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Sometimes the journalism business is a lonely one. We attend meetings, show up at car accidents and rescues, or meet with the subjects of our features, but our writing takes place at our newsroom and once the story starts rolling off the press, we hope the story we spent a few hours reporting on and writing gets read.

Thus, journalists love feedback from our readers, good and bad. A comment to us in public, an email or a letter to the editor tells us that readers are indeed reading what we write.

News Editor Christopher Fox GrahamOur policy for letters to the editor is fairly easy to follow. For letters, we require people to use their full name and include their street address, so we can verify they’re a real person.

Likewise, comments on stories posted to our website show our readers are engaged.

However, the Internet is full of trolls and catfish.

A troll is someone who posts inflammatory or off-topic messages. A few trolls post comments every time we write a story about the Sedona Fire District or the Sedona-Oak Creek School District. Generally the trolls’ comments have nothing to do with the story; they just bash the administrators or elected officials, often with unsubstantiated allegations or attacks on their personal lives unrelated to their jobs. Illegal behavior should be reported to law enforcement, not alleged through the media.

I have to OK comments before they are published, and these add nothing to our readers’ online experience, can’t be proven and do not see the light of day.

Trolls are annoying, but catfishing takes trolling to a new low.

A catfish is a fake account or online profile. The term came to prominence with an eponymous film, follow-up MTV show and the real-life drama surrounding University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Catfish post comments to our website as well, usually in a string of comments. First, a comment bashes an official, then a series of comments from “other people” concur and add more comments bashing the official.

It’s not hard to figure out these comments are from the same troll catfishing the comments. They come from the same computer. The email addresses are different but only one is real — our filter automatically checks. One name is real and the next couple are fictitious.

But the biggest clue? The comments “reply” to other comments that I haven’t published yet.

Seriously, people try this.

If you want to comment on a story, use your real name, just like you would in a letter to the editor, public meeting or encounter around town. Anonymous attacks do nothing to improve our community or the agencies that serve us.


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  • TSC

    confirming that your entire article has indeed been read. disregard the next guy that insists that no one reads abbreviated internet versions of local interest articles that small town papers use to drive you back to the pulp for the full story and the related advertisements, because this article clearly went all the way to the end! He's probably just a commie that doesn't understand the challenges of modern publishing. ;)

  • T_S_C

    pfff, how does that guy know what I was gonna say? He doesn't know me.<br /><br />For the full story of what he was really going to say, see the Wednesday, May 15, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.<br /><br />:)

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