St. Louis Post-Dispatch Goes Nuclear on Commenter for Posting “Pussy,” Ignores Racist Hate Speech

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It started with a Post-Dispatch blog post titled “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten? And did you like it?” There was mention of octopus, Rocky Mountain oysters and the like. Readers were asked to comment. One anonymous commenter simply posted “pussy”. It was deleted. The same commenter posted “pussy” again. The P-D’s Kurt Greenbaum sprung into action. Looking at his WordPress e-mail alert Mr. Greenbaum noticed that the IP address of the anonymous commenter was a local school.

From Mr. Greenbaum:

So I called the school. They were happy to have me forward the e-mail, though I wasn’t sure what they’d be able to do with the meager information it included.

About six hours later, I heard from the school’s headmaster. The school’s IT director took a shine to the challenge. Long story short: Using the time-frame of the comments, our website location and the IP addresses in the WordPress e-mail, he tracked it back to a specific computer. The headmaster confronted the employee, who resigned on the spot.

Comments on the comment story are now closed, after 151 comments. All 151 can be read below. These comments highlight why the Post-Dispatch should implement a robust verification process for on-line comments. This blog has highlighted the problem before. And I’ve helped to create stltomorrow.org to further highlight the problems with comments on the P-D’s website stltoday.com. There’s a Facebook fan page where a group of concerned individuals post the most hateful and outrageous comments allowed by the Post-Dispatch. A quick look will reveal comments more harmful, hurtful and dangerous than “pussy.”

To the issue at hand: Several comments to the P-D blog post question whether Mr. Greenbaum violated the P-D’s online privacy policy, which states:

We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information. In some cases, however, we may provide information to legal officials as described in “Compliance with Legal Process” below.”

However, Mr. Greenbaum noted that he did not provide the school with any personal information that they did not already have (the IP address) and that the school took it upon themselves to discover the person who posted the comment. This may be akin to loading and holding the gun for someone to pull the trigger.

Of note, this story brought out plenty of the conspiracy theory, anti-Obama, anti-union comments. If you have to ask why in the world this issue would be tied to such things, then you do not understand the comments section of STL Today where calls of “Nazi,” “Facist,” “Brownshirt,” “ghetto,” “thug” and more are claimed to be an American as apple pie (though only one baked by a non-union, white, natural-born citizen employee).

One sample (of many):

This kind of BS is just the beginning for the American people. Be prepared for more brown shirt tactics like this to be used to silence any opposition to the Czar-In-Chief. I guess speaking your mind is no longer considered a right in the USA now. Only if your ideology is within the same range of the SEIU, Obama and the Gore Green Movement.
Ridiculous!
— Gaucho
1:07 pm November 17th, 2009

There were also a couple notes of sympathy or understanding for Mr. Greenbaum’s actions:

I don’t know, Kurt has repeatedly expressed his dislike of some of the odd/inappropriate posts on the Talk of the Day blog. The posted comment was vulgar and meant to be so. Kurt decided to investigate a little and decided to send it on when he discovered it was a school. I am sure he suspected the culprit was some kid. The guy got discovered because he was too stupid cover his tracks. If any of you manage employees, you can easily understand why he resigned/got fired.
I certainly empathize with Kurt on having to deal with this stupidity on a daily basis. I personally would not have sent it on, unless it was a repeat offender and wouldn’t have publicized it but its not my site.
This blog has asked several times about the future of the commenting feature on stltoday.com–I think the comments on this topic tell you exactly what you should do.
— mello01
2:30 pm November 17th, 2009

Full comments (now closed on STL Today):

Was his “nom-de-net” llbean?
— dr-debunk
3:11 pm November 16th, 2009

Wow. I wonder why he felt the need to use the vulgarity when another word would have conveyed pretty much the same message: chicken, coward, sissy etc. It sounds like the guy was unhappy in his job and pushed the envelope a little too much. His loss.
— itsazoo
3:15 pm November 16th, 2009

you guys don’t like moderating so you call his work and get him fired. Nice. Happy holidays.
— Ghetto Prez
3:21 pm November 16th, 2009

@Ghetto: Yeah, you caught me! I made him log on to his computer at work, visit STLtoday.com’s Talk of the Day, read the item, type a vulgarity and hit the “submit” key.
Interesting perspective. Thanks for your contribution.
Oh, I didn’t say he was fired. I said he resigned.
— Kurt Greenbaum
3:31 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt,look like your Holiday (aka-Christmas) present is going be a big cheese ball-Bon Appetite!!
— Steve M.
3:32 pm November 16th, 2009

