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In experiment, Town Square forum commenting will be limited to registered users

Original post made on Jul 31, 2020

Starting Aug. 1, participation in Palo Alto Online's popular Town Square discussion forum will be limited to those who register on the site with their name and email address.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 31, 2020, 6:58 AM

Comments (65)

25 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:24 am

Thank you for this experiment.


35 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:37 am

As a registered user, I choose to view and comment through a private browsing window. I have several reasons for this. I would like to think that although I don't want my identity to be traceable, my points of view and opinions are respectful and stand on their own worth, rather than an established screen identity.

I suspect I will no longer be commenting.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:51 am

Furthermore, I think it is prudent to mention the numbers of overnight spamming of the comments, particularly on the blogs.

The verification codes or the looking for squares containing traffic lights is supposed to prevent this, unfortunately the spammers get through.

I wonder if the spammers will manage to get through the registration process also!


38 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:54 am

Palo Alto Online's readership will plummet.


30 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:01 am

I predict that both the quality and the quantity of comments will increase. Many thoughtful posters have been driven off this Forum by totally inappropriate attacks.

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Mercury News do not permit unregistered comments and their forums flourish.


40 people like this
Posted by Jayson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:09 am

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc are huge newspapers with a wide audience base that deals with world wide issues. The PA Online deals with only local issues and their base is very small. I don’t want to hear from the “same old” register posters. I’m out.


26 people like this
Posted by Supporter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:34 am

I guess that's why it's called an experiment! It will be interesting to see what happens.


35 people like this
Posted by just say no to privacy violations
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:08 am

Given this website's past track record on privacy, I am not going to give them any more of my personal information, including my email address. Is there a way to register without trusting them with any personal information?


18 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:25 am

I agree with "Jayson" above. The forum will dry up very quickly. I'm out. Because I had to register for NYtimes, I have commented there about 2 times in the last decade.


32 people like this
Posted by Peers Parent
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:58 am

Thank you for attempting to return to a minimum level of civility here! I am eager to watch the experiment play out.


26 people like this
Posted by JustSayIn
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:10 am

You don't "experiment" with someone's privacy! This will shut out most undocumented workers who now will no longer have a voice here. The only reason for registration is to collect information.


28 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:14 am

"Given this website's past track record on privacy,"

This is an allegation without verification - perhaps you can document your assertion.

And what is so private about your name and email address?


13 people like this
Posted by Package deal
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:48 am

Clearly an attempt to limit discussion on the upcoming council election. Part of the package Johnson is offering to council candidates that donate.
Also coming soon to TSF- if you want to comment, you have to make a donation.


24 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:54 am

You can't learn without experimentation. Good for you, PAW, giving the alternative a try. As with many new things, it will take time to play out - you'll have to trade out the prior posters and audience for a different one, which usually leads to a trough in between.

I hope some of the skeptics will give it a try and support it by contributing comments. If we don't support our community institutions, we won't have any.


28 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:01 am

"Clearly an attempt to limit discussion on the upcoming council election."

If this change increases the number of comments then there will be more discussion.

I know that many well informed individuals stopped posting on the Forum because of the abusive responses of unregistered posters. This change will encourage them to return to the Forum.

I also find that comments by registered posters tend to be more thoughtful and courteous thereby making this " a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."


33 people like this
Posted by person
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:18 am

The comments section of Palo Alto Online articles is often more informative than the actual article. I will miss the comments from a wider range of readers.


8 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:23 am

Peter Carpenter

>> I predict that both the quality and the quantity of comments will increase. Many thoughtful posters have been driven off this Forum by totally inappropriate attacks.

I disagree, but, it is the publisher's website and their choice.

I understand that some people will say anything anonymously that they wouldn't dare to say out loud. If I see something that is slanderous (or is it libelous? websites are not newspapers) I flag it.

But, please understand that even before DT, there were good reasons why some people had to remain anonymous. There still are. And, there is one benefit to the general reader of many people being anonymous-- if you are anonymous, there is no "argumentum ab auctoritate". Your arguments have to stand or fall by themselves.

==
Either way, the assault on our personal freedoms, and especially, the First Amendment, will continue. Someone may try to delay the election. Someone may try to brand all criticism and disagreement as "terrorism". I applaud the publisher for staying the course.


28 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:27 am

About time! A "registered user" still can be essentially anonymous. It's different from a "real-name" forum requirement. You can use a screen name; the publisher has every incentive to maintain the confidentiality (and thus their own credibility). It has nothing to do with "undocumented workers" (?!?) or "an attempt to limit discussion on the upcoming council election (where do people get these notions?!) or other straw-man rationalizations critics might conjure. It is the long-established policy on most online journalistic sites, including local papers, which get no lack of lively comments.

