Yet Another in a Series of Posts in Which We Anguish Over Comments and Their Utility

Yes, so several of you have noticed that Wick turned off the comments in his post below about DISD. I’m getting e-mail asking: “Why have comments at all if you’re going to turn them off when you bring up a hot-button issue?” And: “If FrontBurner is here to provide a forum for lively debate, then let’s do it.”

I agree. And yet.

I personally suffer from the same strain of ambivalence over comments that I do over DISD itself. I believe that Michael Hinojosa is the right man for the job. But I talked with the principal of my son’s school this weekend on the sideline of our boys’ soccer game. If forced to cut 10 percent, she’ll have to let five people go. Our school needs every teacher it has.

Similarly, I think comments are wonderful. But not long ago, I criticized a writer’s work in a post, and more than one commenter floated such unbelievably tasteless ad hominem remarks that I found myself personally apologizing to that writer for even providing the forum in which those remarks were made.

It’s theory vs. practice. For now, with that post, we’ve decided to let theory carry the day.


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34 responses to “Yet Another in a Series of Posts in Which We Anguish Over Comments and Their Utility”

  1. Adamundo says:


  2. CJ says:

    Thanks for that. Many comments on blogs have gone way over the line of civility, and it’s time we took a look at what kind of monster we’ve created.

  3. Amy S says:

    Personally, I think the district got a good use of the $64M. As a taxpayer, I have to wonder about a public institution that keeps $125M on the sidelines while it’s goals go down the toilet.

    Now the goals are being tended to and everyone is claiming that the money has gone down the toilet. Well this DISD parent would argue otherwise, my kids school has benefitted tremendously.

    I know the reserve is a bond buyer’s safety net, but check out the markets today – I think the bond buyers are going to be spooked from purchasing for other reasons than the district’s reserve.

    $64M divided by 750 is just over $85K, when you figure some (40%) of that went to pay taxes, insurance and pensions, it’s really not all that much per new hire.

  4. Eric Celeste says:

    Amy S, personally, I would have liked your comment on Wick’s post. I disagree with Wick and Tim on this. I think you’ve got to have some faith in the intelligent reader and her ability to separate inane comments from legitimate ones. (Let’s look at the comments on my posts from Denver: 3/4 of them were about how awful I am. And they’re clearly wrong. I’m awesome.) If we just start agreeing with each other on this blog, then we become like every other blog. That goes for commenters and posters alike.

    I have deleted comments that were personal attacks on people not employed here, and shut them off myself. But that’s different from preemptively deciding folks aren’t grown up enough to handle a discussion. If that’s the case, why do we even have comments?

  5. Bethany says:

    I was also going to agree with Wick – and clicked on comments, only to find them suddenly gone.

    Saying Hinojosa needs to be fired is an ill-informed, knee-jerk reaction – and I do expect better from the city’s paper of record. Not to mention, the district didn’t get in this condition on his watch. He’s dealing with the sins of his predecessors, while trying to build momentum.

    And he has built momentum, as Amy S. mentioned. He needs to be given the time and breathing space to accomplish what he was hired to do.

  6. Tom says:

    I think the decision to have/not have comments should be made before a post is published. If someone wants to offer an opinion and not seek further comment, that’s his or her option. But allowing for comments and then taking them away is not a best practice, IMO.

  7. SB says:

    I think the comments were turned off because Wick’s whole argument is based on a fallacy. I guess the DMN shouldn’t comment or report on the current struggles on Wall Street either because their stock is doing badly also.

    If you’re man enough to rant on somebody else’s ability to editorialize, then be man enough to accept the same types of criticisms about your own opinions.

  8. Snotty-tot says:

    Scandal is overstating circulation figures to advertisers.

  9. amanda says:

    I think the comments should stay, and stay on…even the stupid, abusive ones tell much more than the content ever could. The DISD commentary would have eventually degraded in a faux spelling bee and speculation on if the comments were written by DISD grads, like everything on FB…

    There are a lot of new posters on FB, and some of them are PAID political bloggers. They will be gone after the election, and then we can go back to discussing how awesome Eric is.

  10. Bethany says:

    Because he is. Gosh.

  11. Tim Rogers says:

    Eric just walked into my office and informed me that he was leaving “to go blast his abs.” I’m not making this up.

  12. Daniel says:

    Blog comments are like traffic on a Dallas freeway: If you can’t shrug off the aggressive asshats, you have no business being there, and if you’re not a (very) occasional aggressive asshat yourself, well then come shake my hand, Mr. Jesus Friggin’ Christ.

    That said, I do hope Rawlins continues to contribute to this fine enterprise. He has business being here.

