Insults Plague Online Boards -- Coura...

Insults Plague Online Boards -- Courant.com

There are 270 comments on the Hartford Courant story from Sep 29, 2007, titled Insults Plague Online Boards -- Courant.com. In it, Hartford Courant reports that:

Earlier this year, as The Courant was about to introduce online reader forums, I had visions of democracy at work, imperfect but worthwhile.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Hartford Courant.

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John B

Greenfield, MA

#1 Sep 30, 2007
Good column Karen.

As a regular poster on the forum (I'm sure you don't miss my messages to you that much), I certainly can attest to the profanity and downright nastiness some folks use there. As a retired member of the Hartford Police Department, I have suffered some of the most outrageous attacks on the HPD and me as well.

When there is a story negative to the police, an all too common occurrence recently, I try to explain the actions of the 'cops' but not to excuse it. Most posters are completely un-enlightened when it comes to police procedures and tactics, and have no problem hurling insults and threats our way.

Of course it's not my job to be here and defend the HPD, but it's not easy to ignore the ignorance shown by so many.

Soon, after you criticize their lack of knowledge in that area, they begin the baiting, and it's hard not to respond in kind. I've been guilty of it myself and always regret it. A deep breath, a sense of synpathy for the writer, and the ability to ignore their taunts is the only way I've found to avoid confrontations.

Good piece, I hope it does some good.
Jenny Jo

Madison, CT

#2 Sep 30, 2007
I'm not sure I agree with the premise that insults "plague" the internet boards. Yes, I have seen some pretty viscious posts here, but they are usually more "hit and run" style, unless someone engages them and keeps it going back and forth.

I've seen message boards where posters expect "Pleasantville" where everyone is nice and agreeable. Any form is disagreement is considered an attack.

Personally, I think some conflict is healthy. I don't think any threats should ever be tolerated or any extreme insults. However, a heated discussion can be interesting. It is difficult to find the balance, but I would tend to opt for less censorship than more.

Just my 2 cents.
Stop The Madness

AOL

#6 Sep 30, 2007
This is the last true example of free speech. You don't like a post? Either respond or don't read anymore.

John B. you think people should have to use their names just because the cops get insulted? C'mon.
nechick

Shelton, CT

#8 Sep 30, 2007
For me, the posts have been an awakening as to just how alive and well racism is. It's pretty depressing. It rarely matters what the topic is, eventually it comes to race. People of color usually get lumped together as lazy, criminal-minded buffoons looking for the next handout. Yet, the brush doesn't get painted broadly when it comes to Caucasians who do wrong. I always hoped one day to be looked at as a person, not a color, but we're a long, long way off.
Mike Hawk

Prospect, CT

#9 Sep 30, 2007
nechick wrote:
For me, the posts have been an awakening as to just how alive and well racism is. It's pretty depressing. It rarely matters what the topic is, eventually it comes to race. People of color usually get lumped together as lazy, criminal-minded buffoons looking for the next handout. Yet, the brush doesn't get painted broadly when it comes to Caucasians who do wrong. I always hoped one day to be looked at as a person, not a color, but we're a long, long way off.
One doesn't need a computer or have to read message boards to see how much racism is alive and flourishing. It is rampant amongst teens, especially those in the lower socio-economic bracket which usually also includes the same kids who either are doing miserably in school or have essentially dropped out. They stereo-type others because they themselves have been stereo-typed and so it feeds off of itself and no one race is any better or worse at doing it.
Take a walk through a downtown area in any medium to large city when schools are being dismissed for the day. You will hear exactly what is going on in these kids minds. Once you get past the filthy language they all utter, you will then hear their anger at all things, and if you really listen you can hear the racial undertones quite clearly as a target of their hate.
Herbert Grenier

Bethel Island, CA

#10 Sep 30, 2007
nechick wrote:
For me, the posts have been an awakening as to just how alive and well racism is. It's pretty depressing. It rarely matters what the topic is, eventually it comes to race. People of color usually get lumped together as lazy, criminal-minded buffoons looking for the next handout. Yet, the brush doesn't get painted broadly when it comes to Caucasians who do wrong. I always hoped one day to be looked at as a person, not a color, but we're a long, long way off.
I don't believe that is racism. It's insulting. People are just not being politically correct. But it's very far from actual racism. In real life in the Hartford area, a white person is far more likely to receive racist abuse than anyone else. I've been insulted because of my (white) skin color in Hartford, even by people old enough to be my grandfather. It's quite distubing. I don't think anyone of "color" would see that as much as I do...
Mike Hawk

Prospect, CT

#11 Sep 30, 2007
I would like to know why some posts that are not insulting and do not contain anything offensive are deleted.