No alternative is perfect. This one might conceivably discourage a few constructive commenters prone to anxious notions (they'll probably return once they see something they just HAVE to comment on). It will discourage many more of the thoughtless, petty, and crude, who rely on a lack of any accountability for their words.


39 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:30 am

This will only stifle input from those not of the party line. With the threat of having our email addresses being exposed at some point, and then us being dox'ed, even if just a remote possibility, who's going to freely express their opinion if it's not the "correct" one? I'm out.


14 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:30 am

There was so much vicious attacking, lying, and fake conspiracy theory tRUMP and Putin trolling going on at Yahoo News' comment site that Yahoo has temporarily blocked all comment activity until it can figure out how to force civil, honest behavior at their comment site. Hopefully, things will calm down here after these changes and the election is over. In the mean time, I'm happy to use my real name as usual. I hope that Town Square's action can reduce some of the reprehensible comments being posted here. Note: There was a large spike in hostility at the same time that the Republican candidate got a new campaign chief.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:38 am

Going back to the print days of newspapers, I wrote several times to newspapers over the years. The only time my letter was published was when I was a teenager. My English teacher at the time set an assignment for us all to write to newspapers with our name and school address. My letter was the only one chosen by the newspaper to print. I felt I had won the jackpot. It was actually a 3 print set of discussion with another respondent who disagreed with me.

When a newspaper chooses what to print in their letters to the editor section, they still are able to hold not only control but sway their views. The fact that that particular week gave them a swamp of youth letters obviously gave them the opportunity to include at least one letter from local youth, but the fact that they chose to print over 2 subsequent publications responses that destructed my youthful opinions is something I can remember clearly.

The ability to comment here with respect but hold a view that is not necessarily the prevailing view, particularly on contentious issues, is a good thing. Of course it does need good moderation and there are times I have had very respectful comments deleted for reasons the moderators decided were not worthy of being read by the readership, nonetheless is an advantage which is why I was willing to register and pay for the privilege. However, if the ability to comment anonymously (and that means anonymously to the publication itself) then I am not so sure that I will be renewing my annual charge when it comes up for renewal. It will no longer be something of which I value. I will not take kindly to have to pay for something that only other people who pay for will contribute.

I suspect that this will become much less diverse in opinion as a result. After all, a paid crowd fawning the wonders of say a local council candidate or the views of say bike proponents or gas blower complainers will no longer be as indiscriminate bystanders.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:42 am

BTW, for those who are really concerned, just set up a separate email account, and use it with your registration. Unless the Weekly changes its practices, once you confirm the address, you'll never need it again. I guess it could be traced to you through the email provider in the event of a law enforcement action (e.g., FBI investigating threats), but for all typical purposes, your privacy is ensured, even if the information is leaked or stolen.


34 people like this
Posted by Silenced
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:07 pm

What is the point? Why have a way of tracking comments? Do you believe there are Russian troll farms overwhelming the PAW? If the goal is to further the "cancel culture" then I think this is right on; make sure everyone stays within a narrow ban of the very loud minority group think. But if you want to enable open discussion from people that think beyond the bubble, please leave as is. I predict you will see a reduced "need" to manage content (which you should rarely ever do) and a more narrow divergence in points of view.. I too am out and will check back in after your experiment.
Enjoy,


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:09 pm

Confused. I recently became a paid subscriber and my handle above comes up when I log an and then decide to,comment on a thread. Am I “registered?” Or do I need to do an additional process to get that status?
-------------------

Moderator comment: Yes, you are already registered and able to participate on Town Square without doing anything differently (as long as you are logged in, which should happen automatically.) In fact, you shouldn't see any visible difference when you are in Town Square at all. The comment box will be there, as usual, at the bottom of every story.


36 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:11 pm

I am pleased to see a number of posters declare that they are leaving the forum simply because they will have to be registered. I predict that their absence will enhance the Forum with more thoughtful commentary.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:33 pm

I find it very interesting that "Peter Carpenter" a name that I often see on Town Square, is very keen that this experiment go ahead on Palo Alto Online, the Almanac, and probably Mountain View Voice, although I have not seen the name there.

I for one have no idea if "Peter Carpenter" is the same person all the time, or whether it is a pseudonym for a group, or if there indeed is such a person called Peter Carpenter. I am not suggesting that I doubt his existence, just that perhaps he may not be the sole user of that name.

