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Friday, July 30, 2021

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UncategorizedNew comments policy discussion: please read

New comments policy discussion: please read

UPDATE: Thanks for all your comments. We will be working on the technological end of these options and launch a new policy shortly.

By Tim Redmond

Hi, folks, I am getting a lot of complaints about the comments here, mostly from people who feel that a couple of very active trolls are dominating the discussion so aggressively (and sometimes, so nastily) that nobody else wants to join in.

I have made it clear from the start that I don’t want to censor comments just because I disagree. I want lively debate. But as Markos says on DailyKos, if you have so much to say that you’re taking over the thread, you should start your own blog.

I am trying to develop 48hills into a progressive daily newspaper, which involves reporting and writing and fundraising and a lot of other work, and frankly, I don’t want to spend hours every day going back and deleting comments that don’t meet our policy. Besides, some of you can post far faster than I can delete.

I am considering several options, and am open to feedback. But the current system where a couple of people shut everyone else up and out — and where some people pretend they are other people — isn’t going to continue.

Option 1: Limit all commenters to one or two comments per post. Honor system at first, but if some won’t go along, I will block those addresses.

Option 2:  You can post all you want – but you have to use your real name. No more anonymous anything. And NO NO NEVER can you post stuff under someone else’s name to mock them. You post a real, verifiable, first and last name and you can go to town. Otherwise: We block you.

Option 3: Registration. This is what Kos does, and it keeps the trolls in check. You want to post on the site, you have to register (with a real name and email address). When I get the time, I approve you, and only then can you comment. You become a pain in the ass, and I kick you off.

Option 4: I turn the comments off completely and start a “letters to the editor” section where you can say what you want, but I will edit and choose the ones that get posted.

Again: I will not censor comments because I disagree with them. But you all know Gresham’s Law – bad money drives out good money – and I’m not going to let a few people so dominate the talk that it drives others away.

Fair enough?

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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244 COMMENTS

  1. Heard a great This American Life podcast on trolls this morning on the way to work. All you trolls should check it out. Why do you have to behave so subhuman? Maybe take a look in the mirror at the anger and discontent in your own life rather than spreading your hate to others…Just a thought.

  2. you guys are so cute. like your postings are so “earth-shaking,mpolitically audacious” that you need anonymity to protect yourselves from repercussions and danger from “THE MAN.” Check yourselves at the door. Your postings, Sam and Marcos especially, are little more than verbal diarrhea. Maybe you should regiment your movements to two or three a day.

  3. Sorry, forgot to add that a consistent pseudonym allows people, especially women, to comment freely but respectfully. I hope you keep some form of anonymity available to us. I don’t comment otherwise unless it is to write a letter to the editor. I suspect anonymity and a lively comments section go together, and that a good comments section brings in more readers. Well, okay, I think I have reached by comment limit for the day! 😉

  4. Tim, Any of your proposed solutions would be better than what now exists. I don’t plow through the comments sections, much because I am not interested in listening only to the most vociferous and dogged. The problem here at 48 Hills is at least semi-positive: too much participation by a few to the exclusion of weary but worthy readers. I would like a more representative forum of ideas. The only way I think we can have that is to automatically limit a commenter’s posts to 2-3 per day and limit the length to about 1,500 characters. I don’t anticipate some people muzzling themselves voluntarily, possibly because they believe their truths are so compelling that we all benefit from their voluminous prose. So, yes, please institute some changes and I and others will read and participate gladly.

  5. And for the record, I was not imping you. I did not post in Sam’s libertarian attack outing voice. I posted my own thoughts in my own voice under “Guest” or “Sam” or the range of Sybil’s personalities. That was rudimentary sock puppetry, performed poorly, strategically, but effective nonetheless.

  6. More cherry picking of comments by the concern troll. Hiding behind the shroud of anonymity as a safe refuge outing and attacking others is the main problem here.

    You won’t post under your real name because you benefit from attacking individuals from behind the veil of anonymity and do not want to forfeit that power.

  7. If there are whistleblower complaints to be made, then there are legal avenues to pursue those. Anonymity on a comment section cannot supplant that, there is no evidence of issues being raised online that have led to legal consequences on government corruption. To the contrary, anonymity is used to provide cover for that corruption and to attack those who would contest government corruption.

    Government has welcomed me to the policy making and advisory tables on land use, housing and transportation more than most everyone else who posts here combined. The SFBG has published several of my opinion pieces on local public policy. But as neoliberal corruption has rampaged, governmental practice has been to marginalize residents who are held in increasing levels of contempt by the bureaucracy in service of their elite patrons. It is the anonymous trolls who take advantage of access to these forums to serve as the shock troops for neoliberal corruption from which they benefit financially and politically.

  8. There are many reasons why someone wouldn’t want to use their real name on a chatboard that discusses local politicians, advocacy organizations and government programs. Criticism has real-life consequences. That’s why you never see the angry, bitter or critical people sitting down at the table with politicians and their aides to formulate policy or programs.

    I’m guessing a few people who post here get business benefits from government (salary, program funding, development entitlements, etc.) that could be seriously jeopardized if they used their real names. There’s plenty of chicanery in an elite city like SF that spends over $8 billion a year. If you get some good dirt on a rival you may be able to pick up that $5 million city contract they’re currently receiving, or get someone ousted from a key policy position or take down someone’s multi-million dollar payday on their grand development project.

    Since I figure NSA and other security organizations scan everything on the internet, I tend to be very honest and provocative with my comments on dozens of websites. Foment discussion on the need for the masses to buy pitchforks and torches to storm the halls of government? Absolutely? Advocate expatriating all politicians, their sycophant underlings and the hundreds of security agencies that keep us “safe” to some deserted island in the South Pacific? Sounds good to me. Send all landlords to Texas and build a bubble over the state so no one can get out? That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard.

    My thought is that if we overwhelm the security apparatus then they’ll waste time on basically milquetoast idjits like myself who don’t even have a speeding ticket. Maybe we can help crash the entire patriarchal, soul-crushing system if the police state can’t keep up with all of the false positives. But I wouldn’t necessarily want my neighbors, co-workers or other acquaintances to see these posts. I like that they know me as the middle-aged kindly women who lives around the corner and always has an extra cup of sugar when they need it, or the gal who works in the cubicle one hallway over who is always helpful when dealing with timesheet issues. If they’re interested in my political positions they’ll ask, but polite society rarely does since it often leads to bickering and bad feelings. Posting anonymously, but respectfully, is a reasonable method for allowing provocative comments about contentious issues.

  9. I find it strange that people are worried about using their own name. If you have something to say that is problematic or risky to your life, job, status, etc, then maybe you should go through other channels to file a whistleblower complaint, or write anonymous letters to the FBI or take down some politician with your potent missives or whatever you need to do rather than posting comments on public fora. The intertubes are traceable even if you use a pseudonym.

    I have been online since before there was an internet and have always posted under my name. (Though i’ve recently used the character in my historical novel because she has a facebook page and I don’t.)

  10. I use my own name here and elsewhere, it’s quite distinctive and googleable. You even get a gravatar-powered mugshot. But then again, I am not a city or nonprofit employee, a tenant or someone else vulnerable to retortion.

    While my views may run counter to the progressive quasi-consensus here, they are hopefully not irksome enough that I will get stalkers picketing outside my house (given I live in the frigid Outerlands and not the sunny Mission, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for hardy souls so inclined).

    SF has a surprising dearth of good (non-corporate, non-advertorial) local blogs other than food blogs, and the comments on 48 Hills, including yours, Sam, provide at least half the value of the site. The Westside Observer, my neighborhood freesheet, is reasonably good for coverage of City Hall (far better than the Chronicle, but that’s not saying much). Unfortunately their site is horrendous and has no real community features or RSS feeds.

  11. Marcos routinely posted the name and address of someone he politically disagreed with on the old SFBG. If I recall correctly he even posted an overhead shot of the persons home a la google maps. Cant recall who it was, but he did it several times.

  12. Almost nobody here posts with their full name. You post as “marcos” but IRL you go by “marc” and we can only infer your last name.

    Ditto Greg, who is sensitive about his last name being used and has stopped posting with it.

    There are a handful of people who appear to be using their full name here but, even then, we have no way of verifying that. And clearly the consensus of this thread is that it is vital that anonymity be preserved.

    Other than Tim, who here is really and uniquely identified?

  13. I have a dream that one day I will live in a nation where I will not be judged by the color of my political complexion but by the content of my character.

  14. Your concern about the integrity of this forum and me comes off as really heartfelt. That is why you troll a forum that publishes material that you ideologically fundamentally disagree with and use your anonymity as a veil for ad hominem attacks when your wit fails you.

  15. marcos, do you really think that your $am stunt gets you off allegations of imping?

    Again, just take a chill pill and relax into an environment where, yes, you cannot micro-manage and control what others say and do.

    It will be a great relief to you, I promise. Life is good so and we’re prospering, so why the frown and the grump?

  16. Because I care about our city and I want to see online forums where we can discuss the issues of import to us without having to contend with chickenshit paid trolls who threaten citizens from behind their veils of anonymity.

  17. Please provide your first and last names, home and work addresses and employer name, social security numbers and make and models of your cars and the name(s) of your child(ren) (if any) and we will put our best customer service people on your complaint.

  18. marcos, all differences aside, why do you take chat on an anonymous forum so seriously and intensely?

    For the sake of your mental health, just lighten up a little.

