Letters to the Editor

Letter: Forum change

November 1, 2013


To the editor:

I was disappointed to see the format change on the reader reply and chat section. It seems as if about a dozen people are now responsible for holding up arguments that used to be supported by hundreds of readers/bloggers. Sad.

Anonymity is something people can hide behind for nefarious reasons or for very good reasons. I thought the bloggers did a good job of taking to task anyone who started personal attacks. The monitors were good at removing vulgar or inappropriate language although, later, sometimes it seemed more a matter of “I dd not like what you said.”

I want to say I miss the free exchange of ideas that the old system brought, good or bad. Thanks to all who contributed for so many years. I may not have agreed with you and you may not have agreed with me, but we had a conversation and that got people thinking. That is all this was meant to do.


Bob Smith 5 months, 1 week ago

I need to start larding my posts with little asides on how wonderful and wise I am. The cool kids are doing it.


Leslie Swearingen 5 months, 1 week ago

I am an American woman and I intend to fully implement every right guaranteed to me by the Constitution. My father was killed in the Korean War and I refuse to let his death be for nothing. I have taught my daughter and granddaughter the same thing.

I feel that I have changed for the better by making comments on here because I changed from simply calling someone a fool to writing that I disagreed with a point they made and why. I had to think about what I actually thought about the others comment and not simply go with an emotional reaction.

I refuse to be frightened or cowed by threats and if you choose to e-mail me I will simply send it to the trash.......and then get on with my life.


Richard Hitower 5 months, 1 week ago

""I don't live in Lawrence anymore so my personal safety is no longer a factor, but even prior to the policy change I was aware of more than one person whose personal information was discovered and was subsequently stalked and verbally threatened via e-mail."

If that actually happened, obviously an arrest would have been made. Can you tell us when the arrest occurred?"

Marion Sydney Lynn Sven Whathisname Whoever Northtown was

No arrests were made but lawyers got involved and the above will be in legal hot water if they harass anyone again.

And notice two of them used their real names.


Scott Burkhart 5 months, 1 week ago

What I noticed, under the cloak of anonymity, was that there were those that would respond with name calling and personal attack when they could not defend their positions in the arena of ideas. I don't see that occurring any longer or at least at a minimum. I always felt that anonymity prevented a person from "owning" their response.

In response to the argument about our forefathers writing under pen names, that was when the things that they wrote could earn them a trip to the gallows. Thank goodness we don't live in a society like that now. However, that can change when you have a despot for a president who feels like he or she is not accountable to the American people. I'm not referring to anyone in particular. Just a hypothetical scenario.


Leslie Swearingen 5 months, 1 week ago

Some people are just not civil whether they are writing or speaking. The trick is to not respond to the person making the comment but to the content. This means you have to think about why you agree or disagree. I think it has been proved that attention span is getting shorter and shorter.

Each of us should take responsibility for what we feel, think, write and speak. Never, never pass up an opportunity to speak your mind when it means something. I am thinking about the sixties when I was threatened with death if I wanted equal rights for all. Yet, I stood toe to toe with the bigots and spoke my mind. On the bus I have defended the rights of Muslims when another passenger wanted to portray them all as scarey and violent. I have never been sorry for speaking out.


Chris Golledge 5 months, 1 week ago

Basically, it comes down to a tradeoff between anonymity lending to an unfettered exchange of honest opinions, and anonymity being used to spout garbage you would not say in public. There is no ideal solution, and the LJW owners have decided that there was too much garbage in the exchanges. It's their prerogative.

Giving it some thought, I decided I was willing to risk the crazies for more accountability in what was being said. However, it was not my right to expose any friends to the crazies, and using FB let's others see who your friends are. So, while this is really me, this account is linked to a FB account I only use for online logins, and personal information, etc. is limited. Granted, this is a case of security through obscurity, but at least someone has to go to a little more effort to get additional info. Not perfect, but it abides by the decision of the site owners, and somewhat lessens my concerns.

I've seen a few comments where someone has obviously set up a fake FB identity; since that is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement set forth by the site owners, I treat them as if they do not exist.


Paul R Getto 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Having been "out" for years, I fail to see the problem. Before the Internet, using your name was called due process. Say what you think and stand up straight.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 months, 2 weeks ago

There is nothing that I say here I would not be hisitant to say on the street corner. We live in a free society and have the right to express our opinions and be heard. This plot by this newsrag was to suppress those who would feel uncomfortable in doing this for whatefer reason. Letters to the Editor are "edited" or refused outright. This forum gives some freedom to express your views, at least before the censors get to it.


Linda Endicott 5 months, 2 weeks ago

An electronic white hood...well, I suppose for some it could have been that way...but for most, it was just trying to protect friends and family from harassment, and sometimes trying to keep your job...

In the old days, most of the posters were polite and respectful, even when they disagreed with others...but there were also a handful of overzealous crazies, on both sides of many topics, that made you fearful every time you logged in and commented...the newspaper kept banning them, and they would always find a way back in, appearing multiple times like they had bungee cord on their butts...