For example, if you look at my earlier post which is numbered 5, you will see that I responded to a previous post. The original post to which I responded to (#3) is now gone
and although I stand by my response to it, I certainly don't deny that poster the right to state what he did.
Jenny Jo

Madison, CT

#13 Sep 30, 2007
Mike Hawk wrote:
I would like to know why some posts that are not insulting and do not contain anything offensive are deleted.
For example, if you look at my earlier post which is numbered 5, you will see that I responded to a previous post. The original post to which I responded to (#3) is now gone
and although I stand by my response to it, I certainly don't deny that poster the right to state what he did.
It looks like your post (#5) was deleted also. I think I read all the deleted ones. I don't recall which one was yours, but I don't remember any of them being overly inflamatory. I have definitely seen worse on here.

I was kind of surprised they were deleted, too.
A regular forum reader

Chicago, IL

#14 Sep 30, 2007
John B, you're kidding right? You're one of the most hateful and vitriolic posters in this forum.

And I'm stunned to find out you're a retired Hartford cop. I know many retired Hartford officers and they are good and honorable men.

I believe the vast majority one the job are also good men and women devoted to keeping Hartford as safe as humanly possible.

But you John B., wow. It's kind of stunning to hear your complaining about the tone of these forums when you're a major contributor to the problem.

“Dropped on head as child”

Since: Dec 06

Athens, Ga

#16 Sep 30, 2007
What exactly is being "insulted"?

Personal attacks accomplish nothing but
the status quo in politics, religion and sexual attitude NEED to be "insulted". Remember, those are the three topics you were warned not to talk about in polite company.

The 'internets' is NOT polite company.

Yes, the internet is 'humanist' in nature. I think that is the specific gripe of the author - he can't stand the fact that the world is moving to secularism and away from the old guard.

Web 2.0?

Bring it on!~

Since: Feb 07

Location hidden

#20 Sep 30, 2007
Stop The Madness wrote:
This is the last true example of free speech. You don't like a post? Either respond or don't read anymore.
I agree. If you don't like what someone has written then you're free to respond. That's the whole point. It seems that everything has to be so nice and dull these days.
Jenny Jo

Madison, CT

#21 Sep 30, 2007
I think her ultimate point is that anonymity is destroying civility. I don't necessarity agree with that premise.

I don't think people will fundamentally change their nature, just because they can post anonymously. Some people might be more bold, and their will always be trolls. However, I have seen plenty of nastiness in a grocery line, or on the highway, or wherever.

Many people think that the internet will destroy basic human consideration, but just the fact that more people are brought together in dialog, means that more tones and attitudes will be present - good and bad.

Since: Feb 07

Location hidden

#22 Sep 30, 2007
Jenny Jo wrote:
I think her ultimate point is that anonymity is destroying civility. I don't necessarity agree with that premise.
I don't think people will fundamentally change their nature, just because they can post anonymously. Some people might be more bold, and their will always be trolls. However, I have seen plenty of nastiness in a grocery line, or on the highway, or wherever.
Many people think that the internet will destroy basic human consideration, but just the fact that more people are brought together in dialog, means that more tones and attitudes will be present - good and bad.
I think the anonymous nature of the forums allows us to get the true, uncensored opinions of the posters, and it keeps us from having crazy people showing up at the door.

I also like the more creative names people come with and when they use famous names I think most of us are smart enough to know it's a joke.

We don't need to be treated like children. If a person feels insulted then they can speak up and defend themselves or ignore the insulter.
Dave

Avon, CT

#23 Sep 30, 2007
Jenny Jo, I have to disagree. I think the internet and criminal issues we face with it's use could greatly be reduced by the identificaiton of the users.

Not that posting without your name is criminal, but think of all the sex related crimes, with minors being lured into trouble, the identity thefts, and on and on. They only continue because we can't identify who's at each end of the computer. Do you really think the explosion of these types of crimes would continue if the person's address were visible to police?

Now think of the government mapping out IP addresses to reflect our physical address in whatever town you're in so that everyone knows who you are. I see people posting on this board and the town the computer shows has absolutely no realtion to where they actually live. To me they shouldn't even list that.

If the gov would assign IP addresses like they do street addresses, there would never be fake email addresses that are used to hide the truth, no more false postings, lot's less sex crimes etc.

I have no problem with free speech and all, say what you want with your name on the post. However, I agree with Karen that because we hide behind fake names like I've picked we feel free to misbehave at will.

Everyone I know has at least two email addresses. One they use for their legitimate reasons and one they use to register for sites or surf places they'd get in trouble for if anyone knew. That just says what the anonymous nature of the internet supports...

oh well, what other worldly problems can we solve here ? LOL
Jenny Jo

Madison, CT

#24 Sep 30, 2007
Dave,

I was referring specifically to public message boards and the impact anonymity has on civility of the nation, as a whole.

