Last year, in an attempt to make our reader bloggers more accountable, I tried to require all bloggers to use their real names and to provide background information so readers could "consider the source" when reading blogs and comments.
That suggestion brought howls and protests from some who said using their real names would put them in jeopardy, either at work or from Internet stalkers. I relented but asked reader bloggers to help by citing more sources and sticking to national political issues, which is what Capitol Hill Blue is all about.
I also considered suspending reader blogs because they were difficult to moderate and I did not have time to always quickly deal with those who use the blogging function to post spam, ads or off-the-wall conspiracy theories.
I let the blogs continue for another year. Now I must pull the plug on the blogs for good.
Many of you have posted good, insightful essays on current issues but the blogs of late have become dominated by a few readers and used to promote issues that really have no relevance on a national political news web site.
For example, 13 out of 20 recent blog posts were the work on one author and nearly all dealt with Texas legislative issues, not national political ones. A post this week discussed whether or not Michael Jackson had been castrated to raise the tenor of his voice.
In the last 30 days I have had to delete more than 50 blog posts that were spam or ads or obscene or dealt with issues that have nothing to do with politics.
I don’t have time to do that folks. It takes time away from our primary purpose as a political news web site and the rest of the site has suffered because I have been distracted.
The final clincher came Saturday when i discovered that some articles written by me and others had been altered by a blogger who offered to help with proofreading and had edit access to the site. A technician worked overnight to restore the original content from backups.
Blogging is an interesting concept but the inclusion of reader blogs has given some readers the impression that Capitol Hill Blue itself is a blog. It is not. It is a news web site and is the oldest one on the Internet. Our news articles are bylined with names, not screen "handles" and the background of our columnists are posted on our FAQ page. Reader bloggers, however, are all too often anonymous entities with no way for readers to verify their claims of expertise.
So, effective immediately, reader blogs are discontinued on Capitol Hill Blue. Over the next few weeks, some of us here will be reviewing past blogs by readers and we may invite some to write for Capitol Hill Blue but only if they agree to do so under their real name with background information provided for readers.
Capitol Hill Blue will continue to welcome reader feedback through comments to our articles but we will be taking a harder line on comments that attack others, stray off-topic or violate common sense rules of civility. Our popular moderated forum, ReaderRant, will also continue as a place for any reader to publish his or her opinion or discuss the issues of the day.
My thanks to everyone who helped make reader blogging an interesting experiment. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.