Las Vegas Sun

December 22, 2014

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Sun changes story commenting policy to foster responsible dialogue

One of the downsides of the Internet is that its anonymous nature lends itself to naked hostility.

You need look no further than the pages of this newspaper’s website to see it. Whether the story is about Harry Reid or Sharron Angle, hospital care, the UNLV football team or just a new business opening, there often are comments from readers that seem, well, less than civilized.

Yet it’s the frank, sometimes mean, nature of those comments that makes the Web such an intriguing place to capture the pulse of the people.

The trick, at least for newspaper sites, is figuring out how to maintain the responsible community dialogue that has been a part of our industry’s DNA since the first American newspapers, while still harnessing the energy of the Web.

Even at a time when you could be hanged for what you said in public, writers like Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine stood behind what they wrote. But in nearly every way fathomable, the world today is a different place for newspapers and their websites.

At the Sun, we think community dialogue is a vitally important part of our mission, and we are determined to figure out how to make reader comments on our website more about discussion and less about name calling. With this in mind, the Sun is debuting a commenting policy and software today at LasVegasSun.com.

The Sun is not unique in this regard. Newspapers across the country — from The New York Times to the Muskegon Chronicle — have in the past year grappled with and written about the increasingly vitriolic nature of anonymous comments attached to the bottom of most news stories.

There is no set way to deal with these challenges. Some news sites charge for the ability to comment on Web stories. Some require folks to use their “real” e-mail addresses. While others simply eliminate the ability for the community to comment on stories.

In April, the Sun began a test, requiring anyone posting a message to one of our political stories to use their Facebook account in the hope that if folks were asked to give up their anonymity, they might be a little nicer. It worked, sort of.

The Sun is continuing to refine its policy, driven by the belief that community discourse, regardless of point of view, doesn’t have to be hateful even when it’s spirited.

That brings us to the changes we’re currently making: Starting today, you can no longer be anonymous and comment directly on Sun stories.

To comment directly beneath the body of the story you must verify your account.



Doing this is simple: If you’re logged in to our site, go to a comment form at the bottom of a story and click the button that says “verify identity.” From there, you can either provide basic personal information that, with the exception of your first and last name, will not be shared with anyone. Or you can click on the “connect with Facebook” button and follow the prompts.

If you don’t have a Facebook account, a member of the Sun’s newsroom staff will contact you to verify your information, similar to how we verify the identities of people who write letters to the editor at the Sun. If you do have a Facebook account, the authorization is immediate. Using this method will also give you one-click login access to the Sun through your Facebook account.

In whatever way you verify your account, none of your information — beyond your first and last name — will be released or sold. If you use the Facebook option, we can’t see any of your contact information, friend lists or posts on the popular social networking site that aren’t already publicly available.

We also aren’t going to send you any spam. Our only objective is to verify that you are who you say you are.

However, we realize that not all of our commenters want to give up their anonymity, which is why Franklin signed some of his letters as Silence Dogood and Thomas Paine was anonymous in the first editions of “Common Sense.” There are certain circumstances where anonymity can even be valuable.

You can still comment on our site in an anonymous fashion, much like our site has worked for about the past three years. You just can’t comment directly on our story pages.

Attached to most stories on LasVegasSun.com is now a link in the commenting area that says “see all comments.” It will take you to a separate page that includes comments from both verified and anonymous posters. The comments on this page will disappear from our stories within 72 hours.

We don’t know that this is the final solution in elevating the discussion at LasVegasSun.com, but we do think it’s a step in the right direction.

There is a high road here, we hope you’ll take it with us.

Rob Curley is the senior editor for digital for the Las Vegas Sun and Greenspun Media Group.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 45 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Excellent. Thank you for requiring personal accountability.

  2. BobbyG (and everyone else),

    Being that it's the first day, we're a bit behind on the verification process for the flood of readers who would like to become trusted commenters. Trust me, though, we'll be getting to you and everyone as quickly as possible.

    Levi Chronister
    Managing Editor of Special Projects
    Las Vegas Sun

  3. Lampshade, you don't have to use Facebook to initiate this process. In fact, the vast majority of those who are going through this process today are not using the Facebook option. We added that option to try to give as many options as we could think of to help with the verification process.