    We’re just discussing ideas here and passing the time. In the end, none of this really matters

  19. You are the problem, bitch, you and the whole passel of paid political operatives who are driving progressive and community discussion board into the ground because the notion of free unmediated many to many communications cannot be trusted to the populace, it must be disrupted.

  20. Right, concern troll who posts under a false name and personally attacks and outs other posters can be trusted to be honest about his status.

  21. Nancy, that is a serious allegation and one that I emphatically deny.

    Do you have ANY evidence for your claim, or are you just trouble-making?

    I don’t know who this alleged friend is, but I have no recollection of who you are or what you said. Mistaken identity, it seems.

  22. Seriously. The posters who I engage obsessively are the ones who obsess over colonizing progressive and community discussion boards with their libertarian proselytizing.

  23. You won’t post under your real name because you benefit from attacking individuals from behind the veil of anonymity and do not want to forfeit that power.

  24. Becky, i think it really depends which of the stated problems that Tim is really trying to solve here.

    I get the impression Tim is leaning towards registration (Option 3) and that is what most people have said they preferred. That by itself, in its simplest form, will not address the issue of alleged over-posting, although it would make it easier for Tim to manage individuals’ access to the host.

    The problem that registration will solve, at a stroke, is the imping, and it seems that was what crossed a clear bright line for Tim. Option 1 won’t fix that.

    If I argue against Option 1 people will claim I am being self-serving. And I can see why you like it, as you post infrequently but usually make long posts. But there are a few clear problems with Option 1:

    1) Doesn’t fix imping, as noted

    2) It will encourage people to post under multiple names and addresses, since each name will get an additional 2/3 posts.

    3) It will encourage people to concatenate different responses into one large meandering post, to get around the limit. That messes with the sequence and flow of a discussion.

    4) It’s tricky to manage and monitor it automatically, at least without registration. While if Tim has to manually count the posts in each thread by the same poster, that is potentially a lot of work.

    So I would argue that 1 won’t work unless everyone complies voluntarily. Whereas 1 with 3 is the double-bind that killed off comments at Mission Local, leading to a loss of traffic.

    A binding code of conduct might work if everyone here is in good faith. But as we saw this past week-end, it only takes one bad or inconsiderate apple to turn the whole thing rotten. A lot of host sites have posting guideline, and access can be shut down if those guidelines are breached. It could be a start, in addition to whatever decision Tim makes here.

  25. Kudos to Tim for trying to make it work.

    This is what, the fifth SF local discussion board in my memory? Each of them has struggled with this same issue and most of them disappeared due to an inability to figure it out. Dr. Habitrail, Marc Solomon, Joe Cool, Marco, Sam, and others all seem to go through periods in which they have the time and inclination to comment and they seem to have a talent for creating animosity through the natural back and forth of the format. It’s annoying but don’t we all have that one contrarian friend and haven’t we all created our own ways for managing our interactions with this person? Not sure why message boards are so different.

    Honestly, I fault the folks who indulge Marco and Sam as much as those guys themselves. Most of Sam/Marco/et al’s arguments are team recitals or lack substance and they regularly venture off point and go ad hominen. But a whole host of folks still feel obligated to respond. Stop doing that and watch the problem dial itself back.

    That said, a few notes because I appreciate this board, Tim’s commitment to the city, and to the many, faceless people here who I may or may not know professionally but whose perspectives I enjoy reading.

    I say give number 1 a try. I haven’t seen it done elsewhere and the other options are poor.

    Becky Bayside is not my real name. I won’t post under my real name because I make a living in this town and sometimes in this industry and its not worthy my income to share my thoughts about housing or the next appointed BOS member. If I was in a bar talking with you fine folks face to face, I would make the same arguments but I would also have the opportunity to explain myself in detail and answer questions and have a dialogue. Here, lacking that opportunity for real interaction and discussion, it would be easy to mischaracterize or apply labels to what one says and impact their broader reputation. As much as I enjoy these discussions, I wouldn’t chance the risk or potential hassle of having to untangle something like that. It’s just not worth it.

    With all due respect to Tim, I don’t register for small boards monitored by individuals who also swim in these waters. The guy who managed the Wall said he would never reveal id’s and then he outed Newsom’s press guy for using multiple alias. Ragone may have deserved it and I don’t do that sort of thing but I’m also not in the business of giving someone else the ability to determine what people know about me. Color me cautious.

    Nor would I do more than check 48 Hills for interesting tidbits if the comments section was disabled. I’ve read Tim for years, have a pretty good sense of where he’s going to end up on issues, and don’t really dig his whole finger-wagging, “we should be”, “they don’t care” schtick. Sorry man. I do like his “I heard a wild idea” columns as they are usually pretty interesting and thought provoking and he gets good gossipy quotes about newsworthy events. Tim’s seen a lot of good and bad ideas and I appreciate that he’s still tossing them out for us to mull over. Temprano and the other contributors don’t do much for me. They hawk narrow opinions instead of interesting gossip (ie process), new proposals or new ideas. I get the feeling they talk mostly to their friends whereas Tim seems to touch a lot of different people and, more importantly, takes away newsy items from those interactions. The rest of the copy….meh.

    In any case, thanks again for hosting the board, Tim. I appreciate it, try to enjoy it responsibly and hope you can find the right path forward. If not, I’ll see you folks when the next board appears!

  26. I was cyber stalked here by Sam and one of his friends: they looked up my information on Facebook and then attempted to shame me because of it – it didn’t work – but shows how totally sociopathic Sam and his friend are

  27. All I know about your housing status is you have a home in the Mission. How can I threaten you with information that YOU yourself publicly posted?

    So is it NOT true that you were kicked out of the Green Party?

    And you talk about ad hominem attacks. You started all of this with your imping of Sam because you couldn’t debate with him in a rational manner. Even Tim called you out on it.

  28. #2 – Real name.
    What are people afraid of?
    Not sure, given my dismal tech knowledge, of how people can hide behind “nom du keyboard” ,though I’m sure it’s possible, but why not be visible? Might self-enforce greater civil discourse.
    What do we have to hide?
    Without being all gooey there’s more that binds us, etc…

  29. Leading with the glass jaw of ad hominem as usual. If it is not threatening me or threatening to reveal my housing status it is manufacturing lies about my work in the Green Party. Threats threats, attacks attacks, lies lies.

    I was asked to run for reelection to the County Council by my colleagues the last time after I’d indicated my desire to stand down and give someone else a chance.

    You fail on the merits of the substance of the issues, so it is on to the ad hominem attacks. That is the only reason why you libertarians intervene in community and progressive chat boards–attack, attack, attack so that the well is poisoned and there nobody can drink. Noxious weeds.

    The thought of trolling conservative websites sounds repulsive to me. What draws you all to to do the opposite here? The thought of making life hell for conservative trolls on progressive and community websites to clear a space for substantive discussion, on the other hand, is good clean fun.

  30. He didn’t say the SFBA was more racist than the deep south. What he did say was is that SFBA is intolerant of more conservative views.

    For example: if a person said that he didn’t feel that gays should be allowed to use the term “marriage” but should have all the rights and benefits marriage has. Just use the term civil unions. Even though it’s his opinion and he doesn’t want to deny any actual rights to gays, he’d be castigated as a bigot and told that he just hates homosexuals.

    Or how about this one. I took a sociology class some years back and we had a discussion on reparations for black people. I said it wasn’t feasible because there is no way to figure out the logistics of it. I calmly and clearly articulated why it was impossible. I even provided an alternative over direct cash payments. Their response? Screaming at me and calling me a racist.

  31. Some thoughts regarding 48 hills comments policy:
    1-register with valid e-mail account
    (maybe have outside referral of some kind as well)
    2-have a screen name/identity
    3-limit word/character usage or responses per individual post so people will think/construct within
    some framework
    4-invite Sam to submit an article or send a link to his blog

    Letters to the editor and Facebook postings are response/dialogue killers.

    It’s valuable to have an online format for discussion because of the
    increasingly more limited access across various media venues.
    It can be a shared knowledge, learning and linking tool.

  32. You have no idea what you’re jibbering about Marcos. I’m not Sam or Dave or John, don’t know them, and have never posted as them (or you for that matter). Two people on this site have similar opinions that you disagree with and people like you and Greg scream that we’re the same person. FYI, I do disagree with Sam (like about the use of the choke hold on Eric Garner).

    I bet it’s this attitude that got you kicked out the Green Party. It’s not because you had better strategies or that you were too “visionary” for them. It’s because when people disagree with you or show you the flaws in your ideas, you throw a hissy fit and pull stupid shit stunts that backfire stunningly on you and reveal your petulance. Just like when you started imp’ing Sam. Putz…

  33. You silenced who? Certainly not me because, hey, here I am, telling my truth, keeping folks honest, and ensuring that this forum remains a beacon of tolerance and a driver of diversity..

    Tim understands the value of hearing all viewpoints and embracing all opinions. Why does that frighten you so much that you seek to censor and suppress any idea that is uncomfortable or inconvenient for you?

    I am the real progressive, because I accept all and deny none. I encourage you to embrace a broader vision of our collective future.

  34. Since this is a progressive blog, why don’t you just delete posts from landlords, lawyers, and developers? They already have their own forum, the so-called mainstream media. What’s the point of attacking what is essentially a straw-man? It would be like me “disagreeing” with some conservative website. Well, Duh!

    Re: spam. I’m down with whatever, as long as I can continue to post as “Trollkiller;” the only one who has actually silenced the predictably reactionary SpamBot.

