Thursday, September 25, 2008

Registration required

Nearly one year ago, I launched The SF K Files to chronicle my search for a kindergarten for my daughter in San Francisco. I chose to take an upbeat approach and write about what I liked about schools--because I felt like we all heard the negative stuff at the playground. I wanted the site to be a positive and inspiring place for parents to visit. Yes, I expected us all to vent from time to time and I knew there would be some negative things to share. But I figured we would all be civil. We would disagree, of course, but respect one another.

Generally, this has been the situation on the site (with some exceptions). But in recent weeks, the climate on The SF K Files has changed dramatically. The comments have become inappropriate and negative--and I don't have time to moderate these childish conversations.

I'm concerned about the next group of parents who are going through the process. I know that many of them are visiting this site--and I think we should be inspiring them rather them scaring them off. That said, I have decided to require commentors to register on the site. You will need to pick a username. It doesn't have to be your real name but it will be an identity. This will allow me to block people who are mean. My new mantra is "Don't be mean."




  1. OK, so that took about 30 seconds to get an account.

    Kate, does this mean that you will be posting more often and add to the school reviews?

  2. Good luck holding the line against the trolls. I've been running the sfschools yahoo group for eight years now, and taking an almost completely laissez faire approach. And I get a lot of feedback telling me that the list is too rough and too mean. It really does intimidate and turn off a lot of people. On the other hand, passions run hot for a reason. There is much to get angry and passionate about when it comes to our kids and their schools.

    The list is what it is, and has "thrived" through the years in spite of the trolls -- so I'm not interested in changing my approach and trying to cultivate a more inclusive, less intimidating atmosphere.

    But I think you are doing the right thing to nurture a more civil tenor here.

  3. Thanks Kate -- for what it's worth, I completely support your decision and considering what you've done for me personally - a mom who is trying to madly navigate my way in preparation for the lottery realities, I truly appreciate all of your efforts. The fact that you even started this blog in the first place and have managed to keep it going is greatly admired at the preschool water cooler discussions. I do agree that most posts as of late, though the topics are/could be really valuable, they have quickly spiraled and the original topic seems to go by the wayside. I really do appreciate hearing from the veteran parents, and hope that everyone out there knows that the feedback - hidden gems, fund raising, wait lists, all of it, is such a huge resource - just having access to this info.

    anyways, just my 2 cents and a big thank you to you. 3 tours down...8 more to go. chin up!

  4. It isn't the list that is mean, it's a the posters--or rather a few posters.

    I believe that registration will help. But I also believe that there are some tough issues about class and race that need to be discussed, and you have managed to provide a safe forum for that, however painful.

    I also believe that it isn't our job to be only inspiring. I may be in a minority, but I don't think our schools are as great as they should be. Sometimes it takes getting angry before we 'inspire' people to take action.

    I have appreciated this blog, learned more from it (the people who post) than I could have possibly researched on my own, nd feel apart of a bigger community.

    Thank you, Kate.

    Welcome to the new Kinder seekers.

  5. Sort of sad about the username, because rudeness is a small price to pay for the gut-honest content, which I think we'll never get if people have to use usernames.

    I mean, the freaks will just register a bum name to make their flame, but I have to say, I'm an adult. Most people on this list are adult. We can handle mean people.

  6. Kate,

    Thank you for creating and maintaining this wonderfully informative forum!

  7. Interesting, isn't it, how the posts have plummeted today, now that this policy is in place. I love this blog and check in constantly. It's been dead quiet today.

    Kate is to be admired for starting it and keeping it up. Thank you Kate. I hope people start posting again...

  8. Our family is applying to Nueva's kindergarten class and would love to hear comments about this school in Hillsborough. The online reviews are mixed and so I would appreciate some more honest opinions.

  9. Thank you, Kate, for your honest appraisal. I am a fairly new addition to this blog community but recently have stayed away because of the nature of the posts-- not so much because they were mean (though it's kind of sad that anonymity seems to foster the meanness, like it's easy to flip someone off from your car--chances are you don't know them & will never see them again or ever...) but more because every discussion was degenerating down into the same fruitless few. Happy to register if it helps people show a bit more restraint & consideration while they're hopefully still being candid & honest.

  10. It won't do any such thing. People can make up any name they want. What will happen is someone will get all offended about what someone else said, and they'll get that person banned. I don't like that environment. It's Kate's blog, she can do what she wants, but I think it's a slippery slope. Just my two cents.

  11. 3:27, 12:42 here (is that anonymous...?)
    I doubt that many will actually be banned. I don't get that control thing from Kate or this site but just that she's trying to make the tiniest barrier for the inappropriate--trolling & perhaps even some reckless blogging/writing. I've certainly noticed that people often don't realize the power of their words & tone in writing. Probably having to register won't change that, but maybe it (& this discussion?) can be a reminder that we're not here to swat each other down.

  12. If someone really wants to troll then they'll be able to regardless of required registration. Even if Kate tracks by IP addresses, there are plenty of ways to fake that, so someone just has to re-register. Takes about 60 seconds to do.

    For the "regular" people it will just diminish information exchange.

  13. we're not here to swat each other down

    not true! I will swat down any opinion that seeks to equate choosing a private school with moral turpitude and choosing a charter school with joining a vast right wing conspiracy.

  14. I would say that it's fine to swat down the opinion -- or rather, refute it with articulate and well-informed arguments -- but not to namecall and defame the individual who stated the opinion. It's the namecalling by anonymous attackers that makes this site so mean and angry, not the spirited discussion and debate. Why can't spirited discussion and debate go on between posters using a name, with a pseudonym being perfectly acceptable?