    The unique thing about Facebook that makes it somewhat appealing is that unlike MySpace, the majority of those on Facebook use their real names. In fact, Facebook requires this. We know of lots of folks who have used fake names who have had their Facebook account deleted. We even know of people with stage names who have had their Facebook accounts deleted for not using their real names.

  4. I think this is a fantastic move forward. I do believe that the Internet as a whole will choose to move forward with these types of changes. It has broken my heart many times to see the nastiness on the comment boards here. I don't like to think that this town is so hate-filled and negative. Many comments do not add to the conversation...they only take away.

  5. I don't often comment, though I read comments frequently. In my view the only that would make this a "Grand" policy, as opposed to a "Great" one is to not allow anonymity in comments. After all, if you have something to say, presumably it's a point of personal value and you should take some pride in it.

    Thanks for implementing the change.

  6. sdstern -- That is a toughie because I believe that anonymity does have a place, even an important place from time-to-time, in outlets like the story comments on LasVegasSun.com.

    However, we believe, just as you stated, that folks should want to stand by their comments and when they do, they should be given much more prominence on our news site.

    In watching how the comments have been on LasVegasSun.com for the last two years or so, we realized that it was too easy for people to anonymously just make fun of others or simply be mean as hell. The changes we've made we're done much more to target that sort of behavior than it was to keep people from being whistle blowers.

    And it's because of the whistle blowers that we not only kept anonymous comments on lasvegassun.com -- if only for a 72 hours -- but also made it so that we could easily move an anonymous comment directly to a story's main page.

    Still, I completely get your point. I'm not sure this is a "Great" policy, but it certainly feels like it sucks less.
    :)

  7. Stick by "Whistleblowers," but make sure you're right...I can't tell you how much trouble I had once with this one. And, the policy doesn't "suck less," it's a good one and it will evolve. I think it's a fine testament to your newspaper and its integrity.

    On the other hand, I'm an old guy and believe that "Gaily, Gaily" by Ben Hecht was the best discussion of the news business ever written. Well, Ben Bradlee's "The Good Life" is its modern equal.

  8. Anonymity has it's place--think of a crime tip hotline--but for posting comments online?
    I think a lot of those people hiding behind anonymity do so to attack with little risk (like a mugger from behind).
    I use my real name as my username and the only problem I've had was a few threatening e-mails from someone who objected to my objections to his vitriolic stupidities. And, of course, that person hid behind a made up username. Would he have made those threats using his real name? I doubt it.
    Being available to be held accountable for your actions/words is all about personal integrity.
    BTW--the Sun making a big deal about verifying identity while still allowing anonymous posts (NOT identifying the author of each and every post) seems a cheap trick, a transparent attempt to stir up sh*t.

  9. I totally agree with the changes...changes made to get rid of the name calling.

    The way it was before, I just usually never responded to someone if they reverted to calling me names. Easier to ignore them. Now, the Las Vegas Sun seems to be nipping this in the bud by instituting something else.

    And I am also glad there is no requirement for being a member of FaceBook. As I told the editors of the Las Vegas Sun before...I am actually a member of FaceBook...but it's still the first generation of it.

    In that I buy a book, stick my face in it and read it.

    I just wish that I could participate in revealing who I am more, but as I explained to the Las Vegas Sun when I was approached before to be in their article of commenters, I can't. I just can't do it now.

    And the reason is nothing about anonymity and/or that I have something to nefarious to hide.

    If you'll permit me, I'll amplify this to the readers who are kind enough to read my comments.

    It's simply that I don't wish to be photographed.

    In 2007, I had a fight with cancer. To make a long story short, after an operation, subsequent combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy, I am now verified to be cancer free. But my fight left my face disfigured. And I am in the process of undergoing a fifth and final operation that will subsequently end up with a prosthetic being manufactured for me...to replace bandages I am required to wear at all times before I go out in public.

    Anyways, I'm alive and every single day of my life is all borrowed time. I am grateful to wake up every morning with a smile on my face and scratch my...um....head. Life is simply wonderful.

    Perhaps later I can participate, but not now.

