Town Square

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Real-world PA Town Square?

Original post made by Chris Zaharias, Crescent Park, on Aug 14, 2014

I've been thinking it'd be fun to have a real-world gathering of PAOnline Forum posters/members, a civil, friendly gathering to shoot the $#!t, talk about community topics and do it in a friendly atmosphere, say a pub/bar in downtown PA.

Can I get a headcount of how many a) would; or b) might attend?

Comments (47)

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Posted by Historian
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Great idea, Chris! However, most people post on the forum because they want to stay anonymous. If people attend, they probably won't reveal their alias. Most people cowardly post behind their aliases, otherwise, they write blogs.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I would attend and would gladly wear a name tag.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

People could remain anonymous, so no worries either way!


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Posted by citizen
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I would attend, but only if you hold them on the south side of town, in the shadow of some new mega building or other. On the north you already have a gathering place, it's called City Hall.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Call it a "salon" and offer good food. It will be an instant hit.


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Posted by not sure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Chris,

The advantages with TS here are as follows

1) Generally, nothing else but the issue of the thread is discussed, and the Weekly can pull out trolls or shut the thread down

2) The issues are discussed without the weight of one person or another. Maybe from time to time it's good to hear from a real person, but not really. I've more often appreciated the anonymous posts.

3) You can skip over comments which are repetitive, and ignore them. I scan for something new, or for a viewpoint I happen to agree with or a viewpoint which adds. In person you have to politely hear everyone out, no skipping over them.

4) People who are willing to write about something is because they feel strongly enough about something, and you have different pockets to go for those expressions.

I'm not sure a live TS would work because it could be one or three cats who only care about airplanes or whatever, and you won't be able to politely just leave in the middle of a sentence.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

not sure - If your words fail to be persuasive don't blame that on people who put their reputation on the line every time they post with their real name. On the other hand if you prefer to have your words go unchallenged then excluding those people who would counter what you say is a good, but unwise, strategy.

Personally I give zero source credibility to someone who uses a new name for every topic - by definition they have neither a track record or a reputation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:05 pm

I'd go if there was some sort of Madmax Thunderdome set up.....Two men enter one man leaves


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Perhaps we could all attend with brown paper bags on our heads.

Not knocking the principle of the idea, but would any of us really want to attend? For myself, I quite like being completely honest here in the anonymous forum rather than being recognized by someone who might want to corner me on an issue in the local grocery store.


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Posted by not sure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Peter Carpenter,

"people who put their reputation on the line every time they post with their real name."

I think this is optional. The rules are not that you have to have a reputation in the first place.

In theory, people who read the posts are savvy enough to know that the threads are not supposed to hold the same standards of the press.The NY TImes has similar long threads for each article, and most posters are anonymous. I like them because you get people from all over the country. Do I want to meet all of them? Not really.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just imagine where we would be if the signers of the Declaration Of Independence were all "Anonymous"?

Fortunately all of them were fully prepared to be cornered on an issue in the local grocery store as well as in front of a British musket.

And none of the brave soldiers along side of whom I was proud to serve in Vietnam had the name Anonymous.

And there has never been a patent issued to someone named Anonymous.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The NY TImes has similar long threads for each article, and most posters are anonymous"

But all of them had to be registered users in order to post on the NYT site.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Times have changed.
In the vicious era of online threats, anonymous is a safe place to be for many.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Be thankful that others who were not anonymous defended your right to be anonymous.

And be aware that your anonymous postings lack authenticity because of your unwillingness to claim those ideas as yours - your choice.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Authentic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:25 pm

@carpenter:

"And be aware that your anonymous postings lack authenticity because of your unwillingness to claim those ideas as yours - your choice."

So you are saying that a good idea or a cogent argument is not authentic because it is offered anonymously? That argument doesn't hold water. Authenticity doesn't depend upon authorship. The weight of the argument or the value of an idea is all that is needed to be authentic.

The addition of someone's name might add weight to the argument if the author were of some repute or the author's name and reputation might prevent the audience from giving the idea or argument proper weight.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Mr. Carpenter
Of course, I appreciate the hard-won rights we have in this county. You make it sound as if it is unpatriotic to choose not to sign my comments on an online forum. (And the charge seems rather like an ad hominem argument).

