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Practice What You Preach

Original post made by John on Apr 2, 2009


Below is a posting made by Gina Channell-Allen (can be found on Publishers' Blog) in which she discusses identity theft, blog anonymity and the purpose of the Town Square Forum.
Kathleen and others will want to read this!


Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, president of the Pleasanton Weekly, on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:09 am

I recently received an email from a frequent Town Square contributor that said, "This morning I discovered that someone has falsely posted using my online identity."

This is not the first case of an "online identity theft," nor will it be the last.

I'm sorry, but the theft of an online identity is not our fault. If a person doesn't have the guts to participate in a conversation without using someone else's "name," mandatory registration nor special software will fix this problem.

The benefit of registration on the PleasantonWeekly.com site, which you can do at the top of the home page, is that it's easier to post comments because you don't have to retype your name and find your neighborhood on the ever-growing list on the dropdown menu. And you can track topics so you know when a new comment is added.

But it defeats the purpose of an open forum to make everyone register in order to post. Not only does it take away the anonymity some find protective, it doesn't guarantee immunity from "identity theft." A contributor can register on our site under any online name they want. I found the same is true with the New York Times site. The difference is that the New York Times doesn't immediately post to the site; they have editors who ferret through the comments before they go online, meaning not all posts are seen.

As the song goes, every rose has its thorns.

The purpose of Town Square is to have a community forum where people are not afraid to ask tough questions and bring things to community members and leaders without fear of reprisal. Those are a few petals of the rose; trolling, flaming and, in this case, identity theft, are a few of the thorns.

This theft issue is becoming all too frequent. However, I would like to believe that contributors would prefer to not have someone sifting through their comments deciding which ones to post and which to remove.

The Weekly staff will edit comments that do not adhere to our terms of use, such as posts containing profanity or "comments that are hateful, libelous or obscene , or that are threatening, abusive or offensive to any individual, group or class of person." However, you will see those as "Comments edited by Weekly staff." Only rarely do we completely remove a post, and that's only when the comment is so completely inane it's a waste of space and might deter other posts because it's completely off topic. We would rather let the contributors edit comments and make right what they perceive is wrong.

Town Square contributor Frank, who has been an identity theft victim, has devised a unique way of protecting his identity. In a recent forum he writes, "I am the real frank of Pleasanton Heights. To confirm go to (Web Link) and there you will see a copy of this post. This IP address is mine. Any other IP address is a counterfeit."

Tell me, would you rather us control who and what gets online? Or would you rather deal with the thorns as they come?

Comments (14)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

What Gina didn't detail in her column is that it wasn't just a case of my online identity being appropriated by another, but I had informed her that I received an email from a community member who knew me and thought that I was the author of the impersonator's post. Readers at the time had no way of authenticating posts because there wasn't any "posted by a registered user" tag underneath the name.

Moreover, Gina didn't understand at the time (not sure if she does now) that mandatory registration in order to post DOES prevent the kind of identity theft I experienced. User names are unique in the registration system. No one can copy someone else's name. Nor did she seem to understand that website registration is also anonymous insofar as anyone can register using falsified information. So both prevention of impersonation and preservation of anonymity are achievable and indeed practiced by many many many other social media sites.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I have to wonder if Jeb Bing ever read Gina's post:

"The Weekly staff will edit comments that do not adhere to our terms of use, such as posts containing profanity or "comments that are hateful, libelous or obscene , or that are threatening, abusive or offensive to any individual, group or class of person." However, you will see those as "Comments edited by Weekly staff." Only rarely do we completely remove a post, and that's only when the comment is so completely inane it's a waste of space and might deter other posts because it's completely off topic. We would rather let the contributors edit comments and make right what they perceive is wrong."


Posted by Mike, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 2, 2009 at 10:59 pm

If the city of pleasanton were putting a parcel tax on the ballot, the editor would not be closing threads and stopping public internet discussions.