  35. Judy B is an example of someone who is not in and of the progressive tribe who engages in forums like this with goodwill and who is welcome to participate.

  36. The URL linked to a good article Jessica. Two take aways that I think will be useful here: a code of conduct that registrants must accept (like a software agreement) and a way for participants to flag posts that violate the code of conduct. Both could be accommodated under option 3 that Tim outlined. No matter what happens, something has to change because too many of these threads have become ugly and tedious with personal attacks, outing, and rabid ideology calling itself rational thought. I’m commenting here because I’d like to see the section survive — I’d read the posts anyway — but I’m growing less and less inclined to do so.

  37. It is true that comments are often dominated by two or three regulars and personally, I just stopped reading this section because I got tired of the petty bickering. Registering and posting under your own name would be a start. Limiting people’s comments to one or two might be difficult but if done right might improve the quality of the responses. Maybe a letter to the editor type of format might work.

  38. Do you see people piling on Judy B. when she posts here? She’s more “conservative” than most “progressives” yet since she does not concern troll or maliciously manipulate interpretations to respond to a parody of a post, folks here welcome her participation.

    Conservatives who come in good faith are different than conservatives and libertarian evangelists who come simply to FSU. These trolls are no different than the sectarian leftists who practice entrism into liberal and progressive groups.

  39. I think people should have to register with a real email address and a real name. No anonymous handles. If you wouldn’t say it in person face to face with someone then it shouldn’t appear hear.

  40. Run, I know, and it’s bizarre, and of course he has no evidence. I am equally curious as to who is paying me since, so far, I haven’t gotten a penny.

    But if anyone here would care to donate funds, I’d prefer them to go to 48 Hills.

    My efforts here are purely pro bono publicum.

  41. You are truly the only troll here. Nothing but ad hominem attacks out of you. And who, exactly, is paying Sam to post his opinion here? That’s the most delusional thing I’ve ever heard.

  42. Since the topic of this thread is not white male tech workers gentrifying the Mission by buying condos thereby displacing people of color, why would that topic come up?

    And I have never disclosed your address here, nor anyone else’s.

  43. Amazing how the commentary on my housing status and my address is mysteriously absent in comments on this post, purely coincidental, of course.

  44. Clicks to a site are one thing, reading the published content of the site is another. Generating clicks to a site might help with marketing but it is no reflection as to who is reading the content.

  45. Marcos, I have to agree with Sam. You really did sabotage 48hills by spoofing Sam’s name. That was awful and wrong. I just think you’re better and smarter than that. I am disappointed in you for that tactic.

  46. Except that your conspiracy theory that I am paid to post here is false. You have not offered a single shred of evidence for that, or any of your other outrageous claims here.

    But you inadvertently gave away your real agenda here, when you admitted your distaste for the fact that Tim blamed you for causing problems at this site. You got all hissy about that and decided to sabotage this site. Either you undermined Tim or you got some flak thrown at me.

    You figure you cannot lose by causing chaos here because, in the end, there is nothing that you care about.

  47. dabston, I cannot recall a single post of yours on this site that was anything other than a personal attack on another.

    That really is the definition of a troll.

  48. “since I am not paid…” Wow – if that were true, you’re an even bigger moron than you seem to be! But I really got a laugh out of this: “Can you really not see why everyone here is telling you that what you did is way beyond weird? Are you that obtuse or you just not give a crap about anything?” I love it when trolls talk to the mirror!

  49. There have been court cases involving avatars and so, yes, it’s still wrong, bad and probably illegal.

    Note how in Tim’s article he went to ALL CAPS to describe that behavior. That is what he was really pissed about, and rightly so.

    And registration by itself does not impose a limit on # posts nor an exposure of anyone’s real identity. There is just one thing it achieves 100% – it stops imping.

    You are the target here, because you have no respect for this site, Tim or anyone else here. Heck, I cannot recall anyone even having a good word for you here, ever.

  50. But since I am not paid, your entire premise goes out of the window. Can you really not see why everyone here is telling you that what you did is way beyond weird? Are you that obtuse or you just not give a crap about anything?

  51. You haven’t taken anyone down. You just sabotaged the entire site to make yourself the center of attention, rather than respect Tim’s warning to you.

  52. The chaos here was initiated by the paid trolling that infested the SFBG site as well as mission local and this site.

  53. Option 3 sounds great, but I think it would be better combined with some degree of Option 1. I don’t care so much WHAT people say, but when they take over the conversation and and reply to an overwhelming majority of other people’s comments then it’s gone way to far. I don’t think even having to register would stop these folks. If you can’t get your point across in a few comments then you need to move on.

  54. Imping paid trolls to set a trap so that they cannot personally attack me via the crime of internet trolling such as by posting my home address is self defense.

    That takes admitted risks to drive a stake in the ground that says that people cannot be intimidated from participating in politics by anonymous trolls, that politics has to be a safe place in which residents can engage.

  55. Agreed, Peter. That marcos would admit to Tim that he deliberately caused chaos here is a telling indicator of how unhinged his attitude towards this place really is.

    And his ridiculous test is bogus. He has shown no citations and, even if it were true, I would be much less likely to read a post from someone not known and established here, and so would not respond to it. He seems to be reading all kinds of things into that which aren’t there.

    And his disdain for Tim is quite evident from his other comments. IT is a truly pitiful episode from someone way old enough to know better

  56. jch,

    If you post a comment that makes 4 points, there may only be one point where I feel I have anything to add or counter.

    So the fact that someone doesn’t do a blow-by-blow response to every point you make in a post isn’t necessarily a problem at all.

    In fact I usually assume that you agree with everything I say unless you specifically counter it. But I don’t mind if you duck some points and address others.

  57. Sam, you post too much. I sometimes agree with you, sometimes not. Don’t consider you a troll, but too much of something is just that… too much. Some self-restraint would go a long way.

    marcos, you come across as a weird mixture of an asshole and an obsessive. Imping people to set a trap? wtf is the matter with you? can’t say that I’m shocked to hear that you’ve been banned at other websites. I’d have been shocked to hear that you weren’t.

    Option 3 seems to be a good balance
    my 2 cents

  58. My Name is (not) Sam and I am an Addict

    I claim, and even manage to convince myself on occassion, that I am here day after day, commenting on almost every single article, no matter the topic, in at least a vaguely noble effort to discuss with intellectual honesty the great issues and problems that face our city, to help reach the truth, and find real solutions.

    But of course, in reality, I am here for no such reason. I don’t care that I fool no one. I actually give no thought to anyone’s well being but my own. For you see, I am incapable of empathy.

    Even I recognize that my behavior is textbook sociopathic. How could I not? It’s patently obvious. I mean, who does this? Who would obsess over commenting in an eternally cold, snide, mean-spirited tone on a website that one is mentally-wired to disagree with, always, without exception? Seriously, why do I even read this site, let alone instigate arguments here compulsively day after day after day?

    But what I do here on this site, each day, over and over and over again, is an addiction. I take a small, though ultimately never-satisfying perverse pleasure in the antisocial behavior that I engage in here, day after day, month after month. I recognize this behavior is unkind, unhelpful, and self-destructive. I would be humiliated if my acquaintances and family actually knew how I spent so many hours of my time. But it is a compulsion over which I have lost all control.

    My name is Sam and I am an addict. I am a sociopathic internet troll. Please forgive me for I simply can not stop.

  59. In this instance imping was the final step in a successful goading strategy that encouraged you to take yourself down.

  60. Tim made his thoughts known to me that he considered me and Sam to be equivalent. I had a deadline at work that consumed my time, so I decided to bide mine on this site. Tim did not ban me, I was disgusted that Tim would make the equivalence. But given Tim’s equivocation over his role as progressive activist advocate journalist, it was not surprising, doing as much to support the neoliberals as neighborhood people as he did over the years at the SFBG.

    Once my time became free in the new year, I decided it was time to prove the point which I did posting as Guest and then as marcos. That established the empirical basis that “Sam” was targeting me as an individual as marcos not any of the same ideas that I put forth as guest.

    From that point, I began to post as “Sam,” and after the Sybil connection was made, as the names of various of Sybil’s 16 personalities and with “Sam’s” sentences in his own words as culled from his posts on this site. “Sam” did the rest.

  61. The right to shit in the public square should be solely reserved for anonymous individuals who have no political identification with the public square involved.

    I bet that Sam is freaking the fuck out that his meal ticket for intimidating progressives might be invalidated by Tim’s actions as it was at MissionLocal.

    When one enters a forum with the presumption of anonymity, one can securely rely on not being outed.

    When one enters a forum with no presumption of anonymity, outing is not an issue.

  62. I’ve got no issues with using my real name and registering. While this trolling and comments policy discussion continues, please check out my post and fotos about the homeless cleansing of the Mission Street exit ramp. The SFPD and DPW have move the homeless folks from that area but the problems of housing these folks have not been solved:
    http://tinyurl.com/SF-homeless-cleansing

  63. “– Replies that cherry pick posts to omit the main point and shift the course of the discussion.”

    Sophistry.

  64. If honor system were to be used, the blog would implode for the author, the readers and especially the commenters, have no honor…….bye bye cry babies, I will leave you to your own personal train wreck in which the inevitable extinction of the ultra liberal agenda…….youre no better then FOX news until you open your minds and accept there are other realities in this world, or are you out of this world??

