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Cleaning up Town Square

Original post made on Oct 12, 2010

Our Town Square forums are getting cleaned up as a part of an effort of the editorial staff to create a more thoughtful and welcoming place for community discussion.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 7:59 AM

Comments (33)

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Posted by dwalden
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

dwalden is a registered user.

I personally think that anonymous entries should be banned. One should own up to their comments instead of throwing garbage out there to antagonize the audience using a hidden identity.

This can be a very effective tool to allow thoughtful ideas to thrive.


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Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:39 am

I don't think that link is the one that they wanted on there.


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Posted by Jen
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:40 am

I just clicked on the link provided and it took me to one of the anti-Obama threads that illustrate why the clean up is necessary. Was the link supposed to explain the changes, or simply give an example of why they're needed?


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Posted by K_Rhodes
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:54 am

Thanks!


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Posted by Donna
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:55 am

Why don't you just give a "topic line" for all the ranting and haters that want to let the anger out and just delete it every Thursday morning (or whatever time frame you choose). This will allow all the angry people the opportunity to vent and let go of some of the frustrations and feel like they can be heard.
Maybe it's better for them to get it out here rather than let loose on the coffee shop people or hairdressers, or bartenders!
I'm just wondering what those nutjobs will do with the pent up anger they release on the forums.

Maybe, it should be called: Rantings of the FRUSTRATED


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Posted by David Cannon
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

David Cannon is a registered user.

Thank you!


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Posted by michelle
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:07 am

Thank you so much for addressing this. I pretty much quit reading this section because it has gotten so mean-spirited. I agree that posting anonymously allows people to make totally inappropriate comments and also allows the same person or group to make multiple comments on the same topic, making it look like more people agree with their ridiculous assessments. Please keep on top of this if you want more readers and participants.


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Posted by Bill Jamaca
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:11 am

I agree that anonymous posts should not be allowed. Most furums require registration and have specific terms of service. Something to look at.


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Posted by Truth- teller
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:43 am

But Olberman & Ed get big ratings with rants of fiction. WHO decides once you shut down freedom. People loved it when he shouted liar, liar, daily for 3 years. This Obama & team of shameless attempts at silences all opposing voices is SO anti-American. Don't you want neighbors to be ABLE to STAY neighborly ?????? and still hear all sides ?? Hear no evil, speak no evil, and BLINDLY see no evil...,.just live in a fantasy. Sad for American.


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Posted by Claudette
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:56 am

Hi Emily, Gina, Dolores, Jeb... staff and its leaders :)

You know me from posting here. I've posted articles or news I've felt worthy of mentioning as part of the community. Some fun, some informational and some thoughtful, I thought. There were those who outright attacked me and it continued as in some other articles I've seen posted here, without any back up from the staff. Yes perhaps you see what is going on in the background but if there were more interaction with the Staff, I feel it would be more under control. I'm not perfect and no one is, but when there is a feeling of Leadership, things remain in control, otherwise it's war in the papers :) which I prefer to have on the battelfield ~ Thanks for Rethinking how this can be improved.


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Posted by Claudette McDermott
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

Claudette McDermott is a registered user.

I agree that you should be registered to comment in order to have your views shown. Stand up for what you say otherwise you shouldn't say it. It does not infringe on your Freedom of Speech, it just keeps you Honest ~


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Posted by Ed Dantzig
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Oct 12, 2010 at 10:34 am

Thank you for the clean up. I agree that a posting should be by an identified person and not anonymously. I too have stopped reading the forum because of the nastiness of some of the comments. Fair minded people can disagree with civility, and should.


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Posted by Jim Ott
a resident of Heritage Valley
on Oct 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

Thank you for addressing the concerns with your blog. When I first became a Pleasanton school board trustee in 2006, I scanned your blog for topics associated with schools. In time, however, I quit reading because the blog offered little civil discourse amid rantings. Fortunately, residents have made time to come to school board meetings or email trustees with ideas and concerns, and I greatly appreciate their insight.

Perhaps the Weekly could host a 90-day trial where bloggers must identify themselves. Just like a physical town square where people stand to speak, we could then see who is speaking. This would certainly result in more thoughtful discourse. And for people with anonymous tips for news stories, why not accept email and protect identities, or simply encourage anonymous letters or phone calls to the Weekly?

The founders of Wikipedia and CiviliNation had this to say in the Wall Street Journal in December 2009: "Individuals appalled at the degeneration of online civility need to speak out, to show this behavior will no longer be tolerated." They also state that "we have an unprecedented opportunity to make the global conversation more reasonable and productive. But we can only do so if we prevent the worst among us from silencing the best among us with hostility and incivility."