    In the meantime, just be content in the fact that Colin is actually my first name and I am indeed a retired Navy veteran; having had the privilege of serving my country for 24 years. And I do live in Sin City. And it's true about this city. When you live in Las Vegas, nothing should shock you...and if it does? YOU NEED TO MOVE!

    Just wanted to throw that out there to let everyone know that I'm not entirely full of fecal matter. However, I truly believe that I am a legend in my own mind though.

  10. thank you, thank you Sun! maybe this will increase the dialogue. I believe those that are protesting the loudest are the one's that leave such ugly comments. I wish all internet sites would require the use of first and last names and a picture like facebook. If you believe so highly in your convictions why hide? lol

    p.s. I use Facebook because I have lived in more than one state, more than two. I use it to keep in touch with family (over 200 people) high school friends, friends from other countries. Sorry if your life is not that full or you don't have enough loved ones around you that care maybe that is why you write such awful, nasty comments. Facebook is cheaper than calling and visiting those in different parts of the nation/world.

  11. If they just wanted to police the people who are rude etc, wouldn't it be easier to just remove the comments that are disturbing? I have hit the suggest removal button on many comments that I felt were racist or a personal attack on someone that had nothing to do with the article, and they NEVER seem to get removed.

  12. davestovall,

    Regarding your last statement about the verification process, please consider the following:

    1. We believe there is value in anonymity, particularly for whistleblowers and those who fear retaliation.

    2. Anonymous commenting has a tendency to breed a brand of incivility that is off-putting to many users of our site -- staff and readers alike. We take seriously our responsibility to drive useful, insightful discussion about the issues facing our community, and name-calling is cancerous to this goal. As a general rule, anonymous discussion requires far greater resources to moderate than discussion by users who post under real names.

    3. In a perfect world with unlimited resources, each comment would be thoroughly vetted against our documented terms of service. In reality, the resources available to us for moderating these comments are limited, and under the old system we could not respond quickly enough to violators. The verification process is our best attempt at a compromise that maintains a forum for anonymous commenting while relieving some of the pressure on our comment moderators by only allowing verified commenters on story pages. We can and will promote insightful anonymous comments from the all-comments page to the story pages, but this is a resource-intensive activity that requires careful vetting by our staff.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the new system -- we really do appreciate it.

  13. @jemster2 - you say that the new policy is a free speech violation, but what makes you think you have any First Amendment protection here? This is not a public forum, it is a private site owned, operated, and moderated by the Las Vegas Sun. You have no more of a First Amendment right to say anything you want here than I do to come into your house to say what I want to say.

    @rebelfan19 - for your comment about privacy - see above. You have no right to, and should have no expectation of, privacy when you post here. If you put information into a forum owned by someone else, they pretty much have the right to do whatever they want with it. By logging in to this site and setting up an account you already agreed to that. (read the comments policy)

  14. @ LV Sun Staff...did you ever consider posting someones first and last name is dangerous? I can go on the Clark County homepage and search by name their court cases, foreclosures, judgements, defaults, marriage certs, etc... and also can go on the accessors page and find home addresses just by a name search! This is crazy. There are some sick people out there, especially in Clark County...rethink your procedures PLEASE!

  15. So, only "approved" opinions get noticed? Sounds like "Pravda" in the Soviet era to me. I couldn't help that the impression you get from the "trusted" comments overwhelmingly approves the action. If you don't click on "Show All Comments", you'd get the feeling there was a positive public impression.

    I have no problems allowing the Sun to verify my information, as long as only my "anonymous" user ID is published in public. If a user "name calls", then there's a verified name and address to go after in court.

    This town has a long and storied history of people taking enemies "out to the desert for a talk". Some limited anonymity helps foster free discussion.

    I read the Las Vegas Sun because of its balanced coverage. The Journal-Review, in my opinion, is a propaganda rag.

    Don't start down the dark path. Hank Greenspun's dream was of a paper with integrity. Keep it!

  16. John9999 -- Please look at how many comments from people who don't like this policy have been moved from the anonymous board over to the main story page, on both this story and on the story about our commenters. Including your anonymous comment.

