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Comments, comments – so many comments

By From page A8 | August 03, 2014

I put together a brief update Friday about the police investigation into the death of a man who was stabbed in the chest Thursday night. The item published on the Daily Republic’s website and in Saturday’s print edition. I reported the death as Vacaville’s first homicide of the year.

That nugget of information unleashed an interesting string of comments on our website.

Some of the comments were the type we’ve come to expect: People purportedly from Fairfield noting how Vacaville is not as safe as residents there are encouraged to believe; those likely from Vacaville who write in a derogatory manner about Fairfield’s violent crime; and those who come to the defense of their city’s police while putting down the neighbor city’s police.

Then there was the criticism directed at the Daily Republic.

Some commenters chastised the DR – and me since I wrote the item – for not being able to properly count. Their premise: that this is not Vacaville’s first homicide of the year, but rather its second. Their proof: the death of Robert Thomas III, 43, of Fairfield, whose body was found in the debris of a July 9 fire at a nursery located on the 6700 block of Pleasants Valley Road. That case has also been ruled a homicide.

It’s true that the nursery has a Vacaville mailing address, but it is not located within the city limits of Vacaville. As such, the case is not being investigated by Vacaville police, but rather by Solano County sheriff’s detectives. So while one plus one equals two in terms of homicides this year in the Vacaville area, Thursday’s homicide represents the city’s first homicide of the year.

Others who have commented on the article pointed out what I’m relating here, that this is Vacaville’s first homicide of the year. I appreciate their discerning nature, and their willingness to jump into the discussion and steer it back to a reasonable path. Beyond that, the comments on this particular post illustrate something we’ve wrestled with here at the DR for quite some time, that is, the nature of comments on our website and the desire to make our website a safe place for community discussion.

That was much easier, although more time-consuming, prior to our switch to WordPress software to power our website. Prior to that, people who wished to comment on our website had to be registered users, so we knew who they all were. Beyond that, all comments were held in moderation until approved for publication.

There are practical and legal reasons why we moved away from that process.

The current website – as well as our initial WordPress website – represents a modern platform and also serves as the software we use to produce the articles you see online and in print. We no longer know who all the people are who comment on our website. That’s created something of a Wild West mentality among some commenters, who create monikers under which they write on various topics of the day. Others understand what we’re attempting to provide on the website. They tend to comment under their own names.

We find that, in general, those who use their real names or some other clear identifier are more likely to engage in constructive discourse on our website. Those who seek anonymity on our website are more prone – as a group but not necessarily in each individual case – to violate our terms of use and to engage in Internet troll-like behavior. So we’re considering a change to our website to require that all commenters have a valid Facebook account in order to comment on the DR’s website. That way, if someone wishes to comment, they have to own those comments before the world.

Let’s get back to the Vacaville-area homicides.

We as a community should not get so wrapped up in our specific city that we fail to recognize the significance of violent crime in neighboring communities. Those who live in Fairfield should be concerned about violent crime in Vallejo. That’s one reason why we report on some of the Vallejo violence even though we have very few subscribers in Vallejo. Likewise, people in Vacaville should be concerned about violent crime in Fairfield and Vallejo, just as Fairfield residents should also be concerned about violent crimes in Vacaville.

These three cities – Solano County’s largest – represent roughly 325,000 of the county’s 425,000 residents and are located within close proximity to one another. What happens in one city can easily move to the others – and often does.

Our reaction to deadly violence – as members of the larger Solano County community – should be one of condemnation. We should seek the sources of this violence, and work to eliminate the threats. That’s often as simple as calling the police to report suspicious activity or actual crimes as they occur, and cooperating with authorities as they investigate those incidents.

Here’s a good place to start: Anyone with any information about the July 9 death of Thomas should call the Solano County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Bureau at 784-7050. Anyone with information about Thursday’s homicide in Vacaville should call Detective Mark Ferreira at 449-5258.

Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

Glen Faison

Glen Faison

Glen Faison joined the Daily Republic as managing editor in September 2009. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the San Joaquin Valley for 20-plus years. His experience includes time as editor of the Golden Eagle, a military paper serving the Lemoore Naval Air Station. He graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and bleeds Bulldogs red. He is an avid fan of the NFL's Washington team, and attended the 1988 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings at RFK Stadium. He's a member of the Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club and a board member for the Solano County Library Foundation. He married his wife, Jill, in 2005, and has three children: Courtni, Tyler and Hayli.