  65. I’m glad to see you taking on this issue Tim. I enjoy discussion threads; they can provide good contrasting viewpoints (see those at the New York Times). But the discussion threads here have been deteriorating for some time. Among the problems, all hallmarks of troll activity:

    – One person dominating much of the discussion and diverting it into a tit for tat series.

    – Posts that are heavy on opinion with little supporting documentation, or worse, erroneous assertions of fact.

    – Replies that cherry pick posts to omit the main point and shift the course of the discussion.

    No system is going to completely fix this, but you say that Daily Kos has had success with option No. 3. It deserves a try. I’d like to see this become a place where people enter thoughtful posts and exchange ideas rather than the one-sided harangues we see today.

  66. Speaking as a grumpy old man who’s at least 10 years behind the times on the computer thing, let me make this suggestion: this “thread” has now become a perfect place for identifying your most repellant trolls and thread “hijackers.” Turn some hotshot tech whizz kid loose on this to identify all the troll ID info. Maybe turn an entire computer class at a local high school loose on this, and ask them for solutions. There’s also a group teaching young women programming skills – maybe you can get offer some of these young tech types an internship to monitor and moderate these comment sections. Just a thought!

  67. Marcos, Didn’t know that about Non-Profits. However, perhaps it’s a bad idea to “pay” for “free speech.” — Too bad the comment section can’t be monitored by a person or person(s) of Tim’s choosing.

  68. The legal definition of public person is what comes into play here. Individuals will not participate in politics if they feel that their work is hijacked by operatives, nor will they participate if paid hacks will personally attack them in order to drive them from participation.

  69. Only one option works and that’s letters to the editor, the end result of every other option you have listed Tim will not and cannot change the why you have offered these options in the first place, a civilized forum.
    An IP address can be changed, names can be changed, email addresses can be changed.
    Your solution
    1) stop all comments
    2) leave the comment section as is

  70. Where is the actual evidence to support your claim? Proof? Cites? Or conjecture and confirmation bias?

    Sure, sometimes I reply and sometimes I don’t. How do you know I ever even saw the posts you are claiming I did not rely to?

    You’re just saying what suits your story, not that it even matters here. The bigger issue is that you are admitting playing games, imping others and trying to cause chaos here.

    That is far worse behavior than anyone else here.

  71. Greg, rewarding marcos for deliberately trashing this site is not a sound idea, even if the registration idea has its merits. If I were running this site I would ban him for life for imping other posters. For someone who supposedly wishes to be taken seriously in public policy matters (and I do not) that shows a breathtaking immaturity.

    While I can understand that my style of arguing may irk some, I have never set out deliberately to cause chaos and confusion. I’m not paid to post here and I really want this place to flourish. Nor do I like being drawn into these petty squabbles although I will fight back if the other guy starts it, as with marcos.

    Tim has written to me and said (among other things) that he values my contributions, so it is not as if he views my efforts here as malicious or in bad faith at all.

    I may be a little over-enthusiastic with posting at times, but I cannot help feel that if my posts were the usual boilerplate progressive fodder, you and others would be a lot less concerned. In some ways, I just think that some of you guys are not used to smart, articulate, educated people on the right. You think the right are all rabid buffoons, and when you meet one who isn’t, you’re flummoxed.

  72. Actually, no, they also get angry over dissenting viewpoints, and you don’t have to go far from Sam’s posts to see it.

  73. marcos is as least as offensive as Sam, probably more so, and 4th Gen seems to have a massive delusional persecution complex that infects each of his/her posts. If we’re going to tar, feather and banish certain posters, marcos and 4th Gen should be at the top of the list.

  74. There have been enough threats of violence here and in other SF politics forums for anyone with personal information showing up in their Google footprint to be concerned. Besides, maybe some of them are city employees with opinions, and don’t want Aaron Peskin drunk-calling them with threats.

  75. When cornered, you resort to individual threats of cyber stalking.

    As ‘marcos,’ I did not respond compulsively to every post you made, while as ‘Sam,’ you responded compulsively to every post I made as ‘marcos,’ up to and including stalking threats as in this previous post.

  76. Tim, thanks for turning your attention to commenting decorum. It’s been long needed since the articles here are excellent and inspiring, but many of the comments following the articles can leave some readers discouraged and disillusioned as a few posters try to dominate the discussion.

    Naked Capitalism, one of my favorite websites, uses a passive/active commenting protocol that keeps conversations on topic and attracts some brilliant poster who add tremendous value to the main articles posted on their site. I’d suggest reviewing the site and maybe even engaging the site owner (“Yves Smith”) about how she was able to attract such a civil yet diverse commentariat. She’s had many years of practice and I’m guessing there were bumps along the way, but posters who don’t remain civil or who overpost are quickly banished. Yes they can re-post under another name, but as others have said, most of us like to maintain some accountability even when we post anonymously with the same handle. Posters who are on the bubble as far as civility or over-posting are filtered directly to moderation where it may take a hour or 12 hours for the post to either be killed or allowed into the thread. This sends a clear signal to the offending poster(s) to either change their tone or to find another website to frequent.

    My 2 cents on the proposals:

    1) I’d like a blocking function since I hope to never have to read another post by Sam or marcos again. It’s not about being afraid of alternative viewpoints; it’s about civil discussion, non-baiting posts, avoiding conversations with people where there is zero chance of any meeting of the minds, and avoiding people who seem to have severe anti-social tendencies. I come here to read the article content and then scan comments for other viewpoints to the articles that are respectful and insightful. I’ll never learn anything from either Sam, marcos or a few of the other narrow, rigid thinkers who post here. Mostly they just rehash what they’ve said hundreds of times before, often in the most condescending and trollish way possible.

    2) The 3rd option seems like a good compromise between accountability and anonymity, assuming that after we register with the site we can use a nom de plume. If it takes a few days before new posters can comment after submitting their registration, so be it. The articles stay on the site so they can add their comments to it after the registration process is completed. (I’d maybe try to add a function on the front page where we can see which articles have new comments.)

    3) A limit of posts per article, with exceptions. My proposal would be allow two maximum posts to the article itself (a primary thread), with further comments allowed by the original commenter if other posters respond to it. This allows discussions of the sub-topic to continue, but people can ignore the entire thread if the sub-topic doesn’t interest them. An additional post would allowed to two – but only two – primary threads. This prevents posters from toxifying every primary thread to get their points in and requires them to pick their battles carefully.

    For example, after an article:

    Poster 1 comment
    (If no replies from others the primary thread ends)

    Poster 2 comment
    Poster 1 replies (1st sub-post)
    If poster 2 doesn’t reply to Poster 1, the sub-thread is over. If poster 3 replies to poster 2, poster 3 and 2 (and others) can carry on the conversation, but Poster 1 is excluded from the ensuing conversation since Poster 2 never engaged Poster 1 up-thread.

    Poster 3 comments
    Poster 1 replies (Final reply post allowed)
    If poster 3 doesn’t respond to poster 1 then the sub-thread is over. If poster 4 replies to poster 3 they can continue the conversation but poster 1 is prohibited from engaging with the others since Poster 3 decided above not to engage with poster 1.

    Poster 1’s 2nd comment to main article (Last primary comment allowed). If no one else responds, the thread is done.

    In most cases (95% of posters) this level of scrutiny isn’t required because the conversations would be generally civil and productive. But it isolates those posters who have the obsessive need to chime in after every post and sub-post trying to dominate the conversation.

    The main goal of a system similar to this is limit the obsessive posters to two replies to the main article and two replies to other posters without dominating either. The goal is not to limit overall discussion, only to filter out the obsessive and dominating posters that always destroy civil discourse. I mainly read the comments looking for any posts from Greg since I respect his viewpoint and advocacy on many issues. I could see some longish posts-replies, post-replies with him since I don’t always agree with his viewpoints. If he wants to engage me, fine, the thread continues. If not, the thread ends between him and I although he may carry on with other commenters.

  77. Sam, I don’t recall indicating approval or disapproval. If you can find where I gave approval, then please link to that.

    I will say this for marcos, he just took the trashing of this site to its logical conclusion, thereby forcing Tim to act. You had already trashed this site (apparently it’s not the first online space you’ve destroyed.) But Tim was slow to act, even though many of us were pleading with him to do so both on and offline. It’s not that he didn’t want to do something about your trolling, but he claimed it would be too difficult to stop. I’ll take his word that he was sincere and it wasn’t about generating page hits like some have claimed. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The point is that something needed to be done about this, and marcos successfully forced Tim’s hand. Nobody wants a board full of trolls (about 100% you, give or take) and imps (50% you and 50% marcos). Even marcos doesn’t. But the use of that tactic as a means to an end will likely leave the site better off in the long run.

    But enough chatter… I just hope Tim makes his decision soon and institutes a new policy already.

  78. marcos, trashing a fake name when you have a real name that can be equally trashed is not a real smart move.

    But then you allowed your obsession with me to overcome your common sense. And all because I routinely humiliate you in debate and you just cannot stand that.

    Pathetic. You are the one who is ruining this site with your games. I just want to debate the issues.

  79. Greg, you keep claiming that I have posted real addresses here,despite the fact that I have denied that and asked you for a cite.

    Unless you have a cite you should withdraw the allegation not keep repeating it.

    If you use your real name to post here and you have a public persona, then people are entitled to compare the two and look for hypocrisy, conflicts of interest and double standards. If you don’t like that then you should not be in politics at all.

    All that said I agree that real names should not broadcast. But if on the other hand you choose to use your real name, then don’t whine when people use public information. Anything I have stated here is publicly available information.