    This new commenting system was built to give priority to people who aren't anonymous, but still gives people who want to remain anonymous a place to express their opinions. And when those anonymous opinions are important to the dialogue, thoughtful and contribute in a way that's more than just a snarky sentence or name-calling, then we get them moved over to the story page. We're even building a a feature into the system so that anonymous comments can be recommended to be moved over to the story pages, similar to how readers can now suggest that comments be removed. We need something like that because we have very limited resources and simply can't read every comment on every story in realtime.

    You wouldn't believe how many people I called today to verify for this comment area. Some were liberal. Many were conservative. Some loved the Sun, and others didn't. And all of them were approved. Every single one of them.

    We sincerely hope you will continue posting on our site even if it is done anonymously.

    However, just because we're okay with people posting anonymously doesn't mean that we should treat comments posted in that manner and comments posted with someone's name equally, because they're not.

  17. Brian-D is absolutely correct - in my line of work I look up people by their name every day on the assessor page - I'm not about to put my first AND last name so someone who doesn't like what I have to say can very easily locate me, my home and probably even where I work - just to harrass me. Sorry Sun - use your 'remove comment' feature - do your job...that is all that's needed to keep the comments civil.

  18. To Rob Curley..
    I agree with Brian-D and azsk8fan. You editors have the power already to excise offenders And to ban them from ever posting on here.
    This new procedure is merely a sales technique. You get people's Name, address, AND phone number. I'm sure that information will be used to call and execute a sales pitch to buy a subscription to your newspaper and subsequent publications that you might want to sell us. Please don't get my shoes wet and tell me it's raining.

  19. I think this is a good policy change, and I will try to be as polite as the next person.

  20. azsk8fan: You absolutely don't have to give us your name to keep posting. We totally understand why some people don't want to do that. But, as I've said numerous times in these stories explaining our new policy, that just because we're okay with people posting anonymously doesn't mean that we should treat comments posted in that manner and comments posted with someone's name equally, because they're not.

    We have had the "remove comment" feature for years and it did not keep things civil. We love the Internet and we really love the real-time dialogue that it brings. We don't want that to stop at all. But the Sun simply doesn't have the resources to read every comment on every story in real time. We're trying to accomplish the community dialogue that we really want to accomplish using the very limited resources we have.

    Press: I could try to say this in a super "beat-around-the-bush" way, but there's really no other way to say it: You're wrong. You couldn't be more wrong if you tried.

    It is actually impossible to get a subscription to the Las Vegas Sun. Because of the joint-operating agreement that the Sun is in with the Review-Journal, the only way any person can get a subscription to our newspaper is to actually get a subscription to the RJ print edition.

    The Sun's website and the RJ's website are not in a joint-operating agreement. We share nothing -- not even a server and certainly not our readers' telephone numbers.

    We've said that we are not going to use any of the personal information that we collect during the verification process -- other than the posting of the first and last name -- for any other purpose and that we very specifically outlined that we are not going to try to sell anything to you or sell your information. Ethically, we won't. And because we've said we won't, by law, we can't.

    So, Press, please don't get my shoes wet and tell me it's raining. It's comments that openly state misinformation in an anonymous format -- exactly like what you just posted -- that we are not going to allow on our story pages anymore. And no one is going to miss them at all. We have the sandbox area for that now.

  21. I just hit "suggest removal" on the staff's comment by Rob Curley. I find it very unprofessional and demeaning.
    Isn't this what you claim to be "trying to stop"? In your answer to someone's post you need to demean them personally to make your point? Quotes from A LVSUN EMPLOYEE ADDRESSES A CUSTOMER:
    "So, Press, please don't get my shoes wet and tell me it's raining." Crude and unprofessional.
    "And no one is going to miss them at all. We have the sandbox area for that now." Sandbox area? People who do not verify are considered infantile to you?
    Please remove your comment and apologize to your customer. (yes he is YOUR CUSTOMER because he visits your site on which you sell advertising regardless of his opinions)

  22. wendor:
    I disagree with you usually but I do agree with your post here. It is a private company that owns the information you post on their site.
    I think why some people argue against putting the first and last name up (verifying is fine, do not put the name up) is because I can take your name and type it in google. Type this in google "Charles Gladu Las Vegas" and see what comes up. In the first 6 links I know where you live, how much you pay in taxes (whether you are behind on your taxes), your wife's name and where your wife works). That is a little troubling. Oh, and if I had just met you at a cocktail party and googled you to find more out about you, I get to read the posts they you just put on the LVSUN site and then make assumptions about you.
    Perhaps, some people don't want the cop/fireman/politician/etc down the street googling their name after meeting them at the block party and seeing that they think cop/fireman/politician/etc. is paid too much or shoots too fast ETC.....
    I encourage all of you who have verified to google your own name and city and see what comes up and think about it.

