EDITORIAL: Trolling for substance

It would be nice if online commentators would be respectful, but that's not always the case

Ah, the joys of commenting on social media.

You can sit un your underwear, basically anywhere on the planet, and join a local conversation. It matters not if you have any local context to what’s being discussed. See the name of politician you don’t like? Fire away. Grab a nugget of the story or discussion that interests you and bang away on your keyboard, trying to advance your opinion or your cause.

A lot of people do this in B.C., and many offer comments on our stories that appear on www.pqbnews.com.

Some label the non-locals who contribute seemingly anywhere and everywhere as trolls. That’s a bit harsh. Often they provide a unique perspective to the story or issue at hand, useful opinions ‘from away.’

Many newspaper companies have shut down the comments section of their websites. We understand their concerns and offer no opinion here on those decisions.

The whole idea of stifling comment on the stories and opinions we present on our website runs counter to our raison d’être. We believe the promotion of healthy debate and discussion about the issues that matter — or just a pat on the back for a job well done in the community — is part and parcel of what we provide as a community newspaper.

Thing is, it’s not always healthy. And every word can be dangerous, legally and otherwise, and/or hurtful.

Moderating the comments on our stories presented at pqbnews.com is one of our tasks. The two most frequent reasons for deleting a comment? Name-calling and foul language.

They are fairly easy ones to spot. Name-calling? Really? Are we eight years old?

Limiting comments to locals is not only next-to-impossible, it’s not fair because our website provides stories from throughout the province and country.

There is no easy answer to all this, so we soldier on for now with the status quo.

We leave you with a comment we liked, posted to our story about the theft of camping gear from the local scouts hall: “(Young people) don’t realize or connect that their fun and recreational use of drugs may well lead to these types of socially repulsive acts but they need to be informed. They need to be shown that fun sometimes turns into a habit that demands to be fed . . . no matter what.”

— Editorial by John Harding

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