Tag Archives: new media

Is It Illegal To Instagram Your Completed Ballot?

6 Nov

@MarkPoloncarz on Twitter

This seems to be the burning question this afternoon on Twitter, as people post images of their ballots with Obama or Romney ovals completed as instructed. Gizmodo and others are on it, and our local journalists are smelling a story. After all, the County Executive Tweeted a picture of part of his ballot. 

The law everyone is citing is Election Law section 17-130(10). It reads: 

Any person who…[s]hows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents, or solicits a voter to show the same…is guilty of a misdemeanor. 

First of all, no one is prosecuted under this section. In my review of the times in which this statute has been cited by New York State Courts, the only such case dates from 1979 where a person’s provisional ballot was invalidated because he put his name on it; (that violates subsection 11 of the statute). That’s it. 

The reason why the law exists? To prevent people from selling their votes; offering to vote a particular way, and having to show the completed ballot to the payor as proof before payment is made. It also exists to prevent intimidation of voters or otherwise violating the secrecy of the vote. However, the statute has not been updated to make it a misdemeanor to photograph one’s ballot for any purpose, or to show the photograph – only to show the ballot itself. 

So, Instagram the shit out of your ballot, and don’t worry about it being invalidated or about you being arrested. After all, political speech is offered the highest protection of all speech, and what’s more political than Tweeting a picture of your ballot. I’d wish the authorities good luck in overcoming the 1st Amendment challenge to that misdemeanor charge. 

Also, the New York State Board of Elections issued a statement today indicating that it’s perfectly legal. So, there’s that. 

Clarifications and Corrections From The Buffalo News

14 Aug

Last Sunday, Buffalo News Political Columnist Bob McCarthy got on his high horse and wrote this:

A local blogger named Chris Smith has been downright giddy in recent days criticizing The Buffalo News for reporting that SEIU Local 1199 is paying employee Jennifer Hibit to manage Poloncarz’s campaign for county executive. Around here, something unusual and of interest to voters makes a good story.

But not over at WNY Media Network, where Smith toils. More important to the network, apparently, is the $3,750 Poloncarz paid to WNY Media Network for website design and video editing, according to state campaign finance records. In fact, the same records show WNY Media Network has handled Poloncarz’s video campaign for years.

Some local bloggers receive money from politicians. The Politics Column does not — and that says it all.

I then responded later that day with the following:

I didn’t receive any money from Mark Poloncarz nor any other politician and I never have. Not for work performed on a campaign, not for services provided to a campaign, not for content on this website, not for anything. Not once. Not a thin red cent. Neither has Alan Bedenko, Brian Castner, Chris Charvella, Tom Dolina, Gabe Armstrong, or any of our other writers. We’re simply a group of citizen journalists who add context and analysis to the evolving story of Western New York. Nothing more, nothing less.

Several other articles were written here and a bit of a firestorm developed on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. McCarthy’s column was lazy and the audience took the newspaper to task for publishing an unqualified personal attack.

On Friday, The Buffalo News published a clarification to McCarthy’s bullshit article about my being a “pay for praise” journalist.

An item in Sunday’s Politics Column may have mistakenly given the impression that blogger Chris Smith was paid by the county executive campaign of Democrat Mark Poloncarz. The article pointed out that the firm running the website to which Smith contributes blogs, WNY Media Network, was paid $3,750 by the Poloncarz campaign for website design and video editing, according to state campaign finance records.

While it’s well and good that The Buffalo News published a “clarification” on their never-read “Corrections” page, this is a half-assed clarification to an accusation, but not an apology for the insult.

As Alan pointed out in his column, The Buffalo News has received well in excess of $250,000 from political campaigns since 2000. There is no difference between their print outlet taking money from candidates and our company being paid for professional services. Especially when neither I nor Bob McCarthy are directly paid with the proceeds. I qualify that statement with “directly” because Bob is actually paid by his outlet for his writing services while I am not compensated in any way.

It’s not “may have been mistaken”, it’s “was mistaken” or “deliberately/willfully mistaken”.