  80. Here we go again… “the left.” Most progressives on this site, with one exception, favor allowing anonymity, and yet you claim “the left” “is totally IN FAVOR” of making people use their real names. The left isn’t “totally” in favor of anything But if anything, “the left” here seems closer to being totally against that than totally in favor of it… if you add up the arithmetic.

    Meanwhile, the only ones who actually threatened to out people and did post home addresses, were posters on the right.

    You have such a deep-seated hatred of “the left” that you’re just completely blinded by it. Your blind hatred has made you lose all sense of objectivity.

    Incidentally, I think I do understand Gary’s “nuance.” There is a difference between what Gary wants and what Sam did. The difference is consent. If the policy is announced up front, people can choose to participate or not. But what Sam has been doing isn’t voluntary on the part of his victims. I’m still opposed to any requirement to publicly reveal names, but objectively I think we need to acknowledge that what Sam has been doing is on a completely different level -much uglier.

  81. It was not stalking, it was setting a trap for you to reveal your true intentions and you were so fixated on your perceived right to be heard that you fell for it hook, line and sinker.

    This means that you are a failure, that your ravings need to be subsidized by others and that you project your failings onto others via personal attacks on posters who are not public figures and on matters that have nothing to do with the postings at hand.

    You know what happens to failures, they fall by the wayside and are forgotten.

  82. That sounds creepily like stalking, marcos.

    But as I said, sometimes I reply and sometimes I don’t. Trying to read the tea leaves in that shows an obsessional nature.

  83. Oh lordy you are delusional. This is a blog, not a nation. It’s no wonder that Tim deleted ALL of your comments on yesterday’s post about the mayor. You are so obtuse that you can’t even see that Tim is talking about you when he writes “. . .that a couple of very active trolls are dominating the discussion. . .”

    And for the record, it is not your opinion that motivated me to advocate banning you. It is your obsessive posting which dominates every discussion, your dismissive attitude and how you devolve to idiocy – such as comparing the regulation of blog comments to communism.

  84. It’s comments like these that really turn me off and reveal just how biased you are. It’s absurd to claim that people get fired for their politics here and not anywhere else. I think it happens more in other parts of the country, but the fact is that neither of us have good data to back up our opinions. Then you go claiming things like your belief that the SFBA is more racist than the deep south, and for your coup de grace you just love to pull out the anti-Semitism card -but only against the left, of course, while ignoring examples of real anti-Semitism where it actually dwells -on the right.

  85. When I posted under marcos, Sam would always respond.

    When I posted under Guest, after waiting six weeks, Sam would never respond.

    When I posted under Sam, Sam would respond as Sam but using marcos.

    When I collected all of Sam’s postings in 48hills programatically and broke them down into sentences programatically and posted random sentences strung together under the name Sam, Sam began to lose it.

    The experiment was a success!

  86. People do not get angry over dissenting viewpoints, they get angry over manipulative, sophistic trolls who take advantage of comment forums to attack from behind the veil of anonymity.

  87. In typical form, SF progressives fight against the demand for real names when it comes to their own constituencies (e.g. LGBT folks and drag queens on Facebook) and then want to demand it for those with whom they disagree.

  88. Marc, there is no need to be rude.

    Of course there are ways to verify real identities. But they all involve more work, so Tim would need to develop a protocol to do that.

  89. I reply to posts that I see and that interest me. I am very sorry if I didn’t reply to every single post you made here. Evidently I have hurt your feelings there. But either I didn’t see it or I didn’t consider it worth responding to.

    What did SFPD say about that? Dis they give you an incident number?

  90. Sam, Sam, Sam. You know full well that there are lots of ways that Tim could verify a person’s identity.

    But you think, as you have said before, that you have proved your point if you have the last word. Both the ruling class and little children think they have the right to the last word and to get their way.

    I really hate having an exchange with Mr. Anonymous Sam Conway. So I am done now with this. Have the last word, Sam, please.

  91. You always unceasingly reply to posts made by ‘marcos,’ rarely responding to the substance of the post, rather using sophistry to attack and when that fails launching into personal attacks.

    Busted, bitch.

  92. Although i am one of the more active contributors here, I do not reply to every post. So if I failed to reply to something you wrote it was because I never saw it or didn’t feel any need to reply or knew that I had already replied to a similar post.

    You can infer nothing from that, but that won’t stop you trying.

    Crimes? Call the cops.

  93. I have never understood why progressives here cannot debate ideas and issues without getting angry every time they encounter a dissenting viewpoint.

    It may explain why they are becoming less effective if they are permanently angry with others merely for disagreeing with them.

  94. 4th, the irony here is that it was Russo at ML who first told me about this site. I realize now he was trying to get rid of me.

  95. In other words, you want immunity from criticism? In fact you do take part in public meetings and processes, and sit on at least one advisory committee if memory serves. So you have a public persona that is ope n to scrutiny.

    Likewise Greg takes part in political campaigns, funds candidates and causes, and publicly agitates (all from information he freely gave here) and so again, he is more than just an anonymous commentator.

    And both of you have chosen to use at least part of your real names here and elsewhere because you presumably are happy to have the two linked. You could post anonymously and yet you do not.

    You seem to want to have things both ways at the same time. You hide behind your real name and demand protection from criticism. But then you imp others to criticize them. That is hypocrisy.

    And if you think a crime has been committed here then go to the cops. They will laugh you out of the precinct.

  96. Yes, the supreme moral outrage of imping trolls who hide behind anonymity to launch personal criminal attacks that they’d never do under their real name if they had to own them, the nerve!

    That is the flipside to anonymity, that some would make posts of value if they did not have to own it and that others would make criminal posts as you do.

    And you fell for it, I set you up, baited the trap, drew you in and you walked right into the trap. And I did it with without the veil of anonymity, reversing your asymmetrical warfare back atcha.

  97. Dave, the idea with blocking is that a particular user chooses to not see comments from a particular individual. It is not designed to automatically remove a post – that would be too easy to abuse.

  98. 4th,

    Nations which have tried communism have inevitably had to impose strict controls on free speech, free movement, capital etc. because the system cannot be maintained by the will of the people.

    Locally I think it goes further than that. A significant number of progressives literally cannot here an opinion they disagree with without getting angry and wanting to suppress the source. Censorship fits neatly and comes easily to extremists of either side, of course, but n SF we see it in action on a daily basis.

    The left can be very intolerant even while paying lip service to “diversity”.

  99. Crimes? Are you delusional? In fact the only crime here is you claiming that people are engaged in criminal behavior.

    I’ve seen no crimes committed here, except maybe some appalling against logic. Although your imp’ing of others may be illegal under a fairy recent state law that bans people from representing themselves online as someone else.

    I haven’t stalked anyone. I have used publicly available information to win some debates by pointing out the other party had a conflict of interest. Examples:

    1) Greg advocating for healthcare workers without revealing that he is one

    2) You arguing against condos and gentrification in the Mission while helping to gentrify the Mission by buying a condo

    3) Tim arguing against Prop 13 without revealing that he saves $5K a year because of it.

    There are disclosure requirements for public officials to prevent exactly these types of conflict of interest. Exposing such cases here is a long long way from stalking anyone.

    Why not be more honest and admit that you seek to censor me because you know I am an effective debunker of progressive hypocrisy and self-interest? Not that Tim is proposing censoring anyone here. In fact Greg asked him to do exactly that and it is not one of the options that Tim is considering, prudently.

  100. Tim, perhaps the FBI or SFPD should get a warrant if crimes are committed and you refuse to intervene to prevent your property from being used in the commission of a crime.

    Differing opinions are one thing, paid trolls launching criminal personal attacks from behind the veil of secrecy are quite another.

    Criticizing individuals is fair game. The majority of the Ammiano/Milk Club crowd has blocked me on Facebook for naming their evident political failures for what they are and trying to hold these public political figures accountable for their public political actions as they careen down the cliff face. This only confirms that the herd instinct, the allegiance to the tribe trumps any commitment to successful politics. My online life is richer for their absence.

    But hiding behind anonymity to repeatedly attack individuals who are not in politics, who have real jobs outside of the nonprofit political industrial complex, who are not constrained by the need to advance politically or secure funding from government, that’s a whole different thing.

  101. And how does charging a fee for a service or membership have any bearing on the tax exempt status of an organization? The Sierra Club, Bike Coalition and even SPUR charge for stuff.

    Nonprofit means no shareholders, accounting by accrual rather than profit and tax exemption.

  102. What I’d like to see is a collaborative filtering solution where one can befriend other commenters and the comment engine would filter out the comments of posters who you and your friends voted down.

    That would make the site easier for people to use and would not prevent the crimes that “Sam” is committing by using Redmond’s property do internet stalking and launch personal attacks to collect his paycheck.

  103. Oh, no, the world will collapse due to not being availed of anonymous comments on 48hillsonline, whatever would the world do?

  104. You are right, this is practically a holocaust on the right to attack from behind the veil of obscurity and not own the consequences of your words.

    The nerve of “the left!”

    Was that Tim I saw skulking into the house that Petroni and Bermudez used to share in the MIssion for a cell meeting!

  105. Hello and thank you for the forum/blog of which I stumbled across this early morning researching local politics. While I have not read any of the”trolls” comments. I do believe that when you sensor, you in fact dismiss all progress in having a solid debate abd instead what you have are a bunch of yes sirs and yes mams. A forum/blog that does not grow but yet is stymied in getting out its message.

