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    August 11, 2010 at 11:13 a.m.

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    August 11, 2010 at 9:11 a.m.

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    August 5, 2010 at 11:07 a.m.

  • Dig,
    I'm out of the office this week, so I don't have time for a lengthy reply. I likely won't be able to respond in any timely way, so my apologies for the lack of a two-way conversation about this. I'm happy to talk with you on the phone when I'm back in the office next week. My direct number is 574-1271.
    In my opinion, the critics of the Sunday report on the county judge candidates have tried to attack anyone and everyone involved in the story or commenting in support of it. I've even had readers on Facebook tell me they've received harassing messages after posting about the story.
    To our review team, all of this is irrelevant and unfair.
    A relevant approach would be to stay focused on the facts contained in and merits of the story. The rest is just a smokescreen.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.

  • Oops! My bad!. Wingnuts include people who say the following:"Of course, if you were really interested in informing the public you might publish the Wikileaks documents or run an investigative article about the Federal Reserve destroying the dollar."

    Thank you, Lord Ron Paul. Baaad VA, baad.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:45 a.m.

  • Legion

    What about this. http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/weblo...

    August 4, 2010 at 11:23 p.m.

  • Lamppost, perhaps slander isn't the word I should have used harass fit s better.

    For just one example, look at you comment history in February, about every fourth post of yours mentions Matt Ocker s name, and that just from the snippets on you comment history.

    The article a majority of them concerned where on the political contribution thread, unfortunately comments where closed, a ton of your comment where deleted by the VicAd prior to that, helping to close the thread. But the little snippets of your comments remain on your comment history.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.

  • Fed up.
    The facts you used are HALF TRUTHS. http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/weblo...

    August 4, 2010 at 4:22 p.m.

  • 1. The article was written as well as it could be. Matt isn't a private citizen; he's injected himself into politics and the media. I think he is fine with the article.

    2. As for blogs on the VA site, I think it is a terrible position if the VA wants to be a newspaper of record. When you go to get the local news, half of the splash page is devoted to some wingnut fantasy (that's you, Barry S. Spotter). If the VA wants to drive page views with blogs, then put them on their own page and not with the news on the splash. Personally, if the VA was my paper, I wouldn't have personal blogs.

    3. As for online comments, I'd follow the recommended practices in place with the larger community newspapers and require the reporter or editorial staff to review and approve PRIOR to posting. While it really limits the discussion, THIS conversation proves that review after posting isn't working for the VA.

    4. I don't follow Chris Cobbler's facebook postings because I don't have a facebook account -- I think facebook is a great way to invite bad people to learn too much about you, your family, where you are and when you aren't home. That said, I know people who get 100% of their daily local news from Cobbler's facebook postings.

    5. Finally, as to charges of censorship -- it is clear that many people do not understand what freedom of speech entails. The VA can allow what it wants on its website without restriction. Freedom of speech means you can say what you want to on YOUR OWN WEBSITE. If you don't like the VA, start your own newspaper. Or just shout out your opinions from your front lawn.

    August 4, 2010 at 12:28 p.m.

  • I for one, love the online comments on vicad. For the first time the entire town has a place to discuss local issues.

    August 4, 2010 at 3:13 a.m.

  • hi
    =========
    private label rights

    August 3, 2010 at 11:18 p.m.

  • edpost,
    Let me respond. Chris is out of the office this afternoon.

    1. This is a personal question for each individual. Most people can go online, have civil discourse and never be banned from a site.

    2. I would have no problem not responding to a post if the blogger asked me to stay off his blog. Yes, we strive to be fair to readers and customers.

    3. We stand 100 percent behind Sunday's front page story: "Running with a record."

    Thanks,
    Thomas Martinez

    August 3, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.

  • @Rebecca, I can imagine a spoof blog on the spotter. And your comment reminded me of Braveheart.

    "William Wallace: Sons of Scotland! I am William Wallace.
    Young Soldier: William Wallace is seven feet tall!
    William Wallace: Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse."

    August 3, 2010 at 12:57 p.m.

  • ...and he has a dog named Shep.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:49 p.m.

  • I think he's ten feet tall and has the whole set of Encyclopedia Britannica memorized. Oh, and he can juggle lit torches and very sharp knives...