Making an accusation that I am on the take is a direct assault on my integrity and credibility in the community and can and might be subject to legal proceedings. I did not and still do not take this allegation lightly.

The Buffalo News, at a minimum, should publish a full retraction in the same space as the accusation was published, in Bob McCarthy’s Sunday politics column. Earlier today, I sent an email requesting exactly that.

RE: Correction WNYMedia/Poloncarz
Chris Smith Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM
To: msullivan@buffnews.com, rmccarthy@buffnews.com
Cc: Alan Bedenko

Ms. Sullivan,

I’d like to thank you for the clarification/correction to Bob McCarthy’s inaccurate statement regarding my alleged employment with the campaign of County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz which was published on 8/6/2011.

However, it has come to my attention that the correction has not been noted in the webpage of the actual column.

http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial-page/columns/bob-mccarthy/article514711.ece

In the age of new media, it is important to publish your clarification/correction on the offending webpage as well as in print or on the corrections page.

Mr. McCarthy’s article is still searchable on the internet in its uncorrected format and serves to misinform readers as to my role at WNYMedia and my involvement with the Mark Poloncarz campaign.

I would appreciate the clarification being published in the Internet version of the column as soon as possible. Your organization often makes changes to an online story as it develops, I do not see why it cannot also be done for acknowledged corrections.

I thank you in advance for your expected attention to this matter.

Regards,
Chris Smith

Christopher M. Smith
327 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14201
Email: chris@wnymedia.net

If action is not taken within 72 hours, I will be moving on to other tactics in order to have my name cleared. It is unacceptable that the sole political writer at The Buffalo News be allowed to prosecute a personal agenda against another local journalist with impunity.

Are Blog Comments Dead?

14 Dec

You may have noticed in recent weeks that the number of comments on the site have decreased.  However, our traffic numbers are higher than ever before in a non-election season.  So, what’s happening in the comment section?

When we started this website back in 2004, WNYMedia.net was pretty much the only online outlet for people to comment on and discuss the local news of the day.  The TV stations pretty much ignored the web and The Buffalo News updated once each morning and ignored the potential for an online community.  So, we stepped in and took advantage of the market opportunity.

We offered a cozy spot on the Internet for people to discuss issues in their community, share insights, build consensus, and bring different perspectives to stories that were often ignored by the larger outlets.  We even had a little slogan internally, the site was built for all of us to Advocate, Educate, Inform, Opinionate and Update and sometimes Yell.  We built a pretty diverse community and we were proud of what we created.

Over the ensuing years, the “news and opinion” audience fragmented into various niche websites because, well, that’s what happens on the Internet. Buffalo Rising, Buffalo Spree, SpeakUpWNY, Artvoice, BlockClub and dozens of individual blogs started to build their own communities. Through it all, our traffic numbers grew.  As the old saying goes; “A rising tide raises all boats”.  We were still bringing new readers and contributors onboard each day and, generally speaking, discussions were proactive, friendly, intelligent and productive.  Sure, we had occasional sniping and verbal slapfights, but it’s the Internet.  It’s what happens.

In early 2007, the major outlets finally got onboard with this whole “internets thing” and started asking for comments on stories and providing an outlet for people to communicate.  In their meandering and unfocused effort to add an interactive component to their news organizations, they forgot about the most important part of building an online community, moderation.   Online communities are like gardens.  They need to be watered, fed and maintained on a regular basis or bugs and weeds will overtake the flowers, ya dig?  When new readers visit, your online community cannot look like a hostile, insular and angry place or the new readers will not stay to participate.  People don’t want to be yelled at or insulted nor do they wish to hang around with a bunch of anonymous assholes.

We, however, did not forget about moderation.   About five months ago, we announced that comments would be more strictly moderated on the site to ensure they stayed on topic and stayed positive.  I think we’ve been mildly successful in that regard.

However, moderation isn’t the only factor that has resulted in less conversation on the WNYMedia.  Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, Networked Blogs and content skimmers have also influenced the conversation, in a very big way.