After all, Thomas Paine chose anonymity -- it didn't invalidate "Common Sense". Paine's "anonymous posting" didn't "lack authenticity." There are many other, less famous, examples of course.

I believe that choosing anonymity online isn't unreasonable in this crazy 21st century internet world. Certainly you can acknowledge that some folks might be more vulnerable than you are when you post comments. You have been, and are, a public official.

-- I'm not a public person. I've decided that my participation in online discussions shouldn't carry any risk whatsoever, and that's my choice.

-- If you discount my comments because they are anonymous, that's your choice.

It doesn't bother me at all. In fact, most of the time I agree with your posts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:04 pm

I wrote "county" instead of "country" -- but given the level of acrimonious and intolerant comments in both sphere's,it's not such a terrible typo.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:26 am

Many people are aligned with organizations that do business with the Government or subcontractors that do business with the government, or companies that are actively traded on the stock exchange. People are paid to do a job by those companies and support their programs. People are not paid to express personal opinions on these sites but want to inject their own version of common sense. Usually that common sense is based on participation in very successful ventures with good track records of completing projects within good business structures.
If people chose to remain anonymous then that is a personal choice that could be guided by other concerns. There is no requirement to sign up for full disclosure so why the issue here? This is a sticking point for only a few people - the rest are happy to inject opinions which hopefully add something to the discussion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:31 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Not a litigator
a resident of Duveneck School
on Aug 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

Sounds like it would be one argument after another, not fun or productive.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 15, 2014 at 11:11 am

I choose to be anonymous on this forum. Here is one reason: I know that at least some of my neighbors hold different political and religious opinions. Also - those of us who have or have had children in the local schools have in particular made very good use of information and opinion exchange in this forum - I assume this does NOT include Mr Carpenter who is often a commenter on Palo Alto forums, though from Atherton, and someone I sometimes do disagree with. Perhaps he doesn't realize that there can be repercussions when sensititive topics are discussed about politics and schools in Palo Alto! Yes, schools and education are "very important" in Palo Alto and some people are "certain" they are correct. Sometimes, some of our voices would not be heard if we didn't have this forum. In addition, I sometimes participate by phoning, email, written communication in the political process (using my full identity of course). I suggest Palo Alto Online remain as it is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by off sides
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2014 at 11:15 am

The only problem is that it would end up like this: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

One problem with putting your name on opinion pieces is that if you meet these people at city hall you have pre-negotiated your opinion and may start off at a disadvantage.
Take Mr. Carpenter who lives in Atherton - who we presumably will not meet at the PA City Hall - he has a characteristic manner of presentation in which he presents a fact - then at the end challenges anyone's intelligence to grasp the fact. After a while you can disregard the final witticism as his closing argument.
So how is that working?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Take Mr. Carpenter who lives in Atherton - he has a characteristic manner of presentation in which he presents a fact."

In a discussion facts are the key ingredient - Resident 1 seems not to like having facts as part of the discussion. Why?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rights only for a few
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Funny how someone says you have the right to be anonymous, but is unhappy when you exercise that right


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" yet that person is not happy that that right is used by posters on this forum."

You confuse my happiness, which is irrelevant, with my preference for open and transparent discussion. I will defend your right to post anonymously but I believe that your doing so diminishes the quality of the discussion. And the fact that you also insist on not being a registered user raises questions in my mind as to your willingness to be held accountable for what you post.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I believe we have anonymous elections in this country. It is quite right and proper to be able to keep one's opinions private if need be.

We have had one local CEO losing his job at a high tech company because of his political/religious views and support becoming public.

Many of us value the right to be anonymous when voting. If it is good enough reasons for our elections, then it should be good enough for a local newspaper forum.

Or would you rather we all had our election votes made public too?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Rather strange my previous porting being deleted. I just mentioned that someone states that you had a right to do some thing and makes a point that our military has defended that right-- yet that person is not happy that that right is used by posters on this forum. To me, that makes a mockery of what our military dough to defend. Was that what was wrong ? Or was it the fact the the postings by the people that run this forum are made using the anonymous title of " town square moderator"?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm

"You confuse my happiness, which is irrelevant, with my preference for open and transparent discussion. I will defend your right to post anonymously but I believe that your doing so diminishes the quality of the discussion. And the fact that you also insist on not being a registered user raises questions in my mind as to your willingness to be held accountable for what you post."

