The Chronicle has historically encouraged public dialogue, and we’ve viewed providing a space for that dialogue as vital to our role as a community newspaper.

For years, this newspaper has provided space in each edition, free of advertising, for our readers to offer their opinions in letters to the editor, so long as those authors were willing to sign their names and adhere to some simple and unobtrusive rules. We publish thousands of your letters each year.

In recent years, we have also allowed anonymous commenting on stories posted to our website at Some of that discussion has been constructive and worthwhile, although I’m afraid meaningful comments have become the overwhelming exception rather than the norm.

Commenting on our website — and many others — I believe has come to typify an unfortunate trend in politics and discourse in our country. We’ve morphed from legitimate discussion and disagreement into name-calling and insults. I’m smart; you’re dumb. The politician I support is wonderful; you’re an idiot for not agreeing with me. Back and forth with little hope of thoughtful dialogue that helps shape our community.

“Ugly” is an apt description.

So, enough is enough. As of this morning, the Chronicle is turning off the commenting feature on our website.

Some will argue I’m infringing on their right to free speech. I disagree. You are still welcome to your opinions, and you’re still welcome to express them. However, the Chronicle will simply no longer provide an online venue for anonymous fury and vitriol. If that’s your thing, you’ll need to find another setting.

We will continue to post our stories onto Facebook and other social media sites where commenting is commonplace and where, I hope, transparency is more plausible. And, as always, you’re encouraged to write letters to the editor. Just please remember to sign your name.

I have no delusions that this decision will spur all of our readers to treat each other with respect and goodwill rather than scorn and hatred, but it does feel like a decent place to start. I hope you will view it as such.

Nick Ehli is the Chronicle’s managing editor. He can be reached at