Yesterday, I did a Facebook search on my Maria Whyte story to see how many people linked it on Facebook.   Interestingly, I found that 32 people in my network had posted the article on their Facebook wall and discussion about the article was happening on all of those pages, over 50 comments.  It was also shared dozens of times on Twitter (with ensuing discussion) and read a couple of hundred times on our Droid App with comments left there as well.  Content skimmers like Buffalo123 also steal our articles and comments occasionally happen on their site as well.   When we stream video, our viewers are on UStream or on their phones and they share/discuss our audio and video content on YouTube.

So, what’s a content provider to do?  Honestly, we don’t really care if the comments are here or elsewhere, our traffic numbers are the currency we care about as a business, but we want to make the readers happy with the experience.  Is it important to you for us to keep comments here or should we simply deal with the new reality that the website serves as a launching pad for content discussions across various social networks?  Should we do more to integrate social feeds into the site using Facebook Connect and Google Accounts?

You tell us, what’s important to you. I’ll be looking for your comments…everywhere.

Outrages and Myopia

15 Jul

The job of a newspaper reporter is to ethically inform the public. The rise of the internet and social media has forever changed how news gets reported and consumed. Some have called the decline of the newspaper business as a shocking death of journalism. But it isn’t.

One could apply the questions of McLuhan’s Tetrad to the internet, recognizing that the world is playing by new and different rules. With the advent of radio and television, newspapers didn’t have to change much at all – but the same is not true of the internet, which offers immediacy, interactivity, and is a medium that grew and thrives on opinion.

To say that the Buffalo News’ tentative experiments with the internet have been clumsy would be a gentle understatement. I am not a consumer of sports news or opinion, but I am told that the Buffalo News’ sports blogs are widely read and well-respected. Opinion – the fact that local reporters report on and are fans of local teams – is implied in sports reporting.

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone that an investigative reporter is on the side of the truth. Perhaps on the side of good government. In any event, on the side of the city and her people – of the region and its people. When an investigative reporter morphs into a blogger, offering opinion, it should therefore not come as a surprise to anyone that he may highlight incidents of bad government, obstructionism, lack of transparency, bad politics, and acts or omissions that do harm to the city or region.

So it was that the Buffalo News’ investigative reporter Jim Heaney’s outstanding blog “Outrages and Insights” was shut down by editor-in-chief Margaret Sullivan. Artvoice reported:

Heaney was the only news reporter at the paper who blogged regularly and his blog was surely, along with the sports blogs, one of the online product’s prime draws. Some are saying that the reason for the popularity of “Outrages & Insights” is most likely the reason it was spiked, too: Heaney used the blog to deliver scathing opinion and analysis, often regarding the subjects of his objective reporting for the print product, and to lampoon bureaucrats and politicians. Margaret Sullivan, executive editor of the News, explains it differently: She says that the paper has recently lost a number of reporters to contract buyouts, and so she wants Heaney to focus on reporting instead of blogging in order to fill the gap left by their departure.

Margaret Sullivan doesn’t get – and doesn’t want to get – new media. This is disappointing, because it’s new media that has left her newspaper a mere shell of its former self, and is further doing damage to her business. Long ago the Buffalo News should have embraced the new media, but hasn’t.

Reporting and blogging are not mutually exclusive, especially in Heaney’s case. I’m not aware of Heaney neglecting his reporting or investigative duties in order to write his one-post-per-day on his blog. The popularity and insight his blog provided made him a bigger name in the world of local news. His opinions were scathing because he was biased – biased in favor of the people, of the truth, of the city.

That must be why Heaney’s “Outrages and Insights was named “Distinguished Online Blog” for 2009 by the New York News Publishers Association. The New York State AP named Heaney’s blog one of the best of 2009, and he also received an award for his straight business investigative reporting in the paper. Clearly, the blogging wasn’t harming the reporting, and vice-versa.

