Megan Ward: It’s getting too personal

Jun. 03, 2014 @ 09:00 PM

I admit I’ve made some bonehead moves on the road irritating another driver enough to give me the middle-finger-salute.
And I am ashamed to admit, I have given the bird to a driver.
But I would not walk up to a stranger and give the verbal equivalent of the middle finger.
It’s different in a car. You speed away and (hopefully) never see that driver again.
It’s the anonymity that allows some of us to show our anger in such an insulting way.
This is happening a lot on our website lately.
Some hpe.com readers leave comments at a designated section below our online articles. They aren’t required to use their real names. Some create nicknames, use initials and a few use their real identity. Some offer interesting opinions. They ask questions we may have neglected to ask. Others chime in and the comments grow into a lively debate. And an interesting read.
There are a few regulars who are critical of our local government and voice that often. There is value to this. We want to offer an open community forum for our readers to voice opinions and have meaningful conversations.
But a few commenters just take it too far with personal attacks.
It gets nasty in a way that anonymity seems to encourage.
Because of limitations of our current website, we can’t require those who comment to register with their real identity.
So for a while we are going to hold comments and review them before releasing them on our website. We will publish opinions, ideas, questions and criticisms.
We will delete any comments with personal attacks.
Commenters are welcome to attack an issue, but not a person.
We realize this will slow discussions. It will be frustrating for some, especially those who enjoy a lively debate about issues. But personal attacks aren’t doing anything to further discussion.
This isn’t the answer to the problem but it’s what we can do for now. Ideally, those who leave comments will do so with their real names.
We are relaxing requirements for our letters to the editor and guest columns that we publish on this page and on hpe.com.
Writers will be limited to one 300-word letter every week rather than every two weeks. And we will allow writers to submit a guest column of up to 500 words once a month instead of once per quarter.
But all writers still will need to include their name and hometown to publish with their letter. (Please be sure to include your phone number and full address, too, for verification purposes and to call you with questions if necessary.)
Let’s face it, there are a lot of important things to talk about in High Point these days. We want to be the place where it happens.
But we need to have meaningful discussions without pointing the middle finger.