When we started allowing comments on stories at TucsonWeekly.com last year, several readers expressed their displeasure, citing the unpleasantness that so often breaks out in comments sections on other newspaper websites.
If you don't know what I mean by "unpleasantness," look no further than the morning daily's website, where racism, name-calling and rudeness regularly reign.
I assured those concerned readers that we would not let that happen at TucsonWeekly.com.
With a few exceptions, we had very few problems during the first year that we allowed comments. Most people leaving comments were civil and tried to take part in honest discussions. As for those exceptions, postings that violated our online comments policy (www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/CommentsPolicy/Page) were quickly removed, and the TucsonWeekly.com accounts of repeat offenders were suspended. Life went on, and all was good.
Then came SB 1070.
Over the last couple of months, our nationally recognized border/immigration coverage has brought more and more racists, flamers and name-callers to TucsonWeekly.com. As a result, we've had to remove a lot more comments—and I have found myself having to make judgment calls on certain postings that fell into our comments policy's gray areas.
I can't say we've done a perfect job of moderating TucsonWeekly.com. However, I can say we've largely succeeded in keeping things open, fair and civil. And you have my word that we'll continue to do so.
In other words ... you don't have to worry about the comment forums at TucsonWeekly.com devolving into Azstarnet-like pits of inhumanity. That will never happen. I promise.