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 2 years ago

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

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

I don't think there's any appearance of civility, the only difference I have seen since the change is the dramatic drop in the number of people involved.

Also, there is one name has written more Letters to the Editor than any other, and not only is it by far the most prolific, it has spawned great discussions, movements and brought change where others were afraid. That name - Anonymous.

Brock Masters 2 years 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.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Oh no! Also, being dishonest about everything except your name isn't any better. It is in fact far worse.

Brock Masters 2 years ago

I guess some of the founding fathers were cowards for publishing under pen names?

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Aww, they should bring back Barbara's post - she made good arguments (at least pointed out Kevin's bad arguments).

Seth Peterson 2 years ago


This isn't what was stated, but good of you to reword someone else's argument in order to better suit your needs rather than answer the question. Now in response to your 'well crafted question' several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had pen names and pseudonyms. Including Benjamin Franklin.

Cait McKnelly 2 years 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.

Kathy Theis-Getto 2 years ago

I chose to use my real name a long time ago to protect myself from stalkers (you know who you are). It was a tough decision, but it assured that the people doing the stalking could no longer pretend they did not know who I was. They continued their stalking, but were caught and dealt with. Lots of cowards out there, but they can't hurt me anymore.

It is sad to see the LJW forums in the state they are right now, but I saw it coming when my posts were being removed by the moderator due to my political beliefs. Their loss, my gain.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years ago

"my posts were being removed by the moderator due to my political beliefs."

I certainly noticed that a great deal of editorializing was being done by a moderator that I understand is no longer with the paper. But in my case, once it wasn't due to political beliefs, it was due to a statement of a fact with which he was not familiar and did not believe was true, obviously due to his limited reading on the subject. But, in fairness to him, it was certainly necessary to read foreign publications in order to be aware of it, because it was never reported in the United States press to my knowledge. So, apparently he didn't know anything about it, and deleted my comment. That was the only reason that I could think of that my comment had been removed. It bothered me because I had put a great deal of thought into it.

And in another case, it really peeved me to get a "violation of usage agreement" removal, apparently because most of my comment was a quote from what he must have considered to be a NO-NO source - 'The Arab Times', which is a publication from Saudi Arabia.

After those two removals, among others, I tried to tone it down, and not use very many tidbits of information that I had gleaned from foreign publications that were not also well reported in the United States press. But, it was rather frustrating. As far as I can tell from at least one recent comment, presenting viewpoints from foreign nations is now allowed.

James Canaday 2 years 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.

Bob Smith 2 years ago

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

Phil Minkin 2 years 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.

Linda Endicott 2 years 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...

Ron Holzwarth 2 years ago

"In a day and age where giving your real name makes it easier for tech savvy people to find you,"

It's ever so much easier for them if far less than 1,000 people in the United States share your last name!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years 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.

Rick Masters 2 years ago

(Insert sound of a cartoon spring's "boooiiinnnnggg!!!" here.)

Chris Golledge 2 years 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.

Chris Golledge 2 years ago

Now, this bit with having to answer marketing questions in order to read the content is just annoying, and I have to be pretty hooked on the first two sentences to bother.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years 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.

Scott Burkhart 2 years 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.

Scott Burkhart 2 years ago

I would disagree to a point about them fearing for their lives. Had they ruffled the feathers of an opponent, they could have wound up on the village green in the early hours with a pair of dueling pistols and accompanied by seconds.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years 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.

Bob Smith 2 years ago

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

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