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Line must be drawn on online comments

My grandmother used to always say that, “a few bad apples will spoil the whole bunch.” Granny never used the Internet in her life, but she could have certainly been talking about online message boards.

The Ironton Tribune recently re-launched its Web site with a variety of features that includes reader-contributed comments on stories, opinion articles and photographs. The intention is to encourage civil conversation and a free flow of varying ideas and opinions.

Unfortunately, some adults act like anything but that.

Despite a few people that try to abuse the privilege, we have decided to keep this feature as part of our Web site. But, there will be some changes that will lay the ground rules, allow us ways to contact or block comment posters if needed and also hopefully encourage citizens to use this as it was intended.

When the improved system re-launches in a few days, any Web visitor who wants to post comments will have to register using a valid e-mail address. Users must also read and agree to our Terms of Use that make it clearer how these comments should be treated.

These comments are a mirror held up to the community, sometimes what’s seen may not be pleasant.

The Tribune does not approve, endorse or condone any comments on the site. The newspaper is also not responsible for what is posted nor do we guarantee the accuracy of any comments made.

By contributing to this Web site, readers must agree not to post any defamatory, abusive, harassing, obscene, sexual, threatening or illegal material or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy this site, or that infringes on the rights of others.

If this type of action is thought to be happening on this Web site, we reserve the right to reveal your identity (or whatever information we may know about you, including your IP address in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from this type of action.

We will make every effort to remove comments that we determine violate these terms. Readers will have to do their part by following the rules and reporting things that violate the policies.

Profanity and sexual comments will never be acceptable.

Opinions are encouraged. Personal attacks are not.

While elected officials and public employees are open to criticism as it relates to their job, that doesn’t mean this is a license to attack them personally.

For example, a reader can say that political candidate Joe Smith would be a terrible leader because he is rude, egotistical and petty. They can even say that he is a jerk and should be run out of office.

However, a reader cannot say that Joe Smith beats his wife, stole money from the county or has a specific sexual preference. The first two are criminal allegations and the third is irrelevant to how Joe will serve in his job.

We believe in freedom of speech. We believe in freedom of the press. We also believe in being good community citizens.

Our goal is to offer our readers a way to exchange ideas, debate key issues and have a voice on things that matter to the community.

Let’s all work to make sure that a few bad apples don’t deprive us of this privilege.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.