News

Editorial: Experiment aimed at improving tone and dialogue on our Town Square forum

Beginning Saturday, participation will be limited to registered users until after election

Starting this Saturday (Aug. 1), participation in PleasantonWeekly.com's popular Town Square reader forum will be limited to those who register on the site with their name and email address.

(File image)

The change is an experiment to determine if requiring registration will lead to a more welcoming environment for those interested in respectful discussions of local issues.

In spite of the large numbers of people who enjoy engaging in meaningful discussion on Town Square, we know that there are many others who stay away because they view it as an inhospitable place often dominated by rude posters who belittle others and their motives. Town Square wasn't intended as a place exclusively for the thick-skinned.

The actions of these problematic posters have demanded increasing amounts of our staff's time to moderate, edit and sometimes delete disrespectful comments that seem intended to antagonize or manipulate public opinion with false or misleading information.

The volume of commenting has soared since the shelter-in-place orders were made in mid-March, fueled by deep divisions over the handling of the pandemic response and, more recently, on protests and advocacy relating to racial injustice and police reform.

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We are constantly evaluating how to make Town Square a safer place for all posters and to keep out those who attack others, make repetitive comments and side-track discussions. With an expected highly-charged election season ahead of us, it seemed like the right time to implement new requirements.

Becoming a registered user requires a person to register their name and email address with PleasantonWeekly.com. Although posters are encouraged to use their name when they post comments, they may choose to use a screen name instead. But the registration requirement will create some accountability and a way for our moderators to contact the poster.

There is no perfect way to weed out posters who are hell-bent on being snarky, rude and disrespectful. But at a time when emotions are high and so much polarization exists in politics, we hope this step will move Town Square closer to a place where constructive dialogue and debate can occur.

PleasantonWeekly.com readers will be asked to help evaluate the registration requirement after the Nov. 3 election.

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Editorial: Experiment aimed at improving tone and dialogue on our Town Square forum

Beginning Saturday, participation will be limited to registered users until after election

by /

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 2:20 pm

Starting this Saturday (Aug. 1), participation in PleasantonWeekly.com's popular Town Square reader forum will be limited to those who register on the site with their name and email address.

The change is an experiment to determine if requiring registration will lead to a more welcoming environment for those interested in respectful discussions of local issues.

In spite of the large numbers of people who enjoy engaging in meaningful discussion on Town Square, we know that there are many others who stay away because they view it as an inhospitable place often dominated by rude posters who belittle others and their motives. Town Square wasn't intended as a place exclusively for the thick-skinned.

The actions of these problematic posters have demanded increasing amounts of our staff's time to moderate, edit and sometimes delete disrespectful comments that seem intended to antagonize or manipulate public opinion with false or misleading information.

The volume of commenting has soared since the shelter-in-place orders were made in mid-March, fueled by deep divisions over the handling of the pandemic response and, more recently, on protests and advocacy relating to racial injustice and police reform.

We are constantly evaluating how to make Town Square a safer place for all posters and to keep out those who attack others, make repetitive comments and side-track discussions. With an expected highly-charged election season ahead of us, it seemed like the right time to implement new requirements.

Becoming a registered user requires a person to register their name and email address with PleasantonWeekly.com. Although posters are encouraged to use their name when they post comments, they may choose to use a screen name instead. But the registration requirement will create some accountability and a way for our moderators to contact the poster.

There is no perfect way to weed out posters who are hell-bent on being snarky, rude and disrespectful. But at a time when emotions are high and so much polarization exists in politics, we hope this step will move Town Square closer to a place where constructive dialogue and debate can occur.

PleasantonWeekly.com readers will be asked to help evaluate the registration requirement after the Nov. 3 election.

Comments

Michael Austin
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 28, 2020 at 5:43 pm
Michael Austin, Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 28, 2020 at 5:43 pm
12 people like this

GOOD DECESION!


Name hidden
Birdland

on Jul 28, 2020 at 5:57 pm
Name hidden, Birdland

on Jul 28, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Vintage Hills
on Jul 28, 2020 at 6:31 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
on Jul 28, 2020 at 6:31 pm
9 people like this

This, I hope, will allow people to come out from behind their fake names. However, it is welcome regardless.


