Town Square

Cleaning up Town Square

Original post made by Emily West, editor of Danville Express, on Oct 11, 2010

When the Town Square forum rolled out as a part of our updated sites in early 2007, we weren't exactly sure how the community would respond. Designed to be a digital version of a local meeting place for people to discuss issues and comment on stories, it has since grown to become a topic offline as well.

Commenting on news stories and taking part in forums has become the norm for news stories. Yet, those in the newsroom are still trying to figure out how best to manage these online discussions. After all, moderating anonymous posts wasn't part of our journalism school curriculum. When walking around town, I hear both positive and negative feedback from readers about our forum. Everyone seems to enjoy the ability to comment and be part of the news process. Yet, there is some frustration with the mean-spirited and sometimes just plain stupid comments that go on. We hear you.

It's about time that we revisit Town Square to see what's working and what isn't. Moving forward, it is our goal to focus on thoughtful discussion as a part of a valuable online community. Debate is welcome, but not bullying, personal attacks or telling someone to "get a life." We also want to discourage postings that do nothing more than link to stories or blogs; we're looking for discussions, not kindling. Our terms of use have not changed, but we are trying to be more diligent in controlling the quality of postings featured on our sites.

As we work toward making Town Square a place of respectful discussion, we are also looking to you, our readers, to help. We are grateful to those who click "report objectionable content" links when a post or comment has gotten out of hand. By clicking these links, it alerts the editors to the objectionable items and we deal with them as soon as possible.

Our goal isn't to stifle debate and discussion, just to achieve a level of decorum.


Like this comment
Posted by Harald A. Bailey
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2010 at 7:18 am

Dear Emily, Gina and Dolores,

Thank you and best wishes in your efforts to move this discussion forum toward respectful consideration of issues and interests of your readers. I will encourage you to be engaged in the discussions going forward bringing updates, further definition and journalism to the discussions. I will encourage the pseudonyms that willingly defame and disrespect others to focus on content in their perspectives on issues.

It is a challenging task that should be part of overall achievement of what The Danville Weekly is in definition: a well-presented, fair and balanced review of local events and issues focused on the needs and interests of intelligent, experienced readers. I applaud your interest in once again achieving that goal.

Best wishes,

Harald A. Bailey
Member, CDSI Research Fellowship
North America and Asia

Like this comment
Posted by Karl
a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

Something hits me the wrong way on this one.

When I think of the "Town Square Forum" I think of a platform downtown where citzens can step up and speak to issues of the day.

I really don't envision that the person must identify oneself or be subject to scrutiny & removal by the local 'newspaper journalist'.

Moreover, I find it highly suspicious that the journalist would accede to an anonymous 3rd party's request to remove me from that platform without reason, explanation or appeal.

I vote NO on the CENSOR POLICE.

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Thank you Emily!!
All websites have a right and even a responsibility to be sure that their websites are used for positive discussion, not spreading of hate, bullying, or mean-spirited debate.
I applaud your efforts and wish you the best of luck. I truly hope you can turn it back into a town forum instead of the negative soap box it has become.

Like this comment
Posted by Claudette
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:53 am

Hi Emily, Gina, Dolores, Jeb... staff and its leaders :)

You know me from posting on your Pleasanton Weekly sister paper. I've posted articles or news I've felt worthy of mentioning as part of the community. Some fun, some informational and some thoughtful, I thought. There were those who outright attacked me and it continued as in some other articles I've seen posted here, without any back up from the staff. Yes perhaps you see what is going on in the background but if there were more interaction with the Staff, I feel it would be more under control. I'm not perfect and no one is but when there is a feeling of Leadership, things remain in control, otherwise it's war in the papers :) which I prefer to have on the battelfield ~ Thanks for Rethinking how this can be improved.

Like this comment
Posted by Emily West
editor of Danville Express
on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:16 am

Emily West is a registered user.

Hi Karl, I'm not sure if you're referencing someone taking down a post or the possibility that we could. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a specific incident, let me know and perhaps I can provide some sort of explanation. You can email me at

Like this comment
Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

Dear Editor,

This may be ancient history to you or simply a challenge to complete a project well-defined by the previous editor. How will YOU fulfill the challenge of "Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion" for the Express Forum?"

Does simply deleting this question make it any less realistic in defining current abuses and attacks?