Letters to the Editor

The News-Times’ online universe

Some print-only readers of the News-Times may occasionally read a letter to the editor that seems incongruent with news that has been reported in print. Some of those perceived inconsistencies may stem from incomplete knowledge of the “other” News-Times. No, we haven’t a parallel universe into which I pop in-and-out (though I’ve been accused of that), but, in a way, we do.

I am speaking, of course, about the online version of the News-Times. For those who read the News-Times on the Web versus in print, doing so can be a rather different experience. That’s especially true if one opts to dive-in and offer up opinion, commentary, and, yes, at times, perhaps even a smidgen of pure pontification.

For participatory readers online, the challenge to make your point clearly, whatever it may be, can at times seem daunting. Most readers opt to use a “pen name” of sorts. Some local folks’ online names are intentionally revealing, such as “demwoman.” Other names are somewhat less revealing, like “sasquatch” or “johnqpublic1.” Some online names are perhaps intentionally misleading. Some folks find comfort in online anonymity.

The technology is not perfect, however. A savvy on-line user could manipulate the system to appear online as multiple users, even in the same section. One could likely even make it appear that a conversation or debate is occurring, when, in fact, someone is only creating the illusion of that actually taking place. The adage “don’t believe everything you read” is no less applicable online.

One piece of advice if you choose to engage: there is spell checker. Use it. It seems to work right now (not in Internet Explorer, but it does in Firefox). If someone is looking for a chink in your argument and can’t find one otherwise, spell checker is your best friend. Sometimes, spell checker may seem like your only friend online, but more often that’s not the case. If you choose to read online only, that’s okay, too. But, after all, silence is condonement, isn’t it?

William Burnett

Oak Harbor

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