At this very moment, somebody sitting at a computer keyboard is likely typing a comment on our Web site that may make you cringe.
At all hours of the day, visitors to modbee.com are unloading their opinions in response to stories on the contentious issues of modern America: crime, immigration, politics, taxes, race, abortion and more. Mostly under cover of anonymity, these commenters tear with fury into the topics -- and each other.
The exchanges are raw. They are often rude. And they offer a fascinating, unvarnished glimpse of public opinion.
Whether they are ugly or enlightened, story comments give us a window into the mind-set of our neighbors. We believe that's an important part of keeping the community informed.
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Around the clock, a handful of editors at The Bee take turns monitoring the comments and complaints about them. To us falls the task of deciding whether a comment should stay or go, based on our standards for community dialogue.
The formula is simple: We ask that people speak civilly and avoid profanity and personal attacks on other users.
We are appalled at the insensitivity of some commenters, like the guy who suggested a teenage girl wouldn't have committed suicide if only he'd had the chance -- and this is my family-friendly phrasing -- to show her a good time.
Or the pack of hyenas who left so many tasteless comments about sexual assault victims that we no longer allow comments on such stories when the victim is a minor.
On political stories, you could fill a dictionary with the insults heaped upon President Barack Obama and the Democrats. That would make a companion volume to the taunts and barbs flung at former President George W. Bush and the Republicans.
The most inventive invective often comes on crime stories, where the masses heap scorn on those arrested and wish them -- again, my G-rated phrasing -- a cozy stay with a beefy cellmate.
Commenting online can be a playground for the ill-mannered and the ill-informed, but it has a positive side, too.
We've seen commenters leap to the defense of others savaged by critics.
The ignorant usually announce their presence by atrocious grammar and bad spelling, which does not go unnoticed by other readers.
While it sometimes may seem that the bigots and ignoramuses have the majority, other, more gentle souls have made countless caring, uplifting, insightful and well-reasoned comments on a wide range of subjects.
If you are thin-skinned or easily offended, you may want to avoid reading the comments on modbee.com -- just as you'd switch off the TV for a program you don't like.
If you find an offensive comment, don't assume it will remain. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can report abuse. Our editors will promptly review your complaint.
Commenters who can't abide by our rules for civil discussion will get a warning. And if they misbehave further, they will lose their commenting privileges.
As Sunshine Week begins, we want everyone to know that speech is free on modbee. But you have to play by the rules.
Day, director of interactive media and audience development at The Bee, can be reached at 578-2332 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.