Do we talk to each other? Or do we just talk over each other, trying to be the loudest voice in the room, or perhaps even worse, online?

Do we listen to another opinion, or just snipe at each other?

These are questions I have been contemplating as I read some of the comments left on stories posted online at Bakersfield.com.

Certainly, some are quite thoughtful (yes, I am making a judgment here) and address the topic of the story at hand. But many just hurl insults, stray from the news presented and, sometimes, don't make much sense at all.

Consider some recent exchanges on stories published just this week.

Here was one set of comments on reporter Quinn Wilson's story, "Wildfire smoke blankets Central Valley with no end in sight," posted online Thursday:

Reader: "C'mon man, just fire up all those wind turbines and blow the smoke out of the valley. That makes as much sense as any thing else liberals have to say."

Another reader: "Literally nobody said anything about being liberal or conservative... and I don’t think smoke and fire have political parties. Find a REAL hobby."

Another reader: "It does sound like NakedDon and Masked Mike2020's FanClub, obviously you didn't do well in 3rd grade reading comprehension."

Business Editor John Cox brought readers up to date on development near Meadows Field with his story, "Amazon unveils distribution center, begins mass hiring," posted online Thursday. This exchange ensued in the comments section:

Reader: "Only problem I can see is where do you find 1000 people from Oildale that aren't dope addicts ???"

Another reader: "It looks more like a ICE detention center."

Yet another reader: "Jeezus...... what a horrible looking place for humans to have to spend a day.......it has Zero Curb appeal.......maybe humanoids will work there some day..."

And another: "Ok I've read the article. There is nothing there about how they plan to keep 1,000 workers free of Covid? Sore subject?"

Do you feel enlightened after reading those comments? Did you hear a new perspective or feel as if you engaged in civil discourse?

Anyone can post comments on our stories online. And very, very few people use their real name. (I applaud those who do, such as local oilman Chad Hathaway and real estate appraiser Gary Crabtree.)

These online comments are unlike letters to the editor that publish in our Opinion section, where we require writers to give their true name, address and phone number, of which the name and city or town of residence are printed.

Writers have to stand behind their letter, so to speak, by providing their name. I think it brings accountability, and more thoughtful comments. I'm not suggesting I agree with them all — I certainly don't, and I don't need to. The purpose of letters and other pieces in the Opinion section is to have a civil debate and allow comment on significant societal issues and current events.

The stories posted to our Facebook page also tend to have more civil, on-topic comments, likely because they have a name attached.

So here's the question: Should story commenting online at Bakersfield.com stay or should it go? Why? Please feel free to share your opinion by emailing soundoff@bakersfield.com.

•••

Reader: Is it possible for TBC to devote substantial time to educating readers, with input from the County of Kern Elections Division, as to the voting process?

It would seem, based upon recent letters (Ann Reed today, for one, who seems to think all registered voters are going to be given the opportunity to vote twice), that some readers do not understand the process, or are aware of the verification safeguards. When there is a void of valid information, it is easy to fill that void with misinformation, mistrust, and flat out fallacy.

I would love detailed information about the whole process, from verifying registration to what happens with returned ballots.

I would also love to know about undervoted (I think that’s the term) ballots, ballots that are not completed, meaning that some sections are left blank. I often do not feel knowledgeable enough about some candidates or initiatives to cast a vote. Does that jeopardize or delay the counting of my ballot? Would be nice if there was a “none of the above” option, but there’s not.

Thanks!

— Pamela Wildermuth

Peterson: Pamela, you pose excellent questions, as did another person who wrote to me Friday morning.

For starters, the Kern County Elections Division has a nine-minute video on voting by mail that you can find at kernvote.com.

But we'll work on gathering answers to your questions — and rolling out robust local election coverage — in the coming weeks.

Executive Editor Christine Peterson answers your questions and takes your complaints about The Californian’s news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at soundoff@bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number; your phone number won’t be published.

Recommended for you

(50) comments

She Dee

OK people, I get the message. You can stop the death threats because I most likely won't make it another year. Don't waste your $ or time with a professional hit. Save your bullets for the upcoming days of self protection. Sorry I kicked the hornets nest. It was totally unintentional.

Zeppo

NONE of what is going on on the streets should have to do with ones skin color! It should have to do with "content of character."

Masked 2020

oh my.........CHRISTINE ...look what u did in the Rabbit Hole

The Independent Voter

Hey guys, what's going on? What have I missed?

Vico17

"Truth is the new hate speech."

-- George Orwell

Btw, my real name is Eric Arthu Blair.

Zeppo

Excellent and apt quote

She Dee

Well Eric, my real name is Sherry Niesen. I'm done taking orders from people who still think they own me! I paid for the name and I'm keeping it!

Vico17

Greetings Ms. Niesen. It is an honor.