Ennis
Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 29, 2020 at 9:53 am
Ennis, Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 29, 2020 at 9:53 am
14 people like this

I'm glad to hear and hope this goes beyond the 'experimental' phase. I found it interesting that your recent editorial about running for local office didn't really address a key point in my mind -the character assassination that takes place in the comments section of any issue, particularly those that address local school issues (the school board, administration, and teachers) and local political issues, i.e. Costco. The venom directed at specific people and groups is surprising (well, actually in this day and age, maybe not) and clearly unacceptable. The Jamie Yee school board announcement in the last 24 hours is yet another example. I would also offer that it might also be in the interest of discussions to limit the number of comments allowed by any one individual to avoid monopolization and trolling that seems to happen.


Ndna Jnz
Mohr Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:44 am
Ndna Jnz, Mohr Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:44 am
6 people like this

Bravo, Weekly! A long time coming.
Most online forums have long required registration to post.


Name hidden
Beratlis Place

on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:14 am
Name hidden, Beratlis Place

on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:14 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Name hidden
Canyon Creek

on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:19 am
Name hidden, Canyon Creek

on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:19 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Ken mano
Willow West
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:37 am
Ken mano, Willow West
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:37 am
28 people like this

I think you should go further than that and disallow screen / fake names, and require posting of a person's real name. If someone wants to post comments, they should stand behind them with their real name.


Juan Hidalgo
Village High School
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:15 pm
Juan Hidalgo, Village High School
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:15 pm
24 people like this

"The actions of these problematic posters have demanded increasing amounts of our staff's time to moderate, edit and sometimes delete disrespectful comments that seem intended to antagonize or manipulate public opinion with false or misleading information."

I very much look forward to the PleasantonWeekly staff enforcing these guidelines in a fair and unbiased manner. I for one am exhausted from reading posts that slander public servants and attempt to manipulate public opinion by making false and misleading statements. I can't wait for the new town square, where facts rule the day and unsubstantiated allegations take the sidelines.


Screen names still have value
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:25 pm
Screen names still have value, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:25 pm
19 people like this

I support this change. The registration requirement provides a reasonable balance between anonymity and accountability.

Screen names provide room for whistleblowers and others with minority opinions to exercise their freedom of speech - and maybe actually persuade others to listen to reason - without risk of real-world harassment from the legions of intolerant people who have fallen hook, line and sinker for the latest misguided propaganda feeding their preferred confirmation biases.


DKHSK
Bridle Creek
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:24 am
DKHSK, Bridle Creek
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:24 am
14 people like this

Kathleen/Michael,

Perhaps you’ve misunderstood what the article says. The only thing changing is that readers will have to register in order to comment.

I’ve been registered for years now, and have given PW my real first and last name. There will be many people who create email accounts with fake names just so that they can comment.

I’m agnostic about the outcome that PW is seeking, but registering has never once squelched how I wanted to comment and it won’t in the future.

Dan (my real name)


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Vintage Hills
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:34 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:34 am
4 people like this

Dan, two sentences: the first was hope that people will use their real names; the second acknowledging this is welcome even if they do not. I see no problem with either statement; I also know you are already registered, as am I.


Jo
Parkside
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:28 am
Jo, Parkside
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:28 am
2 people like this

We shall see. As long as ppl dont adopt a "cancel culture" mentality.


culture
Birdland
on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:06 pm
culture, Birdland
on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:06 pm
5 people like this

with all that is going on in today's culture, why would i give my name out for all to look up on whitepages.com and similar platforms, to give whomever the opportunity to protest in front of my house and yours for that matter.
Mike, Kathleen and the rest?


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Vintage Hills
on Jul 30, 2020 at 6:08 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
on Jul 30, 2020 at 6:08 pm
4 people like this

It isn’t a requirement that you use your name, culture.


DKHSK
Bridle Creek
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:15 pm
DKHSK, Bridle Creek
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:15 pm
8 people like this

Jo,

Bingo. In today’s online world, cancel culture is the reason many of us comment anonymously.

Dan


Barbara Costello
Highland Oaks
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:42 pm
Barbara Costello, Highland Oaks
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:42 pm
5 people like this

Interesting. It used to be that if you wrote a letter to the editor of your local paper, you had to supply your real name and address to be published. I get why some people want to use a screen name, but I absolutely support the registration process. I am registered and I use my own name when I comment. We should all turn against the cancel culture and doxing that has become so prevalent at preventing free speech.


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