Happy trails, all you nameless Web wits

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

— Cinderella

Following are words I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d say ... err ... type: I miss FryarTuk ... and gotanyfacts ... and bubbasmithredneck ... and agirl(underscore)25 ... and Sherwood(underscore)Eagle(underscore)Alum ... and Cartman ...

I miss shinedownfan and his great taste in music ... MRKIA with his ALL CAPS all over the place ... kaosinalbany with her passionate insight on local government ... ScubaGolfJim and his witty perspective ... bubbavet(underscore)rureel and his militancy ... lowercasejesus and his audacity.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I miss all those wild and wacky commenters who bum-rushed the albanyherald.com website with their sometimes skewed but never dull perspective on all things happening and written.

Some of them took unfair potshots at those truthseekers with whom they held ideological differences ... ahem, what’s a little self-aggrandizement among friends? ... but peppered in with their sometimes mean, almost always clever, sometimes so far off the freaking wall they fell to the middle of the floor, but never uninteresting commentary were nuggets those of us who do this for a living couldn’t help but admire.

So that I don’t come off as hypocritical, Abytaxpayer, let me offer this disclaimer: I’m not necessarily a fan of any kind of anonymous commentary — yes, I was the lone voice around here opposed to The Squawkbox when it was birthed — not because people get free shots at those they don’t like, but because journalism is not an anonymous enterprise. It’s all about people reporting on the news, people whose names are front-and-center.

Call me old-fashioned — georgiagranny, erock, LuLu, WeAreThey — but I still hold strongly to that basic tenet of the profession.

But I have accepted, Momof3, DRTexas, alleebrin, that this is a new age with new and amazing technology and new capabilities. And as much as I always tried to “stay pure” and look away from the car wreck that was often the comments section following stories one of my colleagues or I had written, the curiosity — the chance that I might miss some meaningful nugget from free(underscore)ur(underscore)mind or VSU or southernbelle — usually got the better of me.

I laughed when someone suggested (in a comment) that I had something to do with what commentary was pulled from the website or that I was somehow instrumental in the change in policy that has so far silenced the Ihope4albanys and whatthehecks who could be counted on to drop their own brand of wisdom on us. The reasoning? Since I was targeted frequently by these keyboard komandos, I must have played a part in the decision to pull the plug.

Not to pass the buck on this — I actually know absolutely nothing about the decision and why it was made — but they only let me use this computer at my desk as a word processor. Of course, even if they turned me loose with the website, they would have no worries. I have about as much use for all this amazing technology as a Republican has for a food stamp program. (That one’s for you, gotanyfacts.)

As I read some of the interesting conversations sparked by things I’d written — including those that inspired commenters to label me something along the lines of an absolute dumb-a — I also found it interesting that folks in the community (some who offered me sympathy after unusually cruel disparagement) assumed I knew who these anonymous warriors were. I did not. Not one of them.

See, even if it were possible to find out, I didn’t want to know. I’m sure I have, along the way, met some of them or at least know them by reputation. And I’d hate to find out that someone I held in high regard was actually taking electronic shots at me while chatting me up like an old pal to my face.

I kind of put my anti-anonymity thing on the backburner so that I could appreciate local wit and wisdom.

So, so long BettyBowTie and erudite and even the anti-anonymous Walt Specht. I’m not on Facebook either, so I dig where you’re coming from. A couple among you have sent me emails noting the lack of comments on stories I’ve written, some of the stories about pretty significant happenings in the community. I don’t know if the emails were mocking, but if you’re looking for me to try and influence a return to the old policy, you’re several steps too far down the food chain to do any good.

As for my coverage of local events, that won’t change. Full-frontal commentary, strictly regulated comments or no comments at all, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing the way I was taught to do it until they pull the plug on me. I’m not out to win anyone’s approval, just trying to do this thing I love the best way I can.

But know, Sister Ruby, oh malice queen of the Web who would relegate me to digging ditches somewhere in Lee County, that if nothing else you and your zany subjects made me aware that my work would be held to certain standards. That made me try to do my job better. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.