    August 3, 2010 at 12:48 p.m.

  • @BSspotter, so we know you are a man :) I just thought it funny that everyone tries to figure who you are and now we can narrow it down to 50% of the population :)

    Please don't read into it, I am really only being facetious.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:43 p.m.

  • Fed,
    I've sent you an e-mail so that we might talk and review that situation. Thanks.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

  • First of all, I don't know Matt Ocker and I don't live in Victoria. However, I do have something to address to Mr. Cobler about restricting personal attacks on an individual expressing his opinion. Mr. Cobler said he was "concerned about unsubstantiated and personal attacks this story will prompt." About a year ago, I wrote a letter to the editor expressing my opinion of Mr. Obama. I used facts to substantiate my opinion. My letter was printed but then the Victoria Advocate printed a letter from a reader who attacked me personally and did not offer any facts whatsoever to dispute my opinion of Mr. Obama. Where was your concern, Mr. Cobler? You can't have it both ways--but maybe you can if you're the editor of a newspaper. Mr. Cobler, if you don't believe me, contact me and I can give you the particulars.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:04 p.m.

  • Chris,

    Let me clarify. I'm an autonomous citizen who tries to assist Mr. Ocker's cause when possible — many times incidentally — by shedding light on real issues that coincide with his campaign platform. I've helped him in several other ways, but I refuse to be lumped into a homogeneous mass where publications can execute wholesale dismissals of like-minded citizens. I'm my own man, and I'm simply being proactive in protecting myself & my family from this level of personal ridicule. I have nothing to hide but my family, and after this weekend, I can see they're not off limits, so having nothing personal to hide is of no comfort. Luckily, I don't have any expert ex-brother-in-laws.

    I will continue to be a diligent, watchful citizen, and if I can promote Ocker's message of maximum transparency, fiscal restraint, and humble accountability along the way, I'll do it. This changes nothing, except I now realize I need to redouble my efforts.

    As I've said before, I have no loyalties to Matt Ocker the man, but I will support his superior ideals as long as he's true to his word. If he ever strays from his message, I will bust his cojones like everyone else. Yes, political objectivity is achievable.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:08 a.m.

  • Chris,

    What is your obsession with MrSpotter "working" in Matt's campaign? I know Matt personally, and my husband and I have both helped him out as far as getting his name out there, explaining his stance, his ideas, and his want and need to help all of us here in the county. Does that mean we "work" for him? In/on/for his campaign? As far as I know, the term "work" implies a paycheck or compensation of some kind, which none of us have received. In any case, what does that have to do with anything? Why are you trying to suss out who everyone is and who we "work" for? What difference does it make to anyone here, especially you, whether or not MrSpotter "works" for Matt? Why is it that just because he has not given you his name, his ideas, suggestions, and requests are not valid?

    How far up in the clouds do you have to be to not understand that what other people say in a public forum affects every iota of their lives? Are you really so naive to think that, let's say, Matt Ocker's life has not been affected negatively by the people reading his comments here on the Advocate site? We've all seen just exactly what can happen when you reveal your identity and what you say isn't so popular. It's easy as pie to put yourself out there when your ideas line up perfectly with the establishment and there's not a thing controversial about you.

    People need people. We need people to secure loans for that house we want to buy. We need people to give us jobs. We have to depend on other people for our paychecks. If a potential employer is reading what you're saying online and doesn't agree with the fact that you're pro-gay marriage or pro-life or a Christian, guess what? You might just lose out on that job you need to secure the loan to get the house. Pretending that you don't understand that is ridiculous. You need to stop trying to suss out people's identities and listen to their words. It's never about what's being said, it's about who's saying it...especially on this website. If you took Matt Ocker's ideas and let someone with a good reputation who was kind to everyone tout those same goals and proposals, gee, I wonder how well those ideas would go over? It's none of anyone's business who anyone is on this forum as long as they are not committing a crime with their text or encouraging others to do so. Ideas and opinions should be judged on the merit of those words themselves, not by who's saying them. Whether or not MrSpotter does what you think he does, or is who you think he is, is irrelevant. You need to be fair across the board, period, no exceptions. You let one do/say something, you let them all. If you want to behave ethically and have any integrity, that is. If not, well, that's up to you. At this point, after the article where you singled out one person to be reamed, I could not care less anymore if I tried.