Certainly, he has said that he thinks the tone will improve with registration. I might add however that he has certainly shouted me down on more than one occasion when he didn't like my views. In fact when I come back and reiterate my concerns in a purely respectful manner, he just repeats what he said previously to me, disregarding the content of my disagreement and making assumptions that because I disagree with him on a certain point it means that I must therefore be someone who flouts all things he is arguing for.

As he is so keen for this to happen, I wonder if he will often be the only comment on a certain topic.

I have absolutely nothing against Mr. Carpenter. I just tend to disagree with him on some issues and some aspect of some issues.


21 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:39 pm

I am the only individual who posts in my name - thanks to the registration process.

If I have shouted you down in the past I apologize and will try not to do so in the future.


30 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:50 pm

I feel called out. LOL

As for Peter's expectation that there will be thoughtful commentary, apparently he hasn't been on Nextdoor, which uses real names. Hilarious.


7 people like this
Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Perhaps this policy will help discourage misuse of the forum by certain individuals in the past who have posted under different names in support of either themselves or someone else.


22 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Twitter rage mobs, now coming to Palo Alto Online. Oh, joy.


18 people like this
Posted by wander3r
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:17 pm

>> Three-month trial aimed at improving tone and dialogue

I would trust this more if the moderator(s) would actually reply to emails sent to them. When I fairly recently had portions of 2 comments deleted and I wrote to the moderator to ask (not argue) about it, I received no reply. What’s the point in inviting us to contact a moderator if the moderator isn’t going to respond to legitimate queries?


29 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:45 pm

"recently had portions of 2 comments deleted"

The reality is, most people whose comments get "edited" or "deleted" on forums like this created the problem themselves by ignoring posted Terms Of Use, which declare moderators' prerogatives. Some then act indignant or entitled to explanation, or refuse to understand objective policies clear to most observers. Or they read conspiratorial motives into any editorial action. (Compare various comments above, in this very thread.) That behavior can waste a lot of other people's time.


22 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:20 pm

I write a blog for this paper and FWIW I am glad we are running this experiment. I do think it will reduce comments, at least in the short-term, but there is a lot of damage done by the aggressive and even hostile comments that intentionally propagate misinformation. I see them often on my blog, and it seems to be people with an agenda to manipulate and misinform, with many of them posting from other places. I see people inflating the "likes" on their own posts to make their views seem more commonly held. I see people falsely claiming to be from local neighborhoods or Stanford when they are not. IMO Bill is right to be worried, and right to marshall his scarce resources in more productive ways. I hope that this helps. It is worth a try.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:42 pm

But people can still make new email accounts and register, so they're not really taking away anonymity. It should mean less junk posts by trolls and bots. But the real problem is the moderators who impulsively delete comments, they are more offensive than the occasional troll.


23 people like this
Posted by Ghost
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:46 pm

People should understand that there is really only one moderator at the Weekly.

I have asked two different long time Weekly reporters about the moderating and censorship of comments and they both told me Bill Johnson does 99.9% of the moderating and censoring of comments.

Only in some very rare circumstances do reporters, or other Weekly staff members, moderate or censor comments.


17 people like this
Posted by Historian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:13 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by J Doe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Are our comments going to be tracked? I don't like that. I stopped using Huffpost entirely when they required people to use their Facebook id to post (for one, I don't want anything to do with Facebook).

Can you use a different screen name for different spheres of discussion? The comments are indelible, and I find that people pigeonhole you if you make strong arguments they don't like, and make it impossible to discuss things freely. I am going to watch and see, because it feels really unsafe to do anything on these forums that lets people know for sure who you are. Especially in Tmp's Amerika.


-----------------------------------

Moderator comment: IP addresses are captured for all posts and have been for many years. The same will be the case with the registered user ID. This information is never disclosed to any third party, but it allows us to review the history of posts made and to make decisions about blocking further posts due to violations of our terms of use. There is no tracking or use of email addresses except when there is a need to communicate with the poster. Yes, different screen names can be used by a registered user on different topics, but on any given topic the same screen name must be used. That is not a change.


8 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:56 pm

Thanks Bill. I know lots of people who write and speak publicly but avoid TS as it is often toxic.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Does this apply to blog posts or do we still have a choice?


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:59 pm

I encourage everybody to see this as a reset and to carefully evaluate and monitor our own postings to see if we can make the Forum "a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."


10 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2020 at 5:51 pm

I agree with the new process. Depth of discourse will improve. BTW, Peter, I always use my name! There have not been not many of us.