Now, I’m not a reporter, nor do I hold myself as one. I didn’t contact Heaney or Sullivan to get a self-serving quote. Maybe the News enjoys salving its sources’ egos with he-said/she-said journalism, but I don’t have the time or patience for spin. The notion that reporters should just transcribe two sides’ positions and then let the reader decide is nonsense, after all. Reporters have a duty to cut through the BS and report the truth. What’s clear here is that the best-informed political blog in town has been unceremoniously shut down due only to perceived conflict. Heaney’s blog was a must-read for local politics, just like Elizabeth Benjamin is a must-read for state politics.

The news blogs offered up by the Buffalo News have therefore been officially castrated, further barriers to new media relevancy having been erected.

I wish the Buffalo News would get it and embrace new media, because being stubborn about it isn’t going to change anything. It’s weird to see the Buffalo News, which carries an opinion/editorial page every day, prohibit its investigative reporter from doing the same on a widely-read blog – a blog that enhanced the paper’s visibility. Heaney suffered a horrible family event a few months ago that left his blog “on hiatus”. His bosses added insult to injury and made it permanent.

But it’s not just Heaney who loses his outlet, or the News which loses eyeballs on the net.

Ultimately it is we, the readers, who lose.

Anonymity Alone?

6 Jul

The Batavian’s Howard Owens submitted this comment, disagreeing with my assessment of the Buffalo News’ comment policy revision:

Alan writes, “In other words, the Buffalo News is doing it wrong”

No actually, they’re getting it all right. It is simply unethical for news sites to allow unvetted anonymous comments.

Here’s more I’ve written along those lines.

“Anonymity, pseudonyms, noms de plume – they’re all longstanding traditions in internet discussions, going way back to the free-wheeling days of usenet newsgroups. It moved on to blogs where writers assumed online identities like “Atrios”, “Calpundit”, “Kos”, “Allahpundit”, and reader/commenters did the same. ”
None of those sites are news sites, who’s primary purpose is to provide credible original reporting. It’s a false comparison.

Further, a particular news site going to a real names policy in no way diminishes a persons ability to be anonymous in any other forum that allows anonymity. There’s nothing prohibiting a reader from setting up a blog on Word Press and anonymous bashing whatever and whomever he or she chooses. The Buffalo News going to a real names policy in no way is a threat to online anonymity.

“The Buffalo News presumably has no prohibition against its journalists providing anonymity to sources for stories. In fact, it does so quite routinely, as do all responsible journalists.”

What you fail to note is that when a reporter grants anonymity, a process has taken place (at least, ideally), where a reporter and editor have discussed the legitimacy of granting anonymity, weighing the probative value of the information provided, the motivation of the source, the credibility of the source and whether the information can be obtained by any other means, and verifying the accuracy of the information as best as possible (if not completely). No such vetting process takes place with anonymous comments.

So, again, it’s a false comparison.

And I’m completely flummoxed your argument that “nobody asked for” and there’s “no need” for comments on certain stories. If nobody asked for them, then why is it an issue? Nobody will comment on them. And the idea that there shouldn’t be comments on this or that story runs entirely counter to the whole notion of freedom. Why deny somebody the ability to comment on even the most mundane news item. You never know what information might come out. It could be quite worthwhile. On The Batavian, some of the most interesting conversations occur on some of the most seemingly minor stories.

If you’re going to moderate comments before they appear, you might as well not even have comments. It’s a conversation killer.

Nobody has a good reason to post anonymously. If you can’t say it with your name on it, you probably shouldn’t say it. However, if it’s legitimate news that you want to tip the paper to it, then there are innumerable ways with most news organizations to provide anonymous tips.

At The Batavian, we get anonymous tips on a routine basis.

In a later post, you quote some comments and imply that if the poster hadn’t been able to post anonymously, the information might not have come out. I’m simply going to call bull shit on that. I’ve enough experience on requiring real name comments to know that people post just about anything (including hateful crap) with their real names attached. And the fact of the matter is, such information as you cite gains in credibility when a real person with a real name takes responsibility for it.

I realize that there has been a certain spin to the Buffalo News going to real names that it will clean up the comments. That’s not the real reason news orgs need to adopt real name policies — it’s simply a matter of ethics. A real name policy in and of itself will not clean up comments. There is simply no substitute for involved, active moderators monitoring in and participating in the comments. Running a successful online community is not a “set it and forget it” process. It takes time, intelligence and effort.