  106. Judy, one HAS to have an account with fb in order to use the fb plug in. And many people are abandoning FB for tumblr, IG, twitter & snapchat. Also most people are posting from their phones these days.

  107. There is nothing stopping Greg nor GarySFBN from posting their full real names. Why take the anonymity from other who choose to have it? I am not anywhere on LI (linkedin), fb, tw, anywhere. It is far too easy to dox people who use their real names. People are getting fired, people are not getting jobs because every HR dept is googling your name. This is scary 1984 stuff and yet the left is totally IN FAVOR of this.

  108. Most people DON’T read Mission Local anymore because it lacks comments. Just look at the ratings of the site, they are down.

  109. IDK if that’s true or not but that is EXACTLY why real names should NEVER be used online. Way too easy to doxx someone. And some of us are closeted at work about our politics & could be fired for our online opinions that might not adhere to one’s liberal work superiors. It’s different here in the SFBA than in other areas of the country, people ARE getting fired for opinions & donations (see Brendan Eich for instance). There’s a whole bully-ness with the SFBA leftwing that should frighten anyone.

  110. Marcos, seriously, stop this. You actually have more in common with Sam & I. Stop the bickering. And I like you. Just stop it. And, stop pretending your Sam online, come on. You’re in tech, that’s just really silly of you. Ok? Please? TY.

  111. That’s how I feel. Whew! One thing that commenters do bring, Tim, is eyes to your site. People actually READ your stuff if you have commenters. I used to read ML – Mission Local but now that there’s no comment system – nope. Also I don’t read the SacBee like I used to either – same reason. Commenters have a lot to bring, like discussion to the table. Once you remove comments you risk losing readers. Or if you get too one-sided in comments – I’m looking at the leftwing here, as it is them who are seriously angry about this. And they are name calling on every paper that allows comments too, in the SFBA. They are intolerant, not tolerant.

  112. Out of 95 comments excluding this one Sam has posted 29. Shy of a third of the comments. What is the threshold for dominating?

  113. Only one option works and that’s letters to the editor, the end result of every other option you have listed Tim will not and cannot change the why you have offered these options in the first place, a civilized forum.
    An IP address can be changed, names can be changed, email addresses can be changed.

  114. It pains me to agree with Sam, but: you still need a FB profile, even if you are not logged in. I would absolutely not register with FB, even if it meant I couldn’t comment here. Same problem with Disqus.

  115. Heh. Yes. I was thinking that some formula might work, taking into account words per comment, words per thread, comments per thread, maybe long comments per month… I don’t have an exact idea, and a programmer who could figure it out would have to spend a lot of time refining such a formula.

  116. 1) No, Mr Naysayer. A person does not need be on FB to use this Comments Plugin
    2) And again: No. Tim could be as hands-on as he wants to be.
    3) And once more: No. I see no dichotomy with using this tool. Tim has been on FB for several years, so what’s the problem? One can be critical of something and still use (a part of) it.

    Please think and research these things before you post. It took exactly 5 minutes between me posting my comment here until you posted your reply that it won’t work.
    It probably took you three to four minutes to read my post, type your reply and post it, which left you little or no time for actual thoughtful consideration.

  117. Maybe offering a “blocking” option with registration would a sweetener. And if the number of registered users blocking a certain commenter reached a preset number – say, for example, 70% – that person is banned from posting.

  118. GarySFBCN, Just read the Wikipedia on Disqus. Am opting out of Option 3. (Kind of like being TSA’d at the airport.). Perhaps 48 Hills is destined to be viewed from the sidelines. And there’s nothing wrong with that for me.

  119. Judy, a few obvious problems with that:

    1) Not everyone wants to be on FaceBook and a fair number of people hate it.

    2) Tim would effectively be outsourcing any sense of community here, and losing his direct relationship with those who are the most interested in and committed to this place.

    3) Tim routinely criticises large high tech companies like FaceBook, Google and Twitter. So to make his site dependent on them would smack of a double standard. How could Tim criticise FaceBook if he is dependent on it?

  120. There is a fourth option… I’m not sure exactly how it works, though.

    Several sites use Facebook comments for their readers to comment on their articles.
    Tim: I’ll send you an example so you can see how it looks.

    The FB option would be effective and would take the burden off Tim since he would be relieved of the onus of having to police the comments and those who write them.

    Win win!

  121. I really don’t like disqus. As a for proit company, it charges an arm and a leg, and ultimately you hook up into the network of web-trackers and address harvesters (there’s more on that on Wikipedia).

  122. OK, thanks for that, it sounds like a good system, and maybe makes less work for Tim.

    Would be a cost though, presumably. But then so are all the other solutions proposed, one way or the other.

  123. @Sam, not really wanting to respond to you anymore, but to clear-up any misinformation, three users can flag a post, but they cannot delete it. Only the site administrator can delete it. Anyone can still see the flagged post by clicking on it.

    And using a common platform such as Disqus, makes it easy to logging-in once and post on several sites.

    Finally, one can create a new Disqus account or login into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc, so the occasional reader of 48 Hills would be able to easily post a comment.

  124. GarySFBCN, Thanks for clarifying Option 3 for me. As you described Option 3, perhaps it can work. Though I do have some hesitation here.

  125. Good ideas, but I’d take issue with the word requirement. Sometimes you can’t express what you want to express in a soundbite. Take, for example, the post that I’m responding to.

  126. A practical problem with an ability to make invisible any post from a person you have blocked, and responses to that person, is that the thread can then become almost unintelligible as you read references to prior comments that you cannot see.

    It’s easy enough to not read any comment you see from someone you don’t like. But blocking out entire sequences of commentary can make a thread hard to follow..

  127. That Disqus system sounds effective, except for one thing. If three flags can remove a comment then what is to stop someone with three Disqus ID’s and emails, and the ability to bounce through proxy servers, to remove any comment they do not like?

    Given that we have someone here in recent days who will post using other names to try and discredit another poster, then it is clear that some here are desperate to censor others.

    Tim should be the only one able to remove a comment.

  128. My preference: Option 3 with the proviso that commenters register with a real name and verified email address but they may use a screen name that masks their true identity from the readership if they so please.

  129. Tim, thanks very much for addressing this. My preference is option 3, noting:

    –Anonymity is good. If your name is Chris Daly or Ed Lee or Randy Shaw, you might want people to look only at what you say, not at your name. Me, I’m just shy about having my names attached to every comment I’ve ever made, forevermore, on Google, the internet archive, etc.

    –Verification is hard. IP addresses and email addresses can be had ad infinitum. One way to keep people from having a million identities is to have a delay of a day or three before having a registration confirmed, but that’s not perfect. Credit card–based verification is obnoxious. Verification by mailing to a physical address a paper letter with a password should work fine, but involves time and expense.

    –Two cooments per post is fine if all you want to do is answer the main article, but is not practical for conversations between commenters, and those can be a good thing. A word limit per comment and per article is somewhat better. Again, more work for the programmer working on the site.

    –Some sites have filters, allowing individual readers to not be distracted by particular prolific commenters whose style they don’t fancy. If this is implemented, note that any replies to such a commenter would need to be hidden as well.

    –Finally, regarding diversity of opinion. I agree that preaching to the choir is kinda weak, but the choir needs a place to talk, too. I don’t mind if people have contributions to make, but I don’t like reading all this invective against my friends, the site editor and others, telling us that we’re losers, Communists, has-beens or what not, or gloating at people’s misery. I like meeting at parties different people than I’m used to. I don’t like meeting people who, while helping themselves to the host’s offerings, are there to tell the everyone else how much they disrespect them, and who interrupt every conversation with a long rant beginning with the word ‘wrong’.

  130. Gary, that distinction isn’t “nuanced”. It’s total hypocrisy.

    And for the record I never threatened to expose anyone’s real identity. I stated that I knew the real identify of someone here (and only because they were being coy and weird about it).

    But I showed great discretion and integrity in not giving away anything that might have compromised his privacy.

    You see, I really do have principles. But you always want to believe the worst of anyone with different politics from yourself.

  131. Option 3). Registration would take care of impersonation. But please use a service like Disqus to handle it, so we don’t have yet another login/password to manage.

    FWIW, I haven’t found the comments on this site to be particularly uncivil. That may just reflect lowered expectations about Internet comments.

  132. That’s the second time you have misunderstood me.

    My point is that a requirement to use real names requires some ability to verify that it is really is a real name.

    Absent that, it could be meaningless because everyone could offer up “John Smith”.

  133. Yes. You register with your real name (presumably) and there is an email verification. And when you post, you can use whatever name you wish. But all of your comments are linked to your ‘account.’

    Disqus is an excellent platform for comments. It allows administrators to ban commenters, it allows commenters to see a record of all their comments, it allows other commenters on a thread to ‘flag’ a specific comment; if three or more people flag a comment, instead of the comment, ‘awaiting for moderation’ will display. This is useful for true spam (selling something) or for comments from people who have no self control.

  134. This is the first time I have read the comments on this site in a long time. I stopped doing so and to a certain extent coming here once I saw that “Sam” had taken over the threads. He did the same thing at mission local which was a big turnoff. He will never understand why he ruins comment threads. Thank you for considering a policy to keep people like him in check.

  135. Wrong. I have seen marcos’s address posted here or on SFBG but I have no recollection of ever doing that myself. Can you cite?

    In any event, as a property owner, anyone knowing his full name can find his property address.

    I never posted Tim’s address, Again that is public knowledge and you could find it yourself in two minutes. His Prop 13 basis and home price appreciation was relevant to the discussion in question, IIRC.

