The Millstone has been pleased to see the comment section below each article become an increasingly lively place for discussion about important issues in our community. The past week alone has seen over 100 comments posted, most related to the Enerdu proposal and the upcoming municipal election.
We think this degree of citizen participation and debate is, for the most part, healthy and useful. But we also have some concerns. In particular, we would prefer to discourage comments that don’t disclose the writer’s real name.
We recognize that anonymous commenting is the norm on many Internet news and opinion sites. And we understand that in some cases anonymity is desirable — for example, when someone weighs in on a highly personal or sensitive issue and the disclosure of their real name could lead to repercussions.
But that will rarely be the case here in the Millstone. We are neighbours discussing local issues of mutual interest, and there is rarely any good reason to conceal one’s identity. If you feel strongly enough to share your opinions with several thousand people you should be accountable for those opinions, in our view.
We can’t insist on this, nor is it technically feasible to confirm people’s real identities when they register to comment. But we believe the quality of discussion would be improved if readers chose to do so.
We have also been asked about certain comments that some readers consider unduly harsh or unpleasant. The Millstone’s policy is to delete only those comments we think are libellous or defamatory under Canadian law. We do not censor comments otherwise.
That said, we want to remind everyone that you are debating with your neighbours in our pages, people you may run into at the grocery store or community group meeting or local school. We ask you to keep your comments civil, courteous and constructive.