Must Read Alaska’s wild-west comment section is lively and growing, so let’s keep it civil and smart

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The Must Read Alaska comment section is a gritty, entertaining, and wild-west forum for discussing issues of the day, and it is growing in popularity. You don’t have to be a Jack-London-level writer to comment here at Must Read Alaska. But there are a few things that can help everyone have a great reading experience.

Recently, the story about the attack on Paul Pelosi at his home in San Francisco has had 165 reader comments approved in just four days (as of this writing), with about five sent to the trash for the sin of being tedious or trashy. There are a few more waiting to be posted on that story, so I expect the conversation about the Paul Pelosi hammer attack will continue for days to come.

It’s terrific to see so many new visitors in the comment section of stories in recent months. Over 95% of comments are accepted for posting. Every comment is skimmed by a human — me — and most get the OK for posting, typos and all, because “skimmed” is the operative word. Sometimes they get skimmed after a long, long day, and I accidentally let a truly offensive comment go through. I apologize for that. A few comments go in the trash when they are not contributing to a healthy dialogue, or when they are too clumsy with their thumbs, thus having too many glaring errors. In the history of Must Read Alaska, 855 comments went to the trash, and nearly 200,000 have been approved.

What I’d like to see: I’d like to see the name-calling kept to a low roar or not at all. Also, when you spell a political leader’s or candidate’s name, please refrain from spelling it “Dumbleavy” or “Sleeza” or “Peltolosi.” Please spell people’s names with proper spelling, regardless of how much you don’t like them. Same goes for when you are responding to other commenters in the comment section — don’t butcher their handles on purpose to demean them. It’s the little things that make a difference in my workload and sometimes when I see those intentional misspellings, I just put that comment in the trash.

Also, it helps the forum become more enjoyable — and makes my life a lot easier — when people give their sentences one last read before sending in. I have no copy editor here at Must Read Alaska, and plenty of typos of my own to chase down. There are not nearly enough hours in the day to fix punctuation and spelling of 500-600 comments that arrive daily.

I ask for your patience. With all the great feedback from readers, I get to them as quickly as I can. Sometimes as much as five hours will go by without me being able to get to the comment “pending” bucket and get it cleared. Those five hours will be when I take time for family or am writing stories … or am stuck on a plane that doesn’t have working wi-fi.

Approval of comments is an imperfect and subjective process, but mostly it’s just a very fast process once I get to the task, which is several times a day.

Must Read Alaska got its start because the Anchorage Daily News was not publishing the comments from conservatives. Thus, this has become the home of conservative commentary, which comes in all varieties.

Mostly, I just want to say thank you to everyone who posts their comments at Must Read Alaska. I really do love hearing from readers, even the critics who fly under those clever secret identities. Keep the comments civil, and keep them coming. Thank you to all readers of Must Read Alaska.

— Suzanne Downing, publisher, Must Read Alaska

76 COMMENTS

  1. Suzanne,
    Your comment section is so popular that even Elon Musk reads them. Now, Twitter will never be the same.

  2. It weakens your argument if it contains juvenile name calling or unforced errors in spelling or grammar.
    From a “tactical” point of view, it hands a theoretical opponent an easy way to evade your actual argument and make it all about the irrelevant details.

    Now, sure, if they don’t have a solid rational and adult counter-argument, they will typically attempt to digress anyway, but by denying them an easy way to do so, you force them to look weak or incompetent. Only an idiot gives an opponent a lifeline.

    Which matters as you were never going to convince them, what you want to do is appear to be the sane adult in the room, so independent or undecided observers would rather be on your “side” than the other.

    Play smart and win.

  3. Notably, ADN recently stopped allowing comments altogether.
    Thank You Suzanne for the great stories and comment section!

  4. With the loss of the comments section at ADN, it is not strange to me that folks concerned about Alaska and wanting to talk with neighbors of all stripes about what is going on in this state, have turned up here.

    I appreciate the space Must Read Alaska, stilted as it is, provides for this. Thank you.

    I have stage IV cancer. Going to the Assembly meetings is too great a health threat. So here I am.

    • I’m going for surgery myself for probable cancer, Maureen. You seem to be an atheist but please just try talking to God. What can it hurt? I’ll pray for you and hope you have some comfort. Sometimes it’s OK to lay down your sword for awhile.

        • I love prayers and jokes. Good, bad, clean or dirty, I’ll take them all.

          Seriously, thank you though. I’m praying for courage and for acceptance of God’s will. If you could pray the same for me I would appreciate it. Thank you.

      • Thx for your concern for me. Good luck yourself with your surgery and impending news.

        It would help if you could clarify which *od, there are so many of them.