For the record, and I hope you can understand and forgive me, my actual name is not Eric Arthur Blair, that great name belonged to one better known as George Orwell--his nom de plume. He also went by P.S. Burton when doing research as a tramp for Down and Out in Paris and London...to spare his parents of the embarrassment. My point was that people take up pen names for good reasons. Today, I wouldn't want "peaceful" protesters at my front door for 86 straight nights in a row. My neighbors would shoot me themselves to end it. Thus the quote "Truth is the new hate speech." by Orwell. I like to think I only care about the truth, and today that is dangerous.

And in case you still have any doubts I am NOT Gianbattista Vico either. I'm not even Italian. Well, maybe about 2%, like skimmed milk. Nonetheless, and I digress, much like Eric Blair who actually took up arms in Spain against Anarchist and Communist during the Franco years, (I like to think this too was authentic research for later works such as Animal Farm and 1984), I too take up my keyboard daily, sort of speak, and punch back and pushback against the propaganda and lies of both Dweeb and Yorkies who are masked themselves.

But, if it makes you feel any better after my deception, 17 generations ago my ancestors met the real Vico, which inspired me to read his works, including Scienza Nuova. He taught me how to get to the truth of things...to the root cause.

I hope you can forgive me. And, may I caution you: "Never use your real name in the Oasis".

--Art3mis, in Ready Player One, aka Olivia Cooke.

Zeppo

It's great to read a posting from a scholar, which you obviously are. I will not print my real name because I don't want people to look up my address and show up at my door with BLM attire!

Vico17

You are right Zeppo, the mob rule is the most dangerous thing going on right now. Much like the brown_shirts of the n@zi's. Antifa and BLM should be taken seriously, especially when a favorite tool of their is doxing and showing up at your doorstep with more than just megaphones and bats. And may I say, you are no sto_oge either. That was funny as he_ll a few weeks ago. As funny as All Star's reference to Panfilo Fuentes. There's good levity here as well.

She Dee

Ya know, Vico17, that's exactly why I decided to start using my real name...to keep me honest and to not spout nasty remarks about the things and people I know in Bakersfield. Someone once said, "Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies". So, if I tell a story, it's not going to be fiction. I am and always have been a REALIST and if the BLM people choose to come to my door, I doubt there will be a problem on my end or on theirs because I just happen to have some black in my bloodlines!

Vico17

I appreciate your honesty She Dee. I don't think your skin color will shield you any against a Fascist mob. Look at what they did to Carmen Best, Seattle's Chief of Police. She finally resigned after being accosted night after night at her house. Also, look at Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She too is black and didn't defund the police as much as the BLM wanted so she put up barriers around her neighborhood, because she deserved to be safe at night at her home (being the mayor)...but I guess not other people in other Chicago neighborhoods deserved to be safe as she. Fascists will attack your ideas and you, even if you are black. Candace Owen's is an African-American conservative author and commentator and she is constantly attacked verbally and intimidated anytime she's out and about. Dr. Ben Carson, an honorable men whom I know you know. One of the smartest man in the US, period, constantly is called an uncle Tom for disagreeing with the mob using Alinsky tactics. My point is, they will attack you regardless of who you are. They hate the truth. They hate the ideas that go against their bs narrative. I have studies their tactics and history. Please take some precautions and defend yourself tactically when the time comes. They want blood even if you are young or old, light or dark, peaceful or brave. They will pretend to be brave only when they have numbers--the true definition of cowards and gangs. They will attack only when they know you are alone and vulnerable. Never trust the mob. The 2nd amendment is great, but it's not enough when it's you vs. 150 pot heads paid to cause chaos and intimidate. I would not feel so good if something happened to you because of a dumb blog like this one. Take care. Especially by Nov. 4th, the day after Trump is reelected. They like purges after their pathetic failures.

Moardeeb

It's called free speech. But this forum can have it's own rules. Eliminate the comments section. I won't miss it. It seems like the same 5 people all the time anyway.

As soon as Trump loses I'm gone anyway. All the boomer rubes in Bakersfield will be in therapy

The Independent Voter

I would miss you, Dweeb.

Zeppo

You may be the only one............

The Independent Voter

LOL!! I'm being kind and diplomatic. I think we posters should all have lunch together.

Veritas

Lunch? I wouldn’t be opposed to that at some point. You can count ‘deeb out, even when the pandemic ends right after Jan 20th. Also, I doubt yorkies is allowed to leave the nursing facility without orderly’s present... 🙂

Zeppo

You may be the only one...........

Bodysnatcher

Why wait dweeb? Be gone now!

PopTart

I'll second the motion...

Zeppo

Hear, hear!

awol

People say stupid and hateful things when hiding like cowards behind anonymity. If there is a way to force "real" names be used as you mentioned, consider implementing it for a trial period and then compare the results. If nothing else, there may be fewer comments, but I'm guessing those that do post will be at least a little more civil.

She Dee

awol- I have limited computed skills and I'd love to change my screen name to Sherry Dee. That was my radio name 30+ years ago! But if the truth needs to be known, my legal name is Sherry Niesen. I guess I paid for it in more ways than one! I don't care who knows anymore. I won't change my views or my outspoken comments for any amount of money or any threats from the peanut gallery!

Zeppo

Or for any facts that may get in your way.......

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@awol: Try the TBC Facebook page...