    But, hey...you don't know me, so I guess my opinion means *expletive deleted*.

    August 2, 2010 at 7:52 a.m.

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    August 2, 2010 at 7:29 a.m.

  • Mr. Spotter,
    I'll take you at your word and retract my earlier assertion that you work in Mr. Ocker's campaign. Perhaps your involvement has changed. My apologies.

    August 2, 2010 at 6:05 a.m.

  • I don't understand, some complain because VA ran the story, which appears to be the same people that would have opinion indicating the VA is "covering up" something if it was not published. Facts are whatever they turn out to be, newspapers are obligated to uncover the facts and print it.
    Public offices and candidates for public office fully know anything and everything about them is an open door. This is not unique to Victoria, it is the nature of the beast in this country.
    In public forum, by the nature of the topic,comments have to be transparent - other wise it is just postings of anyone desiring to rant. The VA has an obligation to monitor comments, pull comments that are not what they appear to be. It isn't censorship, it is responsible management

    August 2, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.

  • Whoa there Thomas, I never suggested "outing " a poster. My comment concerned Chris s comment to BS such as."I know your role in the Ocker campaign" and also "It's about as obvious as your role in Mr. Ocker's campaign, Mr. BS"

    It seems to me that Mr. Coblers comments imply that he already knows who Mr. BS is, and in a way is using that information to his advantage in his and Mr. BS s exchange of comments.

    August 1, 2010 at 11:18 p.m.

  • BSspotter,

    You said "Why would I open myself to this kind of treatment where nothing is sacred?"

    No need to be afraid of comments that aren't "sacred" or unflattering -remember, the Advocate censor team watches very closely. It's also not likely that you'll receive "poison pen" letters through ths U.S. mail if you use your real name. I think a people using their real names tend to make them more responsible when commenting. C'mon, jump in ,the water is fine!

    August 1, 2010 at 10:33 p.m.

  • As an addendum to my last post: We would reveal a commenter's name only if we were subpoenaed to do so. Other than that, never.
    Thomas Martinez

    August 1, 2010 at 10:06 p.m.

  • Legion,
    Are you suggesting we "out" a commenter? That's definitely not something we would do.
    Thomas Martinez

    August 1, 2010 at 9:58 p.m.

  • g4further,

    We have a team of people at the Advocate who moderate the forums. When a post is flagged the review team discusses and may take action depending on the outcome. That action might include a warning sent to the user and/or removal of the offending post(s), depending on the case. If we have a user that repeatedly violates our policies, we may remove their account altogether. There is almost always communication about the impending removal (exceptions being obvious spammer accounts and such).

    I don't recall the exact circumstances for Mr. Ocker, but his account was ultimately removed for refusing to follow our policies.

    August 1, 2010 at 8:53 p.m.

  • I really appreciate the fine people at the VA looking out for me by publishing info about people running for public office. It would also be nice if you could continue reporting on people once they get into office. Of course, if you were really interested in informing the public you might publish the Wikileaks documents or run an investigative article about the Federal Reserve destroying the dollar.

    August 1, 2010 at 8:34 p.m.

  • re: Facebook + Vicad online

    Do you mean something like how when I check my e mail my contacts show up as their Facebook picture? Mail programs have merged with Facebook.

    If you want us to be a more tight community then you have to understand that Matt is a part of that community too. Good or bad. D=

    AOL had "time outs" for people who violated TOS. You know, yesterday, I felt like DMing you and asking if you could just disable my account for awhile because I was bored and grumpy and swinging from the chandelier in the comment section.

    August 1, 2010 at 8:24 p.m.

  • Wow what a mess.

    In all this discussion I did not see a reason given for Mr. Ockers banishment from the VICAD blogs. Can someone please tell us??

    August 1, 2010 at 7:35 p.m.

  • "BS,
    Because I know your role in the Ocker campaign, I'll consider that an official request and take that to our review team."

    Wait a second, if you know Chris, support it with facts, if you can't, IMO, you need to delete your own comments for presenting unsubstantiated facts as true.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander to.

    August 1, 2010 at 6:54 p.m.

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    August 1, 2010 at 6:45 p.m.