  23. BrianJ -- I know that you suggested it for removal. It came to me.

    Please go back and read Press' original post. He used the exact phrase "please don't get my shoes wet and tell me it's raining" in his note to me. I was simply quoting him. That's why I used it. I'd never even heard that phrase before reading this post.
    :)

    Throughout the last 24 hours, we've been very honest and consistent that the anonymous comments are not going to get treated with the same respect as those that come from people who use their real name. And we shouldn't. We've also called the anonymous area of our site the "sandbox," but not because of the infantile connotations, but because we feel it will be the rougher area of the playground.

    However, we've also been extremely consistent in saying that when an anonymous comment is thoughtful, even critical, we would elevate it to the story page. Why do you think all of your anonymous comments have been moved to the story page? They've been critical, but thoughtful. Even your most recent comment is thoughtful.

    We've literally pushed hundreds of anonymous comments over to the story pages in the last 24 hours.

    I try to be calm and cool whenever a post about the Sun (or even me) comes in, or whenever folks call or e-mail me. But it seems like so many posters forget there are actual humans on the other side of this -- and we have emotions, as well.

    And you're right about Press being our customer. But I look at it much differently than you are.

    I look at it as if the comments area of our site is a like a sports bar. When you go to a sports bar, you know there are likely going to be folks there who like the other team. They're going to be passionate. You might not even like them. You know that watching the game at that sports bar is going to be fun, but also could get a little salty. You kind of understand all of that when you go to there to watch the game.

    But when one of the customers starts being so rude that other customers start leaving or quit coming altogether, well then the bartender has to say something. And if the customer keeps it up, then the bartender has to ask that customer to leave.

    Just because someone is our customer doesn't give that person the right to do something that is harmful to our business.

    And this happens literally. I speak to our real advertisers and one of the complaints/concerns we hear is that the comments are just mean. We are trying to address that now.

    We don't even pretend to have this figured out, but we're trying.

  24. This is incredible. I usually never comment, but I think I will now.

  25. Rob,

    Many of us can give examples of suggesting removal of patently offensive material that has never been acted upon. Beyond that, there is a perceived bias on the part of some moderators, when those requests are not honored.

    When I "patently offensive" I do not mean posts that are simply critical, but those that step well past the boundaries set the the terms and conditions. In fact there is a borderline case in this comment area already. All I need to do is refer to a certain fetish and almost everyone reading this knows some of the posts I am talking about.

    Harder to handle are the users who seem to flip styles depending upon who they are talking to. These are the users who can be interesting to debate with if mutual respect is granted, but who can also say can demeaning, hateful things to those they disagree with if that mutual respect is not present. Those users often walk up to and over the line to some extent, but it's difficult to suggest removal because it's almost certain the moderators won't see the same offensive that others do. (Blatant plug for bringing back the reason box on the suggest removal page.)

    I know that there is no intended bias concerning comment moderation, but the perception is strong at times.

  26. casinokid - No, the Sun is an investigative, enterprise-reporting, award-winning newspaper of its own. But it is delivered inside of the RJ, which means that the Sun and its staff have no control over subscriptions. And the reason you're seeing us have the time to move comments from the "all comments" page to the main story page now is because we are taking/making the time to be proactive and part of the discussion on this change instead of other things that currently are on our to-do lists. We know that getting our commenting system and policy right are very important for our site, our readers and the Las Vegas community, so we're making it our No. 1 priority at this time. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to continue to be this vigilant and proactive in policing and promoting comments moving forward.

    oldnuke69 - Your real name is not required to continue commenting. Your current registration is perfectly good enough for us for you to keep posting, and we hope that you do. Your comments still will show up on the "all comments" pages of stories, which - as these two stories about the commenting changes and many other stories the past two days have proven - some (even many) people still are interested in reading and responding to.

