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Vindy.com’s new registration rules aim to raise the level of discourse

Published: Sun, March 29, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

By Todd Franko

I still shudder when I recall a story we ran almost two years ago.

The Home Builders/Remodelers Association of Mahoning Valley had an awards ceremony for top construction projects, and they honored one company in a category for condos that cost more than $1 million.

An alert editor here thought it would be cool to get a look around a $1 million condo.

The builders and the condo owners obliged. It was a great story — with photos — of how the other half lives: a shower that cost more than my car, a driveway more pampered than my kitchen floor, etc.

I was jealous, innocently though. He was self-made and community-minded. God bless him.

Our message board crowd on Vindy.com was less tolerant.

For three weeks, the guy was blistered. It was out of hand and uncalled for. We pulled the plug on the thread.

Contrast that discussion with exchanges the last few weeks regarding two high-profile events — the selection of a hockey team and Cardinal Mooney students ganging up on a Canfield teen.

I did not agree with all of the viewpoints. So what?

Not all of the posts were coherent. No big deal.

But the vile exchanges or accusations were minimal. Bingo.

That’s when a newspaper’s online message board works. Good, educated, tempered debates.

Too often, the message board doesn’t work that way.

On Friday, we took steps to tighten our message board.

We are now requiring a registration process. Now, you’ll have to offer up some personal info to post your views.

It’s an important step, somewhat akin to what we require to get a letter to the editor published in the paper, i.e., a real name.

The hatchets who troll the “Talk of the Valley” message boards have had a field day with the change.

Example: “When the revolution starts you can be certain of one thing....the Vindicator will not be there to cover it. They’ll be too busy acting as censors and agents for the Thought Police. Good bye to all. This is my last post.”

The reality is “Bobo” is not going anywhere. Same with “DirkDigler” and the rest of the lot. Our change is a good one, but it’s not foolproof, and such ilk will work their way back onto the message boards.

Every business has that customer who is more or less just tolerated. A hard-core few on the message board are just that — tolerated. They add no sustained value to community dialogue, unless you consider ill-informed gossip, racist comments or flat-out stupidity “value.”

But for every misguided soul eager to share his — and these are normally guys — inanity, there are folks on the message boards who seem to get it.

Take the not-so-subtly-named C.P.Indathrowne:

“... the negativity being thrown around was more than likely by the spineless and unaccountable. My bet is you will [now] see real people with real thoughts and real beliefs. If something is made up, it will be done for fun and/or to create laughter or provoke thought. What will no longer happen is the unaccountable attempts to defame, deface and slander without merit. I like the new rules.”

The message board madmen quickly and cheaply throw out First Amendment and “freedom of speech” arguments whenever their access to the message board is limited due to their invasive comments.

Given their tact, yelling fire in a packed theater would also be freedom of speech.

Most of us know better.


1harpercm(9 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Thank you Vindy for setting some guidelines and standards.

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2apollo(1227 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

And killing what used to be a decent forum even if you had to weed out the noise makers. Now, the board is in effect dead. Great job Vindy decision makers! I wonder how long before you realize the folly of your decision. I see that the posts have dwindled to almost nothing. Those ad revenues must be falling as I type!

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3toddfranko(101 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Apollo ... you seemed to comment just fine in that post. How did "the Vindy decision makers" adversely affect that post?

The message board hate crew will learn soon enough that the reality of our step is far less penalizing than the perception they've created. But as we know too well, many of the hate crew's comments have often struggled to mesh with reality.

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4boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't think of whats worse, having to deal with the illiterate wackjob posters on vindy.com, or not having the opportunity to laugh at them anymore.

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5AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

The only thing that I don't agree with in this process is asking for home telephone numbers. That was not an option that should have been required. Most message boards do not require a telephone number or a home address.

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6AtownParent(565 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I am mistaken, the telephone number is not requirted, it is optional, but the address is required.

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7projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

boardmanneedschange great comment! I have to say that the wack jobs wouldn't be so bad if they didn't constantly comment on every darn article as if they were the authority on everything and then hang onto their negativity like a dog with a bone. I always wonder "Do they have lives or jobs?" with the frequency of their posts. ;)

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8boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Ahh, geniene, if you read some of my posts, you'll see that I am at least a "self proclaimed wackjob". I simply know not to be a complete idiot, keeping the lid on what I would like to say half the time. I also qualify as one who posts quite often as well, but only during down time. I guess I have the makings of a local politician with these qualities, no?

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9projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

LOL! No, you don't even meet the reqs for a true wackjob with your comments. But, future politician, hmm, perhaps.