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:11 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I posted some of this on the other thread... Just to reiterate here, here's the past conversations on this topic:

"Residents are the eyes and ears of the newspaper" Jul 11, 2007 Web Link

"Anonymity allows open and diverse dialogue" Nov 15, 2007 Web Link

And here's my personal favorite: "Shall we trample the rose because of the thorns?" Jul 2, 2008 Web Link


To be sure, other sites do still have content issues despite requiring registration. But the amount of time they need to invest in dealing with it I can only imagine is far less than what you deal with on a site of comparable size because they do not have the headache of dealing with "unverified" posts. The word "unverified" is far more suitable than "anonymous" because those who really want to remain anonymous will still find a way. Even Facebook has anonymous users. The vast majority of users, to the contrary, actually want to be given the tools to form community and to nurture their online identities and reputations. Give them those tools and they'll far outnumber the "unverified".


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Posted by Claudia Hess
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

This is a hard one- because people are so judgmental. They will be hesitant now to speak their minds for fear they will be "outed" for their strong feelings to friends, neighbors, and their own children.
Our country is in a very tumultuous and difficult time right now and that will spur very strong reactions- but how much is too much? Outside from going to coffee houses, or to farmers market- who you gonna vent to?
I do still read the forum, but have to wade through a lot of false statements, but there still are people who post thoughtfully and factually.
Never-the-less let's give this a try and see how it works. I hope that The Weekly will be flexible on how the forum is run.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

I agree that people should be required to identify themselves and not post any anonymous postings. Then the world would be a better place.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Oct 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

"Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration! Just complete this form and hit 'submit' and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any 'member' name you wish."

I believe this statement takes care of the problem. Posters are asked to be respectful and the editorial staff can and should delete inappropriate comments. I am against registration because I saw it fail when one of the PW editors identified a poster by name.


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Posted by Duh!
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 12, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Reality Check! Having been a moderator on several forums, I give the following input.

The format used by the weekly is , well weak. Even the basic BHPP free forum format has user controls, ability to block member and moderator functions. Users sign up and can be booted via IP address.

Of course there is not a very big core croup of users here and the vast majority would no longer post if their IP were identified.

Now whats the motivation for the Weekly or any other on line forum to let things run rampant? MONEY!

Each time there is a post here, their is a Google and other provider ranking!

Every hit "post" is income, potential advertising revenue!

Advertises want to know how many hits any on line platform gets!!


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Oct 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I find the Forum comments interesting.

Please be carefully how you try to manage freedom of speech. The freedom to speak is a wonderful prize !!

I feel we are living in a difficult time in our Country As an old guy, I have not seen anything like the Political leadership.that we have today

I do not like the verification codes. I do see any benefit to have them


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm

What's this stuff about "manage freedom of speech" anyhow? Since the founding of this country newspaper editors rarely if ever printed anonymous letters. Therefore, under yesteryear's standards, banning anonymous postings is quite OK under the Constitution and does NOT infringe in any way freedom of speech. I'm sure Anthony Scalia would agree since this was true at the founding of the Constitution and who else on the court views, to the degree he does, the interpretation of the Constitution as if today were circa 1775.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Frank, you're forgetting, The Federalist Papers were written with a pseudonym. I imagine the reason behind that was because the writers wanted the readers to focus upon the message and not the messenger.


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Posted by dwalden
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

dwalden is a registered user.

Freedom of speech is is what we all want but owning up to your comments takes a bit more courage. If I am to take you seriously then I want to know that you are willing to own your comment. Owning your comment, means to me, is not being afraid to put your real name to it.


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Posted by beware retaliation
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 14, 2010 at 9:00 am

Owning your comments is a nobel thing, right up until it causes retaliation from those who disagree. Some years ago I had repeated issues with a close neighbor who allowed loud parties and drinking by underage kids. I worked with the PD and even talked with the neighbors in an attempt to not be just an anonymous complainer. Never again. Those people sprayed paint on my home, spiked my car tires and generally declared war on me. When another neighbor asked me what to do about a barking dog I advised him that the most important thing was to remain anonymous.
There are too many people in this town who feel entitled to trample the rights of anyone who gets into their way. Why would I risk identifying myself in a forum like this?


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Posted by Claudette McDermott
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 14, 2010 at 10:09 am

Claudette McDermott is a registered user.

Sometimes it's important to put yourself out there, even if you are fearful. What would happen if someone was being abused, do you stand there and watch, do you walk away...? No you put yourself out there and Help. Even though this is a website and we can't See each other, we are still Real People with real feelings and if someone is harassing you or anyone else it effects them in the Real World too. You can disagree and still be civil. Don't leave room for those that Enjoy Not Being Civil to use the PW as their playground. The civil ones will leave and the Haters will run the PW to the ground where only an echo will be heard at some point.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

If you completely identify yourself, you open yourself up to dangerous, perhaps physical, retribution from the other side of the argument.