Then why bring up the whole matter, peter and make comments against anonymous postings? Good point, resident


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"why bring up the whole matter, peter"

Because as I stated "my preference for open and transparent discussion. I will defend your right to post anonymously but I believe that your doing so diminishes the quality of the discussion. And the fact that you also insist on not being a registered user raises questions in my mind as to your willingness to be held accountable for what you post."

What is not clear about my statement?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Peter didn't acknowledge my earlier post. I feel that I must repeat it and also acknowledge the widespread agreement from other posters. This is what I wrote

"...Thomas Paine chose anonymity -- it didn't invalidate "Common Sense". Paine's "anonymous posting" didn't "lack authenticity." There are many other, less famous, examples of course.

I believe that choosing anonymity online isn't unreasonable in this crazy 21st century internet world. Certainly you can acknowledge that some folks might be more vulnerable than you are when you post comments. You have been, and are, a public official.

-- I'm not a public person. I've decided that my participation in online discussions shouldn't carry any risk whatsoever, and that's my choice.

-- If you discount my comments because they are anonymous, that's your choice."

Peter, what's right for you may not be right for others -- for all kinds of reasons.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, what's right for you may not be right for others"

I agree. I am prepared to stand behind and be judged by what I post.


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Posted by not sure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Peter,

"I am prepared to stand behind and be judged by what I post."

I don't think anyone judges you personally. I have often seen names here and the name itself often becomes like any other handle.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Peter,
Good --- Sign your posts. Just don't attack others, or the content of their posts, because they don't or can't sign their posts.

What's fine for you isn't always fine for others.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by not sure
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Peter Carpenter,

"Methinks that perhaps they are a bit too sensitive and I wonder why?"

To me, this is taunting.

Not exactly the original invitation

" a civil, friendly gathering to shoot the $#!t, talk about community topics and do it in a friendly atmosphere, say a pub/bar in downtown PA."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Not taunting, just a question.

When people post anonymously they are, by definition, hiding something - I wonder why?

And when they refuse to register then I also wonder why they want to be able to use multiple identities?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 15, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Chris - this is your idea. It bothers me that other people are taking over the forum with their own concerns.
Great idea Chris.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 15, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Oh, don't worry about Chris. He and his bro love to debate, then shake hands after. They are good guys who believe in friendly debate.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Peter -- You ask: "When people post anonymously they are, by definition, hiding something - I wonder why?" You surely know there are all kinds of legitimate answers to your rhetorical question.

I get it that there are many folks who hide behind fake identities to post weird or provocative comments. I get it that it bugs you. Welcome to the internet.

There are also people who post anonymously to maintain their privacy for reasons that may have nothing to do with the article or local politics. Their names are simply not your business, or the business of the other posters, or the business of the random universe of readers of this website. Welcome to the internet.

I often have opinions I want to write, and I will always believe that it is not essential to attach my name/location to my opinions about local controversies. It's my personal decision. After all, I'm not a public persona and won't be holding/running for public office.

I am entitled to my opinion about this, as are you.....and will defend my right to express it anonymously without being belittled for doing so.







 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by George Orwell
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2014 at 12:48 am

George Orwell is a registered user.

Well done! Resrtict the thread, silence the discussion!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 16, 2014 at 7:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The best way to keep a thread from being restricted is to 1 - observe the host's Terms of Use
2 - become a registered user

In my experience threads populated primarily by registered users maintain the desired balance between decorum and dialogue and disagreement - perhaps because registered users know that their postings can be identified by the hosts of the Forum with a specific IP and therefore exercise more care in the wording of their postings.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2014 at 8:13 am

village fool is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter,
My following post was removed, completely, I posted as registered user.

"
Fear of retaliation and the ongoing censoring are parts of my response to your – Why?
I wrote more here, Web Link, my blog.

My blog is part of my response to these issues, a place I cannot be "deleted".
"

I hope you'll see this before it is gone. Other samples of censoring can be found here - Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2014 at 8:50 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

This article makes some good points about the dark side of anonymity:

Web Link


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