–At least you could tell us his “nom-de-net”.
— dr-debunk
3:33 pm November 16th, 2009

On the serious side Mr.Greenbaum,look like a pink slip may be in your future.It really look like you step out of bounds by doing this.Oh,Power Of The Press Man,please do not delete this post!
— Steve M.
3:37 pm November 16th, 2009

I’m with Ghetto Prez on this one….Why didn’t you just shoot him an email that said, “Hey, I notice your IP is from a XXXX-School District. Please refrain from using profanity on our website, lest we notify your employer.” Now we have to worry about the Post turning us in for posting something on their website? Instead, you used your leverage to basically force someone to resign.
Was the OP out of line? Absolutely. Did the Post just cross a line I am not comfortable with? As Sarah Palin would say, “You Betcha.” Are you actively trying to alienate the few readers you have left or what?
If you guys are THAT worried about it, use the software where you have to approve comments BEFORE they appear. I’ve seen enough racist comments on this website to certainly justify it.
— Karen
3:41 pm November 16th, 2009

What an abuse of power, Mr. Greenbaum!!! So is the Post Dispatch now a Gestapo Agent? What a sick and terrible thing you did to this employee in an economy where he probably doesn’t stand a chance in getting another job! I recommend that YOU get fired for abuse of power!!!!! See how YOU feel!!!
— thinkingaboutit
3:49 pm November 16th, 2009

Great journalism Kurt.
— 123456
3:50 pm November 16th, 2009

there is a waiver or shall we say a long long paragraph about what to post and what not to post and then we click that we agree to the terms and hit submit…lol….so after they deleted it the first time, you think it’s a good idea to post it again….wow!
— Diva314
3:55 pm November 16th, 2009

I agree with the above comments. First step should have been to just ban him and record his IP address for future reference. Do it a second time, then call his place of employment. I had my account banned – using my real name – for story posts, I never was told why, and never use vulgarity in my posts. I think it was criticism of the paper and its policies, personnel, etc. PD policies are subjective and all over the road map.
— daHood
3:55 pm November 16th, 2009

Are you proud of yourself? Is that the point of this story?
As a writer you are supressing someone else’s words?
Bad taste? Probably. But getting him fired? You sound like the typical picked-on geek kid. Squeal, and then boast about it. Get a life.
Are you going to call my work, or my mom?
Someone lost his job.
— qgirl
3:56 pm November 16th, 2009

Maybe Kurt went over the line…but does self-responsibility mean anything any more? How about self-control? Does the typee not have anything more meaningful to do with his time?
— Mr Responsible
4:01 pm November 16th, 2009

I told you Kurt was a “Thought Nazi”
Hi! Everyone, I’m Kurt and I’m a thought Nazi! I’ll smash down your bosses door and have you thrown out in to the street! Look at me in my smashing new shiny black Nazi jackboots!
— Told Ya!
4:02 pm November 16th, 2009

YOU are the director of social media? tools to be leveraged to get businesses closer to their customers?
what an awful story and it’s even more embarassing that you squawk about it after the fact.
the lesson is: be careful StlToday website visitors – never know when a bored employee will pursue some bizarre investigation that could cost you your job.
moderate your forum better. you totally do not understand social media, sir.
— bd
4:02 pm November 16th, 2009

I told you Kurt was a “Thought Nazi”
“Hi! Everyone, I’m Kurt and I’m a thought Nazi! I’ll smash down your bosses door and have you thrown out in to the street! Look at me in my smashing new shiny black Nazi jackboots!”
I hope this guy sues Kurt personally and the PD for BIG BUCKS!
Perhaps he suspected it and now he knows for sure who did it!
— Told Ya!
4:03 pm November 16th, 2009

Thanks for letting us know. All the more reason once the Globe Democrat comes online on December 8th to drop Stltoday.com ONCE AND FOR ALL!
— Told Ya!
4:07 pm November 16th, 2009

Just FYI – You can block IP addresses. Probably less work than tracking down an “anonymous” commenter’s place of work. Doesn’t make for a very juicy story tho..
— 123456
4:18 pm November 16th, 2009

Blocking IP addresses is a bad idea. You can accidentally block everyone from a particular place of business. I didn’t track down the guy. His place of work just showed up in the email alert because their servers were correctly configured.
Defend the guy who posted the vulgarity all you want. I’m not regulating someone’s thought. He can think whatever he wants. I’m moderating our boards. Follow our guidelines and this won’t be a problem for any of you.
Remember, I said it was a school, right? It could have been a student. I didn’t know who it was. I just thought the school might like to know about it. I sleep fine at night.
— Kurt Greenbaum
4:26 pm November 16th, 2009