That's why our voting is a secret ballot. That's why I don't tell you my last name.

Why should my children or wife suffer the wrath of neighbors or teachers when I say we need to cut our budget rather than pass a parcel tax?

Why would revealing my last name help me make such an argument?

Why not just report objectionable content?


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Posted by Claudette
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm

You don't need to add your last name as an Identifier when you register. Look above, and you will see registered users in a variety of ways. Stacy uses her first name only, dwalden looks like a last name with first initial...


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Posted by Yet Another Teacher
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Oct 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm

[Portion removed] has a radical far-right agenda, shared by David Harmer, the GOP candidate for the 11th congressional district who has been given a 50-50 chance of unseating two-term representative Jerry McNerney.

What is that radical agenda?

The abolition of public schools.

Read about it in the current online edition of Mother Jones:

Web Link

An excerpt:
"Harmer has a long history of pushing libertarian education policy. In the 1990s, he worked on education issues for the conservative Heritage Foundation, and published a book, School Choice: Why You Need It—How You Get It through the libertarian Cato Institute. He also coauthored an article in which public schooling is referred to as "socialism in education." In that piece, Harmer and coauthor Joseph Bast assure readers that they "are 100 percent committed to getting government out of the business of educating our children." They cite the "life-ruining effects of government schools" and argue for school vouchers—but only as a step toward for the eventual total elimination of the public school system."

(By the way, Mr. Harmer's children attend San Ramon Valley USD's excellent public schools, where his wife also works as...a substitute teacher. Oh, those wacky Tea Partiers!)


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 14, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Yet Another Teacher -

Don't mistake radicalism for pragmatism.

Why is abolition of the public school system radical? If there is a viable alternative, let's hear it. Especially if it's an idea that will cost less.

I'd like to see a no-strings-attached school voucher system that could take the place of our expensive, over regulated public schools.

I think the idea of dismantling the public schools and replacing them with a viable alternative is refreshing, not radical.

Why should we care about a Congresman who doesn't represent us anyway:

a report from March 16, 2010:

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton), is the last remaining Congressional representative from the Bay Area to decide where he stands on the legislation. While McNerney supported the House health care bill, he has voiced reservations about the Senate version of the bill that Democrats are now looking to pass.

What's interesting here is that McNerney, who four years ago ousted powerful Republican "Rancher Congressman" Richard Pombo, has said he doesn't like the reform package because it isn't ambitious enough. Not exactly what you'd expect from a well-known centrist trying to hold on to a seat in a swing district.


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Posted by cosmic-charlie
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:30 pm

If it ain't broken, don't fix it!


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Posted by But it is!
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Broken. It has lost any productive value in its current form. I belong to plenty of forums that have you register and use a "nickname" when you post. The moderator has your email address and reserves the right to ban anyone who violates the terms and conditions. The fix to this is so simple I'm blown away at the level of ignorance in some of the comments.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:16 pm

But this is not a Freedom of Speech issue. This is a Freedom of the Press issue. This webstie is owned and operated by the Weekly, and unlike the Lin family, they can do whatever they with it...


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 15, 2010 at 10:57 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Yet Another Teacher has a point. The business of education is far too politicized. That's one reason why California wastes a ton of money on categoricals and mandates. Because of the politicization, when someone shows up espousing a certain view of education reform, those on the other side get further entrenched in trying to protect something even when it isn't working, all because of money. Here's an article that echoes my own sentiments about the California educational financing system which I have written here in the past. I've advocated here in the past to look at programs in a cost-benefit analysis sort of way like they seem to already be doing in Florida.

"School funding more efficient in other states" Web Link

"Once a categorical program is established in California, it's hard to take away – or even siphon part of its funding, experts say, as it's an uphill political battle to reduce funding for a program backed by a specific interest group or legislator.

Not so in Florida, where categoricals never get a free pass. Rather, state legislators evaluate the programs annually – it's expected that a program will be scrutinized over why it should be renewed, instead of why it shouldn't."


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Posted by Not Yet 40
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Now I ask you, who at the Pleasanton Weekly is going to do "the cleaning up"?????
* The same crew that writes the editorials?
* The same crew that writes the articles?
* The same crew that currently deletes postings that get too critical of the Hippie Mayor (and wannabe Congresswoman) and our current Loopy Congressman?
* The outside influencers (Scott Raty, the Hippie Mayor, the Loopy Congressman)?

That's as funny as Nancy Pelosi making speeches about Draining the Swamp, Cleaning Up Foggy Bottom, and vowing the 2008 Congress was going to be the least corrupt in history!!!


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