Lately I, and several of my blogging buddies, have noticed that far too many comments on various Patch articles and posts are hostile, negative, often off-topic, and sometimes just plain crazy. Not all Patch commenters take this approach or enter into the warfare that is out there, but a handful of people are definitely taking the pleasure out of intellectual and meaningful dialog.
That’s why I liken finding a good, useful comment to finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. If you dig around, you’ll find it, but you’ll have to get your hands dirty and deal with a lot of nuts.
Anyone who’s been around the Odenton-Severn Patch long enough has no doubt gotten to know those who should automatically be ignored. These commenters find themselves often entering into hostile arguments without furthering the article or adding to the conversation.
While we encourage people to be honest and post what’s on their mind, communities thrive when people care about each other, and as such, Patch expects all of its users to be respectful of others. This means that whether you are being complimentary or critical, whether you are agreeing or disagreeing with the subject of an article or another user’s comment, you should act in a civil manner and refrain from personal attacks – after all, these are your neighbors.
I think it is a great policy that the Patch doesn’t require real names to register, but that also leads to some of this. As a blogger, I am registered with my real full name and a photo. I think if everyone who commented had to stand behind their statements with their real name, we may see some less hostility and more civility.
So next time you want to comment on an article or a blog post, just remember why the Patch is here. It is to promote and cover our local news. It is our neighborhood. It is our news. And, at the end of the day, it is about us. We should respect that and each other enough to keep our comments civil. Of course, we can and will disagree, but keeping it respectful and productive is why many have died to protect our First Amendment.
At the sound of the bell, come out swinging, but keep it clean.