  • Chris, let be clear that I don't speak for or represent Matt Ocker, but that sounds like the right approach to take. Again, I am John Q. Public exercising my right to be my government.

    August 1, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.

  • BS,
    You can whatever you want to be. Why shouldn't others respond accordingly?

    Wayward,
    Sorry your comments were buried. I respect your purist position, but that's not one the newspaper has wanted to take. We try to promote a civil conversation.

    August 1, 2010 at 6:07 p.m.

  • Chris: "Why wouldn't you want to step forward and identify yourself and your role in the campaign?"

    Why would I open myself to this kind of treatment where nothing is sacred?
    www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2010/au...

    Why can't I just be a citizen lending my support to a candidate, which is exactly what I am?

    August 1, 2010 at 6:05 p.m.

  • BS,
    Because I know your role in the Ocker campaign, I'll consider that an official request and take that to our review team. Please be advised that the process of restoring a banned user has at times required months of conversation in the past.
    In the meantime, your candidate is free to write a letter or a column in response to the article. That actually would be a good first step for the editorial board and the review team to consider.

    August 1, 2010 at 6:04 p.m.

  • Chris: "To answer your other question, we allowed those users back only after extensive conversations and their pledge to abide by our user rules."

    That sounds like an opportunity Matt would like to have, considering the circumstances.

    August 1, 2010 at 6 p.m.

  • Chris, feel free to elaborate.

    August 1, 2010 at 5:58 p.m.

  • Sorry, that came across too snarky. Let me put it another way. Why wouldn't you want to step forward and identify yourself and your role in the campaign?
    To answer your other question, we allowed those users back only after extensive conversations and their pledge to abide by our user rules.

    August 1, 2010 at 5:57 p.m.

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    August 1, 2010 at 5:55 p.m.

  • Chris,

    It's obvious your decision isn't popular. How about reinstating Matt's user privileges (as you did with BIGJ, EdithAnn & Pilot) and allow him to comment? Sounds like a good solution to your problem.

    August 1, 2010 at 5:54 p.m.

  • Chris..."When is it ever appropriate to not allow online comments?"

    Just my personal opinion, but I don't think it's ever appropriate to not allow comments on the forum; but, it's YOUR forum and your paper, so I guess we're stuck with what you allow. I wish the Advocate would create a forum for grown-ups so people aren't banned and posts aren't deleted. Grown-ups should have thick enough skins that they don't get their feelings hurt if someone posts something less than flattering.

    August 1, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.

  • It's not what the public doesn't want to know, it is what the public wants to know, like the candidates position on the issues that directly impact them. Where is that story? I know it will be printed before the election.

    Comments allowed? I guess by not allowing them you did prevent Lampost from further slandering Mr. Ockers name.

    August 1, 2010 at 5:19 p.m.

  • the victoria advocate should make it policy from here on out to research the backgrounds of all local candidates.

    August 1, 2010 at 5:14 p.m.

  • N45BA,
    I doubt this will make any difference, but this story had absolutely nothing to do with the Advocate's political position. I know some supporters of Mr. Ocker like to connect his politics to those of Ron Paul's. I would emphasize that our congressman is welcome in our newsroom and in our newspaper any time.

    I understand those who might disagree with today's story. They're dead wrong, though, if they justify their position by doing so on political grounds.

    I ask again the topic of this blog:

    -- When is it appropriate to restrict anonymous online comments?

    I'll add for others:

    -- What information in Sunday's story do you not want to know about your candidates for public office?

    August 1, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.

  • VBB,
    Thank you for your comments. I would add that both candidates are free to write a letter or column to respond to the article.

    August 1, 2010 at 3:43 p.m.

  • All is fair in love, war & politics....well, not in love & war anymore, but I think politics is still fair game. In these days & times where everyone is concerned, rightly so, about politicians associations, historys, connections, etc....it is expected that this article & its contents would come to light. Should it? IMO, yes, but just the facts as they are stated in public records. All the fluff from "experts" who don't know this man from Adam, should not have been included. Should these articles be open to anonymous comments? That's a tough one...on one hand he is banned from commenting on the site so he can't defend himself against any attacks, but he also can't defend himself from the attacks contained in the article either. That being the case, I think it should be opened up so people can weigh in their opinions on the meat of the article.