    I ribbed you a bit about your details only because you seem so paranoid about it. But I was very careful not to reveal anything that would identify you.

    So you are wrong on all three counts and I challenge you to provide any evidence yo support your claim.

  136. GarySFBCN, Perhaps I don’t understand Option 3. Can you still use a faux name in the comment section with Option 3? Or does Option 3 mean all posts require the use of a person’s legal name?

  137. It will deter the casual commentator, i.e. the person who maybe only comes here occasionally and sees an idea they wish to express.

    Either they cannot be assed to go through yet another registration process or they don;t like their email being everywhere.

    The result would be a smaller number of “regulars” engaged in a narrower sphere of debate. But if Tim wants more of a salon than an open house, that might work.

  138. The threat of ‘outing’ someone in an anonymous forum, where one has the expectation of anonymity, or any other threat, should not be tolerated.

    I know that the difference between that and my advocating for people using their names to post here is highly nuanced.

    But a threat is a threat and it certainly never adds to the discussion, especially when the threat is coming from someone who has issues with social boundaries.

  139. Not true. You’ve posted what you believe to be marcos’s address several times. I’m surprised that Tim didn’t throw you out on the spot for that, because that’s cyberstalking. You’ve also posted details about Tim’s house and family, stopping just short of posting the address. And you’ve tried to post what you believed to be my own personal details. The fact that you had a case of mistaken identity is immaterial, because the intent is the only thing that matters.

  140. Greg, I have had private correspondence with Tim which indicates that he views marcos as as much (or as little) a problem here as you claim that I am.

    And marcos’s exercise in imping these past few days (which you said you thought was “entertaining”) is worse in many ways. I’m shocked that you approve of that.

    My posts are articulate and effectively argued, and that is why many here seek to silence me. I do not believe that is what Tim seeks, although he might appreciate some fine-tuning of my contributions.

    I think you wish to silence one of the few people here smart enough to refute you (you are smart; I’ll grant you) and that does not auger well for any claim you make to want full, frank, open debate here.

    But I am glad to see you oppose the real name requirement, having been so paranoid about your own details being revealed.

  141. Just curious – how is option 3 a ‘comment killer’ ? Almost every blog and news site has some type of registration and many have thousands of comments.

  142. I didn’t say Tim shouldn’t ask for real names. I asked how is Tim supposed to know when a name he is given isn’t a real name?

    Without some form of verification, the requirement could become meaningless.

  143. I think your other option is a good one. The entire problem here is Sam. Sam isn’t part of the problem. He IS the problem. Just getting rid of his comments would work.

    But that takes a lot of time and effort, and Tim basically acknowledged that the trolls can post faster than he can erase. Plus, Sam changes his IP all the time, so he could post the same trash under a different handle. Registration should make it much easier to zero in on persistent trolls and eliminate them.

    That said, I have to acknowledge that there is some irony in saying Sam should’ve been banned for outing (which I agree with), while simultaneously advocating outing everyone. Not sure I follow the logic there…

  144. 48 Hills is not Facebook. Tim is not harvesting our names and info and selling it, or turning it over to Homeland Security.

    There are plenty of places out there where both real people and real trolls can post anonymously. 48 Hills doesn’t have to be one of them.

  145. Russo, my point is that the name you choose to use here does not identify who you are IRL.

    That’s fine with me, except when you claim that you are using your “real” name. You are doing so no more than Greg or marcos or Sam. A partial name does not uniquely identify you.

    ML is a lot less lively now. Neither of us have access to their page views, so there is no real way of knowing what effect their de facto freezing of comments is. But given how they keep pushing their fund-raising efforts, I’d say not good.

  146. Charles Barragan – HR Consultant for the University of California. Attends Meetups of the SF Sex-positive Book Club. Phone number is 415-647-*3*3. Are you still living at 21st Street?

    Seems like it could be a lot of info for some people to provide to the other posters here who might disagree with you.

    Or maybe you’l like to just fill in the missing digits on the phone number and address???

  147. Tim, Option 1 is good for anonymity but thrusting & parrying would be killed dead.

    Options 2, 3 and 4 are comment killers.

    Option 5 is hiring someone to moderate your comment section.

    As Option 5 would increase your costs, folks would pay a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual fee for the privilege of commenting on 48 Hills which would screw up your non-profit status.

    So, 48 Hills will relinquish its non-profit status?

    Or only the comment section of 48 Hills would be run for profit?

    You would receive payment from a real person who would also submit the name intended to be used in the 48 Hills comment section.

    Probably not legally viable. Just struggling to come up with livable options.

  148. The difference, Spam, is that I’ll happily use my full name if it’s required. Doesn’t look like Tim’s going that way, though.

    BTW, Mission Local is not dead just because it lacks comments. It covers the ‘hood well and I still read it.

  149. I agree with much of that, as it happens. But I am not aware of any private addresses being given out here, not phone numbers, nor even email addresses. So in that case you are describing a problem that doesn’t exist here.

    3 is the best of the options, but no real names to be published. I think Tim is one of very few people who could probably actually be entrusted to keep that discreet.

    And it would an end to marcos’ imping games.

  150. One doesn’t need option 2 to do a blackball option. Option 3 would allow that as well.

    The problem with Option 2 is that fewer people will post, and those who do may be *less* honest about what they say. Not revealing one’s name would allow some to say what they really think, when they otherwise might not. I’m curious as to your reasoning why you think that making people reveal their names would make them *more* honest.

  151. Even though real names is my 1st preference, what you propose seems like a good compromise.

    The comments section here on 48Hills could become a think tank or idea lab. Maybe you could allow the authors of some of the articles to moderate the ‘discussions’ on their articles.

  152. I’ve never bullied anyone but I did suggest that ML provide a more balanced coverage and in fact ML has become less ideologically skewed.

    I also had a number of off-line discussions with Lydia about that which you are not aware of, obviously.

    And also about her ideas for managing comments. I predicted that if she introduced the controls she was thinking about, the comments would dry up. And so they did. ML is dead now.

    There are better ways, and I encourage Tim to message me directly if he wishes to and thinks I am the problem. He has my email address, of course.

  153. I agree with the majority of folks here: Option 3. And real names behind that registration are critical.

    The other options all have varying problems. Option 1 is like using a hammer where a scalpel is needed -a one-size-fits-all approach that artificially stunts debate.

    The problem with option 2 is that some people value their privacy and have legitimate reasons for keeping their real names hidden. Make people reveal those names publicly, and people may be less honest about what they want to say.

    Option 4 really depends on what kind of a space you want this to be. If this is just a blog where you feed information and others listen, then sure. But I think a lot of your readers -and I’m talking about the real readers, not the trolls -come here for more than that. A lot of us, I think, like the community that you’ve created here. It’s like a salon, and having that interactive aspect is positive. I think you’ll see a lot fewer hits if you do this.

    So Option 3 it is.

    Incidentally, I’d recommend instituting a “no outing” rule. As much as I don’t want to give Mike Ege any credit, this is one thing that the old “Able Dart’s Bathroom Wall” did well. I didn’t like it at the time, but I’ve come to respect why he did it that way. Otherwise, you have opportunistic trolls who go around posting people’s home addresses and such. I think anyone who engages in cyberstalking should just be permanently banned.

  154. That’s not a bad idea, Tim. But how would you know that the real name you were being discreetly given is in fact real?

  155. It is ironic that you criticize someone for asking for the real ID of another poster while simultaneously demanding that EVERYONE here reveal their real name.

  156. So you just have one name? Is that your first name or last name? Do you also have a middle name?

    See, you are just as anonymous as the rest of us. Unless we can identify you as a real person, you are anonymous. So is “Greg” and “marcos” and “Sam”, all of which are incomplete names that fail to uniquely identify.

    In fact very few people here use their full or real name.

    I am happy for you to remain anonymous here. But not for you to claim you are risking your read identity when in fact you are not.

  157. Ahem. Sam already has 11 comments on this thread of 35 comments. Talk about someone not getting the message.

    Moving on, using a ranked choice method:

    I vote for option 2 first – even that pig Scalia says that if you can’t own what you stand for (in response to the same-sex marriage opponents who want to conceal their identities) you shouldn’t be in the public square, and this is the public square of sorts.

    Next best is option 3.

    But another option is to eliminate the comments of a few commenters who seem to cause the most problems and then leave things as they are. Several times one commenter has ‘threatened’ to ‘expose’ the identity of another commenter. The first time that happened they should have gotten a warning and the second time they should have been banned.

    Tim, I really hope you are successful and I support you and your vision. Good luck!

  158. I am more than willing to consider anonymous names (like the drag queens on Facebook.) I understand why that might be necessary. But I’m not going to let anybody create any identity any time and use that to attack others (or spoof others). How about I allow anyone who want to do so to create a 48hills handle — but first you have to contact me and tell me who you are? I don’ think that would bother the drag queens. As a journalist, I am well versed in keeping confidential information. I suppose the FBI could get a warrant, but that seems pretty unlikely at this point.

  159. Gee, Spam, Tim has published under his real name for decades. People know where he lives. He’s not paranoid like you, I guess. He owns his opinions and doesn’t hide behind three or four bogus names.

    You might have to find a new hobby after this. (But go ahead, add a couple ten or twenty more comments below while you can!)

  160. My reign, Greg? You pay me too much homage. I am a mere lowly contributor here. I have no desire for rule or hegemony.