I think that residents should email Embarcadero and tell them the editor of the weekly is engaging in censorship. The president is Bill Johnson at bjohnson@paweekly.com

The Mountain View Voice online town square doesn't censor parcel tax discussion. See below. This is ridiculous.


Parcel tax present: $166,000
Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Mar 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm
Mountain View Whisman school officials searching for ways to compensate for expected cuts in state funding will get some relief from their own parcel tax, which is showing a surplus of $166,000 in unspent funds this year.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 13, 2008, 11:34 AM


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Comments
Posted by Enough!, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm

The federal government sends you a rebate just in time for the schools to take it away from you.




Now is not the time for increasing taxes. Everyone needs to tighten their budget. What lessons are we teaching our children?

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Posted by Observer, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2008 at 6:32 pm

That's easy: don't manage your money and don't save for a rainy day. A district that can't keep track of $166,000?

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Posted by Clyde, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2008 at 5:53 pm

VOTE NO ON HIGHER TAXES! ITS EASY TO SPEND OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

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Posted by Save our Schools!, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2008 at 5:12 am

Good schools benefit not only our children, but our society as well. Please vote yes on the Parcel Tax.


Thank you!

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Posted by SAVE OUR INCOMES, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2008 at 8:57 pm

WE'RE IN A RECESSION, IF NOT THE BEGINNING OF A DEPRESSION! GET REAL PEOPLE, THINGS ARE GOING TO GET A LOT WORSE EVEN AT GOOGLE!

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Posted by LASD Blows It, a resident of another community, on Mar 21, 2008 at 10:51 am

Isn't it amazing that LASD board would vote to open up another school with this financial crisis looming? Isn't it absurd that the well educated, business saavy board members approved of the re-opening in spite of what they knew was coming? Even when they won't have enough students to fully utilize the newly opened school.




With record gas prices, the school board voted to move the lowest income people in LASD the farthest, essentially doubling their commute and making it impossible for them to even bike to school now. So it looks like LASD is going to hit us up with a new parcel tax and LAEF is going to hit us up even harder. Unfortunately for LAEF, we will be spending an additional $200-300/year driving our kids back and forth to their new school and will be reducing our contributions to LAEF by at least that much next year. We will also be petitioning the Santa Clara County Assessor to reduce our property valuation based on us no longer having a neighborhood school.

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Posted by Alan, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2008 at 10:56 am

Not a good time to raise taxes. The city already takes too much in taxes.

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Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 2, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Kiko posted this back on Mar. 21...See Registration's Thorny Issue


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2009 at 8:31 am

I really don't get what the HUGE fuss is over registering names. As I look over these posts in the Schools and Kids section, 6 of the last 10 were started by John. It hardly seems that his ability to express his opinion has been limited.

The other irony I find is that John is willing to launch a boycott of restaurants that support the parcel tax but is still (over)using this blog. If the paper is supporting the parcel tax and that is offensive to you, why not boycott it instead of fueling its use? Or create a competing blog?

Do the people who are against the parcel tax have an actual campaign? Website? Something? If I want to know about the pro-parcel tax opinion, I can go to SavePleasantonSchools.org or contact Joan Laursen or Tonya Ludden. When I went to that site, I saw a long list of names of REAL people who endorse the tax.

Where can the people go for the other side? This site is not ideal because it is controlled by the editor and you really have to weed through the posts to separate the wackos from the reasonable folks. Is there a place where we can see concise arguments and names of real people? I think it would give the other side some much needed credibility. Right now, it looks kind of silly that you seem to be running a campaign as anonymous posters on a blog (Kathy R. excepted).


