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In experiment, Town Square forum commenting will be limited to registered users

Original post made on Jul 31, 2020

Starting August 1, participation in The Almanac's popular Town Square reader forum will be limited to those who register on the site with their name and email address.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 31, 2020, 9:28 AM

Comments (16)

15 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:54 am

sad day for residents.

great day for government, schools, politicians as there will be one less place people can anonymously post information and opinion without the fear of retribution.

hope you go out of business due to this decision.


13 people like this
Posted by another resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:26 am

I think this is a worthwhile experiment. I personally prefer to use a screen name, as I am a little shy about having public comments be on the internet for eternity. But all of my comments are statements I would stand behind and say in person to other people. I think we should all have that standard for what we post in public forums, and I hope that having some (small amount of) accountability will help to achieve that goal.


51 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:48 am

What is so onerous/dangerous about giving the Almanac your name and email and then being able to use whatever screen name you want?


5 people like this
Posted by Whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:17 am

Correct me if I'm wrong but this isn't the first time you've tried this experiment.


6 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:37 am

I suppose if I can't post without registering, I'll just have to go back to my day job as Attorney General.


6 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Very poor decision. A way to silence us. How long do you think it will be before names are released or leaked?


4 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Good idea. You can use a "screen" name, so no one can hunt you down and hurt you.


6 people like this
Posted by Sara T
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:52 pm

It frightens me that people want to be anonymous.


13 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Sara T: As has happened in the past, people who have given their real name (usually first and last), have been hunted down by opponents of their views, and have had their lives threatened. I think a "screen" name is the safest way to participate.


2 people like this
Posted by meanwhile...
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:29 pm

So long as you NEVER require people to use their real name on the posts themselves.

Requiring real names failed badly on social media a decade ago. Again and again and again. It was a tone deaf response from big tech that failed to address their problem and marginalized the voices of billions.

Real name policies promote dominating viewpoints from those in positions of power with no fear and nothing to lose by restricting the ability to participate of those who cannot use their real name in public for VERY real fear of both physical and virtual reprisals. Usually women and minorities.

The same is true on Nextdoor today where their entire platform is based on their own fake concept of "real" which by definition excludes half the people around from ever participating.

Yes, you've got a problem. I applaud you at least requiring registration. But it in itself is nowhere near a fix.


Like this comment
Posted by meanwhile...
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:35 pm

For example: Hold your commenters up to fact checking. Post corrections on comments and ban those who repeatedly lie and seek to spread misinformation. Nobody is going to cry over the loss of Trump nazis meaningless screams.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:59 pm

I encourage everybody to see this as a reset and to carefully evaluate and monitor our own postings to see if we can make the Forum "a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."


Like this comment
Posted by Bad Idea
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 5:23 pm

What the Almanac actually is concerned about is governed by what they call their Terms of Use. If a post is inappropriate (according to the Almanac's own rules, not the Constitution, since this is not a government service), whether anonymous or not, it may be deleted.

It is interesting the Almanac's own article on this refers to postings reflecting "deep divisions over the handling of the pandemic response and, more recently, on protests and advocacy relating to racial injustice and police reform."

It's simply a fact that many people are reluctant to criticize police and advocate for police reform using their own names or in a pseudonymous way that can be traced. The problem is, it's usually law enforcement doing the tracing.

This is a bad move for police reform. If a post is over the line, deal with it. I have not seen many posts over the line. Strong views have been expressed, for sure, and certain public officials have been criticized by name, but that all goes along with the territory of entering the public sector in leadership positions.

Examples of what I have definitely not seen (has anyone else?), some of which might have justified this response: threats to personal safety, publication of personal home addresses, random pejorative attacks that have nothing to do with the subject matter ("did anyone know that Mr. X is _______ [attracted to goats, fill in the blankā€¦]".

Seems like a solution in search of a problem.


5 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 31, 2020 at 5:26 pm

I have found moderation of this site to be very good and the elimination on non-relevant and unfriendly posts to be quick. I am in favor of allowing people to continue to post without registering, I think it actually improves the discussion by allowing people to post their opinion, no matter if it is popular or not, without feeling exposed.

Yes you can use a screen name but sometimes you may not want what you say associated with other posts you make under your usual screen name.


7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:22 pm

"Very poor decision. A way to silence us. How long do you think it will be before names are released or leaked?"

I've been registered for years. You don't know who I am do you?


3 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2020 at 1:21 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

I support the new registration requirement as only The Almanac will know who makes a comment and it should have the ability to identify, educated and manager users who abuse the privilege of expressing their views on Town Square. All users can still use any screen name they choose so they are not creating personal exposures. I have posted many comments the past ten years, always used my real name and have never been privately threatened by anyone. (Although I have been publicly attacked and generally just ignore them.) Nextdoor requires actual names and remains extremely popular. The ALMANAC will remain far less restrictive.

I believe many readers do not comment in the Town Square because they dislike reading public personal attacks on themselves and others. I support judicious moderation. The new registration requirement will better equip The Almanac to perform this function.

Good move...


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