California Forum

The Conversation: Online comments

In last Sunday’s Conversation, Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar wrote about The Bee’s plans to change the online commenting system in hopes of curbing rude and mean-spirited comments. On Monday, The Bee will temporarily halt commenting on as it changes to a system where readers will have to sign in through social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter in order to comment. The column drew more than 1,000 comments online, and in a break from the norm we offer a few anonymous comments below, as well as numerous Facebook responses and letters to the editor. The Conversation posed the questions: What has been your experience with online commenting? And do you think that named commenters will improve discussions of issues and events?

About time for comment change

Re: “It’s time to reset reader remarks” (Forum, Joyce Terhaar, Oct.6): Bravo Bee! I think you’re right for once. The comment section would be a nicer place if the homophobes, state worker haters, political instigators, warmongers and general trash talkers had to post their real names.

I read where someone said they were afraid of reprisals if they had to post their real names. News flash – free speech has never been free! Actions start with ideals, ideals start with free speech. And, yes, you do have to take responsibility for the things you say as an adult.

– Diana Chamberlin, Citrus Heights

No bridge too far for trolls

Initially, I was pleased with The Bee’s decision to change its online commenting system to social media in an effort to eliminate the anonymous comments that are rude, distasteful and irrelevant. However, it became apparent within a day of this article appearing on The Bee’s Facebook page that commenters have established bogus Facebook accounts using fake names and posted to this story.

It’s clear that using the Facebook option will not likely stop those that troll online stories. The Bee can now either moderate its Facebook page for bogus accounts or better moderate its online comments. Either way, there will likely continue to be a problem with trolls.

– Jacqui Naud, Sacramento

Don’t force social media use

I disagree with the need to go through an existing social media account to post a comment. Many people, myself included, don’t use social media because of their privacy and other policies.

Besides, do you really want comments only from people who sit online all day and think their words are that interesting? Wouldn’t you also want to hear from people who are touched by your stories?

– Mac Collins, Sacramento

Real names good, but tech’s prohibitive

Courageous people are not afraid to put their name behind a comment, even when it may not be the popular opinion. So I welcome real names being used.

But I worry that the not so tech-savvy will not get their voice heard. I hope the letter writing format still holds true. I, for one, will tend to stay clear of social media for many reasons.

– Liz Forsman, Sacramento

The real comment problem

Joyce Terhaar has a legitimate complaint about offensive comments. I’ve been sending letters “directly” to the editors for years trying to educate them to refocus their liberal ideology so readers like myself might be better served.

My commentary is taken from my research of issues, along with documentation whenever possible, to prove my arguments with The Bee’s perspective. The Bee surely knows I don’t agree with the editorial board’s aggressive left-wing ideology, so my comments are summarily deleted. According to Terhaar, The Bee supposedly encourages open dialogue with its readers, but my experience is that is not so.

– Thomas M. Bogetich, Carmichael

Good riddance to repeat offenders

Thank you for the change. Over the last year, the comment section has become unreadable, with the same individuals making relatively the same comments and often adding nothing to the discussion. At its worst, it is some of these same individuals making mean comments, again, often unrelated to the story.

– Jess Cort, Woodland

Civilized discourse starts from within

Thank you for inviting civilized people into a civilized discussion. In my view this is way overdue.

I feel the pain of a right to free speech, but at what cost and at what degree? Nobody wants regulations, but it has come to a point where human nature has no guidelines anymore. It’s a free-for-all out there; we say, do and act however we please without any regard to how anyone else may feel about it. It’s a desensitized morality that doesn’t change with a person’s computer, iPad or iPhone. It’s a part of one’s character that needs to change from within.

– Sherry Meyerhoff, Rocklin

A selective call for civility

Re: “It’s time to reset reader remarks” (Joyce Terhaar, Forum, Oct.6) and “State GOP’s own ‘suicide caucus’ heads for the cliff” (Forum, Dan Morain, Oct.6): It’s instructive that your call for civility accompanies an article by Dan Morain that labels conservatives as wacky, slick and heavy-handed.

My take is that you are asking conservatives to just accept omnipresent, nanny government; to ignore the Constitution; and accept budgeting as a term for over-the-top deficit spending, while enduring contentious name-calling by the likes of Morain. Rudely, I say not!

– Robert Reark, Granite Bay


Fernando Berton – I’ve pretty much stopped reading the online comments because anonymity allows for hate and vitriol being spewed or, the comment has nothing to do with the article. It’s just a waste of time, frankly and any real online discourse is gone.

If a real name were required before commenting, I believe the quality of comments would increase only because the trolls would have to reveal themselves.

Casey Vandenburg – I love sharing ideas and opinions. I hate the mean-spirited people who make a mess of a thread. Too many haters; not enough thoughtful ideas.

Kevin Martin – I think it’s a good idea and long overdue. The same rules basically apply to anywhere I’ve left a comment at a specific site, and it’s a good way to weed out the trolls.

Aimee Pfaff – Yes, I agree, if you are going to say something, be proud enough to put your name behind it.

Carolyn Stratton – Sooo glad this problem is being addressed. It just seems that 90percent of comments are ugly and off-topic. Sharing an opinion is not the same as posting something just to make others upset, which seems to be the motive of many trolls. Unfortunately, there are trolls on Facebook as well. The problem with using your Facebook identity is that it shares much more than your name, so I would be very cautious about adding any comments.

Bruce Miller – I’ve set up a twitter account since I don’t want to clog up my Facebook page with comments. I’m not sure how intelligent a comment limited to 140 characters is likely to be, but I suppose time will tell.

Katherine Evatt – I strongly support requiring real names on online comments. But I don’t think Facebook will guarantee you that. A group I administer is constantly beset by people attempting to join who are using fake names so they can hack the group. I am not sure about the best solution, but perhaps requiring a city and phone number as well as a real name might help. Could you implement a registration system for commenters so that you can easily block or drop them if they violate your comment rules?

Geoff Davey – The Bee is clearly trying to stifle dissent with its left-wing opinions and bias. In this politically correct “progressive” world, any expression of thought that varies even slightly from the left-wing mantra is met with scorn and attack. Oh, we wouldn’t want to make anyone “angry” by expression of alternative views, would we?!

Sue Charles – I hope it helps. Sadly, the hateful comments seem to be a reflection of what has happened in our society. If someone expresses a different opinion, that person is perceived as either stupid or evil, and attacked. And even more sad is that this type of commenting is pretty much reflected by Congress with the result that nothing gets done. Personally, I enjoy reading different opinions because I know I’m probably not smart enough to have thought of every nuance to a subject.


Crusader_Without_a_Cape – I do not have a Facebook or Twitter account, nor do I want one, and I suspect that many other middle-age or elderly readers would say the same. The Bee should offer an option where you can get a user ID by coming in their offices in person, showing your drivers’ license, and having them verify that you have the Bee user name for comments. Not only would this add to civility, but it would reduce the number of people who have multiple user names at the same time.

Perspicacity – Although I understand the issues brought up by Terhaar as being valid, I too do not belong to Facebook, Twitter or other social networks.

I have relatives who work for the state of California and using my true name would undoubtedly expose them to criticism since I am a conservative Republican. If the proposed changes are made, I will have to find other places for comment.

I also wonder if The Bee’s proposed changes are to stifle opposing views to their liberal dogma.