        You seem like someone who believes in *od. May I suggest you just stop for a bit and not invoke *od? What could it hurt? Does that feel offensive? Guess what your original suggestion felt like to me. But thx again. All the best with your medical concerns.

        • I see that you’re trying to be hurtful but I want to thank you for asking me to consider not talking to God. I had never thought about that before but I realized God is always with me, I cannot just not believe anymore because it’s not up to me. There was a time I didn’t feel or know God but years ago I surrendered myself to God’s will and sincerely asked for God to come into my life and God has been there in my life every second since. It was the best thing I have ever done.
          You can feel that what I said is offensive and reject my kindness, concern and sympathy but I’m still gonna pray for you, Lady.

          • Some one said I needed to try *od, what could it hurt?

            Hurtful in that it followed-You seem to be atheist.

            Someone guesses about me, and disregarded that I may have already at this point in my life tried *od, and knew how much it could hurt.

            Who is being hurtful Fire?

    • Well I sympathize with your health condition, do we have to read about it on every single post? I don’t know of anyone else on here that puts their state of health on most every single post. Yes we sympathize that apparently he won’t be with as much longer. That just means you’re going to get to see what’s on the other side quicker than most of us. Cheers.

      • Thanks for your sympathy. Greg.

        You don’t have to read anything I write.

        I will continue to comment on my health, as pertinent to articles written.

  5. Thank you for a great news read, Suzanne, and thanks for your well written request fir civility and self-editting.
    “……when you spell a political leader’s or candidate’s name, please refrain from spelling it “Dumbleavy” or “Sleeza” or “Peltolosi.”…..”
    How about a non-person entity? I love the term “Demonrat”! The Urban Dictionary even has this in one entry:
    “…….It is now a term used jokingly by Democrats to refer to themselves because it makes them sound edgy & cool…….”

    • It’s about as helpful and uncivil as responding with “Let’s go Brandon”–sure, you can, and maybe Suzanne will approve publishing the comment, but you’ve missed the point about civility.

      • Maybe the editor calling the comment section in general ‘the wild west comment section’ brings a certain caliber of comment, too.

        • If so, then she’s doing a good job keeping things reasonably civil here. Hope you sent in your donation, Maureen, because you sure are living here a lot … you know, here in the wild west as opposed to the ADN. Maybe we’ll eventually get you from the far left to at least the reasonable middle. Also, praying for your health.

  6. > Please spell people’s names with proper spelling

    I often see the right do this (forgive an example, Demonrats). Just stop. It makes you look dumb.

    > when people give their sentences one last read before sending in.

    More please. Especially if you are drunk, high, emotional, or your attention is otherwise engaged elsewhere (maybe not comment at all in those circumstances?). I can’t tell you how many errors I correct on another look-see.

    > Every comment is skimmed by a human — me

    God Bless ya. That is worth combat pay. I guess all gigs have a serious downside.

  7. Thank you so much for all you do Suzanne! Without you our news would be so one sided. It’s nice to see actual collaboration going on with people! Thanks again for the tireless work you do for us! 👍

  8. Suzanne, I don’t know how you do it! You must have the patience of a saint, and the energy of a sled dog. And even though I’ve had a number of my comments here withheld from posting, I do not hold that against you in any way at all — it is to your credit, in fact, as I know that I can sometimes be a hot head, and post in angry haste.
    .
    What is sad is that this forum here today is more or less what the online Anchorage Daily News comments section was 10 or 15 years ago, before the ADN got all radical-leftist-authoritarian and increasingly intolerant, first of opinions with which they disagreed, and eventually of ALL opinions of any sort. And their hypocritical double standard of routinely allowing mean-spirited vitriol and ad hominem attacks from radical leftists, while banning almost every non-radical-leftist for the most trivial of reasons, only made a mockery of their putative “free exchange of ideas”. I was finally banned for life from their increasingly rigidly censored online forum (and good riddance, too) for daring to question the efficacy of the routine wearing of face masks by the public during the early phases of the Covidian hysteria in the spring of 2020.

    It is to your credit that your MRAK comments forum is the very antithesis of the repressed and hypocritical intellectual gulag that was the online ADN comments section.

  9. Thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of MRAK readers. Civility goes a long way in communicating, which we often seem to understand in face-to-face encounters, but it’s quickly forgotten from behind a keyboard. Good luck with the comment moderation.

  10. I think must read has mostly awesome Alaskans who care lots about our state, and we all see the corruption of a handful of oath breakers that have got us to this point. I like to believe it’s dominion voting systems, rank choice voting, a few corrupt judges and legislators & election officials of no integrity that wronged us all here, the Obama simpleton plants got us all. I bet if Suzanne of must read put on a kick the ball match between her crew and the corrupt cowards crew, we would be so very many, and they but a tiny few. Let’s be a team of integrity we all want oath integrity so help us GOD. Suzanne and team Alaska

  11. Thanks alot Maureen, Lucinda, Bill Yankee, Derek, Mrakfan, Sophie, Frank Rast, etc for getting us in trouble with mom.