Alan, you’re familiar enough with The Batavian to know — we require real names, we have a robust and diverse community of contributors, with a largely civil exchange, and plenty of people not scarred off by attaching their real names to say what’s really on their minds.

There is simply no logical, reasonable argument I’ve come across yet that would excuse a news organization such as the Buffalo News allowing anonymous comments.

My one-liner about the Buffalo News “doing it wrong” isn’t directed towards the revision of its policy, but to any commenting policy it has ever had. We can all agree that the Buffalo News’ comments section was an unreadable thread of trash. It was quite clear that pure anonymity had emboldened some hateful commenters to spew hate-filled things.

The Buffalo News isn’t the Batavian and it isn’t WNYMedia.net. It’s the sole local paper in town, and it has always treated its online presence as a confusing appendage rather than a tool. The Batavian is mostly a straight news source, but it’s set up like a blog. Comments are a blog creation, and you made the decision from practically day one to require real names. I’ve praised you before many times for that.

But I won’t just automatically criticize a site solely for permitting anonymous comments or noms de plume. While the process for granting anonymity to a site commenter versus a confidential source may be different, the reason for that request and desire for anonymity may be the same. An elected official’s staffer may choose to post a comment on my site for the same reason he may choose to request anonymity to a reporter – he has strong opinions and background knowledge, but is not authorized to speak to the issue. There is value in permitting that person to shield his identity.

We don’t get a lot of racist commenters here, and when we do we generally keep the comment up because (a) the commenter looks like an idiot; and (b) the rest of the commenting community here can call the idiot out. Just because someone wants to say something stupid doesn’t mean I have to delete it. The difference at the News is the sheer volume of comments, and in turn racist idiocy, which required some sort of reaction.

You say that pre-moderation is a discussion-killer. But any movement to remove anonymity will chill commentary to some degree. You’re coming at this from a newspaperman’s perspective, while blogs and their comments are really a contemporary version of usenet newsgroups, where anything goes. That sort of free-wheeling discussion is an internet thing, not a newspaper thing.

Yes, the Batavian gets robust comments going even on routine stories. So, I gather, might the Buffalo News. But my criticism had to do with the fact that the News didn’t do anything to police its comments section, which it appended to each and every story. Remember – the Batavian uses a blog platform. The Buffalo News doesn’t. I can’t imagine there was a big clamor for people to be able to post a comment to every single story the News does.

But the core of our disagreement is that you oppose anonymity, while I can see its value. You even acknowledge that people will say dumb and racist things even when using their real names, so anonymity itself isn’t the problem – it’s anonymity paired with ignorant hatred.

So, we can agree that the Buffalo News’ “set it and forget it” method of “policing” its comments section is the real culprit. Because of the volume of traffic the News gets, it had a duty to implement a commenting system that would encourage discussion and discourage/ban hate speech. It failed to do so, and here we are debating it.

Transparency

1 Jul

Jill Rowland is the tea partying dentist running for Congress against Louise Slaughter. Here’s her Twitter page. Fail.

Dr. Rowland’s opponent’s Twitter feed:

#smdayBUF, Change and What’s Next

1 Jul

Yesterday was Social Media Day, which was celebrated in Buffalo with a happy hour(s) at Merge. What it was was a nouveau bloggercon, the first of which we held locally in 2005. Back then there were only blogs. No Twitter, and social media as we know it today was either non-existent or in its infancy.

Twitter has been quite the revolutionary democratizer of blogging – the exponential growth of smartphones make it easier for people to microblog 140 characters’ worth of information rather than a 200+ word post. I joked that I was the Larry King of yesterday’s event. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and have migrated to Twitter and other social media, but the blog remains my home and my chief online voice.

And I met a lot of interesting people last night, like Adrian Dayton who gets law firms up and running on social media, Clark Dever uses Twitter to grow his photography business. Jim Milles and Kristina Lively are the Captain & Tenille of the Buffalo Twitterverse. There was also a large clique of PR folks there, many of whom I don’t know. But it was a massive turn-out of close to 200 people, all of whom not only use social media platforms, but are pretty passionate about them. Twitter, in particular.

