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Webathon today celebrates opinions

 |  NCR Today

Update 10:02 a.m. central time: This matching grant has been met, but the challenge still stands. Please donate now.

Today we begin the webathon with a $2,000 matching grant challenge from an anonymous donor who wants to be referred to as “an online poster who very much appreciates NCR’s forum for comments as a healthy balance for concerned Catholics.”

So here’s the challenge: If you’ve shared an opinion, an idea or replied to another’s comments on NCRonline.org, now’s the time for you to pony up and pay your fair share of keeping this website running. Please donate now.

Let me give you two examples of commenting and opinion-sharing working well. I posted an opinion yesterday under the headline “Botched execution: When we will stop the insanity?” and the thread of comments showed a reasonable, intelligent sharing of ideas. We all benefit from that.  We also posted a news analysis piece yesterday (in fortuitous timing , our posting coincided a debate on the Senate floor over the minimum wage bill), “Is minimum wage hike just a baby step?” A similar thoughtful and informative discussion ensued.

If you appreciate and participate in these kinds of discussion on NCR, please donate now. Your participation and your donation are both essential -- both participation and donation -- to keeping NCRonline.org open as a forum for discussion.

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Frequent website visitors (and about 80 percent of you visit the website more than once a month, we know that) will know that we struggled late last year and early this year year with keeping the comment forums civil. We did have to shut things down for a cooling-off period. But we reopened the comment forums because readers asked us to reopen them. You told us you missed them and your experience on NCRonline.org was incomplete without them. We heard you and reopened the forums. Please recall that I also kept you informed over that four-week period of what we on the moderation end of these discussions were thinking about and contemplating. We did our best to share that with you -- to make you part of the discussion.

When we did reopen the forum, I wrote a long letter to you all (See Comments on NCRonline: Be part of the solution), writing about four things we had learned about comments:

Lesson No. 1: There is no technology fix for this problem.

Lesson No. 2: Moderation is not as easy as you think.

Lesson No. 3: Comments don’t come cheap; someone has to pay.

Lesson No. 4: You are part of the team.

In that last lesson, I recalled a poster my high school social studies teacher hung in his classroom: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." That is always a good thing to remember.

Obviously lesson No. 3 is most pertinent today. Please donate now.

Now, some of you will still take issue with how we moderate comments. Some of you will feel slighted, but we are doing the best we can following guidelines that we think the vast majority of our readers agree with and can live with. You must agree -- at least, mostly agree -- otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this.

So I put Anonymous’ challenge before you: If you, like Anonymous, appreciate NCR’s forum for comments as a healthy balance for concerned Catholics, please donate now.

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August 1-14, 2014

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