Their security in this area truly sucked, and I don't suppose it will be a lot different now that people are using their real names, for the most part...there will still be those crazies that will harass others to the point of it being criminal...I for one don't feel a bit safer having everything linked through Facebook, since we all know what a paragon of virtue that place is...NOT!

And I'm still Crazyks, even though you now know my real name...right now I suppose it doesn't matter much, but in days to come it may matter again...and then, sad as it would be, I'll probably just stop posting, like a lot of others probably already have...

In a day and age where giving your real name makes it easier for tech savvy people to find you, it seems kind of stupid to me to make it a requirement, instead of a choice...but, that's how the owners choose to do it...they may just find that they lose a lot of readers because of it...


Les Blevins 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The clean-tech innovations that will solve the world’s most urgent environmental problems might come from where we least expect it: by first serving the needs of consumers at the base of the economic pyramid, says Stuart Hart, a professor of management at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and chairman of the university’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise.

Mr. Hart says that this “trickle-up” approach is best suited to small-scale, distributed clean tech solutions, especially when it comes to distributed energy. In a distributed energy system, power is generated at the household or at the neighborhood level rather than from the large centralized power plants, and long-distance transmission is minimized. Most renewable energy advocates expect some portion of our future clean energy portfolio to come from distributed technologies.

The United States will ignore these types of reverse innovations and distributed solutions at its peril, he concludes. “If we don’t figure out how we create the incentive to get some of our better entrepreneurs and technologists out of this country and into places where these new markets are going to be created, like China and India, we’ll miss it, which in the long run will not be good for this country,” he said.


Les Blevins 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I've always used my real name and I stand behind my statements, including that the Journal World is harming Lawrence area residents both environmentally and economically and those of the entire USA by not reporting that my small technology development firm has technology we've designed for addressing some of the world's more serious ills and that it deserves area support for a demonstration of concept.. And by "support" I don't mean monetary support. I've been on a waiting list to meet with the City Manager since Sue Hack was mayor. I once sent Mayor Hack an email asking her for city support, and she said if I would send her a letter she would respond but when I did so she refused to respond and I can only imagine it was due to her reluctance to consider making any changes to the status quo that might meet the needs of the businesses and residences but also reduce the city's ongoing big payments to the area landfill to offload what I consider to be byproduct resources belonging to the people as liabilities rather than convert them to valuable resources in the form of renewable energy.


Phil Minkin 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I have noticed that reader comments are now more germane to the article or letter and don't descend to two or three anonymous posters arguing back and forth about things having nothing to do with the original piece. A friend aptly described anonymous remarks as the electronic version of a white hood.


Barry Penders 5 months, 2 weeks ago

There's been a change on the forum?


Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


James Canaday 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Thomas writes: I want to say I miss the free exchange of ideas that the old system brought, good or bad. Thanks to all who contributed for so many years. I may not have agreed with you and you may not have agreed with me, but we had a conversation and that got people thinking. That is all this was meant to do.

*I agree 100%. there are crazies on the left too, and they do threaten those with whom they disagree. losing anonymity means that less popular opinions in liberal lawrence will not be communicated freely. the editors/honchos of this site shouldn't have made the change.

@Kevin, you always could've used your real name before, by your own choice.


Cait McKnelly 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with Brock. I am retired, my children are grown and I am in a place where anonymity isn't something I require. I have made links to articles I have written under my real name when I was still "anonymously" posting here as I didn't care any longer. I didn't have a job or family to protect. And it is true that publicly posting on certain subjects can threaten those things.
I think my biggest concern when I found out about this was the fact that there are, to put it bluntly, crazies out there. I don't live in Lawrence anymore so my personal safety is no longer a factor, but even prior to the policy change I was aware of more than one person whose personal information was discovered and was subsequently stalked and verbally threatened via e-mail. It's truly stunning the number of potential "Scott Roeders" there are walking the streets.
I've noticed other changes in the paper's website, though. It seems there is a bit of "dumbing down" on the publication of potentially volatile news stories, bordering on outright censorship. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I can understand the paper's reasoning; there's a fine line between objective reporting and muckraking. On the other, I worry that an ideological filter is being placed that, much like FOX "News", distorts the truth.
I'm just glad I'm not in the shoes of the editorial board.


Brock Masters 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Sometimes speech much be unpopular Sometimes speech goes against the norm, but that is necessary to bring about change. Anonymous speech has its place. It allows individuals the opportunity to voice opinions that are needed but if attributed to the individual bring about serious or dire consequences.


Kevin Groenhagen 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I note that Thomas Bryce's letter to the editor, in which he expressed his opinion, included his actual name. This is done with thousands of letters of the editor each and every day throughout the country. Why should an online forum be any different?

I also note that the online forum has become much more civil with the policy change. Obviously, there were many here before who came here for the sole purpose of throwing stones at others while hiding behind the tree of anonymity.


Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd be interested to see how the number of daily page views has changed since the Great Winnowing.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.