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We shut off the comments on MidlandToday. Here's why

This was not an easy decision as we strive to provide a variety of viewpoints but the comment section was no longer a safe or a sane place
we want to hear from you

The pandemic has brought out the best of people in many ways. Over the past 18 months, we’ve been heartened to share many of those stories.

But as the coronavirus domination drags on, it is taking a toll in many different ways. 

Unfortunately, it seems to have robbed some of you of your common sense and your human decency. And, sadly, that is all too often reflected in the hurtful comments you write - often under cowardly, false pen names - below our stories.

Many have nothing of value to say, but keep saying it over and over again. Often, at length, and typically in hurtful and often hateful language.

We are all weary of ignorant ramblings, subtle but hurtful racism and thinly (and not-so-thinly) veiled threats of violence.

That ends today.

We will no longer be a platform for toxicity and wild conspiracy theorists.

This is not an easy decision in that we strive to present a variety of viewpoints and want to provide a place - a virtual watercooler of sorts - where people can safely discuss the matters of the moment.

But, try as we might, this is no longer a safe place.

We have spent countless hours trying to moderate the growing number of comments and do our best to filter out slurs of all sorts. However, many are just smart enough to find their way around such rules.

While the comments sections are now gone, in their place at the bottom of our stories you will find a new feedback option that prompts readers to ‘Add to the Story.’

It allows you to enter a thoughtful response to the story you have just read. Submissions will be reviewed by local newsroom staff and a selection will be posted as part of a weekly roundup of reader feedback.

But, be forewarned: we will not publish prejudice or cheap shots and will not provide a platform for childish name-calling or trolling. So, don’t waste your time.

Of course, if you really want to weigh in on a local matter, feel free to do what readers have done for hundreds of years - write a letter to the editor. As has been our policy since Day 1, we will only publish letters from real people with real names and identities we’ve confirmed via phone prior to publication.

Frankly, it’s a sad commentary that we must take this step.

Our hope is that it also serves another purpose, allowing us to get on with what should be our top priority: informing you on the critical issues that face our community.

Dave Dawson is the regional editor of Village Media's Simcoe sites.