Letters | July 1, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - July 1, 2011


Online anonymity


When I heard of your "Support Local Journalism" effort I immediately made a contribution and hope many other readers will do the same. I fear for the future of the venture, however, unless the Weekly is able to offer some exclusive, tangible benefit to members.

One suggestion might be that only members would be entitled to comment online on the newspaper's website — using a system where identities are verified, and responsibility and courtesy are fostered. Unfortunately I expect the Weekly will continue to follow the orthodoxy that has ruined so many newspaper websites, i.e., allowing anonymous postings, sometimes horrific.

Yes, moderation can help, but it cannot turn an open site where people take no responsibility for their words into a venue for useful discussion, any more than the most zealous janitor could turn a public bathroom into a place where one would want to hang out and eat a meal.

Like other newspapers, the Weekly needs to appreciate that there's a disconnect between, on the one hand, requiring a name, address, and phone number for letters that might be printed and, on the other hand, freely allowing anonymous graffiti online.

Jonathan Angel

Ashton Court

Palo Alto

City needs Cubberley


If the City Council responds favorably to Foothill College's request to acquire the 8 acres of Cubberley owned by the city, the result will be an intensification of the site beyond its capacity; the loss of valuable community-serving uses, including more than 300 childcare slots; and the precluding of the school district's ability to re-open the campus with sorely needed secondary classroom space.

Foothill has been an excellent tenant at Cubberley. Their expansion plans will draw residents from the entire north county area. The new satellite campus might be a good use were it not for the dearth of public facility zoned land to serve not only the current but future requirements of our own Palo Alto residents.

Recent discussions of the need for a new public-safety building and vastly expanded elementary school space, to say nothing of ABAG's demand that we make room for up to 14,000 additional housing units, illustrate that we can ill afford to let these 8 acres be used for anything other than to provide for our own residents' needs.

To sell, or even long-term lease, one of the city's most important capital assets would be irresponsible — a terrible mistake that would forever penalize its current and future citizens and diminish Palo Alto's legacy.

Mike Cobb and Lanie Wheeler

Former mayors of Palo Alto

Dixon Place and Diablo Court

Palo Alto


Posted by Paul Berry, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Regarding anonymous comments: I strongly agree with Jonathan Angel. I thank him for expressing so clearly what's wrong with permitting irresponsible anonymous on-line postings.

I have on occasion read thoughtful and useful discussions that were contributed on-line. But, sad to say, not often. Far too many comments seem to have been written by dyspeptic grouches or smart-ass juveniles.

If I were a realtor, I would hope that no one thinking of moving to Palo Alto would --while exploring the area and its resources-- come across the vacuous, mean-spirited, empty-headed remarks that all too often are posted as comments on your (no-- our!) on-line pages.

You wouldn't include such trash in the printed paper-- please don't continue to let a handful of trolls befoul the on-line version.

Posted by No, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 2, 2011 at 5:56 am

The problem is that, though there are trashy comments, there are also very vicious people in this commmunity who blackball and punish anyone who disagrees with the far left view of politics or economics. I learned that the very hard way from my kids being bullied at school because other parents talked about their highly ignorant views about me to their kids, who took it out on mine... to purposeful scratching my car from not liking my bumper sticker to blackballing me in volunteer work i was trying to do.

No, there are vicious and scary folks here, who punish strongly for different views. I suppose in any group-think area, from strong right wing to strong left wing, there is probably strong group pressure to conform. But, I gotta say, I lived in the deep south during the race wars, and the pressure here to conform is akin to the pressure then..dangerous.

So, then, as now, there is a value to allowing anonymous posts that can express a view you would never hear otherwise. (Then, it was anonymous "graffitti" that said such horrid things as "all of us are created equal" and "God sees no color" and "We all have the same color blood").

Keep an open mind. Most adults know that most of the ridiculously childish or insane comments that are anonymous are, indeed, from the childish or deranged, and we are above that. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater by forbidding all anonymous posts, please. I think for most Palo Altans, sometimes the few of us who are libertarian and/or conservative and who post are the only times PA has a chance to see "the other side" of the strong group think mentality.

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