read it?  Why should the N&O bother to provide this forum for defamatory, disgusting and offensive commentary?

Would the N&O ever print that garbage in their newspaper?  How proud the News & Observer and McClatchy must be of their fine online publication!

I am hereby done with reading OrangeChat.



Excellent sentiments, Chilton.  It's unbelievable that the N&O allows such drivel, much of which hearkens back to Squeeze_the_pulp, which gets just about zero readership anymore.  There really is no getting through to such people that they are just plain rude and that in fact it does matter that they are rude.  Whatever "good" ideas they might ever have will never be examined by decent people who get things done and who actually might be in a position to consider their implementation.  It is hard to let go of reading and commenting at such places, but after a few months of not giving it another thought, one feels much better.  Remember also that, despite announcements of "high readership" by comparison to other sites and "popularity" for such sites, their readership is extremely low, as is their influence.  (Yes, I know, that includes OP.)  In other words, you sure ain't missing a thing by ignoring them.  And you can pat yourself on the back once in a while that you've not read the vituperations of idiots who do not deserve the time of day, much less being noticed at all.And shame, indeed, on the N&O.

for posting this. I saw the post at Orange Chat last night and, unfortunately, the comments.It frightens me that there are people like that living in our community. I wish Elizabeth well and will patronize her store when it opens. I am proud to have her as a neighbor. 

The N&O is certainly not doing itself or its readers any favors by allowing comments like these to appear in its blogs.  When I read the comments in question this morning, I sent an email asking Mark Schultz if he would please start moderating comments or do away with them altogether.  It's really ridiculous and infuriating.

when they post.  I doubt if "ElvisBoy" or "PercyKution" would write their stuff if they were required to use their names, as they would if they wrote a letter to the paper N&O.  I used to get a kick out of the chief of SqueezeThePulp, whoever (s)he is, who thought that I was WeaverGuy and wrote letters back to WeaverGuy, a.k.a Joe Capowski.  For the record, I am not WeaverGuy, don't know who he is, and always use my real name whenever I write anything anywhere.  Finally I won't pay any attention to WeaverGuy or anyone else who refuses to identify himself.

On that front, how do I make my name show when I post or interact with this site?  I chose hunteke when I signed up originally because that's pretty much my login name everywhere on the 'net, but I'm used to login info being different from public persona.*  Anyway to meld the two on this site?* Having but one login name to remember as opposed to many ...

I know it's counter-intuitive, but the way the site works right now is that your user name is what shows up on comments and posts, so you can change your user name to reflect your actual name, including spaces.I'd like it to pull from the name fields in the user profiles instead, but haven't had time to hack that together.

Aint' So, Joe!  Say it ain't so! Ideas are ideas, Joe, and to reject them out of hand seems very short sighted.

Absolutely right - requiring real names will filter out 90% of the crap.

Here's our editorial on the subject from this week's paper:

Just a reminder that we have a general policy that comments to our website be signed as you would a letter to the editor.
The exceptions to this policy include short, congratulatory remarks
(as in, “Way to go, Anoop!”) and comments by individuals who have
compelling reasons to protect their anonymity.

If you do post a comment without signature, we’ll send you a note
asking for your name and contact info. We’ll be happy to add your name
to your comment and won’t publish anywhere your contact information.
This, of course, requires that you provide us with a real, working
email address.
If, like some people, you post an anonymous comment and provide a fraudulent email address, then, well, the heck with you.

As much as I appreciate the need in some cases for anonymity, it doesn't make sense to fuel this kind of nasty behavior. The WRAL site comments are just as bad. I understand the legal reasoning, but how long are we going to let a ruling about Compuserve shape online debate?The Citizen now requires signatures as we do a letter to the editor. I've had to email some folks to ask that they sign their letters and gotten a decent response. The people who write the nasty stuff don't give out their real email so their comments go away.

I can't believe the N&O permits the - er - chaff that appears there, but I have two questions: 1. how much time, and money, does it take (Kirk? Ruby?) to have a web-guru person to reconfigure and then police a blog to avoid such stuff?  and 2. Does a comment "weigh" more than a "hit" on a blog like that, such that advertising dollars are affected?  

I still prefer OrangeChat to OP because Ruby censors everything that she doesn't agree with.

I moderate content that doesn't meet the guidelines (, which gives very wide latitude to people who actually register and put an identity behind their words. Anonymous commenters do not have a right to be heard on OP, but I almost always approve their comments unless I think they are misleading or that they would detract from the conversation.Try registering and you'll find you can say quite a lot here.  But if you prefer OrangeChat, the more the merrier.

The value I would *like* to get from OrangeChat is a diversity of opinion. OP has very few disagreements anymore. So while I don't like the tone of some of the posts on OrangeChat, I plan to continue posting; reporting those posts that are obscene or truly offensive; and  hoping that just once there can be a dialogue where people disagree and express that disagreement with intelligence and respect for the other side of the argument.

I haven't been reading OP much lately, but, like Terri, I keep hoping for dialogue among disagreeing parties. I used to keep up with some discussions on OP and contributed $ once. But I began to feel that the conversation was essentially between folks who knew each other and responded mainly to each other. I dropped out back in Feb when I saw how David Newberry and others with the Tax Revolt groups were received. Not much chance for respectful dialogue there. Maybe it's just the medium. Then there's the navel-gazing aspect of OP. With so much going on at the state and regional level, OP's local focus seems too narrow. I feel like time would be better spent writing state reps. Did anyone on OP ever write about Senator Kinnaird's recent vote for SB 998 rescinding some coastal protections? Not an issue with a central role in daily life around here, but she's our gal over there and that was an unprogressive vote, I thought.  

So, why did you not try to raise the issue of Ellie Kinnaird's vote on OP?  Other, non-local issues?  Start some threads and see what happens.  It's there to be attempted, at least.But, in the end, I agree that it may be the medium and relatively low levels of readership.  Much more impact from a letter to the N&O, if they's publish it, and they do seem to publish a lot of letters.

I chose instead to write Kinnaird about that vote. No direct answer yet, despite receiving the newsletter she sends.

Doesn't the N&O own The Chapel Hill News?  Didn't the Town of Carrboro recently give a big, low interest loan to the main competitor of The Chapel Hill News, that being The Carrboro Citizen?  And now we have the Mayor of Carrboro complaining about the N&O having a blog that has annoying posters.  Hmmmm. The internet is filled with blogs and annoying posters.  So what if the N&O has one too?  It's about 1,000th on my priority list for a newspaper.  The N&O just took down the head of a large university and the wife of a two-term Governor for corruption.  That's what counts.  What is the chance The Carrboro Citizen is going to go after corruption of public officials when they're getting money from the town?  We all know the answer to that question.  The chance is zero.

Are you saying it was the N&O that just "took down" the wife of a two-term Governor and not a federal investigation?



I haven't visited OP in a while (as I now live over the border, sadly), but I'd like to point out that pseudonymity still has value.  I, for example, am subject to a policy at my workplace that governs my public statements.  I'm certainly not thrilled by that, though I understand my employer's desire to prevent any confusion on the subject of who speaks for the institution; but I'd rather use a nom-de-net than worry about getting called on the carpet because I shared a personal opinion.

Of course I haven't had to actually moderate comments anytime recently, so I realize others may be more exasperated than I; but I've had some success in lowering my blood pressure by judicioua application of the scroll button.

I'm fine with registering a pseudonym, by the way, & will take a moment to re-establish my old one here next time I vist.



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