16 people like this
Posted by Maureen
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 5:59 pm

Based on discourse on NextDoor where neighbors names are displayed, I predict you'll have the same issues. I've turned off all NextDoor notifications. This pandemic and the discourse on NextDoor has opened my eyes to what people in the community are really like. Would rather not know how some people can be so nasty and thoughtless.


14 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:02 pm

"Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park"

is a real person. I have met him. He's very nice and has been an active member of the Peninsula community for years.


6 people like this
Posted by J Doe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:41 pm

What about tracking our usage for pay wall? I have paid as a donation and don't want to pay again, and really don't like the idea that my posts are associated with my payment.

------------------------------

Moderator comment: Credit card information is encrypted and is held by our credit card processing company. This is separate from our user registration database. The new experimental registration requirement will have no effect on this, and anyone is able to post comments on Town Square. There is no requirement to subscribe.


3 people like this
Posted by J Doe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 6:43 pm

[Post removed; duplicative of prior post.]


20 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:33 pm

Will a user who has posted on a thread with more than one identity be automatically disqualified from commenting further in that thread and have all posts in the thread deleted?

I don’t think it would have to happen more than once for a user who is so engaged that they’ll try to bend the rules to comply.

That can be part of this wonderful experiment. Good luck, Weekly, and to everyone else, please support quality local journalism. We’re so fortunate to have it.

--------------------------------

Moderator comment: Removal of all posts of a person who uses different user names on the same topic is already the practice. This won't have any impact on that practice.


12 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Having to register is no big deal. Don't sweat the small stuff.


3 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:59 pm

Yes, and first name last name, too! Thanks for the great comments Peter, Jerry, Nielson, and Sherry. Why should I pay attention to somebody who won't stand behind their post?


5 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:21 pm

When it comes to "first and last names" a lot of people use fictitious names, pretending to be authentic. Unless your CDL has been scanned, and your picture matches your license, we're all blogging anonymously.


2 people like this
Posted by John Sack
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2020 at 7:32 am

I welcome the experiment. Many predict different outcomes, so an experiment seems like a good idea. Especially now. Something needed to be tried, in my opinion; and this is a reasonable thing to try. But perhaps have some evaluation criteria in mind. E.g., if civility returns, but commenting drops by 90%, is that ok? If civility doesn't return, is the registration requirement worth keeping? What are the criteria for the success of the experiment? Are all the criteria based on readers' needs, or are some based on commenters' needs?

Another possibility -- post experiment depending on the present experiment's outcomes -- would be to enable a filter so that some of us who would prefer non-anonymity would see only comments from registered users. The publisher might choose to make that filter the default. Anybody could comment, and anybody could choose to read anonymous/non-registered comments.

John


4 people like this
Posted by John Sack
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2020 at 7:53 am

Other possibilities to consider should the results of the present experiment be a mixed bag (I'm sure the editors considered these ideas and rejected them for now for good reasons):

- allow registered users' comments to post immediately, but non-registered-users' comments would require moderation.
- set criteria for comments' moderation that are more stringent than the current 'terms of service'. I was an implementor of the British Medical Journal's online "e-letters" system back in 1998 -- a VERY active group of commentators, those British! -- and the system at the time had only three criteria: to be published, comments had to NOT be libelous (note the Brits have a different definition of that than we do), obscene, or self-serving; a fourth criterion was added soon: the comment also had to advance the dialog (e.g., not just repeat something that had already been said). And I think a fifth criterion made its way in: don't be boorish. If an online letter to the editor met these four criteria, it was posted. Generally, this works.
- use a group of community curators to moderate comments using agreed criteria (such as the above) so that editors/staff don't get overwhelmed. This works reasonably-well for scientific and medical preprint servers (arXiv, bioRxiv, medRxiv that I know of).


7 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2020 at 10:17 am

John Sack of Barron Park: "use a group of community curators to moderate comments using agreed criteria (such as the above) so that editors/staff don't get overwhelmed. This works reasonably-well for scientific and medical preprint servers (arXiv, bioRxiv, medRxiv that I know of)"

Offloading moderator labor to selected volunteers can be effective if well organized, if they follow one script, if they really do the work. Nextdoor uses volunteers but neglects all those "ifs," with weak results.

Also there's a big practical difference (demonstrated in open discussions online, even since long before 1998) between a specialty-topic forum, read by people sharing years of training or professional experience (like those you mentioned) -- such a forum can stay focused and civil even with no moderators -- vs. one bringing together random readers with far less in common, discussing wide-ranging issues often with emotional overtones.


