Karen Peterson: No more taking potshots from behind anonymity

karen.peterson@thenewstribune.comSeptember 15, 2013 

Karen Peterson

You call up a bunch of friends. You invite them over for dinner. You all sit down and begin to chat about the news of the day.

Almost immediately, Charlie stands up and screams across the table at John, calling him vulgar names because of his political persuasion. Mary unleashes a profanity-laced pack of lies about Charlie. And Margaret threatens to blow up the whole house if the rest of them don’t sit down.

Some days, that’s what it feels like to run a website that allows readers to comment on every story. Until now, Charlie, John, Mary and Margaret could hide in the virtual bushes on our website and hurl those shots anonymously. We believe that led to some particularly nasty exchanges and discouraged thoughtful commentary.

Beginning today, commenters at thenewstribune.com must attach their names to their comments. Facebook will be our vehicle for making that happen. We hope it leads to a more civil, but still active dinner-table-like conversation.

Over the past two years, we gradually implemented Facebook commenting on our blogs. The tenor of the discussion improved greatly.

Now we’re extending it to the rest of the site. To comment, you must have an active Facebook account. When you comment, we’ll see your real name. No more can you post as 3rdpigshouse or EliteTacomaLiberal. Facebook is good at finding and eliminating people who register with fake names.

A few people have expressed privacy concerns about Facebook. On our site, readers can share their TNT comments with their Facebook friends. Or they can un-click the sharing box and their comments won’t appear on Facebook.

Some readers were afraid readers could see their personal information or location through Facebook. Your privacy settings on Facebook allow you to decide how much information you share with your friends or others.

Even with the change, you can still flag comments you think are inappropriate. Our rules of conduct remain the same. We ask that you not be threatening, abusive, vulgar, libelous or ethnically objectionable. We ask that you not scream at us by typing in all caps. We ask that you stay generally on point. We think that leaves plenty of room for healthy discourse.

We’ve posted more questions and answers at thenewstribune. com/faq. Look under the heading, “About Facebook Commenting.”

While not perfect, we’ve found that Facebook works fine for most readers. We know we will lose a few commenters because of this change, but we’re willing to do so to improve the conversation.

It’s our dinner party. We’d love to have you, but you’ll have to play by our rules.

And we’re dying to find out who you are, 3rdpigshouse.

DIGITAL SIGN-IN CHANGES

We recently contracted with a new digital vendor to manage access to our website and mobile apps. Because of this change, TNT subscribers must re-register their accounts.

Many of our customers already log in to our website to make payments or place a vacation stop. When you re-register your account with our new vendor, you’ll use that same password.

If you don’t remember your password, call customer service at 800-289-8711 or email us at customerservice@thenewstribune. com. Our trained reps can walk you through resetting your password and restore access to the digital products you enjoy.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

ROSTER CHANGES

Eric Williams, who has worked at The News Tribune since 2006 and covered the Seahawks since 2008, leaves us this month for a job with ESPN covering the San Diego Chargers.

In his time at the TNT, Williams has been at the forefront of multimedia coverage, providing video, audio and online chats. He made the Seahawks Insider blog a must-read for football fans and provided the paper with great stories, too. He previously covered the Sonics and was our preps coordinator. Williams grew up in Tacoma.

As much as we’ll miss his coverage, we’ll miss the man even more. We wish Williams and his family the best.

Todd Dybas will move from the University of Washington Huskies beat to cover the Seahawks. Dybas’ online skills will help him pick up where Williams left off.

And Christian Caple will take over on the Huskies beat. Caple, a UW grad, has been covering the Washington State Cougars for The Spokesman-Review for two years, and his stories have appeared in the TNT as part of our Spokane partnership.

Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434

karen.peterson@thenewstribune.com

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

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