As for security, I think using real names and addresses would create a greater danger, not the other way around. Just think if everyone had access to someone's address who pi$$ed them off here, over some stupid internet fight. Like Eddie said, you don't want some crazy person showing up on your doorstep.

The locations are determined by the ISP. Mine uses dynamic IP numbers, and it had never been accurate. I never assume that information is accurate for anyone else either.

If people create a dual-persona for themselves, then they are simply using the tools available. It is not the tools themselves causing the behavior IMO.
John

Manchester, CT

#25 Sep 30, 2007
Good points made in the article. Freedoms are one thing and decorum is another and sometimes the two are united in the open forum but most times one is beatened up for the sake of the other.
John B

Greenfield, MA

#26 Sep 30, 2007
Vicky wrote:
John B.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember you saying not to trust anything the Hartford Courant had to say?
If it is true that the Hartford Courant can't be trusted, then why is this article the exception?
As for supporting Hartford Police, well, I live in Hartford too..(nothing polite to say)
Sorry you feel that way.

I may have implied that 'much' of what the Hartford Courant says is overly biased in favor of the left (I don't think there's much argument about that) although much of what I read in the Courant about the HPD is a mixture of praise mixed with accusation.

It's difficult to push a liberal agenda when you're reporting on crime in a city like Hartford, but I'm afraid the Courant tries.

This article is not an exception, it has nothing to do with the police or the government or the war in Iraq. It is simply a statement of fact (people on here are sometimes lewd and nasty to others they disagree with).

If you're sorry you live in Hartford then I am too. The PD tried to protect you since the day I started at least, and the new guys are still trying.

Your problem isn't with the HPD, it's with the people HPD are chasing.

“CommonSense for the CommonGood”

Since: Mar 07

East Hampton, CT

#30 Sep 30, 2007
There is no question that the forums have allowed many more readers from around the world to voice their opinion. They have also acted as an ENABLER, as we might describe someone who condones and allows an alcoholic to continue to drink. To the reader who occasionally posts a comment, the forums are form of expression and a way to express a different perspective concerning a story or topic. But to some, the forums are a megaphone to blast their biases to the masses. They are emboldened when their posts are published or not censored and encouraged to push the envelope even more.

I thought I was used to the closed-minded name calling that usually follows the hijacking of a thread to emphasize the poster’s agenda. But after the horrific Petit tragedy, the posts were unbelievable. One group shifted the discussion to the “obvious” culprits, illegal aliens, and which particular group was responsible. Another conspiracy theory advocate described how the victim had to be “in on it” and this discussion is still floating out there. The state as a whole, and the Petit family in particular, had just experienced one of the state’s most callous premeditated murders, and the posters were taking that opportunity to belittle numerous ethnic, national and religious groups along with the victims.

How pathetically sad.

I believe that anonymity is a good thing in certain cases. An insider might be tempted to reveal details of a mystery or misreported case. But the rampant abuse by numerous posters on almost every thread makes the forums difficult to follow and causes readers to lose interest.

Mandatory registration should be required. I don’t believe a real name must be used on the forums, but a traceable (IP and real address) screen name should suffice. Abusers should be warned and eliminated from the site if abuse continues.

Think of the forums as an extension of the newspaper with thousands of novice writers trying to express their thoughts. While the newspaper has strict standards for its writers and contributors, the lack of ANY standards for posters degrades the online edition and its forums. Unless the newspaper wishes to become the sounding board and de facto bully pulpit for every nutcase in the country with a weird bias or hatred, it must reign in the extremists. You are in the internet frontier of interactive news gathering and opinion expression. Somewhere between toning down the rhetoric and outright censorship lies the common ground that will allow this medium to grow. If mandatory registration is needed, so be it.

Like the angry child walking away from the football game taking his football with him, this forum is your football. You have the ability to clean it up or shut it down. You have acknowledged the problem. Now please fix it and help this wonderful method of communications to flourish.
Ricky

New Ipswich, NH

#31 Sep 30, 2007
No registration means no risk or responsiblity, and no worries of consequesces. Authors can say anything they want and push the content to the limit until someone has to act.

Some of us take public information forums very seriously. Obviously, there is a subset of this community that enjoys hiding behind an anonymous facade while hurling hateful comments toward everyone else.

Don't allow it to happen on your forum on your watch.

kevin

Hartford, CT

#34 Oct 1, 2007
Online forums, especially topical ones, are rife with people who are dumb, opinionated, racist, trolling, venting, or whatever.

Registration would help somewhat, but that element will always be there.

The trick is to ignore posts that don't advance the discussion.

Even the most vitriolic troll isn't gonna stick around if no one is taking the bait.

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