Get The Ink Out: Keep online debates civil

I've heard the best way to keep your friends is to avoid talking about religion or politics with them. Unfortunately for me, I decided to build a page devoted to the upcoming elections, which means I'll be one lonely editor.

Under the elections tab on, you'll find a list of the candidates for Newport Beach and Costa Mesa city councils, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education and the 48th Congressional District. Click on a name, any name, and you'll find a page devoted to that candidate.

Our reporters sent a questionnaire to each candidate, asking them about their backgrounds, including education, involvement in politics and what community organizations they belong to. Where applicable, you'll find links to their websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts so you can stay up to date with their moving and shaking.

Although I've launched the site and made it public, I'm not done with it just yet. I'm hoping to create a forum where you, the reader, can comment on the political happenings.

This is where I need your help. E-mail me topics you think the voting public should be talking about, whether it's how many babies a candidate has kissed or who is endorsing whom.

Part of a newspaper's responsibility is being a forum for the free exchange of ideas. These graffiti boards, as our system calls them, is your chance to tell your neighbors who you're voting for and why.

Although I want to foster debate, I also want a civil exchange. I will be monitoring your comments, as I do elsewhere on the site.

Here's a breakdown of the rules:

No obscenities. If you wouldn't want your grandmother to hear it, I wouldn't write it.

No flaming one another. A debate is not made more enlightening by calling anyone an idiot. Pick on the issues, not the person. Also, try to avoid the mob mentality because his or her ideas are in the minority.

No wild accusations. If you can't back up your claim, don't make it.

No racism, sexism, homophobia or religious intolerance. Do I really need to explain this one to you?

Stay on topic. I'm a fan of tangents in conversation, but all too often in political debate, we lose focus.

Be yourself. Please don't create multiple accounts to make the same point, or worse, debate yourself. If I see this happen, all of your duplicate comments, or comments to yourself, will be deleted.

Lastly, I reserve the right to ban anyone from commenting. Mainly this is for anyone thinking about spamming our site (you hear that, you little bots?!), but if your comments consistently break the rules, you will be blocked.

One final point: If you're a candidate who didn't respond to our questionnaire, or if we don't have any of your links up, e-mail me.

Enjoy this political forum. Make it yours, by all means.

And if you're looking for the opinion section, scroll down on the front page to the Forum section and click on "Forum." Letters to the editor, sounding offs, community commentaries, editorials and columns will all still be there.

Web Editor JAMIE ROWE can be reached at (714) 966-4634 or

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