Alien mind control and our new website

Published 7:54 pm Saturday, September 18, 2010

I hope by now you have had a chance to surf around the new Suffolk News-Herald website. We are all very excited about the features it offers and the design opportunities it affords. We’re especially excited about the various tools that allow our users to interact with us, with one another and with the world around us.

Among those new features are buttons that allow Facebook users to “Like” any story we publish online. Doing so puts a link to the story on your Facebook wall and is noted by a running counter at the top of the story. In Facebook-ese, “liking” something is akin to giving it a thumbs-up. So if you’ve read a particularly good bit of writing on our site — or if you’re a big fan of the subject of the story — don’t hesitate to click the button.

Some of our readers online also are into Twitter, where they can share insights and information about their lives and the world in 140-character bites. While Twitter is far less popular as a social media tool than Facebook, the company behind the network still claims about 65 million messages, or tweets, per day.

If you are one of the users who contributes to that total, we encourage you to tweet about what you read about the Suffolk News-Herald. It’s easy to do so from our new website, where a “Retweet” button sends your followers a message about whatever story has attracted your attention. The article’s header then keeps a running total of the number of times it has been retweeted.

As always, you can email your friends copies of interested articles directly from the website. And you can comment on anything that’s posted on the site.

A couple of points about comments: First, in order to comment on articles or even to read the comments that others have posted, you will have to register with a real, working email address. And second, remember that this is Suffolk, and Suffolk is a part of Virginia, where we still believe in treating people with some respect, even in the midst of a disagreement. Please keep that in mind when you’re commenting.

Now to dispel a rumor about comments. Contrary to what the conspiracy theorists would like to believe, we don’t censor any comments on our site except those that could be potentially libelous and those that step over the line into extreme distastefulness or obscenity. The site has an automatic spam filter that sometimes catches and holds completely innocuous comments. Sometimes it takes a day or two for us to find those comments and rescue them from the spam filter. Rest assured, with precious few exceptions, that’s exactly what we do.

If your comment blasting the city or even the News-Herald hasn’t showed up yet, be patient; unless it’s potentially libelous or demonstrably contrary to our user agreement, we’ll make sure the world can see it.

Trust me, one of my favorite parts of the day is reading how some guy who’s never even met me thinks my brain is secretly controlled by aliens operating out of hidden bunkers on Market Street or in Alabama.

That could explain the headaches.