Based on the discussion at our coffee—to be held 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday in New Canaan Library’s Lamb Room—NewCanaanite.com will make a decision on whether to require full and verifiable first and last names for all commenters on all stories.
That already is our policy on election-related articles, following the heated and often divisive discussions in comment threads during the run-up to the Republican caucus in July.
I’ve looked at that policy a test. Since the caucuses, coverage of election-related matters has been limited for the simple reason that there hasn’t been much to cover, though now with lawn signs in the ground and some candidate forums coming up, it will pick up again.
I’m hearing now that some would like to see the policy extended to all stories—a change that, frankly, would make my own job easier. The question is whether it would have an overly chilling effect on people who might otherwise post pointed yet appropriate comments under, say, their initials. New Canaan is such a small town and we all wear so many hats, I would think someone could have a perfectly justified criticism of a policy or action in one area of local life, and yet he or she would be afraid to voice it for fear of bad feelings in another. As it now, for non-election-related articles, I verify identities of readers I do not know prior to approving their comments, and ask that usernames include either a full first or last name.
I am open to this discussion and will make the change if readers want it. And I will give more weight to comments coming from those whose names end up in our publication most often, as they’re most directly affected—elected officials, town workers and those appointed to various boards, committees and commissions.
If you would like to join us at 8:30 a.m. Thursday for this month’s coffee, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you an invite. We meet in the Lamb Room at New Canaan Library. If you want to email me your thoughts, I will read them.