  13. Bethany says:

    Eric should videotape this “ab blasting” thing.

    Oh, and I agree with Daniel.

  14. Randy Brown says:

    I like the comments.

  15. amanda says:

    I like Eric. Don’t go changing for me, I heart you for what’s on the inside.

    Thank you, Tim for leading us back to the path.

  16. Jay says:

    @ SB

    If you are man enough to rant on Wick’s editorials, be man enough to rant on restaurant closings, Eagles’ lyrics, Macie Jepson’s firing, Mayor Leppert’s freakishly large hands and what Eric looks like without a shirt.

    Seriously, less anchor and more Anchorman.

  17. Towski says:

    If it weren’t for blog comments, I might have a reasonably kind opinion of humanity. Thank you, frontburner, for sparing me that.

  18. Daniel says:

    Towski, wow, no one can call you you naive, eh?

    Seriously, this moratorium on insults makes me chafe like an ass in a sandbox. can we invent fictitious presences to insult? That’d be fair game, right?

    Fleagle, you’re a pathetic sycophantic imbecile.

    Reddy Kilowatt, you half-wit troglodyte, go try to sell that festering bag of crap somewhere else — ought to be about your speed.

    Petertork: Wrong. The Reserve does not “have what it takes” to save our imploding financial institutions. In fact, the Reserve is what I give your mama every Monday aftern — oops! Gotta go!

  19. SB says:

    @ Jay

    You are a smelly pirate hooker.

  20. Amy S says:

    Eric is right. (I’ve been trained to say that whether I agree or not, it keeps my marriage happy.)

    I loved Wick’s piece, and would have loved to post my comment, but in the end I did, didn’t I? I can see having a seperate post (like this one) that allows for an open debate of point/counterpointing (with rules of decorum laid out).

    Not black, not white, just gray.

  21. TG says:

    have you seen that the DMN is advertising its new “we allow comments” policy on billboards? (They took away the awesome pore-defining blow-up of F!D writer David Ninh on southbound 75.)

  22. Amy S says:

    I think I meant separate? Bethany?

  23. Jay says:

    @ SB

    You’ve got bad hair.

    Now I’m gonna go musk up because I think a bromance is forming here.

    Nicely played sir.

  24. wes mantooth says:

    Despite the occasional flame war (or, perhaps in part, because of them), I find FrontBurner to be about 10x more interesting than when it was a closed playing field. IJS.

  25. Josh Pearson says:

    @ SB and Jay
    Knowing you both as I do, it makes me chuckle to see your comments back and forth (since neither of you knows the other). I just chuckled out loud and it made my newly enlarged belly bounce of my belt buckle. Felt weird. Where’s Eric when you need him?

  26. SB says:

    I bet he’s out sculpting his guns.

  27. LakeWWWooder says:

    “DISD is giving us what we need. I’ve been very impressed with them” – words of one of my fellow alums who returned to teach at the shrine. This was a couple of weeks ago and I agree with Amy S. that despite the accounting debacle, the money has gone to good use.

    When Merrill Lynch is crumbling, the $64 million boo-boo at DISD doesn’t look so bad. That doesn’t mean we should accept such sloppiness. But my faith is still with Dr. Hinojosa, even if he has the purple past of being a Sunset grad.

  28. IttyBittyWussy says:

    Comments drive traffic, which in turn drives ad rates. That’s good for the bottom line and the investors, which is exactly the way our gold-old-American free market economy is supposed to work.

    So if you turn off the comments, you are a rotten communist.

  29. J.J. says:

    The problem with deleted comments is you no longer know what was really said. Something that was true no longer is.

    Someone on another thread wanted to suggest they might have been vile comments. Maybe they were, or maybe the commenter just disagreed. Deleting comments tends to make the naive readers believe the comments were vile, because why else would they be deleted? It also makes the cynical readers believe the comments must have made too strong a point that struck too much of a nerve with an insecure author and so had to be cut, because why else would they be deleted? Readers in the middle may be left wondering both. Either way it makes what the author has to say look like it needs extra protection that other posts by other authors don’t require.

  30. Bethany says:

    JJ: I was being sarcastic. I happen to know who commented.

  31. Neal says:

    When you guys delete a comment, maybe you should replace the comment text with “Comment deleted by administrator for violation of terms of use” or something like that. Leave the commenter’s name and time/date stamp in place. It’s more “honest” than just removing the comment as if it had never existed and is less confusing to regular readers who might have seen (and perhaps responded to) the offending comment.

  32. Phil Harvey says:

    The comments were left off. But did the author’s work represent the beginning of a conversation or the end of it?