by Jim Nintzel
The Arizona Republic uses the nuclear option to clean up online reader comments. Senior vice president of news and audience development Randy Lovely explains that commenters will no longer be able to hide in the shadows of anonymity:
My views shifted gradually as I held out hope that the community at large would rise to the responsibility of shaping a productive exchange. At first, I defended the range of remarks, then I began to grow concerned about the tenor, and I finally became disgusted.
The final straw came for me earlier this year. In the aftermath of the tragic shooting near Tucson, comments such as these were all too pervasive:
WeElectedIdiots2: "I guess a politician with half a brain is better than the rest of the idiots that get elected."
AZJavaRooster: "She should be up for Canonization soon! oh, God! she was heard to say, 'Well if I had half a mind ...' "
ksteele26: "This guy Loughner is a true patriot. Giffords has the blood of millions of the murdered unborn on her hands."
At no point did I ever consider completely eliminating the community's ability and right to speak out, but I knew we needed to work toward a solution that would bring greater accountability and responsibility — to your words.
During the past few months, the azcentral staff has been exploring options and experimenting with different technology that will continue to allow an exchange of opinions, but with a goal of reducing meaningless, mean-spirited rhetoric.
Beginning today, azcentral users wishing to comment on any of our blog posts will need to do so through the use of a personal Facebook account. Ultimately, in the next couple of months, the same technology will be in place for all articles on the site.
I'm in full support and hope that the Arizona Daily Star considers doing the same thing to banish the trolls from the sewer its online commentary section has become. Does anyone think for a second that most of those comments would still be made if someone had to sign their name to them?