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Sungazette.com Online reader comments
April 27, 2011 - Bernard A. Oravec
A few days ago, The Williamsport Sun-Gazette added a feature to our online newspaper, www.sungazette.com, which allows readers to comment on our "letters to the editor" pages. We have been thrilled with the overwhelming response. Activity has been much higher than anticipated. Readers may now comment on just about any story or letter posted on our online edition. Also letter writers who may have had their print edition letters edited for space, may comment by adding what was taken out of the original letter. We have had dozens of positive remarks about the new feature. Many happy readers have also contacted me about the general guidelines for posting a comment anywhere on www.sungazette.com. I will do my best to explain general guidelines here. The IT and editorial department have been instructed to remove any comment which contains excessive cursing or racial slurs. This is obvious. To date we have seen very little to none of this. A real credit to the quality and class of our readers! We will also remove any comment that attacks any story or letter writer on a personal level. Examples of personal attacks would be; He is a drunk, she sleeps around, he is a thief and so on. What is acceptable is; The writer is wrong, doesn't have the facts, is confused, is too liberal or too conservative and so on. Again, this should be obvious to most readers. The one area that has raised the most questions is our policy to remove all web site links, web addresses, URLs and online location references. This is done because we can never be truly sure what that address leads to. Often it could contain a virus, be an adult site or worse. We have seen a history of this happening on many media and community sites. Often the writer has the best intentions and does not know that the address may have been tampered with in cyberspace. We also strongly feel that someone who wishes to comment on a letter or any story from our print or online edition, should express his or her opinions without simply "handing off" his or her thoughts to a web address. We will remove any comment that contains a link or anything that resembles a web address. This is much stricter than our previous policy. This also applies to our print editions. We also will not edit online comments. Reader comments are the opinions of the writer. If we read something that is in violation of the general policy, the entire post will be removed. However, if your post has been removed, simply rewrite it without the link information and repost. I hope this helps to clear up any questions you may have as a contributor to www.sungazette.com or the print edition of The Williamsport Sun-Gazette. For the most part, over 99.5% of all comments do not violate guidelines and remain online. We feel we are fair with our guidelines to make our online edition a friendly and informative place to visit. Keep up the great comments. Much of what we have read is interesting and a great service to our readers. We are very fortunate in Central Pennsylvania to have an involved and active reader community. Thank you for your cooperation.
Bernard A. Oravec, Publisher of The Williamsport Sun-Gazette and www.sungazette.com.