  27. Here is an example from a comment that consisted of a total of 3 sentences that was left up after a request for removal:

    "All the objective bloggers know that he is a pathological liar that cannot tell the difference between the truth and a lie. He is an ideal employee of the radical extremist propaganda republican lie machine."

    The first sentence gave the name of another user (not me) that was altered in a way to be demeaning and who was the subject of this patently ad hom attack.

    The new policy won't do anything to stop these posts. It will still depend upon the staff consistently enforcing the terms and conditions.

    It is the lack of action on posts like these that contribute to a perceived bias.

  28. How about they turn it around, so to speak?

    Retain the requirement for a verified identity, but only show the name if a comment is demoted to the "sandbox". All comments from verified users continue to default to the front page, but without a name showing.

    That would be a pretty strong incentive to "play nice".

  29. jaesun - Yes, you have to use your real name. As for becoming an untrusted commenter again, that is an option we have not discussed, but it's certainly something that could be done from a technical standpoint, yes.

    Press - We have *an* employee to call and verify people: Rob. He's the one who's making these calls. He's taking the time to get through the opening deluge of people wanting to be trusted commenters at the moment (just like we're taking the time to respond to the comments on these stories), but we won't always have this time or be able to put off other things on our to-do lists. We're making a special effort to be very proactive at the moment because we know how important comments are to our site, our readers and our community.

    rough - The "sandbox" is the page you get when you click the "see all comments" link. It's the same thing you used to see at the bottom of the main story page - all (unremoved) comments from all (unbanned) users. We only ask for address and phone number to help contact you and verify who you are, if you choose to become a trusted commenter. Anyone can read comments in the "sandbox," not just those whose comments go there.

  30. This is crap.

    I registered my info two days ago and my posts still get sent to the other page even though I've never posted anything that would violate any terms of service.

    You've surrendered to the trolls much like the rest of the world has surrendered to radical Islam.

    Oh, wait, that's just the excuse.... I've never been abusive, threatening or posted anything that results in banishment to some secondary comment board. It's about silencing those who don't agree with the Sun's staff.

    Very well. It's your site and you can do what you want. And I'm free to post on the RJ's site, where I'm not automatically sent to some obscure second page.

  31. To ImNewHere..
    This is a new process. We have to expect delays and snafus. It will get worse. If you are confused that is to be expected. Unlike some people I disagree with the Suns approach to this. The Sun is emulating government. Why have one page when two is better. I understand that we have a story page. If you are "trusted" your comments will be posted directly under the story. If you are "untrustworthy" you will be relegated to the "sandbox". Sandbox is kinda like Devil's Island. The only escape is to give up your name , address, phone number, how many troops are in your command, and what is your next military objective.

  32. ImNewHere - We don't just automatically trust people upon their registration. We have to verify that the information you submitted is correct, just like a letter to the editor is verified before it is published in the newspaper. If we've surrendered to anyone (which I don't think we have) it's not the trolls; it's the quality commenters and readers who are tired of seeing the comments on our stories devolve into name calling, nastiness, lying and other issues that don't add to the discussion.

    Rough - I don't know how many times we need to say it, but we will not use your address and phone number for anything other than to contact you and verify your registration information. Like I said earlier in this comment, the process is the same as a letter to the editor. We just need to verify that you are who you say you are. We will not share your address or phone number.

  33. "However they do have employees to call each applicant and hector them for information."

    Wow, I just got a real giggle out of that one. Hey everyone that registered and spoke to Rob on the phone when he called to verify you information.... how did you like the way Rob "hectored us for information"? I mean isn't Rob just the meanest, most intrusive, hardassed, high-pressure salesman you've ever spoken to?

    (Hint for the sarcasm impaired: The above statement should *NOT* be taken seriously)

  34. I like the policy. It should make the comments ... generally less vitriol.

  35. Here are my thoughts after the first day of having the new system in place.

    1. Some of the regular obnoxious posters have chosen to remain "unverified" and have continued their normal style but are only displayed in the "sandbox" area.

