Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » Where will debate about online comments lead?


A post by online guru Steve Buttry caught my eye Sunday because it covers a topic we've explored repeatedly at the Victoria Advocate.

He summarizes the ongoing debate nationwide about whether to allow anonymity or require real names before posting on news Web sites. We went in-depth on this topic and related ones last year through an APME credibility project. The results of that survey remain online at

In the past month, we've heard anew from various community members urging us to require real names for those who comment. We've told them we see value in the anonymous comments we receive, but we also acknowledge it's our responsibility to moderate our forum.

About half of those we surveyed told us they wouldn't participate online if they had to use a real name. That concern us because we consider it both our business and our obligation to be as inclusive as possible.

We've been discussing a way of offering a two-tiered level of commenting. Essentially, we want to reward those who provide their real names and more constructive comments. We also want to give users more tools for deciding which comments they want to see.

I hope you'll check out Buttry's thoughtful blog and the comments there. Sometimes, we talk with people who think the Advocate's Web site is unusual for allowing comments, but we're part of national shift created by the changing technological tools. Buttry led a training session for our staff on online credibility in 2008.

I encourage all concerned with this topic to join our electronic reader advisory board. You may do so by clicking on the link to the Google group provided at If you have any trouble doing that, call me at 361-574-1271, and I'll personally sign you up. All you need is a valid e-mail address to participate.

On an unrelated note about a different technological tool, we need to explain several mistakes in Sunday's B1 illustration on the Refugio County spellers. An editor reports she made a late fix on the graphic Saturday but didn't realize a computer crash earlier had lost all of the previous corrections made to the image.

Thus, the proofed page our editors had checked late Saturday night was not the one that printed. We learned a hard lesson about being sure to print one final proof, even under the tightest deadline pressures.

I'm not sure I explained this process clearly, but here's the bottom line: our apologies for the embarrassing error.