Every evening, after a long day at work, I sit down at my home computer and visit Your Roundup. For anyone who has never been there, Your Roundup is an online forum for readers to post opinions, argue points and generally participate in a lively discussion about Payson, surrounding areas and the newspaper.
We have 56 registered users on the forum. Until recently, participants could post anonymously under pseudonyms, but anonymity at times leads to irresponsible running at the mouth and lack of courtesy. We got rid of the anonymity, and the forum returned to being a civil place for people to be.
I sit at my computer and read the latest posts. Since the forum is a place for readers, I never post myself and neither do any members of the Roundup staff. I feel that would be inappropriate and might stifle some of the conversation.
As your editor, reading the forum is a fun, fly on the wall moment. I can see who is angry and who is pleased.
People won't always say what they mean to your face, but alone in the living room, the truth -- or a version of it -- comes out.
From our Web tracking numbers, I know that there are a lot of people like me who are "flies on the wall," reading the forum but not contributing their own comments.
Visiting the forum keeps me grounded. It reminds me that my job is not done in a bubble. It reminds me of you, the reader, and of our place in the community as the disseminator of information and opinion.
But it also reminds me of just how heated the political debate can get, and just how personal.
If you have been on our forum this week, you know that we made the decision to ban two users from participating.
As anyone who enjoys debate will understand, there is a difference between constructive argument and personal attack. We want everyone to feel comfortable to share their opinions on our forum, and expect that they will be asked to defend their position. We do not want people to feel they will be harassed or subjected to personal accusations because of their point of view.
This week I watched one of our new users quickly become discouraged and announce that he would not be posting again on the forum because of the treatment he experienced there.
The two users who were responsible for his decision then began to celebrate. That celebration of chasing someone off the forum was what made us decide to remove their posting privileges.
One of the things that makes Payson great is the lively and engaged dialogue of its citizenry. As your newspaper, we enjoy providing an outlet for the debate on our online forum and in our Letters to the Editor pages. We do not want to be the sole voice in this publication.
I would like to invite any reader who has not visited our forum to do so, by visiting payson.com. Below the Payson Roundup logo you'll see a link for "Your Roundup." If you only want to read the posts without comment, there is no need to register. If you do want to participate, you will be asked for your name, address and listed phone number to verify your identity. Your address and phone number will never be shared.
Enjoy the dialogue, and, as always, feel free to call or e-mail me at (928) 474-5251 ext. 115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.