Bob Davis: Join The Star’s blogging project
Jun 19, 2011 | 5495 views |  6 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some parts of The Anniston Star from the week of Jan. 3, 1937, read like what we would call “social media” today. Short items published daily told of the comings and goings throughout the newspaper’s circulation area. Some examples:

“Mrs. J.B. Taylor has returned from a visit in Florida.”

“The Philomathic Club will meet at three o’clock with Mrs. C.V. Rogers as hostess at the Axis Club. Miss Ruby Nonnenmacher will lead the program.”

“William Washburn has returned to Washington and Lee at Lexington, Va., after a visit with his parents.”

From White Plains we learned, “Among members of the Methodist Church here who attended the quarterly meeting at Heflin Sunday were Mr. and Mrs. Willimon, Raymond Borden and A.M. and Milton Cobb.”

In Alexandria, “[t]here will be services here Sunday morning and night. The Rev. T.H. Farrell will preach at both services.”

The Boy Scouts of Troop 5 “had a nice night for our meeting. We opened with the Scout oath and then played several games. The games included ‘Let Her Buck,’ ‘Tug of War’ and ‘Tractor.’ We really had a nice time.”

View the guidelines and registration process for The Star's Community Bloggers Project

You get the idea. These are the little shared details that round out community life, making it seem richer, fuller and more personal. This morning, The Anniston Star is announcing an effort we hope will harness this desire to share community news in the digital age. We are introducing a Community Bloggers project.

We invite you to be the eyes and ears of your community, sharing its news with readers at In this sense, we are thinking of a community in several ways. It can be a spot on the map, a neighborhood or small community. It can be a club or a church. It can be based on an activity such as gardening, bowling or the arts. We realize the notion of community comes in many forms, and we welcome all comers.

Think of our blogging platform as a digital back porch, a place where friends and neighbors can swap stories, exchange greetings and generally keep up with each other.

Because we want our Community Bloggers section of to be a friendly, courteous and safe place, we’ll ask our bloggers to follow a few rules. Each blogger will provide his or her first and last name and some basic biographical information on their blog; no anonymous postings.

We won’t tolerate personal attacks, insults or threats, either from bloggers or directed toward them by commenters. We’ll expect good manners and civil discourse, making it a safe place to go online.

To learn more, visit There you will find details on registering and starting your own blog. Once you are registered, we’ll ask you to share your stories.

* * *

While we’re on the subject of online comments and good manners, let me mention some upcoming changes at

The days of anonymous commenting at are rapidly coming to a close. We are currently testing commenting software that would require website commenters to post their first and last names alongside their comments.

This is part of a move to eliminate some of the worst behavior in story comments. In recent months, our editors have had their hands full cleaning up comments that fail to comply with our rules. In short, those rules are no personal attacks, no name-calling and comments must stay on topic.

The subject of online commenting and anonymity has roiled the digital space in recent years. Many publications, particularly newspapers, have pulled back from the free-for-all that was online commenting when the web first became popular. Over time, The Star’s newsroom and others across the country have come to see the commenting section of a website needs more accountability and safeguarding lest it turn into a ghetto of bitterness, personal attacks and angry and offensive language.

The plan is to continue to apply our current rules with a few more added, namely better identification of the person posting the comments. Think of it as the “letter to the editor rule.” Printed submissions to Speak Out must follow our guidelines for style as well as include first and last name, plus hometown. The letters we print are often sharp in their rhetoric, yet they carry the credibility that the writer was willing to attach his or her name and hometown to the opinions expressed. Very soon we intend to apply the same standard to online comments. Expect more details in coming weeks.

Bob Davis is editor of The Anniston Star. Contact him at 256-235-3540 or You can follow him on Twitter at:
Comments must be made through Facebook
No personal attacks
No name-calling
No offensive language
Comments must stay on topic
No infringement of copyrighted material

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