    August 1, 2010 at 3:24 p.m.

  • Comments welcome here:
    www.victoriaadvocate.com/weblogs/para...

    August 1, 2010 at 2 p.m.

  • Mr. Cobbler;
    In my opinion, only the arrest records on both sides of the political issue should be shared. I myself, do not have an arrest record, but I have an ex-spouse and children and visitation issues have occured. I don't think THOSE issues are public concern. I would NOT want my dirty laundry aired in that forum and I don't think the public needs to hear about that matter. ONLY arrest records or tickets. The rest is gossip in my honest opinion because it has not been found guilty in a court of law.

    August 1, 2010 at 1:29 p.m.

  • You ask a difficult question without an easy answer. I would say that as a paper, you should err on the side of allowing comments. However, I am not saying always. I am saying the default is allowing comments. There are reasonable exceptions, and it is up to the editor to decide for he is in charge of the paper. Didn't help much I know. There are lay blogs that have comments and are very successful and there are lay blogs that don't and are also very successful. Glad I don't make this decision!

    August 1, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.

  • Rebecca,
    You raise another excellent point, as usual. We agree comments other than condolences are often inappropriate on stories of tragedy. We're quick to remove those comments and close that thread.
    We like to leave the thread open, if at all possible, so that people might post condolences and share in other constructive ways.
    OK, now I really need to go out.
    Rebecca, maybe you can assist Edit in this conversation for a bit. Thanks.

    August 1, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.

  • Anxious,
    You're right. I'm far from perfect. And I agree those running for public office should have some right to privacy. Do you think these issues raised by the story would be important to the average voter in making his or her decision at the poll? Something along those lines is, I think, a fair test for whether such information should be printed.
    All of these documents are public record. Should they not be shared?

    August 1, 2010 at 1:12 p.m.

  • I think that when an article is about a tragedy any comments that don't offer a condolence can seem cruel and insensitive. I've been guilty of being insensitive but I later felt terrible as I considered how a grieving family member might feel seeing me being "chatty" on an article that mentions their loss. It's really disgusting to see fighting and blame in those comments.

    I try to self regulate and it wouldn't insult me if you pulled my "vent" comments, especially when they get off topic like yesterday. I need to tell myself that if I feel that emotional about the topic then maybe I should blog about it so the topic can be discussed there and away from an actual article where I got off topic.

    Would you be open to blogs about the articles where the comments are closed?

    August 1, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.

  • Chris, may I call you Chris? Ok, Mr. Cobbler. I am not running for office, ok? But if I were, I would be humiliated by someone looking in my closet for skeletons. THAT'S why I will NEVER try to run for office, (when I would actually do ok as an elected official, perhaps...) and I think it is discouraging to others to be judgemental. Do you have skeletons in your closet??? Are you the perfect person??? Maybe God forgives us and expects us to do the same. Anonymous??? Why am I anonymous??? You guys would have a field day ripping me to shreds. I don't want that to happen to me or my family. Sorry.

    August 1, 2010 at 1:06 p.m.

  • Edith,
    Yes, you and I have gone round and round many times. So many times I'm sure you can predict my response. You're a regular blogger, so you know you own the delete key to what you post, too. I'll e-mail you later with my concerns about your particular background and position in this race.
    I'm headed out for a bit, so I'll leave you in charge here. Please keep everyone on task. Thanks.

    August 1, 2010 at 1:03 p.m.

  • Anxious, do you not want to know the backgrounds of people you elect to public office? And if you want to comment on those backgrounds, why is at anonymous post the only way you want to do so? You many other options.

    August 1, 2010 at 1:01 p.m.

  • Comparing posters on the Advocate to your 4,772 'friends' on Facebook is not even a fair comparison.

    As much as you want to us to view the Advocate forum as another social networking site, it's not! Didn't we all already discuss this topic a couple of years ago?

    No point in posting over here in another form since you still own the delete button, is there?

    August 1, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

  • I am embarassed at the moment. At VA for publishing all these things about Ocker, and I don't even know the man, for Mr. Ocker running for office, and even Judge Pozzi's past. Then you don't want online comments??? Wow...

    Small town politics are so lop-sided. Wow...

    August 1, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.