Channel 2 was on hand, and Mary Alice Demler asked me what I thought this would look like in the future, and the answer is that no one knows. Twitter didn’t exist in 2005, and it’s impossible to predict what the next big thing is going to be. It’s pretty interesting to look back and see how the online landscape has changed and grown in Buffalo over the past 6+ years. The change has been unpredictable, revolutionary. But it’s equally fascinating to see how local political and business leaders have completely missed the boat when it comes to effectively using new media to promote and inform.

Cheers to Keith for organizing.

Best Twitter Feed

25 Jun

Many thanks to Buffalo Spree‘s readers and editors for nominating and selecting me as the owner of the Best Twitter Feed in Buffalo and WNY.

The awards around this site usually go to Alan for his excellent blog (also, because I’m an insufferable and condescending know-it-all) so it was nice to be recognized.

So follow me on twitter @buffalogeek or subscribe to my Delicious Feed which serves as the partner to most of my Twitter content.

WNYMedia Comment Policy

21 Jun

In recent weeks, you may have noticed that the number of comments which ultimately make it to our pages has declined.  Well, there is a reason for that.  We’ve taken some steps to clean up our comments section while we continue to formulate a formal policy for the next iteration of our website (coming sometime this summer).

Moderating offensive, racist, omniphobic, libelous, and dumb comments is just part of the job description as an editor at WNYMedia.net.  It’s a tedious job, but we’ve continually been asked by our readers to clean up the site.  Those who are respectful of others and have built up a bit of a reputation are given more leeway than those who show up and tell our writers to forcibly insert objects into their various orifices.

We’ve made use of moderation software on the site which sends comments containing specific racist or hateful terms into a moderation queue, where we either remove the offensiveness and post the remainder of the comment or we simply delete them.  Let me be clear, this is not a process we utilize for commenters who have differing opinions or strong points of view, this is for those who simply cannot post a comment without being disrespectful or hateful towards the writer, other commenters or the subjects in our articles.  If we banned people for being wrong or thinking differently, we’d never allow Mike in WNY or Ward to comment.  As much as we may disagree with them, they are always respectful and polite.

The reason I bring this up is that this past Sunday, the editor of The Buffalo News informed her readers that she would be instituting some new policies for reader comments on the website.

Online commenting began, a year or so ago, as a way to engage our Web readers and give them a chance to air their points of view and get some discussion going on the topics of the day.

Quickly, though, the practice degenerated into something significantly less lofty. Particularly on stories about inner-city crime — but not only on those stories — reader comments can be racist and ugly. In fact, we’ve been shocked at how seemingly routine stories can elicit comments that veer off into offensive territory.

All of that is very true.  In fact, once The Buffalo News started publishing reader comments, our comment traffic went down as the hatemongers felt like they were called up to the major leagues.

Media organizations all over the country, particularly newspapers with active Web sites, are struggling with this subject. There’s no easy answer. The tension is between wanting to take advantage of the freewheeling expression of the Internet and wanting to keep standards of reasonable tolerance and decency on a public site.

We’re all struggling with this problem, anonymity on the web can promote the pixelated version of bathroom stall graffiti.  Anonymity on the web can also help build sources and information networks for future stories, it also allows people to simply say what’s on their mind or blow a whistle without fear of retribution.  To promote the latter and discourage the former, it is incumbent upon a web outlet to tend their garden, if you will.

We encourage our writers to respond to comments, to engage in discussion, to keep things on track and not allow things to devolve into petty backbiting.  That doesn’t mean we prevent it, we just try to encourage everyone to keep the discussion moving forward.  This is something The Buffalo News never did.  Their writers simply threw their stories into the ether and were not responsible for managing the discussion…that was a job for the web guy.  Not a good plan.  It allows for sock puppets, astroturf activists, and generally nasty people to become weeds in your garden of civility and positive discourse.  They have never publicly discussed whether or not they use the comments section as a feedback engine for their coverage of local events nor have they ever really demonstrated a concern for what was said on their pages.  It always seemed that they allowed comments because it was the thing to do.

