Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Practically Speaking's new comment policy

Blogging, Brookfield

In mid May, I changed my comment policy on this blog to:

"This is not the place for gossip, sniping at other bloggers, commentors, races, or religions. All comments not respectfully discussing the blog topic are going into delete world. And those of you double or triple posting under multiple names, knock it off! Keep this in mind on future posts. I will not enter the comment forum, so if you have a question for me, contact me via email:"

Many of you, who regularly comment on my blog, reacted to this change by insisting that my moderating comments violates their 1st amendment rights or that BrookfieldNOW would not allow it. Be assured, this is not true. BrookfieldNOW fully supports my comment policy.

In fact, if you actually read their comment policy, you will find that their guidelines are in line with mine:
" Here's the short version:

  • Don't use profanities or obscenities.
  • Don't post personal attacks and insults; threats; ethnic, racial, religious or sexual slurs; or otherwise engage in hateful conversation.
  • Don't stray from the topic of the blog or submit pointless comments.
  • Don't use this space for press releases or commercial purposes.
  • Don't submit knowingly false or libelous comments.
  • Don't pretend to be somebody else, or maintain more than one screen name, or use a screen name that might be considered objectionable or insulting.
  • Don't knowingly give out any personal information about other individuals, including participants of these blogs.
  • Don't post copyrighted or trademarked content."

As for violating 1st amendment rights, my comment policy doesn't. You are still free to start your own blog. You are free to take out an ad in the paper, hold up a sign or talk to people on on any street in Brookfield, or post a sign on your own front lawn to get your message out.

My blogging history:
I have been blogging now, in some shape or form, for 7 years and joined the Community Voices on BrookfieldNOW in 2007. Outside of receiving one threatening email in 2004, by in large, the comments I received in those early years (including a few negative ones) were civil.

When I joined BrookfieldNOW in the early years of BrookfieldNOW Community Voices (bloggers), readers would often email the blogger directly with a comment. I would post some of those comments from time to time if I felt they were noteworthy. I don't recall getting any negative ones.

Then BrookfieldNOW went to the comment format. People could now comment without divulging their identity. The Blogger received the comment and then decided if it would be posted or not. As a rule, 99% of those comments (including negative ones) made it to my blog. The ones that didn't make publication were rejected because they included profanity, were attacking other people, bloggers, races/religions, etc. Often these rejected ones supported me and my point of view, they just were too divisive.

But when BrookfieldNOW went to the auto-post method of comments, that the commentor no longer needed blogger approval for publication, the tone of comments changed again for the worse.

Commentors became much more nasty toward their fellow commentors and also toward me. If these comments didn't include a racial, religious, or other slur, I did nothing. If I felt they crossed the line, I would click the report abuse button. The BrookfieldNOW staff would then look at the objectionable comment and pull it if they agreed. Trouble was, the offensive comment was out there for all the world to see in the meantime.

Then BrookfieldNOW gave comment moderation back to the blogger earlier this year. I could ether reject one that was published or override one that someone else rejected to republish.

If you remember the public forum BrookfieldNOW had during the school referendum era, you will remember how divisive that got. BrookfieldNOW had to disband that forum because people couldn't control themselves. Things got really ugly.

So the free for all comment policy has been a source of frustration to BrookfieldNOW too.

Some newspaper websites are looking at requiring a commentor to sign into Facebook first to make a comment. This of course would reveal who the commentor is and hopefully curtail nastiness.

While I would look forward to more civility, I do see a need for anonymity for those who maybe hold public office or have another reason to keep their identity on the QT. (I did offer an anonymous comment option for those wanting to comment about Elmbrook's referendum in 2007 without fear of repercussions from others at school who favored the referendum.)

Some other misconceptions:
Every week, I receive a NOW report on how many "hits" each blog I write receives on BrookfieldNOW and what percentage of website traffic my blog generates. This is very useful to me, but it does not tell me the entire story. The NOW report does not tell me how long people read or how many of those hits were from the same person, for example. So I use a tool called Statcounter. It is a free service that just counts how many times a person looks at each blog post. It does this via an IP address.

Every time someone looks at any website or comments there, they leave an electronic finger print: their IP address. IPs are just a series of numbers unique to the computer the person is using. I only see the numbers and who the carrier is, like Road Runner. It also gives the locality of the carrier. (This can be misleading because sometimes a company headquarters is the locality but the commentor is in Brookfield.) It is rather fun to see what blog topics are of interest to people living in India, for example or regular readers who read from Europe. It seems people in India are very interested in rolling oats, for example.

Statcounter also shows me via a pie chart how long people read. This is important to a blogger; it tells me if people are interested in a certain topic.

Statcounter does NOT reveal your real name or email address. I have no idea who these IPs belong to, but it does show me how many times that IP clicked on a specific blog topic or made a comment. I sometimes can match the comment timestamp to a comment left on my blog. But I only know the screen name then, not your real name. Since I don't use the higher volume service, I can only see 100 hits at a time and I have no record of your viewing history, other than the 100 hit snapshot. So unlike BrookfieldNOW, whose IT department does know what your IP address is and what your email address is (linked to your screen name), I do not!

Comments that don't show up online
Many of you have asked why some comments are counted in the total number but don't show up online. Many of you assume I am the one blocking them, but that assumption is wrong. Though I have rejected many comments lately because they violate my new comment policy (and NOWs), there are other ones that show up in my blog software as being accepted, but don't show up online. NOW has no explanation for that either--just a glitch in the system.

Bottom line: I have been told my blog is my forum and I can write what I want. So, if you don't like my point of view, which is that of a Christian and a Conservative, you are free not to read. I have also been told that no one has the right to post a comment to my blog. But if you keep your comment on topic and it is respectfully written, I will post it, regardless of if you agree with me or not. BrookfieldNOW will allow me to turn off all comments, but I think good, constructive comments--including those that don't agree with my point of view--are beneficial.

So it is up to you, folks. Stick with the guidelines and let the civil discourse begin!


This is not the place for gossip, sniping at other bloggers, commentors, races, or religions, etc.

All comments not respectfully discussing the blog topic are going into delete world.

Those of you double or triple posting under multiple names, stop it!

Keep this in mind on future posts.

For the most part, I will not enter the comment forum, so if you have a question for me, contact me via email:

NOTE: Because some of you cannot accept this new enforcement of comment policy, if you are incessantly making virtually the same point,  your repetitious comments will be rejected.


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