hot-topic rightToday, redbankgreen introduces a new reader-comments system.

Prompted by a rising tide of everything from petty name-calling to outright libel, nearly all of it from anonymous commenters, we’ve flushed our archive of comments posted prior to December 2, when we temporarily halted postings.

We’ve also adopted a registration system in the expectation that it will bring a greater degree of accountability to the commentary. With that, we hope, will be more civil and constructive behavior than we saw in the months leading up to the change.

In order to post a comment on this site, you’ll now need to be a Facebook user. A log-in prompt will appear when you first attempt to post; the same window contains a link for non-Facebook clients to follow in order to get started.

With the implementation of this system, we’ve turned off access to our archive of more than 33,000 comments dating from June 1, 2006 through December 2, 2010. Those comments will no longer be displayed. We’ve also dropped our “Back Alley,” the forum to which comments we considered thuggish and/or cowardly were steered beginning in June, 2008.

We make these changes with some reluctance. The more open approach to comments generated hundreds of informative and entertaining posts and threads. But as the popularity of redbankgreen has grown, each day brought new challenges to our efforts to keep out libelous statements and other violations of our policy. The nastiness simply begat more and more. Scrapping the comments archive while launching a new system enables us to start with a clean slate.

Facebook, we recognize, is not universally loved. But it both encourages readers to post using their real names while offering redbankgreen some moderation tools not previously available.

To see our comments policy, click here. If you have any questions about the policy, please email us at the address in the green bar at the bottom of this page, using your real name (or post a comment below this article). Be aware that we will not discuss our policy or its implementation with people who do not properly identify themselves to us.

If one of your posts gets removed, feel free to rephrase it and repost it in accordance with our policy. If your Facebook account gets blocked, you will be asked to prove your real identity in order to have commenting privileges restored.

With these changes, it’s our hope that readers who’ve previously been reluctant to comment will join with those redbankgreen readers who use this site as a “town square for an unsquare town,” where people who have something to say do so with integrity and respect for others.

John T. Ward