    • Huh? Thought we were adults here. Are some of us children still at mom’s house?

      C’mon, read the column again.

        • Good we’re talking.

          It’s a column by an author running a blog asking for civility. I read your response which dissolved the hard work the editor of this blog does, by referring to her as mom and implied anyone who speaks against the heavy right-leaning orientation of the editor of the blog as kids.

          I’m sixty years old, the editor is not my mom. My mom died 6 years ago.

          Maybe thinking more deeply about what you think is humor would be helpful for yourself also.

      • Maureen ever heard of metaphors? …and you are reaching to be contrarian at all costs, always trying to get a little dig in edgewise. Says more about you than anyone else.
        Those of us, who do not take themselves too seriously, found this funny and as you can see everyone else mentioned gracefully understood the tongue and cheek humor here.

  12. Always interesting and pertinent stories followed by far ranging comments.
    Keep doing what you’re doing Ms Suzanne.

  13. An honest comment section without bots and censorship, it gives politicos and leaders good idea when they skim how people are responding or feeling about policies and decisions made by and thru them and past leaders decisions haunting the living generations. Don’t forget to wear your must read alaska appeal to tell alaska to read, cause AlaskaMustRead to their children including grandparents. Just because one is grandparent doesn’t mean he is retired from reading and educating his the child who will carry his legacy.

  14. You are definitely appreciated! And I know you have caught a few of my mishaps! Thank you! I take time to look up spelling of names! Auto-correct gets my phone, especially with people and their names!

  15. There is an obvious question needing an answer. Who coded the software? Over the years I’ve probably commented on nearly 100 websites. I’ve never seen a comment board without edit and delete features. When you find guy who wrote the code, slap his cheek. Then, slap his other cheek.

    • Edit #1:
      There is an obvious question needing an answer. Who coded the software? Over the years I’ve probably commented on nearly 100 websites. I’ve never seen a comment board without edit and delete features. When you find the guy who wrote the code, slap his cheek. Then, slap his other cheek.

  16. Thanks Suzanne. I can lose it with/just like the best of them, but I try to write with respect and civility. I seldom have time to go back and check to see if I’ve been posted or replied to, I just trust you to keep us from getting too crazy. Having seen you in action, I’m awed by your energy and dedication. Thanks again, keep up the great work.

  17. What I find interesting is that the old school newspapers (ADN, News Miner, etc.) have dropped the ball so badly. They either do not allow comments, or make it so difficult that it is not worth the effort. Those publications see declining viewership, while you, Dermot, and a few others are prospering. A civil, lively debate is interesting- and I often comment if for no other reason to encourage debate, and improve your viewership.

  18. Thanks Suzanne. Most news sites just try to indoctrinate us, but your articles seem to invite lively discussion and debate. I like the fact that the authors will respond with a follow-up to the comments. There is a real sense of community with your site.

    • Always good to have conversation regarding indoctinating news sites. Personally, I find MRA-which is a blog, not a news site, to be pretty one sided hard right. But I read a bunch of different news sites and blogs. To get a full perspective on how to work it out together. Not how one side wins.

  19. I like the comment section on this site because of the varied and sometimes opposing viewpoints.
    Keeping things civil will help to keep it that way. Thanks for another great article, SD. – M.John

  20. Hi Suzanne, I just wanted to thank you for your fair and honest coverage of news stories about things here in Alaska and for allowing us, to voice our opinion on these issues. Although there is one other conservative news site in Alaska, unfortunately, they use a very heavy hand in censoring their comment section for some reason. So heavy in fact that I stopped reading or posting there. You seem to have found the right balance of fair reporting and allowing readers to share an honest opinion. Yours is the only Alaska news site that I read now. It is difficult to find a great independent news source like yours. Thank you very much for what you do!

  21. How come you banned me from commenting??

    I didnt say anything bad at all.
    I think you just like censorship, must be liberal.

    • Maybe your writing Tone needs work. Try not to sound like Eeyore. Eeyore as loved as loved as he is to christopher,pooh, rabbit,tigger, piglet which owl didn’t even swoop in on him, eeyore’s low mood didn’t add anything productive. Look again at your currentcomment its tone sounds like eeyore.
      Suzanne did mention not to make comments too tedious which includes tone.

      • What about the tone of commenters toward depressed folks like it appears you are calling on Jeff. That someone suffering depression should not be included in discussion?

