New Year’s resolution: improve the dialogue (Updated)

I’m taking this time to solidify a recent resolution. And I’m asking you to make it one of yours.

Let’s improve the dialogue on the blog.

This has always been a difficult area.

I love the debate of ideas. I hate the bashing of people.

I try to follow comment policy. But sometimes the two seem so intertwined and grey.

I often stress about it – especially with controversial debates. When I see certain news items I start getting “agita” knowing that when I share it, I’ll have to deal with the ensuing raging arguments.

It’s often hard to decide where to draw the lines. A friend advised me recently that when it makes me feel “yucky” to post a comment, don’t do it. So that’s part of my resolution.

If a comment makes me feel sick when I post it, I won’t do it. I’m also resolving to intervene more.

And I’m asking for your help. Is there a resolution below that’s right for you?

1. Breathe before you write – Did something in the story or comments enrage you? Try calming down before you draft your words. (Besides, belligerent comments often push conflicted readers to the opposite side of your argument.)

2. Grow a thicker skin – When someone disagrees (really, really, disagrees) with your point, that doesn’t mean they are attacking your person. Try not to take their argument personally (even if the tone is a bit snarky).

3. If it bothers you, don’t read it – I will try to help keep the discourse more civil. But I’m not a Polyanna. I know it won’t be all “by your leaves” and “respectfully submitted”. So there will still be clashes in the debates. If you enjoy that, read it and participate. If you don’t like it, just read the stories and skip (or skim) the comments.

4. Take a moment to make a positive contribution – Have something nice to say to the community? Say it. Maybe you just had a good experience with a town board, committee or employee. Maybe you found some great new resource. Pass on the good vibes. After all, open threads and story comments aren’t just for lodging complaints! (Feel free to begin below.)

(Image posted to Flickr by Adikos)

(Updated 1/8/14): I need to note that soon after posting this, I accidentally violated it. When someone posted an angry comment, I mistakenly read it as being a reply to me. (More to my explanation than myself, but still me.) Sometimes, in the view I have (especially on my phone) I can misinterpret who someone’s comment is in reply to.

The reader who was subject to a “Are you frickin’ kidding me?”, questioned my sincerity in improving dialogue. Once I realized the error, I apologized and fixed it.

I’m human and I will make mistakes. Sometimes it may be misreading or missing something when quickly scanning a comment. Another time it may be poor judgement.

If you feel that I’m not following through on this promise, call me on it. I invite you to drop me a direct line at if you think comments are too personal or violating policy.

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9 years ago

Great post Beth! Happy New Year! Looking forward to great dialogue in 2014 :)

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