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The collective commenters at any publication often form one dominant personality. At The Boston Globe, for example, stalwart commenters are so entangled in their relationships with each other that the articles serve primarily as vehicles for their ongoing ideological battles. (And yes, it’s totally fair to read the exchanges in a Boston accent.) At The Washington Post commenters can be vicious, writing the kinds of things most children are taught not to think, let alone speak. At Dawn, a Pakistani English-language daily newspaper, commenters are relentlessly positive and patriotic. Local travel articles on Pakistan’s parks and historic temples garner endless accolades and recommendations for similar sites.

Here at Washington City Paper, our commenters see themselves as nothing if not journalism teachers. They love to offer writing advice, apparently relishing the opportunity to mete out detailed criticism and unabashed praise. 

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Last week they offered writer Bill Myers a wholehearted A+ for his article on former detective Jim Trainum. “Nice article!” wrote oldman. “Excellent article!!! THIS is what CityPaper should be publishing more of,” wrote Typical DC BS. They thanked and honored Trainum, too.

Prolific City Paper commenter SkippyDCTurtle was, at least by Skippy standards, pleased with reporter Andrew Giambrone’s article on a new museum. “This is one of the better posts I’ve read,” Skip wrote. He requested further information but ultimately expressed measured satisfaction.

But then, mid-week, City Paper commenters took off their teacher hats. The cause? Vince Gray, D.C. councilmember. In response to Loose Lips reporter Jeffrey Anderson’s piece about Gray’s “emergency” proposal to spend $64 million on growing  the police force, readers offered information—and conversed. “MPD cant stretch the force thin with the chaos that is about to come and still have relaxed, competent officers policing our neighborhoods and the city,” wrote noodlez (in all caps). “Noodlez I agree with you,” Rake replied. “But the simple fact is that Vince hasn’t thought any of this out—at all.”

We hope to keep the conversation going.