Balleck: Our pages, our rules | CraigDailyPress.com

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Balleck: Our pages, our rules

To censor or not to censor.

That's been the question for many newspaper staffs for many months. And it continues to be a topic of conversation at keyboards of members of our community and on our online forum.

Now, our forum, found at the discussion section and at the conclusion of stories published at http://www.craigdailypress.com, is not a new resource. But, as its popularity grows — and as our newsroom grows — it's becoming an issue that needs addressed and continually revisited.

I joined the paper's staff in January as the online content producer, no stranger to the Craig Daily Press newsroom or journalism in general.

And when I began, we knew something had to be done about the forum.

We debated long and hard about moderating the site — which several online users called for — making the site non-anonymous or just shutting it down all together.

Those who have visited our forum know that users can become disrespectful, inappropriate and downright mean. We knew it needed more regulation than it's had in the past, but we wanted to keep the site alive and flourishing. It's a critical gathering place for open discussion in our community. And there's no better place than the most visited site in Moffat County for it.

I want you to know at this juncture that we are proud of our site and its success. We want the forum to stay and we want you all to continue to use it to express yourself, learn viewpoints different than your own and ideally make a difference in our community.

But the forums got to have some regulation. You've got to understand that.

So in March, we published a story informing users about the start of our "three strikes and you're out" policy. Mess up three times, and we're banning you from the site. It's that simple.

We're thankful we've only had to ban a user once since.

Let's be clear here. I don't enjoy scouring the forum and sending emails warning users about their inappropriate posts.

But that's my job, and it's one that needs done.

Let's also be clear that I (we actually — as I do not single-handedly make the decisions around here) do not and will not remove comments because they contain an opinion I disagree with. Also, as some of you seem to believe, threats don't make it far around here. We have a set policy regarding what we remove and what we don't. We stick to that.

I hope you'll read our use policy all users agree to at http://www.craigdailypress.com/about/use_policy/. It'll give you all you need to know about how to post to our online forum and how to avoid being warned and subsequently banned.

But in simple words: don't swear, make accusations, threaten others or say hateful things. It's pretty cut and dry.

And listen, these are our pages. We would never publish on newsprint things of the above nature, and we see the Internet as being little different.

These are our pages, so you have to follow our rules.