Posted by noname, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:30 am

Resident, I'll assume you're one of those "people" that believes we can speak our minds against the parcel tax without repercussions. That is so adorable of you.
If I use my real name and speak out against the tax, then my kindergarden age child will pay the price for my choice for the next few years. I have been around the block (and the world) a few times and I know that if you are against the tax, you are known around Pleasanton as being against: teachers, schools, the city of Pleasanton, the police, the mayor, the government... against people! I can handle it, but my kids are too young to explain MY choices to their teacher in class ( I heard the teachers DO talk to the kids about this stuff). No Thank you. I will continue to play the "politically correct" game and act as if I was supporting the tax. And then go into the booth and vote NO, just like everyone else!


Posted by Liz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

resident,

The supporters of the tax have the staff and financial backing of the PUSD and have been organizing for several years. Long before the state budget crisis. Fortunately taxpayers for responsible spending have an advantage with the required 2/3 super majority to pass a parcel tax.

The tax will not pass and the district will have wasted $300.000 for the stand alone election, $80,000 for campaigning and an undisclosed amount of money for lawyers and election consultants.

Pro-Kids
Pro-Community
Pro-Teacher
NO PARCEL TAX


Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

Ok Bingo, when are you gonna shut this one down...they are clearly talking about the parcel tax and they are not registered. You shut your commentary on the haves and have-nots down after one post.

You can't discriminate


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:34 am

Joe, please do not place Jeb on that ethical pedestal. He advocates for a tax that may save his wife's job by using his position at the weekly. At the very least he owed the community a disclaimer statement, but best case journalism would have had him refuse to make any comments. Instead, he uses his position to push for the tax while failing to tell us the potential benefits to him personally. Why has he not been fired for that? Ms. Channell-Allen inquiring minds want to hear your thoughts about this. Before Jeb shuts down this thread too.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A person can't be half-pregnant. I hope that the PW is finding that their attempts to be half-pregnant with their website policies is resulting in a big administrative headache.


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:48 am

Oooooohhhh Stacey -- could you be suggesting that Jeb is half-pregnant? This thread could take off like the old telephone game, imagine what amazing new "facts" we might discover. Spreading a silly rumor about Jeb being half-pregnant would at least inject some humor amoung the half-truths and outright lies that have been used to shove this parcel tax down our throats. Jeb Bing and Dr. Casey you should both be ashamed of yourselves!


Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:49 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

While I'm appalled at the lack of journalistic disclosure, I stop short of calling for Jeb Bing to be fired. He might be trying to protect his wife's job, but he might also really, really believe that the parcel tax is the best way to handle the budget shortfall. The point is that his "connection" should have been disclosed from the beginning, so that readers could make their own determinations.

The way it was handled, it LOOKS bad. And hiding behind "censorship by registration" doesn't make it look any better, for Mr. Bing or the paper.

The truth will set you free.


Posted by Pete Alves, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 3, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Jeb,

Hang-in-there - glad to see you are, finally, requiring registration in order to encourage more civility in the discussion. Such should be the requirement for your blog as a whole. Sadly, it seems that the requirement began once the shots began being directed at you. Sadly, opponents try to assign some reason for your support of the parcel tax. Your editorial made it clear - you felt it made for stronger schools and a better community. The Pleasanton Weekly has allowed this to go on for far too long. All of us should make up our own mind on the parcel tax. For me, I have yet to decide. I am beginning to lean in favor, in part, because, to me, at least on these blogs, those in favor sure seem to be showing far more class than those who oppose. It's not the questions being asked - it's the attitude and manner that the question is being asked.

Pete


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm

As a private citizen Jeb Bing has a right to think and say anything about this issue. As the editor of this paper he has NO right to publish statements in favor of a tax which may personally benefit him, no matter that he "really, really believes in it". He has NO right to enter into the argument without adequate and full disclosure. Non-disclosure is not just an ethical matter, it is a legal one as well. Ask Martha Stewart if she believes in adequate disclosure now that she had some "quiet time" to think about it.
Clearly he has shunned his ordinary editor duties in order to be the playground bully who constantly shuts down threads that are contrary to his position. This only makes him look like a buffoon with very thin skin.


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