Petaluma Patch…In A Sticky Wicket?

Petaluma Patch launched its online news service for Petaluma on November 23. I briefly wrote about their debut in The Petaluma Patch–Hyperlocal News

Petaluma Patch’s user agreement imposes a high standard of behavior for posting online comments.  They require that real names be used and insist that personal attacks be avoided. 

Such a concept!

To give you an idea of their policy position on public comments as posted on their site, I am reproducing portions of that agreement here with the permission of Janine Iamunno of PATCH Public Relations:

We want everyone to enjoy Patch, so you may use the Service without registration (ie, signing up with a email address and password). However, in order to access some aspects of the Service, you will need to register for an account…. Patch believes in transparency, and we ask that all your registration information be truthful. You may not use any aliases or other means to mask your true identity. (Emphasis Added)

Communities thrive when people care about each other, and as such, Patch expects all of its users to be respectful of others. If you notice any violation of this Acceptable Use Policy or other unacceptable behavior by any user, please report it to support@patch.com.

While we encourage people to be honest and post what’s on their mind, there are some types of Content that we simply can’t allow on Patch. We’ll go over some of the prohibited items…but these are merely examples and the list is not intended to be exhaustive.

We understand that everyone has different opinions, but Patch will make the sole determination as to whether Content is acceptable for the Service. is defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive…

Instead of trying to memorize all (this), you might boil it down to three main policies: “Keep it clean,” “Don’t try to trick people,” and “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Easy, right? (Emphasis added)

However, having a well written policy is one thing.

Enforcing it is another.

So far, it appears that Petlauma Patch is willing to do so. But there are signs of waffling on this issue.  Note how the monitoring comments by the editor have shifted:

  • “Please keep your comments to the issues at hand and refrain from personal attacks. Also, you must use your real name when commenting on stories or we will delete your thread.” (Emphasis Added)
  • “Dear commentators. While we love and encourage your opinions on our site, you need to keep them civil or they will be deleted. There is no need to get nasty. Patch is about fostering community and divisive and rude comments do not help. Thanks!”
  • “Hi Patch readers. While we’re very happy you are discussing this important topic on our site, we just want to remind everyone to keep the comments to the issues at hand and not make any personal attacks. In the spirit of transparency, we also encourage you to post using your first and last name so it’s clear who the comment is coming from. You can also submit letters to the editor to karina@patch.com, which will be reviewed and posted on our site.” (Emphasis added)
  • ARTICLE: “Comments Rule up for Debate”–“Two items we’ve posted… have generated a stream of comments on our pages. That has resulted in discussion about whether Petaluma Patch should require every person commenting on the site to use their real name.” (Emphasis Added)
  • “As a new site, we are a work in progress, so we may amend our policy as we go on, but for now, our hope is that people will respect our “honor system” and not hide under aliases or nicknames.” (Emphasis added)

Monitoring comments is a daunting task and I applaud the effort.

Going forward… 

  • Will Petaluma Patch serve as a model for other online news communities?
  • Will they stand by their written policy regarding identification?

To read the entire Patch User Agreement, Click Here

For supplemental information, go to 13 Things You Need to Know About Petaluma Patch

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The Petaluma Patch–Hyperlocal News

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A new online “news”source came into our Petaluma World today– a new kid on the local media block….Ah, I mean PATCHPetaluma Patch to be precise.

Petaluma Patch joined Petaluma 360, as well as the Press Democrat and Watch Sonoma County web sites as sources of local news or what is also called “hyperlocal” news for P-Town. But, of course, our local web environment also has “news” sources such as the Aqus Community newsletter and numerous local independent bloggers (including yours truly) to fill up our screens.

Integrating all of these sources of information is a challenge for us ordinary folk. 

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  • Will one site dominate?
  • Will they specialize?
  • Will genuine in depth investigative reporting be provided by any of these sites?

Back in the day when print media dominated, communities were considered blessed if they had several newspapers. Today, perhaps we measure ourselves by the number of online news sources that serve us. 

Finding a balance and then integrating all of these “news” sources is a challenge for the reader. For the hyperlocal news providers, there is also the classic journalistic tension of publishing “news” we need versus “news” we want. Finding this balance in a business model that also generates a sustainable income stream is particularly tricky. It takes time to build a readership with advertising support. 

One of the risks of all of these hyperlocal news sources is that they can create the impression that what is happening here is unique and not part of a larger picture in the county, the state, and the country.

So I ask: 

  • How do you get your information?
  • How do you decide which source to trust?

To achieve some sort of balance and perspective, I often check in with CaliforniaCityNews to learn what is happening elsewhere in California.  Frequently, I find that stories that seem peculiar to Petaluma are also being played out elsewhere.

The “Patch” model is going to be interesting to follow.  Given the fact that it is part of a major nationwide effort by America Online (AOL) to build a network of hyperlocal sites, it should be taken seriously. 

As for me, I am still struggling daily to come to terms with all of the various aspects of new media and social media.  When frustrated, I pick up a hard copy magazine, newspaper, or book. 

Old habits die hard…

To preserve MySpace
I Tweet on Twitter
To save Face…book”
 

Petaluma Patch … New Media Coming to Petaluma!

No, it is not another Petaluma pumpkin patch. “Petaluma Patch” is a new “hyperlocal” Internet news site that is part of a larger national organization setting up local online news sites around the country. 

According to the national Patch web site: “The Patch.org Foundation was formed in March, 2010 to improve the quality of life in underserved communities across the globe through access to trusted local news and information. The Patch.org Foundation plans to partner with community foundations and other organizations to fund the operation of Patch news and information sites in communities that need them most: inner-city neighborhoods and underserved towns around the world.” For more information, Click Here.

It appears that Patch has spread rapidly across the country and you can see the scope of their growth by Clicking HERE.

It is quite likely that the Petaluma Patch site will be operational by the end of the month.  Karina Ioffee is the Patch editor for the Petaluma site. One of the unique features of Patch is that they apparently pay their content providers. The full nature and extent of that compensation is not yet known to me.

As of the time of this posting, the Petaluma page is available for viewing and provides more information about their plans for Petaluma. See http://petaluma.patch.com/

UPDATE INFORMATION 11/9/2010

FIRST…

  • The editor for the Petaluma Patch news site (Karina Ioffee) does live in Petaluma. 
  • Patch is in the process of lining up content providers for the Petaluma site—and no, I have not been contacted.
  • I have NO official information regarding people recruited as reporters or columnists.  Even if I did, I would not report it.
  • I have NO idea as to their editorial policy.

SECOND…

Gina Cuclis of North Bay New Media has just published an excellent article containing a considerable amount of information about Patch and the Patch Petaluma site.  I strongly urge you to read it and to consider the very pertinent and inciteful questions she poses at the end of her article. To read it, click on>>> AOL’s Hyperlocal News Project Patch Coming to Sonoma County