So, how to handle this new media problem?  The Buffalo News is choosing to apply an old media solution…

After quite a bit of internal discussion, The News — in the next few weeks — will make a significant change. We will require commenters to give their real names and the names of their towns, which will appear with their comments, just as they do in printed “letters to the editor,” which have appeared daily for many years on the newspaper’s op-ed page.

It will mean that Web site readers must fill out an online form and include a phone number that we will use to help verify that they are who they say they are.

I think this is a bit of an over-reaction, but that’s just my opinion.  The result of this move will most likely depress any real feedback and serve to isolate the news staff and editors from the public at a time when community building is essential to their continued existence.

We’ve given a lot of thought to how we will formalize our comments section in our new design and we’d like to solicit your feedback on the various options.

Option 1.) The Kottke Sullivan

Jason Kottke and Andrew Sullivan are two of the most widely read bloggers on the web.  They have been blogging for years and have both have a “no published comments” policy on their websites.  They provide a means for you to share your opinion with them via email and also on the social network of your choice.  We’ve worked out a way in which our readers would simply be allowed to comment on our stories on their Facebook page as well as ours while we keep our site focused on our own content.  We would publish certain comments which add to the discuss or serve as a counter to ours on the website, but general commenting would happen off platform.

Option 2.) Facebook Connect

Commenters would first need to provide either their Facebook credentials (via Facebook Connect), Twitter Credentials (via OAuth), or OpenID in order to post comments on the website.  This is a nice way to ensure people own their own comments while leveraging their own social capital and reputation to do so.  We would also still leave open a web based submission tool and email channels for those who wish to provide comments anonymously.  They would be moderated prior to posting.

Option 3.) The Pay Model

Commenters would be required to register an account with us which would give them the ability to post comments and submit stories to the website while also providing them a local savings passport for local businesses.  You would pay a small annual fee for the website/swag/savings card with your credit card or paypal account, just like any other online purchase.  You would also help provide us with additional operating capital to grow our writing staff and increase our enterprise journalism efforts.  Registered members would be able to comment, while unregistered users would only be allowed to submit feedback via email or web form.

Option 4.) Leave it alone

You love the wild west feel of the anonymous Internets and you want your tubes free of moderation.  You love it just the way it is and if we screw with it, you’ll tell us to forcibly insert large objects into our various orifices.

Nowhere in any of these models are we asking you to give us your phone number so we can call you before posting your comment.  That would be a huge timesuck and would ultimately prove futile…

So, let me know via email (chris@wnymedia.net) or in the comments section what you think of our various options.  If there is an option you don’t see and you’d like us to consider, let us know.  We’re open to your ideas.

Also, I think you’re going to be excited with the new version of the site, it’s going to be a HUGE change…or at least, that’s what Billy Fuccillo has told us.

Your Blog Post. Your Ideas.

17 Jun

Over the last several weeks, I’ve had more than my share of run-ins with elements and agents of terrific negativity and ignorance.

I want to move my mind and this blog away from repetitive, consequential negativity and general pissed-offedness. You see, in the last month or so, I’ve been happier than I’ve been in years. That hasn’t been reflected here.

So, for the foreseeable future, I want to do one blog post per day (maybe I’ll skip some here and there, but you get the gist) where I post your ideas. Your ideas for how WNY, Buffalo, New York State can improve and make our lives better. I don’t want to get into national issues, because that’s only occasionally my focus. This is about Albany dysfunction, Buffalo dysfunction, Rath Building / County Hall dysfunction.

Can you provide me with a paragraph or two that represents one salient, positive change you’d like to see happen? Anything at all. I will reprint your idea without editorial commentary or snark, and let people comment on it. I’d like to give you credit and a link back to whatever you’d like, but if you’d prefer to remain anonymous, that’s fine too. If you’re running for office, I’ll link to your campaign site.

Shoot your ideas to my Buffalopundit Facebook page, or email it to the address that pops up when you click here.