        Suzanne did mention not to make comments too tedious which includes tone

  22. Thanks Suzanne. Your comments section is great. It is really scrappy! Thanks for your commitment to free speech.

  23. The service you provide is very healthy for the community. The ability to be heard was taken away during the pandemic. Community Consul meetings, church, assembly meetings, neighborhood restaurants and social events and basically community involvement of any type. This movement is still underway by groups that desire that only their ideals be represented and that everyone else’s is outdated. It is empowering to see that so many of us still hold to traditional values and judging the increased number of trolls, it presents a threat to the people trying to stifle us. You can not expect unbiased news in any state where all of the papers are owned by one entity. Omitting facts is not unbiased at all, but our news sources now go way beyond that. Your stories bring out what is being omitted and often the comments hold value as well. It is good to hear even opposing views except when they are just attacks without any basis, which is obvious in most cases. It is good to have such a good community forum where people can still express themselves. I only hope that you never get censored. Thanks

  24. And don’t forget a little donation folks.
    Ms. Downing is burning a lot of calories with all this reporting & monitoring. She needs her victuals
    Sorry been reading journals of pre-Jamestown explorers recently, the language! … victuals, dainty food. lol.

  25. Is MRAK’s conscience finally starting to stir? Or does MRAK fear that it could someday be held to account for the acts of a radicalized reader, influenced by its stories and comments?
    Many of the comments in the Pelosi story are indeed ghastly, but don’t expect that a few words of caution will tame the antagonistic hordes.

    • That is such an elegant put-down of the editor and the readers, and such a stunning rebuke of the First Amendment. -sd

    • Whidbey, you old duffer. The Paul and Nancy comments at MRAK were the funniest on the entire internet. Sit down and have a laugh. Enjoy the moment. Soon, Republicans are going to control both bodies of Congress and in two more years …….Trump returns. You aren’t getting any younger, so enjoy your remaining time.

    • Antagonistic Hordes
      .
      What a great name for our new motorcycle club!
      .
      Oh… guess we’re supposed to buy a bike first plus get a radicalized tattoo.

  26. Maybe only donors to MRAK should be allowed to comment. Have some skin in the game while keeping the forum viable.

  27. Thank you for just boldly coming out and admitting you’re against free speech…about the best we can expect from a Florida resident, I reckon…

    • As I sit in my house in Anchorage, I’m going to enjoy the next 30 seconds while I put your IP address on the blocked list. Thank you for playing. – sd

  28. Exchanging opposing points of view is a way to overcome the current divisiveness in Alaska and throughout the country.
    Why promote distrust, disrespect and downright baseless affirmations (i.e. Paul Pelosi)?
    How about separating church and state when discussing political/societal issues?
    Many people on this blog may feel good to gather and share common grievances but where does this get us in terms of moving forward as Americans or Alaskans?

    • LOL, Catherine, so in summary, while you theoretically like the exchange of opposing views, they have to conform to your ideas and support your narrative, otherwise they are distrustful, disrespectful and baseless. Then you have the audacity to demand further that people leave their faith and moral compass at the door, so you do not feel uncomfortable. Your own words have established that you do not seek other opinions, simply re-affirmation of your own!

      • Distrustful= 2020 elections had massive fraud & 2022 mid-terms as well
        Disrespectful= blatant name-calling as well as « polite » insults (commie, radical leftist, etc)
        Baseless reports= direct reference to debunked accusations about Paul Pelosi & debunked film « 2000 Mules » (which led to armed civilians intimidating voters in Arizona, later dealt with by a judge)
        I believe you missed the points I was making.
        Why not join the association Braver Angels so that we can exchange viewpoints?

        • Simply repeating talking points is not an exchange of viewpoints. It is an “or else” proposition, where you claim the moral high ground, unassailable by conversation that challenges that very narrative. Honest conversations are about hearing and evaluating facts and thoughts of others to arrive at a more complete picture. Your original post referred to generic sentiments, you clearly assigned them to specific events, while not actually articulating that. You assume every one knows and agrees with you.
          I stand by my assessment, especially after your comment here.

  29. Having a moral compass is an aspect that does not necessarily require religion.
    Expressing your personal religious beliefs may tread upon others who have different religious views.

    • You are correct. Having a moral compass does not require a religious background. Human beings instinctively know what is right and wrong, but many choose to ignore it for convenience, power or greed.
      Nice try, attempting to set one religious group against another. Freedom to express your belief (religious or non-religious) is intrinsic to each individual and to demand that only certain people get to enjoy that privilege, flies in the face of your earlier claims of braver angels exchanging points of view. Suppressing certain views because you do not like them limits you from getting a more complete picture of our world.

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