5 people like this
Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2020 at 10:50 am

I've been mouthing off online for decades and in a range of forums. Never - not once - have I posted a comment that didn't have my name attached and viewable. Barbed pushback from others online? Sure. Anything more serious? Not once. In this instance the worst that will happen is an email from an editor saying, "Hey, knucklehead, knock it off."


12 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2020 at 11:27 am

BILL BUCY: Giving your name and location makes you pretty easy to find. Have you ever had someone with a differing opinion, come knocking at your front door? There is always that danger. Remember the case (I don't recall the issue) where that woman hunted down that man with whom she had a differing opinion? Case in point why providing your real name and location might not be the most wise or safest thing to do,


3 people like this
Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2020 at 11:39 am

Pearl...

Like my post said, after decades of posting online under my own name I have never run into anything worse than a sharply worded comment.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2020 at 11:54 am

My experience has been the same as Bill's.

I always post in my own real name.

I have frequently been verbally attacked but no harm was done, particularly after I learned not to respond to such attacks.


Like this comment
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2020 at 12:18 pm

PETER CARPENTER: Did you see this in the Almanac article? Someone trying to appear they are you?

"Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest"

Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Pearl - They tried but their fake posting was quickly deleted.


11 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 1, 2020 at 1:04 pm

I agree with Peter. Both he and I get nasty comments but continue to post in our real names.

Town Square is often toxic, way beyond just disagreement.

I applaud Bill for trying this. I have no idea what will happen BUT it is a clear admission that the current system is often toxic.

This will hopefully encourage some new people to join and maybe some current posters will leave.


11 people like this
Posted by KOhlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2020 at 9:38 pm

Been waiting for this for a long time. I think this will improve the level of respect and discussion.


8 people like this
Posted by anon1234
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2020 at 7:24 am

I think this is a bad idea.
I think it will reduce the number of people visiting the weekly online, so lessen the readership at a time when we need real journalism more than ever!!!
Will the weekly no longer be taking off the record tips or comments?
Anonymity is an important tool in investigative journalism.
I fear some folks just aren’t comfortable divulging their name and will choose not to post information or observations that could be very important to help voters select candidates in our coming election.
Campaigns are already curtailed by
Covid restrictions.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2020 at 7:29 am

You can use whatever screen name you wish so you can remain "anonymous" to other readers, just the webmaster has to know that you are a real person.

I anticipate better and more dialogue.


3 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2020 at 9:19 am

"You can use whatever screen name you wish so you can remain "anonymous" to other readers"

Exactly, Peter.

Comments against this policy (now and in past discussions) usually show either a basic misconception (registration isn't a real-name policy!), unsupported wild conspiracy theories ("past track record on privacy," "undocumented workers," "attempt to limit discussion on the upcoming council election"), or other offhand pure conjectures ("readership will plummet"). While also ignoring both the real turnoff of cheap-shot comments buttressed by perceived unaccountability, and the very large reader population you haven't seen in Town Square discussions because a snarky, "toxic" atmosphere drove them away. For years, other readers have said privately they don't participate in Embarcadero-newspaper Town Square forums for that reason exactly. The number of such potential participants DWARFS the few who now complain here about having to register -- some of whom perhaps, as already suggested much earlier above, were part of the problem, so that their departure would actually validate the change.


12 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2020 at 9:38 am

"While also ignoring both the real turnoff of cheap-shot comments buttressed by perceived unaccountability"

Could also be seen as raising uncomfortable truths about the mindset of Palo Alto.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2020 at 9:41 am

I hope that we registered users also hold ourself to the Terms of Use so that the " Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion".

aloAltoOnline.com provides an opportunity for community members to post opinions and other content directly onto the PaloAltoOnline.com Website. The Terms of Use outlined below are intended to govern and restrict your use of PaloAltoOnline.com, and your use of PaloAltoOnline.com constitutes a binding agreement to these terms between you and Embarcadero Media. If you do not wish to accept these terms, then do not post anything.

You agree to be respectful of others, be truthful and be solely responsible for all postings you make.
You agree not to use any profanity, nor post any information that is hateful, libelous or obscene, or that is threatening, abusive or offensive to any individual, group or class of person.
You agree not to post comments under multiple names. Postings within a single topic from the same IP address made under different names will be deleted.
You agree not to disclose personal information about another person, nor post anything that misleads others as to the source of the posting.
You grant to Embarcadero Media a nonexclusive license to republish in its newspapers or in other media formats, at its sole discretion, all or portions of the content you post on PaloAltoOnline.com.
You agree not to post anything on PaloAltoOnline.com that is not your original work, unless you know with certainty that it is legally in the public domain and permissible under U.S. copyright laws.
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6 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2020 at 12:33 pm

[Post removed.]


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