Bob Silbernagel replied to my e-mail today. He attached the notification made on the Community site sometime last week. His comments included, "It really was the degrading nature of the discussion and the time it took to police the site that led to the decision. There were days when I deleted more than half of the comments over a several hour period because they were personal attacks."
Here's the post from last week. Thanks to Bob for his quick reply.
Beginning Thursday, Community.GJSentinel.com will be no more. There are several reasons for this change.
One is that we have received complaints from a number of letter writers who have asked that we not post their letters to the editor on the Community site. They are upfront enough to attach their names to the opinions they express in their letters, and they believe it is unfair that anonymous posters can engage in personal attacks on them through the Community site. It’s a valid argument. Although a few posters use their own names, most hide behind fictitious Web monikers.
However, by far the most important reason for eliminating Community is the degradation of public debate occurring there. When we launched Community, we hoped it would become a sort of online coffee shop, where readers could engage in reasoned discussions about issues of the day, both locally and nationally. Unfortunately, too often the Community site has been more akin to a saloon at closing time, where patrons shout opinions at each other, engage in personal attacks and repeat the same opinions over and over. That does nothing to enhance public debate.
We know there are readers who eagerly joined discussions on Community, only to leave in disgust over the tone of the debate. Some have vowed never to return to Community. Others continue to try to engage in reasoned debate, and continually get frustrated by the personal attacks and repetitious arguments. To them we can only say we also wish the tone of the discussions was different.
We will still have many more letters to the editor than we can publish in the print edition of The Daily Sentinel. We will post most of them in a special letters page under the “Opinion” section of GJSentinel.com.
We launched Community.GJSentinel.com nearly two years ago with high hopes that it would become a lively online discussion place with many voices being included. Now, there are only a handful who visit regularly. It’s time to close the doors.
What the TSA has set up since 9/11 is an illusion — "security theater," it's often called. Responding to every perceived threat (shoe bombs, liquid bombs, ass bombs) by banning the offending vehicles of terror looks, initially, like prudence. But, in fact, it's ridiculous. And it induces foolish political panic. Which costs us a ton of money that we then cannot spend on efforts that will actually make us safer.