    2. Some of the regulars who are always interesting and polite have done the same.

    3. The combination of points 1 and 2 above result in our still having to wade through crap to get to the good stuff.

    4. I find myself holding back on comments because I don't want to have seemingly disjointed or off-topic comments on the main page when I am replying to an "unverified" user. (I'm sure some people are saying "YAYYYYY!" at this point.)

    5. I suspect that the Sun staff are receiving more requests than ever at this point because of the their high visibility.

    6. There have already been a few examples of how the loss of privacy is a very real concern (including one involving me.)

    7. Overall this seems to have had a divisive effect upon the Sun's user community.

    8. The Facebook experiment can be deemed a failure.

    All things considered, I'm going to advocate a system that maintains user privacy while at the same time promoting greater user involvement to help identify "problem children" that results in those people either giving greater respect to the rules of this site or being banned.

  36. I wouldn't mind validation, but I don't want my full name being showed everywhere.

    Would it not be enough to just have the threat of a permanent ban from comments for being uncivil (resorting to namecalling, etc) be enough for a verified account? The Sun still knows who you are, and getting a verified account isn't exactly that difficult (Facebook doesn't exactly check any information) so it seems to just put a damper on people who do verify it.

    A better policy might be to spend time removing the uncivil/namecalling comments and make the anonymous ones permanent, not time-limited.

  37. Because of the unexpectedly high numbers who have requested to be verified commenters, we've decided that as a thank you for everyone who was willing to attach their name to their comments, we are going to temporarily approve nearly everyone who has submitted their information.

    We plan to flip that switch tomorrow morning at 10:30.

    (People who obviously have given fake names or other false information will not be verified in this process.)

    Why are we doing this? It's not fair that so many people are waiting to be verified and we don't want them to continue waiting.

    Within two weeks we feel the actual verification process will be complete for all of those who will be automatically approved tomorrow morning. After that two-week period is up, we will unverify those readers/accounts who I have tried to contact for verification, but not been able to talk with. Once I have talked with them, though, they will be approved again.

    We still will be policing the comments on our stories, moving appropriate anonymous comments to the main story page and moving inappropriate comments off the main story page. We hope you will continue to help us by suggesting comments for removal.

    We also are going to do our best to verify that readers who became trusted commenters via Facebook accounts did so with a legitimate Facebook account.

    You can't realize how much we appreciate all of those who have begun this verification process and all of those who have spoken so passionately about it.

  38. Rob,

    I recognize that the heavy involvement of various Sun staff members on the comment pages recently is a result of special circumstances. At the same time, I think it has been very beneficial to both the Sun and the user community.

    I strongly urge you to find a way to put up an area that is dedicated to discussion between the user community and the staff so that this can be an ongoing process.

  39. doyen,

    It would appear that gbigs has been removed from the site, at least his user page comes up as a 404 "Page not found" error as of the time I write this. ( http://www.lasvegassun.com/users/gbigs/ )

    I would imagine that it was because he created a Facebook account with the name of "Gee Bigs" to be able to post anonymously on articles that required a Facebook account under the previous system.

    This is just my opinion, but I think the major problem the Sun faces is how to find a cost effective way to deal with flame wars. They simply can not afford to pay a 24/7 staff to do nothing but review every comment that gets posted.

    Further, as I have said earlier, there is a very real perception among some of us that the Sun is biased when removing comments. I know for a fact that the Sun does not want to be biased in that regard, but the lack of action due to a lack of staff contributes to that perception.

    It appears now that you and I and all the other users of the Sun site now have a real chance to provide input and help them provide a damn good news site that truly caters to the community. We need only avail ourselves of this opportunity and gave them the constructive feedback they need.

  40. As long as unverified commenters still will be published I've no quarrel with the Suns policy. There is no way I'd ever post with my real name. If a potential employer googles my name and sees political or social commentary they would be very apt to pass over my application. It may even violate some companies policy regarding posting on the internet. No, if they're willing to hire me I'm not going to jeopardize any offer. Not that those are coming by the truckload (or at all ), most places wont hire a trans as a matter of policy...

  41. ROB CURLEY - 2nd TRY. This is getting exclusionary! I have spent much time these last two days reading the pros and cons of the various posters, and the LV Sun.

