Dear Must Read Alaska Nation,
I just approved the 11,000th comment on this site, which seems like a good time to write about what this editor looks for when approving comments on stories.
But first, a moment for gratitude: I truly appreciate that people comment on the stories on this site, which has been an independent news source for Alaska for the past two and a half years. Must Read Alaska is now read by more than 10,000 people a day (except Saturdays), and the comments make it an even better place for readers.
All sites are subject to attacks by harassers and spam, and this one is no different. That’s why Must Read Alaska has a spam filter — and it usually catches the unsavory spammers automatically.
Sometimes, however, the spam filter snags a legitimate comment. But with the volume of spam, that valid comment may end up in the trash. If you didn’t see your comment posted, that could be the reason, because there are not enough hours in the day to go through all the spam. It has happened to some of you, and I apologize. Send me a note if that happens to you.
Each comment is reviewed before it appears. Little grammar errors will get a helping hand, when there’s time. Occasionally a writer will suggest that a politician needs to be “tarred and feathered,” and he or she will run into Must Read Alaska’s subjective “good taste” filter. That type of phrase, even if meant as an idiom to indicate humiliating criticism, may get edited out. Writers with a colorful way with words don’t always realize that a term like that can be interpreted as a threat, and Must Read Alaska doesn’t allow threats, even when they may have been simply an expression of frustration.
Also not allowed are vulgarities or hateful language, all of which are subjective. If you’re writing about transgendered folks (and the topic is a hot one these days), calling them “trannies” is demeaning, (in the same way that when they speak of heterosexuals, they sometimes say “breeders,” which is an unnecessary label). With all the gender-bending these days, this is an area that is especially difficult to adjudicate as an editor, as the accepted usage is always changing.
Most of all, I want you to know how gratifying it is to read the informed, smart, caring, sarcastic, lively, tart, and well-crafted comments that Alaskans send. Some regular commenters really know their stuff, and it’s apparent that Must Read Alaska is reaching non-conservative readers, and they are responding to stories with their own opinions. That’s a trend that has developed over the past year, and this site values civil contrarians.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I’m so very grateful.