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It is easy to say what you want to when no one knows who you are.
Up until a few days ago, anyone could comment on a story on our Web site without identifying themselves. This has not been a problem until recently, when stories about Tent City have generated all kinds of comments. They ranged from civil to angry to hysterical. The comments came from those who support Tent City and its concept and those who are vehemently opposed to the encampment some implying that residents of the camp pose an immediate danger to the community. A poster could simply change his or her screen name and send numerous comments to make it look as if many people shared similar sentiments.
Some, hiding behind anonymity, were using the comments to intimidate, harass and create an atmosphere of fear and hate. Because of this, the decision was made not to allow any comments that did not include a verifiable e-mail address. The addition of this requirement immediately cooled the type and volume of comments being posted.
We want people to comment on our stories and add to discussion about the news of the day. But in this case, individuals pushing a particular agenda who may or may not live here have made the issue of Tent City into one that is divisive and ugly.
We regret having to take this step, but we refuse to make our community Web site a place for hate.