    My first conclusion was to withdraw from being a poster to this forum. However, I am interested in Las Vegas, as a visitor and resident for 30 years, so feel I have something to contribute in posting my comments. One might ask, what will SUN READERS lose if such FORMAT-limitations cause reluctant posters to abort their writings; Freedom of Speech?

    Yet I have not yet reached a final decision as to what to do. My dilema is that I have posted over 145 comments on this web site, so it would seem that the majority of what I have written must be of some intrinsic value to others (as is theirs), because I have only had two or three disagreeing responses. However, in this on-line forum it seems to me that the exposure of my real name to STRANGERS, with whom I have zero relationship, is not logical to do.

    I do not believe that using a person's real name buys any more credibility, or honesty, or fairness - nor detracts from such - as opposed to using a pseudonym or "pen name". (which writers, speakers, the Associated Press, et al, do all the time.)

    That said, ONE OF THE POSTERS HEREIN made a very good comment about how to RESOLVE this dilema of responsibility, and relieve or "prevent" vitrolic comments from being posted.

    This method, as was pointed out, is ALREADY IN PLACE; it is used when the LV SUN Editors DELETE a "nasty" comment (as you advertise you will do). Some may slip by until you catch them, but not many do.

    There is also an alternative. -- the Sun could use computer SOFTWARE to CHECK for unacceptable words, and let your computer automatically DELETE the comment. I submit that the "mean/nasty" posters will get tired of never making it to the Discussion page - and will just quit.

    This seems like a REASONABLE cure all the concerns of many posters herein - as to having their real names in view. After all, how many books are written with a "ghost writer" - and the author remains unkown? The Associated Press prints anonymous stories. No one knows who is in an audience making comments, and many more examples apply.

    This problem would be solved if the RESPONSIBLE PARTY - the LV SUN - would more frequently ENFORCE what the SUN already says are the RULES for posting comments - and just deletes such comments as "moderated by LV Sun editors." BTW: This is SUN POLICY; not the writers' problem.

    The "Coup de grace."
    Yesterday you said you would approve ALL verify applications as of 10:30 this morning, because of a long list of applicants. We will see if this comment of mine gets through the mill - because I did a "verify" two days ago, and yesterday, my comment about the COSTCO matter was "red lined."

    If I STILL do not make it into this Discussion Page today, that may make the decision for me to post, or not to post.

    Au Revoir

  42. The-Socratic-Inkwell - Our publishing system already checks for dirty words (George Carlin's infamous 7 and others), but it's impossible to check for every possible dirty/naughty word, especially when slang allows for words that usually aren't dirty to end up being used that way.

    Also, I hope you notice that your comment did actually show up on the main page story because you were part of the mass verification this morning.

  43. I have no issues with showing my Facebook Page, and who I am. I have often opted not to post on the Sun due to various reasons. However, in recent events I have decided that maybe, just maybe, someone who's been there and done that (in some cases) may shed some light on other peoples "articles" or "posts" in regards to an article. (Such as Rodger & Lela's story, and how I relate, yet I never commented, but I was allowed the opportunity to personally meet and share my similar experience(s) in life with them both.) Both very decent, wonderful, hardworking people, just as myself has been. I allowed my Momma to post comments for me on their article as I was so angry with the forum posts and the fact that I too live in this Valley, and am ashamed of how our homeless are treated.

    People tend to read INTO an article what they want, rather than READ an article. I didn't see where Rodger or Lela were asking for handouts, but a kind of understanding of how this could easily happen to any one that chose to take care of an elderly parent, and then to fall on hard times because the job we know how to do and have done is not as profitable as it once one.

    I found it extremely odd that many people assumed that in just a few short paragraphs Rodger and Lela could have possibly put their entire 51+yrs out there...

    I have 6 years in Customer Service, and in looking for a job, now they want a minimum of a 2yr degree in Customer Service, experience NOT NEEDED... I'm sorry, but that puts me out of a lot of job opportunities in this community.

  44. This is a fantastic policy change. Kudos Rob.

  45. I like the new policy. I do think it has cut down on some of the trolling.

    How about getting volunteers to moderate the anonymous comments? I bet there are plenty out there who would love to.