Robin Paggi

I think people should have to use their real names when posting comments.

Zeppo

If they had to use their real names, they would spend most of the time being so diplomatic, and trying not to say anything to hurt anyone's feelings, that you would not really get to understand what their truly felt.

Robin Paggi

We need to learn how to express our opinions without denigrating others. We can be honest and still be respectful.

Zeppo

They should also print their addresses and social security numbers and all personal information............just in case.

bryanjackson

I like reading the comments and seeing everyone's opinions, however I do not like when people post the same comment over and over again

Ciscojav

IT and GPC sound like they don’t want anyone to challenge their perspectives. MD and Masked never suggested to block IT and GPC from posting comments. I think both sides perspectives are valuable in understanding why different folks in Kern County have such diverse opinions. I think IT and GPC are instrumental in exposing thoughts that many prominent elected leaders are not willing to express publicly. Heck, one of these two could be a very prominent elected leader or one of their staff member attempting to shape public opinion. MD and Masked are just trying to expose what many people accept without questioning and MD and Masked represent a transition that has been going on in Kern County even though it’s is slow and taking a long time due to changing “demographics“. Hence, I totally understand the “dog whistle” meaning behind GPC online name.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Cisco: MD and Yorkies are bumper stickers- Yorkies (masked) doesn't really do anything other than cut and paste and any "original" posts are so disheveled, they really make no sense.

I'm all for robust debate of my "perspectives", but most here just choose to cast aspersions without regard to facts, which I grow weary of.

And please tell me about this "dog whistle" you ended your post with- I'd LOVE to hear about that one... LOL

Veritas

“MD and Masked are just trying to expose what many people accept without questioning...”. That is what you get out of their partisan ramblings? That is no where near their intent, but you go ahead and believe that. And if you also believe they are the poster children for the ‘transition’ then more power to ya. LOL

Lamonster

Just like the old on-line forum for "discussion" we used to enjoy here, there are always those who choose to use the opportunity for ridicule and to insult people and their ideas or to just regurgitate, by copy and paste, the crassness of others. So drop it if you must (or just enforce your own discussion guidelines) but please wait until the pandemic is abated. Some of us don't get out much these days.

She Dee

I enjoy reading that the drama of Bakersfield still exists, and the great minds who spend their days thinking up words to attack and belittle one another for having an opposing viewpoint...have a place here in this very public open forum! Taking it away would only serve one purpose (as I see it). It would hide from the world what types of people are running this town and how their minds have been twisted to form opinions based on bias and gossip, rather than solid facts. Oh NO, don't hide the truth from the public BC Overseers...let it be seen, the absolute stupidity that we humans have to offer one another! Opinions are like skin cells...we all have them.

Zeppo

So you have "absolute stupidity" to offer us?

She Dee

Yes Zeppo and don't you 4get it!

Zeppo

Yes, we should be allowed to write our viewpoint, and sometimes someone writes info that you cannot get from the BC, such as experts in certain fields, which can educate us.

Inconvenient Truth

Exactly.

I often get more out of a comment from someone who is an expert on the subject or knows the real backstory, than I do from the story itself.

However, it would be nice for individuals to have the ability to block comments from specific commenters (like Masked and Moardeeb) who contribute nothing to the conversation.

Zeppo

Agreed.

PopTart

I'll second that one, too...!

Veritas

Commenting on BC stories online should go. Why, because of the examples of inane comments you cited in your article. I have sent an email stating as such, as you requested.

All Star

I miss that LE/Republican hating, former CalTrans street sweeper, Panfoolio Fuentes.

Masked 2020

B.T.W.... they say that new Washington model sez 310,000 CovidDeaths by Christmas....and that the C.O.D. is NakedDon's M.N........I had to look it up........[cut and Paste] Malignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism. Grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate..... the didn't say is MaskedMike2020 was a contributing factor......

Gene Pool Chlorinator

"But many just hurl insults, stray from the news presented and, sometimes, don't make much sense at all."

She's talking to your YORKIES...

You and your buddy Dweeb made up quite a few of the examples above. Congrats on lowering the bar...

Gene Pool Chlorinator

"But many just hurl insults, stray from the news presented and, sometimes, don't make much sense at all."

The last six words would fit your posts (including this one) to a "T" Yorkies... LOL

Masked 2020

opps.......I'm bad.....

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Another reader: "It looks more like a ICE detention center." (YORKIES)

Yet another reader: "Jeezus...... what a horrible looking place for humans to have to spend a day.......it has Zero Curb appeal.......maybe humanoids will work there some day..."(YORKIES)

And another: "Ok I've read the article. There is nothing there about how they plan to keep 1,000 workers free of Covid? Sore subject?"(DWEEB)

"Do you feel enlightened after reading those comments? Did you hear a new perspective or feel as if you engaged in civil discourse?"

NO, NO and NO

Congrats Yorkies and Dweeb!

The Independent Voter

I'm disappointed I wasn't quoted in the article. No fair! Why was *I* left out?!?

Zeppo

Yep.....

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.