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10papa44471(25 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Big Brother is getting bolder in my humble opinion, but who cares. There are more serious issues coming that make this one meaningless; who cares about the growing unemployment and poverty? My health insurance use to pay for my chemo medicine Avastin, but not anymore. That's more serious in my opinion. Death is the the ultimate censorship coming for sick people without insurance coverage, but who cares aboout it!

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11ysugirl913(14 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

This is great because it is something I have spoken about to many people I know, the wack job comments about everything. Boardmanneedschange, you are right on!
Some of the conversations get so out of control and flat out mean, hopefully this will help keep that under control!

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12leftofstr8(33 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Test 123, Test 123

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13AceMarketing101(11 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Well Vindy must have caved or there is a glitch, I just signed up this account to comment here and to write a blog post about it, and didnt have to give any information. blogging about this nightmare PR at http://www.acemarketing101.blogspot.com

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14AceMarketing101(11 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Okay, guess I am an idiot, any ol' person can register and talk about the stories, but you do have to register with address and optional phone number for the message boards only. Consistency much?

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15MikePrelee(38 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I just don't get the big deal about user registration. I've always posted under my own name and never had any trouble.

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16Rocco(99 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Just another devious way to get information. Everyone wants your information.

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17ads(109 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I think people should be able to voice their opinions, and that's all it basically is, opinions. But when people start accusing and using peoples names, now that is just wrong. People need to catch a grip, like papa said there are more serious issues at hand.

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18cambridge(4132 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Lost Patrol:

I've noticed grump posting but when you click on the article his post is nowhere to be found. I think he has been band from posting. I don't think I have ever agreed with anything grump has ever posted but it's a free country. If he has been band, unless he threatened to harm someone banning seems unfair.

I thought news orginizations are supposed to protect freedom of speech.

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19cambridge(4132 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago


Forgive me for not being able to read between the lines. It was hard because your whole post was only one line. I'm sure we are on the same page on my point and I hope other posters feel the same way. I'm not into calling people names but I can see how some people would think grump is a jerk, but I'm sure there are at least as many that would say the same about me.

Other than threatening someone I can't accept anyone being band. What ever else anyone says are only words or opinions. Editors should review, proofread and edit what their reporters write. Not what people write in opinion polls.

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20Rocco(99 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey, I want to tell you something. I go to another old home town web site and post once in awhile. If I say anything detrimental about Hussien, they don't post it. So be glad the Vindy hasn't come down to that level of censorship yet. The Messiah is taking over our country - another power grab every day.....

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21boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

banned.....its banned.....im sorry. Im kind of a wackjob like that.

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22cambridge(4132 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

boardmanneedschange: Thanks. If that's the only word I spelled incorrectly it's an improvement. I'm so proud. banned, banned, banned...!

Rocco: See that's what I don't understand. Your nuts and they still let you post.

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23Rocco(99 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Cambridge - why in the world are you calling me nuts? I have never directed a comment to you. boardmanneedschange doesn't make sense to me, but i didn't make any nasty comments on that last post.

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24aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Rocco, cambridge is just mad because you dissed the "King" and he probably voted for him.

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25Rocco(99 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Ahhh, yea, you are probably right. You want to see something, go to www.worldnetdaily.com and watch our Messiah bowing down (and I mean down) to the Saudi king. It's really something to see. You can even just type in Obama Bowing To Saudi King and your browser will take you there.

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26cambridge(4132 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Maybe he didn't want to hold hands.

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27Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Soooooo . . .. The Vindy doesn't like people with diverse opinions. Perhaps they desire a blank page posted and the censor can then fill it in.

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28vindyreaderiam(7 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Anyone familiar with message boards knows there are always a few who are there for no other reason than to post what is typically considered hate speech (flamers, cyberbullies, trolls, etc.). They seek to gain the attention they don't get in their real lives and say things they wouldn't dare say to anyone when face to face. Posters are often instructed to ignore the juvenile behavior but that isn't always possible or effective. At that point the "monitor" must step in and address the situation. Thank you Vindy for taking a step towards creating an enviroment of civil discourse. Some will fight you every step of the way, throwing tantrums or expressing a sudden concern for the Bill of Rights when faced with losing the ability to play anonymous tough guy in cyberspace, but many more will appreciate the effort on your part.

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29harbres(29 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I''d rather not see any posts, than a bunch of people talking about things they know nothing about. If vindy needs to ban a few, for the good of the rest, go ahead.... I for one won't miss comments from some of them.

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