Discussion | 29 comments

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  • Joseph D. JoyceAugust 03, 2014 - 3:16 am

    I bet this change would mean an end to 2 Real.

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  • CD BrooksAugust 03, 2014 - 5:57 am

    I don't have a problem with folks not using their name until they start making threats. If you go to the FB requirements that only means the DR knows who the folks are but they can still use their alias correct? I'd hate to lose some anonymous writers here as they add spirit to the boards! Plus they're fun for some passionate exchanges!

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  • Mr. PracticalAugust 03, 2014 - 7:15 am

    CD, to not have your real name appear if Facebook were used, one would have to create the Facebook account under an anonymous name. Most don't,

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  • CD BrooksAugust 03, 2014 - 7:24 am

    Mr. Practical, you are probably right. My question is whether you just need FB to sign on here and your pertinent information is contained within that sign on. Hope this makes sense? In other words, FB would be a medium for connectivity only.

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  • StRAugust 03, 2014 - 10:22 am

    kiss kiss to U both

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  • Mike O'BrienAugust 03, 2014 - 6:39 am

    You are right, some of the comments are cowardly, but most contributors know which ones to ignore. Many comments turn in to a running diatribe between the merits of different news organizations, and occasionally the comments do get personal. I enjoy most of the serious commentary, thanks for the venue to express ideas/opinions.

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  • The SugarJarAugust 03, 2014 - 7:42 am

    I see the "in general" reasoning. Without public anonymity I'll not continue to comment. Not the end of the world. I've met some very nice people in person through this site, and some I'd not yet met but hoped to at some point. I've appreciated that opportunity.

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  • PornacAugust 03, 2014 - 8:02 am

    I guess I'm a moniker, among other things, whatever that is.

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  • WeaverwomanAugust 03, 2014 - 8:34 am

    I don't do Facebook. I was on FB for about a year and found it to be an extreamly invaisive site. I was recieving over 100 spam letters a day. When I got off of it, the spam quit within the hour. It is sad so many news sites are linking their publications with FB, as thy are cutting off peoples sources of news. I would rather go back to paying for an on-line subscription. But Facebook? I don't do facebook.

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  • CD BrooksAugust 03, 2014 - 8:44 am

    Weaverwoman, you could be among the majority on this issue? Aside from the FB concerns, there are people that have been here a long time and others that just want to drop in and speak their piece anonymously. I'm sure there will be plenty of research done and maybe the DR will find a solution that benefits everyone. At least I hope so! :)

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  • WeaverwomanAugust 03, 2014 - 9:01 am

    Yes CD, I have been here since the first day. I used to go by the name of "justme" but somone else started using it. No biggie. But if I can't get on and read the comments, i just won't bother at all reading on-line. That's what has happened with VVR and VTH. DR is my only source for local news. And comments are a part of it. Ah! Such is life on the internet. :))

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  • WeaverwomanAugust 03, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Glen, I forgot to add, I sure do agree with you concerning the increase of outright rude and inconciderate comments. It is discusting, even embarassing to me as a resident of Solano County. When I read that sort of thing, I can't help but wonder what others think of our community. Yes, something must be done. Thanks Glen, and thanks DR for takeing care of this. (even if it is going to FB) grrrrrr

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  • Jason KnowlesAugust 03, 2014 - 8:53 am

    The Sacramento Bee uses the FB protocol and their comments section on their website his dried out to almost nothing. Glenn, I'm not sure if advertising rates are tied to the volume of comments the DR produces, but, if it is, you may want to rethink the FB thing. Anonymous cowardice is annoying, but it might help your bottom line.

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  • just a thoughtAugust 03, 2014 - 8:57 am

    I am one of those mentioned that uses an alias here and always have. Its been the same since I began and will remain the same. I don't understand the push to require users who wish to comment to have a facebook account. I refuse to use Facebook and will not do so just to be able to comment here. You already have my email address, so what would a Facebook account really accomplish?

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  • Larry WAugust 03, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Not a fan of Facebook and I have no desire to sign up.

