As the administrator of the RimCountry.Com Web site and the Digital Graffiti bulletin board, I salute your recent efforts to minimize, if not eliminate, patently offensive speech from the Roundup's online Community Forum, as described in your Feb 23 editorial "Registration won't restrict free speech."
I sympathize completely with your Webmaster, knowing that one of the daily duties is to scour the latest postings in search of profane, obscene or defamatory missives. I, too, begin and end every day with the same task -- finding and removing the mindless filth that others have left behind. It has given me a newfound respect for janitors, sanitation workers and those whose daily province is to ensure the health and comfort of others.
This was not at all what I anticipated when, after a year of prodding, we acceded to requests and installed a free-access, anonymous bulletin board. What I had hoped for was a high-tech "remake" of Americana, an open, free-wheeling, soap-box forum where everyone would be encouraged to express their opinions on matters big and small, and where others would be able to respond in real time, if they desired.
Indeed, this was the way it began. Users would go out and find items of interest from various places on the Web, including paysonroundup.com, then post them to Digital Graffiti, and lively discussions would ensue. Due to the abuse of only a few, it soon degenerated into name-calling and baseless mud-slinging, much of which we feared might be actionable. This disruptive and disrespectful behavior has caused the more thoughtful posters to stay away in droves, leaving the mud-mongers lurking our once-lively, now lonely forums. Sadly, these are not "outside agitators," but young, barely literate locals who openly threaten to defeat any security firewall one might install, including a registration process.
I the meantime, I wish you the best of luck with your endeavor, and commend you on your enduring commitment to the First Amendment.
Michael J. Alexander, Strawberry