    The real tragedy is that marcos has caused so much chaos here these last few days that he has created a shitstorm of work for Tim, someone who marcos has zero respect for, as is obvious from his comments today (many of which were deleted so you may have missed them).

    I doubt that you support Tims mandate to use real names since you have been so coy about revealing your own name. I happen to agree with you on that.

    I’m fine with registration if a majority here wish for that. That doesn’t scare me at all. Does it scare you?

  161. I don’t consider endless sniping back and forth by the same 4 people worth my time so I stay away from much of the comments. I read the blog because I am interested in what Tim has to say. I would be delighted if he got rid of the trolls.

  162. Ha! Sam realizes that his reign here is over so he’s at the bargaining stage now. Don’t worry, you’ll soon accept the inevitable.

  163. And if I say my name is John Smith, how would Tim or anyone else know that is not the case?

    You want me to scan my driving license? Send in my passport? Even the evil FaceBook relented on this invasive requirement when vulnerable people explained how that would expose them to risk.

  164. Registration seems like the best idea. You know who’s posting and a certain level of anonymity is retained.

  165. So Russo is your real name?

    If you give your full name, are you happy for pepole to google you and get all your personal information?

    And then maybe stalk you if they decide that they disagree with you?

    Would Tim accept legal responsibility if anything bad happened if he demanded real ID and a crazy thing happened? The worst thing that has happened here is that someone is a little offended. No real harm has ever happened as a result of anything on 48 Hills.

  166. I vote for a combination of Options 2 & 3. Register under a real name, post under a real name. Real debate happens best between real people who have to be responsible for what they say and do.

  167. A brief analysis:

    1) A fixed number of comments takes no account of the length of a thread. 2 comments by one guy are a lot if there are only 2 comments in total, but nothing if there are 100.

    If you have to limit contributions then it should be a percentage. But it’s a lot of manual work to manage.

    2) Real names. The transgender community just won an important victory against FaceBook arguing that they are vulnerable to having their true identity exposed.

    It is easy to see other vulnerable people being reluctant to use their real names e.g. tenants, whistle-blowers, employees etc. Bad idea.

    3) Registration. The least bad of your options, but again should not require a real name. Most comment management systems work off email address and IP address. both can be varied, of course, and multiple registrations by the same person would be hard to detect. But it would deter the casua troll (and also deter the casual contributor).

    4) That’s doing a Randy Shaw and saying you don’t want any criticism. One of the best things about you has been your long-standing commitment to free speech so it would be a tragedy to capitulate.

    Another idea is to ask for a voluntary code of conduct. I am certainly willing to scale back my level of commentary if marcos gives up his childish imping and gibberish games.

  168. I agree that privacy is important.

    But there is also no realistic way for real names to be verified anyway. If you use a fake name, how would anyone know?

    Even Facebook can’t make that policy stick.

  169. The real problem was not the presentation of a diversity of viewpoints but rather the intolerance of many on the left to any criticism, and particularly on-point outright refutations.

  170. Congrats, Spam, this was your doing. Your hundreds of repetitive comments are exactly the reason why the Mission Local blog had take drastic steps, too. I’ve been saying it for months: Get a blog, Spam! (Maybe a life, while you’re at it.)

  171. Amen. I would like to comment without living in fear. You people can’t know what it’s like. You Daves, you Joe Smiths, sauntering along without a care in the world.

  172. 1) More likely” doesn’t mean always. Some people are just jerks, others who are otherwise civil simply unleash their inner jerk in Comments Sections.

    2) Correct. There is always potential for those with the will, skill, or resources to skirt controls, even with Option 2. Option 4 is the only one that really protects against the possibility, by killing discussion & making more editorial work.

    3) Nothing. We live in interesting times. Isn’t that creepy?

  173. Real names = censorship

    If your name is Joe Smith, then you are fine. But if your name is Josiah Demmartino or something else unique then publishing your name is tantamount to publishing your phone number and job situation (especially if you have a LinkedIn account).

    So with a real name nobody could talk about waste that they see at their non profit. A person who does not want their sexual preference to be common knowledge would be constrained. So would a tenant who does not want to piss off their landlord.

  174. Given some of the personal attacks, stalking and threats, Tim also risks exposing his operation, perhaps himself personally, to legal liability for enabling property under his control to be used in the commission of what might end up being one or more crimes.

    What this really shows is that there is so much money at stake in local politics that the corrupt interests who run this City will not tolerate any sort of nexus for progressives to come together and have a discussion of the issues, and that is is resolved to do what it takes to prevent that.

    Almost all political discourse and forums are in corporate conservative forums. Progressives need affirmative action to insulate progressive spaces from enclosure by the corporate libertarian robots.

  175. To be fair, the SFBG was the main English print newspaper in SF that was progressive editorially.

    If people want a moderate/right-center bias, they have pretty much all the major dailies in the region.

    An open & honest bias is better than the pretense of objectivity, esp. in our new echo chamber media landscape. The response to Fox News wasn’t compelling NewsCorp to a (sadly) archaic standard of neutrality, but MSNBC launch as a liberal alternative in basically the same model.

    If Tim has play Edward R. Murrow, then the SF Chronicle would have to start issuing retractions, corrections, and updates of digital copy every time its fact-checkers take a press release or spokesperson at face value.

    Censorship = The exercise of prior restraint on free speech by the government. Being a copyeditor, curator, or forum moderator by definition requires culling content.

  176. How do you reconcile the conclusion that “studies do show that people are both more likely to participate in online fora AND be civil when using a pseudonym than a real name” with Sam’s use of a pseudonym and his incessant and uncivil personal attacks from behind his veil?

    I am not sure how one can insulate a discussion forum from someone who is paid to attack individuals in that forum other than requiring real names.

    And what is to stop a paid poster to recruit other paid operatives to down vote a person they’re trying to silence?

  177. Option 3 seems most fair & practicable.

    However, studies do show that people are both more likely to participate in online fora AND be civil when using a pseudonym than a real name, which came up in discussion of FB’s Real Name Policy.

    Even a pseudonym becomes a social identity whose reputation people are careful to protect, without the chilling effect of real names, nor the temptation to engage in rhetorical hit-and-runs encouraged by anonymous comments.

    With registration, user handles should be consistent & easy to moderate, although truly determined trolls can still potentially spoof from alternate email addresses, as is always the case.

  178. Option no. 2, with a blackball option. Real names keep everyone honest, including those just reading (in their assesments). Add a blackball option, so if some percentage of registered users “flag” a poster because the poster is merely a flamer or so far out that they don’t merit consideration, they’re out.

    By the way, although I strongly disagree with “Sam’s” opinions, he (or she) has posted very valuable information. – John

  179. You are revealed and you are undone.

    When I posted under “Guest” you did not comment.

    When I posted under “marcos,” you did comment.

    Busted, bitch.

  180. That is what Randy Shaw does with Beyond Chron and, in effect, there are no comments there any more. Like you say, it’s a heck of a lot of work for Tim and in practice it means no feedback.

  181. marcos, your imping game backfired on you because you discredited a fake name but allowed your own real name to be besmirched.

    That was dumb and you can only blame yourself for your sad lack of judgement.

    If you do not like this place, why not leave it for those of us who like it?

  182. Translation: “Sam” or “John” or “Mike” wants to operate under a false name and be able to attack individuals who not use false names at will without consequence.

  183. I think you’ve been duped by marcos. When you told him off a couple of months ago, he prudently stayed away, and things here were running fairly smoothly.

    But he came back last week and almost immediately started imp’ing myself and other posters. On the face of it he was seeking to merely discredit me and others who are effective critics of some of the policies promoted here.

    But it was more insidious than that. He wanted to disable this site as a vehicle for debate. You can see that in some of his criticisms today of you, this site and SFBG, which he blames for progressive failures. He actually wants to see this place fail if it isn’t a vehicle for what he believes.

    And the simplest way to grind this site to a virtual halt is to bury you in administrative bureaucracy, endless censoring content, blocking IP addresses and tracking email addresses.

    It’s really sad that, having failed in his own political endeavors, he seeks to undermine those who are more successful at promoting policies.

    As for my motives here, I am not really political at all, take no part in local politics, and often don’t even vote. I simply enjoy vigorous debate and exposing flawed arguments. Apparently that makes some people so angry they post more about me than about the issues.

    If you want to know how registration works, take a look at Mission Local. They introduced a daily limit on comments, and then registration. Nobody posts there any more. It is dead. Too lively a debate can be irksome. But no debate at all is much worse.

    All that said, I do support a ban on imp’ing. it was appalling that marcos instigated that here. And then others followed but he must take the responsibility for that sad lapse in morals.

  184. I am an adjunct college professor at several Bay Area colleges. I comment anonymously because I am in an unfair work situation where I have personally experienced abuse of power on numerous occasions. I don’t troll but I also don’t want to give my real name because I work with real life trolls.

  185. Option 3. This should have happened at the SFBG years ago.

    Let’s have real political conversations where real people own their language and not provide a duck blind for paid hacks to attack individuals with intent to silence San Franciscans who stand in the way of their politics.

  186. sounds like a great way to keep the choir in check, when youre preaching to them. It’s been my experience the nastiest of comments with the least amount of understanding or contribution to the topics are actually the folks you tend to pander to. I wish you good luck in your censorship, but unless you also adjust the content of your sermons, and balance the issues with enough information to allow your readers to understand an issue and form an independent opinion, you are doomed to the fallout of the anger you incite.

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