We want Jamaica Plain Patch to be a space where all members of the community feel they can have their say without getting “flamed” by anonymous commenters. For that reason, we’re making some changes to our comments policy.
We’re happy so many people choose to comment here. However, after talking with a wide range of JP Patch users, we’ve decided that allowing fake names degrades the quality of discussion here. People often get nastier when they don’t have to take responsibility for what they write.
Starting today we’re requiring people to use their real name. We’re also highly encouraging, but not requiring, people to use their full first and last names.
For instance, when Chris comments, he’ll use “Chris Helms.” He could simply use “Chris” and comply with the policy.
Can people get around this policy? Of course. We don’t have retina scans or other fancy technical ways to know someone’s using a false name. But we do hope that over time, a culture of using full names evolves here on JP Patch. Other sites that have similar policies, like Melrose Patch, have evolved a lively but respectful culture in their comment sections.
Why are you violating my First Amendment rights?
Freedom of speech is an important value in our country. However, the First Amendment is about protecting people from government limits on free speech. JP Patch is a privately-owned website, not the government.
What if I’m a whistleblower and think I could get in trouble with my boss or the government for using my real name when I post what I know?
In these cases, please email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 617-680-5155 and we’ll try to work something out.
Will you delete comments from persons who don’t use a real name?
Chris or I will email you first and ask you to change your Patch user name to your real name. If you’ve signed up with a fake email and it bounces back, we’ll delete the comment right away.
Won’t this mean fewer comments?
Probably so, but I’m hoping the overall quality of conversation improves.
I’ve been using a consistent pseudonym and have a certain “personality” here on JP Patch. Why can’t I keep using it?
We hope each of you in this category will change your Patch user name to your real name. Another option would be to mothball the pseudonym profile and start a fresh Patch profile with your real name. While there are people who use pseudonyms responsibly, others have ruined that option for you on this site, we’re afraid.
It’s about time. Why didn’t you do this earlier?
When we launched the site in October 2010, we wanted to keep things as open as possible. Now that the site is nearly a year old, in consultation with other JP residents, we feel this change will help the site be a better resource for the neighborhood.
When are other improvements coming to the comments section, like the reputation systems and “like/dislike” buttons on other sites?
JP Patch is always evolving. We plan to improve and deepen the commenting functions, but there’s no specific timeline.
Someone used their real name in a comment but I don’t think what they said was nice or helpful. Why don’t you take it down?
We hope that residents argue responsibly. What sounds to us like a responsible, if sharp-elbowed, argument can seem hurtful to other residents. We encourage civility but don’t take down comments just because they might hurt someone’s feelings. We use the “terms of service” to guide which comments we take down.