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Opening up the blog for comments ... with a catch ...

After a hiatus of several months, we are opening up the blog for commentary from the readers, largely as was provided previously, but with one modification that we are hopeful everyone will find a reasonable accommodation to the Wild West nature of online give and take.

As a bit of background, we halted commentary on my blog several months ago because it had gotten away from its intended purpose of providing an arena for input from the readers about blog content and related questions.

I am not so naive to believe that a mere intermission is going to make rainbows magically appear and sweetness prevail in future exchanges, but I still wanted to try to resume in some fashion to allow feedback from the readers.

So under the heading of “If it was good enough for newspaper and magazine publishers for all these years, then we can maintain the system for a few more even in this Internet Age,” we’ll allow comments, but we’re going to insist that a real name and city of residence be included with each entry.

As noted in the previous paragraph, that’s essentially how letters to the editor have been handled for 100 years or more and I see no reason why the new rules of cyber mayhem should scuttle that basic requirement.

It should be relatively simple: no name and city address, no inclusion in the commentary section. Obviously, someone could simply utilize a pseudonym, but that strikes us as particularly damning because it suggests a near-total absence of willingness to take responsibility for what you write.

So to the best of our ability we’ll monitor the commentary with that in mind, and also simply to ensure that the observations are appropriate and suitable for inclusion under the umbrella of our website. If that sounds like a lot of subjectivity from our end, I would assert that it’s unavoidable. We want the commentary section to be a useful addition to the many other services offered in our media universe, and we won’t allow it to be hijacked for some other agenda.

That doesn’t mean that the only thing a reader can do is comment in some fashion in reaction to something I’ve blogged about; indeed, we welcome the new ideas and suggestions that this kind of venue can provide. It truly is – just as letters to the editor are in print publications – an important and well-read addition and complement to conventional online media offerings.

– T.S. O’Connell
Iola, Wis.