Tuesday 22 September 2009

More fake comments on Cairns.com.au

Again today, another nutter posts a comment on the Cairns Post website, purporting to be written by me.
This has occurred at least a half a dozen times now, when I've had to ring the nice folk up, who manage the online comments. However, every time I ring the Cairns Post, change my voice, wear dark glasses and put on a fake moustache (just in case), I always quiver a little when I dial the Post main telephone number, which has "666" at the end.
Whilst imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I get sick and tired that the Cairns Post, with all their staff, doesn't apply the same control to their published letters column in the print edition, as it does to their online letter writers.
They state that letter writers must "provide your name, home address or PO Box number, and contact telephone number for verification." They strongly state that "letters that cannot be verified, will not be published."
Well, why don't they apply these rules to their online forum?
Now you could argue that I should do the same on CairnsBlog. However, I do. Well I do when a comment is submitted for publication from a known, or a full name. For instance, I will not ever publish a comment from a proper name, without verification. I guess that's why so many choose to use "Fred of Cityview", instead of their full, real name. I've raised this debate on here previously, in the first year of the Blog's life, but it was greeted with concern and apprehension. I would really like everyone who comments and engages in the free debate on CairnsBlog to submit their real name. I know many won't though and feel concerned if they submit their full name to an online website, especially one that the good Christian Paul Freebody calls "grubby and dirty."
A real name validates and gives strength to any debate. It also receives a great deal more weight to the argument presented and, I believe, warrants more respect for the author.
It's all too easy to sit on the sidelines, and hide under a false identity, firing all sorts of mischief or allegations, from the safety of anonymity. That's what cowards do. That's sad and any normal reader would give such contributions little credibility and almost no respect.
When I suggest the Cairns Post should verify all comments, I'm not talking about those from "Fred of Bayview" or Sally of Gorndonvale". I'm talking about those that come in with what appears to be legitimate names attached. especially a known name. The Post's comment capture form only asks for a "working email address."
When you submit a letter for publication in their print edition, you have to provide a address as well as a telephone number, for verification.
Some letters for the print edition, have slipped through the shaky system, as they've done on CairnsBlog from time to time. In May, the Post published a horrible hate-filled letter, and were forced two days later to apologise. The heat that was generated and outcry from CairnsBlog contributors about the incident, made the editor publish a second apology, five days later.
I just wonder why they don't take a few extra minutes to check the comments before they publish them.
In what appears to be written in the style of the waterpark developer himself, Paul Freebody, who writes in broken English at the best of times, uses confused grammar and spelling mistakes in today's letter, that is meant to be from me. He even spelt my (his?) name different twice.
In a comment about his proposed waterpark ""Micheal Moore" [sic] says "If councillors don’t over see the stupidity in this recommendation then they are not the visionary people we need taking Cairns forward in these troubled times. Good on you Mr. Free body for having the guts to have ago and don’t worry about the tall poppy syndrome (as I sure you don’t) that exists in Cairns," the letter writes says.
"The Problem you have is a minority of people relying on government handouts as they have no work ethic, Hence in their view no one else is allowed to be successful."
It was signed "Michael Moore" and then again "Micheal Moore" at 11:40am.
When I chatted with Andrew at the Post today, who looks after website comments, he said there are probably more than one person with my name in town. I agree, that could be so. However, it would have been appropriate to at least verify the comment with the sender.
He did remove the comment, pended a reply from the sender's Yahoo email address, which was subsequently sent, and the comment was replaced online.
I guess the thing is that anyone can fake a name via email. Gosh, I should know, I crafted a classic, if I may say so myself, on April Fool's day, when I set up the Mayor and her media staff and I sent out a fake press release announcing her "book launch." It must have looked the real McCoy, as three radio stations and two TV channels ran the story and turned up at Council for the "launch". The then CEO launched an investigation into how the email system could be breached. I told Noel that a 12-year-old could do what I did. Even Henry Poyntz of Fosnez Blog, who used to be a Council IT staffer, agreed how simple it is to fake an email address. However, they are traceable and there are simple clues that will show in the email's path, hidden in it's properties.
Maybe, as Oscar Wilde said, it's better to be talked about, than not be talked about.


Unknown said...

Are there other Michael Moore's in Cairns? Does anyone know of another one?

The Essence of Good Taste said...

A quick check of the electoral role will tell you... it's certainly possible, but even if there is I doubt the second Michael Moore wrote the comment on the Cairns Post website