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The Importance of Civility and Transparency on Patch

Anonymous user comments will no longer be posted. If you do not post your full name, your comment will be deleted.

Discussions that have been ongoing on Dormont-Brookline Patch are causing me concern because of the tone of some of the posts and the anonymity of posters across the board.

Patch is dedicated to journalistic integrity. We want our stories to be fair, unbiased and ethical. We also are dedicated to encouraging public discourse on the issues of the day. Indeed, we want lively, informed discussions and we encourage our readers to post comments.

But we want the discourse to be civil—and we want you to identify yourselves with your first and last names to maintain transparency and fairness on every level of the site.

This issue is clearly marked in our terms of service. While I have kindly asked many people to reveal their full names in the past, I will now be deleting comments from users who are not fully identified. This is only fair to those who state their full names while expressing their opinions in a respectful manner.

Communities thrive when people care about each other, and as such, Patch expects all of its users to be respectful of others. We encourage users of the site to treat others the way they want to be treated.

When you register for Patch, you agree to our terms of service that state the following:

“Patch believes in transparency, and we ask that all your registration information be truthful. You may not use any aliases or other means to mask your true identity.”

If you are posting anonymously, please change your information to accurately reflect who you are. Delivering news digitally is an evolving process—we are learning as we go along in this technological age.

We continue to encourage and support free speech, but we can see now that we must monitor posts to ensure our goal of civility and integrity.

We will do that with our journalistic goal of fairness in mind.

If you have questions or concerns, please email me at zandy.dudiak@patch.com.

Jeffrey Fabus September 30, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Thank you. I agree with this policy 100%. While I do not often agree with others on the Patch I respect that they are not hiding behind false names.
Daniele Ventresca September 30, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Thank you. I fully agree with this policy.
Lou Pietosi September 30, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Finally! No more "phantom" posts! Great policy Zandy!
Leah Petrilli September 30, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Thank You, Zandy. I also agree with this policy.
Rebecca Oreto October 01, 2011 at 11:36 AM
This is a great policy. Thanks.
Gina Dedig October 01, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Amen! Great policy!
Mercedes Faust October 01, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Mercedes Faust - Great idea. Civility is a character trait that seems to be less and less seen these day. This may be the start of a new revolution.
Drew Lehman October 01, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Boy Ed, I'll bet everyone is on pins and needles waiting for that big news...
Julie Overand October 01, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Thank you! I had requested this of Dan and the Editor in the past and I'm very pleased to see people must start to use their true full names. It's obvious from reading everyone's posts, we all feel passionate about our borough. Perhaps constructive comments will help bring us together to showcase Dormont in the postive light that our hometown deserves!
John Spoon October 03, 2011 at 01:53 PM
I think its a fine idea but just curious, does it really solve anything? I mean whats stopping someone from becoming Chuck U Farley?
Cynthia Harris October 03, 2011 at 03:26 PM
I would tend to agree John. Zandy, I appreciate and applaud your efforts to make this forum more civilized and respectful. Unfortunately, it would appear to me that some of the most contentious topics on here are commented on by people that are in a position that their livelihoods, or their involvement in the community, could be damaged by speaking without anonymity. I'm all for our Freedom of Speech rights. Even though the emergence of the internet has certainly created a hotbed of opportunity for people to "hide" behind the screen, it's still the best opportunity for all of us to glean information at any time of the night or day. My concern is that while I TRULY appreciate you sharing unbiased articles, I'm afraid that by requiring personal identification that it will curtail some of the information that Dormont residents may not be able to get any other way. It seems with many of the comments that have been posted on the Patch this past year, even the ones that are the most spiteful and unfair...that there could possibly be a kernel of truth within them.
robert t October 04, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Tried to post this yesterday and thought it was deleted. Apologies to Zandy. Civility and transparency are not exclusively correlated. Many of the uncivil comments posted here came from those using their full names. Civility is an individual trait. Imposing requirements on a person's screen name will not make a person act civil. Internet communities have existed for ages and the only way to encourage civility is to enforce guidelines, which already exist in the Acceptable Use Policy. The TOS does not require a Full Name during registration (just 'name')- I believe requiring it is in violation of the Privacy Policy, i.e., "We do not collect Personal Information from you unless you voluntarily provide it to us." Voluntarily providing a full name is not defined in the TOS like email address. After reading some of the spiteful, vindictive comments here (by those using their full names), I have no interest in surrendering my privacy. Regardless, had I read the TOS more carefully, I would have never completed the registration process due to: 1. surrendering all rights to use of 'screen name' (connect the dots!), content, intellectual property, ideas, etc. 2. distribution of email address to advertisers 3. collection of 'non-personally identifiable information' including purchasing history, web pages viewed, etc 4. sharing of 'aggregate information' with anyone It was fun while it lasted. Hope to bump into you guys out there in the community though!
Daniele Ventresca October 05, 2011 at 05:52 AM
I am not sure why you bothered writing this article when you have no intention of enforcing this policy.
Ed M October 05, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Did ya read the policy, Daniele? The real name thing refers to how you register, not your user name.
Daniele Ventresca October 05, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Opps, did not realize that I was logged in under my husband so re-posting: Yes Ed, I read the policy and the article. You may want to read the article yourself Ed. Some highlights - "we want you to identify yourselves with your first and last names to maintain transparency and fairness on every level of the site." and "This issue is clearly marked in our terms of service. While I have kindly asked many people to reveal their full names in the past, I will now be deleting comments from users who are not fully identified. This is only fair to those who state their full names while expressing their opinions in a respectful manner." And then there is "If you are posting anonymously, please change your information to accurately reflect who you are" I am not sure how else to interpret this article. Also, if I recall correctly, when I registered for the Patch, I was not given an option to choose a screen name. I merely entered my real name (because I actually read the terms of use prior to signing up for Patch), email address and created a password. There was no option to enter my real name and also create an alternate name to use when posting. So I stand by my prior statement, why bother writing an article regarding this subject when you have no intention of acutally enforcing your own terms of use?
Zandy Dudiak October 05, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Daniele, I am enforcing. However, because not everyone may have read the article about transparency, I am giving them a fair chance to change their name by contacting them with a link to the story. If I continue to see the posts, they will be deleted.
Ed M October 06, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I'm not posting anonymously.

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