When the Town Square forum rolled out as a part of our updated sites in early 2007, we weren't exactly sure how the community would respond. Designed to be a digital version of a local meeting place for people to discuss issues and comment on stories, it has since grown to become a topic offline as well.
Commenting on news stories and taking part in forums has become the norm for news stories. Yet, those in the newsroom are still trying to figure out how best to manage these online discussions. After all, moderating anonymous posts wasn't part of our journalism school curriculum. When walking around town, I hear both positive and negative feedback from readers about our forum. Everyone seems to enjoy the ability to comment and be part of the news process. Yet, there is some frustration with the mean-spirited and sometimes just plain stupid comments that go on. We hear you.
As we work toward making Town Square a place of respectful discussion, we are also looking to you, our readers, to help. We are grateful to those who click "report objectionable content" links when a post or comment has gotten out of hand. By clicking these links, it alerts the editors to the objectionable items and we deal with them as soon as possible.
Our goal isn't to stifle debate and discussion, just to achieve a level of decorum.