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  • JagAugust 03, 2014 - 11:20 am

    agree,, drop out after My space and will not rejoin the ranks

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  • The Other SKAugust 03, 2014 - 9:17 am

    I dislike the trolls and know-it-alls as much as the next guy, but I enjoy being able to comment anonymously. However, I am consistent with the name I use and I filter out thoughts that are not productive to the conversation. I doubt I would comment if I had to use my real name -- and this may seem paranoid -- because I wouldn't want one of the crazy trolls to show up on my doorstep if he/she disagreed with some of the things I have to say.

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  • just a thoughtAugust 03, 2014 - 9:34 am


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  • Monika from the hoodAugust 03, 2014 - 9:28 am

    It has been my experience with sites that use FB, when you post a comment it posts your FB name. As with FB, depending on how you have your settings everyone & anyone can see your profile. I've commented a lot (few others) about what I see as a less than adequate service provided by Fairfield’s Council members & FPD. This is based on my experience & is my opinion of a bad situation (case in point) in the Orchid St & other areas. Remember Moy’s take charge when it was in her neighborhood? Has the DR written anything pertaining to all the break-in's in the Orchid St areas (and others) or are you solely reactive like FPD & waiting for the next shooting? I see this change has just another "dumbing down" of your paper. You keep telling everything is just fine in Fairfield. Keep handing out free papers door to door or at Ralley's in hopes of recruiting new customers. Good luck with that with all your changes. You win FPD, now you will be able to park in your favorite spots off to the side of Starbucks without reading one of my lame jokes (that should make CD happy).

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  • Dave ShreeveAugust 03, 2014 - 10:05 am

    I use my full name and I do not do Facebook and never will. This is a crock! Go back to a delay before posting or some other way but DO NOT require Facebook!

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  • Glen FaisonAugust 03, 2014 - 11:25 am

    Hi everyone. Facebook comments is something we're considering. I recognize that something like that represents a significant change. I appreciate the feedback.

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  • LilAugust 03, 2014 - 11:45 am

    I don't comment here a lot and I always try to be civil. I use Facebook but the vast majority of my "friends" on Facebook are work related. I work for an organization that is extremely liberal and I don't always have a liberal standpoint. I would not want my comments seen by work related people and I wouldn't want them attributed to my organization. So if the DR goes the Facebook route, I won't be commenting anymore. The Reporter did this a couple of years ago and the comment section dried up. It does seem to be the path that a lot of newspapers are taking.

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  • rlw895August 03, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    Do anything necessary to spare us from StR.

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  • FredAugust 03, 2014 - 12:22 pm

    I have posted here pretty much from the beginning, starting with writing letters to Editor. I for one wear the Troll badge with pride. I think it's safe to say most of the regulars here have at onetime participated in trolling. Most of the Letters to the Editor incite trolling. Who can forget Marci's comments & letters? Who can forget Gary the "G-man", OK well some including me would like too. But I think for the most part that’s what makes this site what it is. The Daily Republic has seen some benefit from it as well. I’ve seen were they took info or a direction from these comments & ran with it as a story or a letter from the editor. If they switch to a FB format & PG it down I think it's safe to say they will lose most of their commenters & even some subscribers.The daily Republic has taking to many steps in the wrong direction & I think this would be another.

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  • Mr. SmithAugust 03, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    Changing to the Facebook format will effectively end the DR commentary forum. If that is what Glen and company want, then so be it. I'm getting kinda tired of being called a coward for using an alias anyway. DR readership will definitely suffer.

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  • "Weird Al" Yankovic - Word CrimesAugust 03, 2014 - 1:09 pm


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  • HuckleberryAugust 03, 2014 - 8:33 pm

    Facebook is into your business and it sounds as if the Daily Republic wants to control the comment section. I find the comments add a great deal to newspaper articles and particularly pertaining to local politics. I use to subscribe to the VVR as well as the SF Chronicle. I now only subscribe to the DR and I am more interested on the online because of the comments. I for one will consider cancelling my online subscription as well as the residential delivery if changes are made. While it does appear that Mr Faison was irritated and frankly a number of these people have on occasion irritated me, I applaud their right to free speech and that does seem to be what is in question here.

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  • FredAugust 03, 2014 - 9:59 pm

    Speaking of this controlling right leaning newspaper, where has Mike Kirchubel been lately?

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  • rlw895August 03, 2014 - 10:45 pm

    He's gone to one column every two weeks, at his request, with Jack Batson filling the void.

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