One of the innovations -- and greatest challenges -- of online journalism is the ability of readers to comment instantly on published articles.
Remember the days when print ruled the newspaper world? If you disagreed with the author or a story or simply wanted to throw in your two cents' worth, your only recourse was a letter to the editor. You had to list your full name and phone number for verification purposes, then wait days or weeks to see if your letter would be published.
Now, all you have to do is crank out a couple sentences and hit the "submit" button. In most cases, your comment will be attached to the published online article within the hour.
If you behave yourself, that is.
Most blogs and news websites -- including this one -- require your submission to be approved by an editor before it is published. This allows us to protect innocent eyes from those angry comments full of #%@(*!?*% and other inappropriate or offensive language. Submissions may also be rejected for other reasons, which we'll discuss in a minute.
Like many other websites, Menifee 24/7 allows readers to submit anonymous comments. This increases interaction among readers who otherwise would be afraid to voice their opinion. On the other hand, it allows folks to hide behind the cloak of anonymity, which sometimes seems unfair.
In short, it is a privilege that can enhance community interaction, but only if handled responsibly.
With the new year approaching and an opportunity for a fresh start, it's a good time to review our policy on reader comments. We love hearing from you and welcome a free exchange of ideas, but certain rules must be followed.
-- As is stated at the bottom of every article, anonymous comments containing personal attacks, name-calling, or of a loud, offensive, or derogatory tone, will not be allowed on the site. Obviously, this is subject to interpretation. You'll have to trust me on that one. I'll make the call.
-- Readers are encouraged to add their real name to their submissions, but that doesn't guarantee you more freedom to blast someone else. We welcome opinions, but not verbal assaults.
-- You will be allowed to state your opinion about an individual or an organization, but you are not allowed to make claims that cannot be proven. If you accuse someone of something and I can't verify it, your comment is rejected.
-- Comments are not edited. Either your comment is posted as is or it is rejected. I will not reword your comments or eliminate parts of it.
As we move forward in the evolution of this website, readers will continue to play a key role. We value your opinion and want to encourage constructive discussion. We ask only that you think before you type and consider the feelings of others.
If you have any questions about our policy on reader comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.