A NEW Year confession: I've been too slack.
I used to pride myself on the fact that comments posted by Bass Coast Post readers were constructive, courteous, intelligent, relevant, respectful. So unlike those in most other online forums.
But I have to face facts. Our comments have gradually deteriorated. These days many are obnoxious and personal. Just like all the other publications.
I don't like censoring other people's views, particularly those with views that are opposed to mine, but I should have taken more notice.
When I set up the Post in 2012, I wrote a kind of credo: the Post was to be a forum for informed discussion, a civil place where people could debate issues and ideas, rather than criticise personalities.
The credo was a reaction to the personal attacks and vitriolic views that were published each week in the local newspapers.
I’m making a reluctant return to moderating and a degree of censorship.
The new editorial policy (which is actually the old editorial policy) is to encourage rational and courteous debate and a genuine exchange of information and opinions.
Anonymity is the biggest enabler of personal abuse. Abusive comments are almost always anonymous, often posted under a false name, sometimes under several false names to make it look like a groundswell of opinion rather than the views of a single person with a grudge. The Post has a few serial offenders.
It’s the conversations that make the Post. I welcome the comments. But from here on, comments will only be published in the Post with a full name. Where writers decline to supply their full name, their comments will be deleted. That includes even favourable or innocuous comments, because otherwise it looks as though I'm censoring views with which I disagree.
Where comments contain abuse, but otherwise have something relevant to add to a debate, they will be edited back to the substance.
We all know other people believe some crazy things. Calling them a #$%@!!!*&#$ idiot is probably not the right way to convince them of the error of their thinking.