You must be really proud of yourself . Way to go man! High five ! Big pat on the back to Kurt. Your last paragraph of the story is ridiculous. I guess you’re getting the attention you are so apparently lacking.
— shut the hell up
4:26 pm November 16th, 2009

I will add to my original comment and say this: Of all the comments that you guys choose to “narc on,” for lack of a better term, you chose one that was actually kind of funny considering the question he was responding to (this coming from a woman). Vulgar, yes, but nowhere near as offensive as some of the racist stuff I’ve seen of here.
Many newspapers use software where the comments have to be approved before they are posted. The Post obviously feels that the notoriety they enjoy from their “Wild West” posting style is worth more than that software. So either enforce your own rules or don’t, but by gosh, don’t go around playing “thought police” and then brag about it!
— Karen
4:27 pm November 16th, 2009

oops I complemented him on it, i mean it was pretty funny.
you didnt know the fool would get fired and he should not have posted that. It does suck for him though.
— mello01
4:34 pm November 16th, 2009

Heir Greenbaum:
The Furher and I were just discussing your actions. We are very proud of you. You are coming along nicely.
Joseph Goebbels
— Joseph Goebbells
4:39 pm November 16th, 2009

Wow, offensive words and Kurt will rat you at to your employer. Hmm, what’s next Kurt, political views you don’t agree with? Extreme stories that you might not like? Anything that wubs widdle kurtie the wrong way?!?!?
How many of the folks who post here who disagree withwhat you did are you going to rat out?
Very dubious actions from a supposed “institution” like the PD. Though it was crude, it was how this yahoo wanted to express himself.
Thumbs down to Kurt.
— Leonard
4:43 pm November 16th, 2009

Notifying someone’s employer over something not illegal/threatening is way out of line in my opinion. Particularly when, as a comment above noted, far more offensive and mean-spirited comments are routinely left up, presumably without notifying the commentors’ employers. To me this seems like a real abuse of your position.
— Paul
4:50 pm November 16th, 2009

I believe the grounds here will be “Constraint of Trade”. Greenbaum took it upon himself to “personally issue a challenge to the IT Administrator of this school to track this person down and extends the PD’s policies to the school itself”
No laws were broken, this posting although perhaps crude, crudeness is not a violation of the law, the language did not imply a threat or immediate danger to anyone or to the students. On the grounds of “Constraint of Trade” I am hereby judging GREENBAUM in the Court of Public Opinion as “GUILTY” of the charges and hereby recommending restitution to this individual and awarding them the sum of $14 Million dollars in damages. Court is dismissed.
— Constraint of Trade
4:55 pm November 16th, 2009

Too bad you don’t do this to the really offensive racist attacks I see on here abd other bigotry. Bad use of the word but it was a bit funny. Nothing to contact and employer. If this wasn’t a newspaper site I would understand more…but of any website that allows all kinds of awful postings- freedom of expression you would think be much allowed, even if it is a humorous vulgar remark.
— Jeff
4:58 pm November 16th, 2009

Since when is a small furry feline vulgar?
— jed
5:09 pm November 16th, 2009

Just out of curiosity, is this now an official PD policy, i.e. commentors making unacceptable comments will be tracked and their employers notified? Or is it just willy-nilly, “oh hey,I just happened to see this guy’s email, and it looks like he works for a school, I’ll report him”? Are there certain employers you will report to, but others you will not? Will these policies be posted somewhere? Is it accurate to say that racist comments are ok, but junior high humor is not?
— Paul
5:09 pm November 16th, 2009

I agree with many of the posters here. I think you went too far for a comment that was non-threatening and not all that vulgar. I’ve seen much worse, and much more hateful, on these boards. In this economy, it’s sad when anyone loses their job. You sound like you’re gloating. You should reconsider your thoughts on this.
— jp
5:11 pm November 16th, 2009

Just wait. Soon the “Comments are Closed” sign will be out here.
— daHood
5:18 pm November 16th, 2009

@JP: I’m not gloating and I’m sorry if it sounds like that; it reads like a pretty straightforward account to me.
Bringing up other bad comments is a red herring. It’s like trying to get out of a ticket by telling the cop other people speed.
— Kurt Greenbaum
5:23 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt:
Your comment about how you sleep fine at night is a little scary. You just cost someone a job, and they most likely have a family to support. The least you could do is apologize to the man, but you won’t even acknowledge that you overeacted. Maybe you can do afollow up in a few weeks after he commits suicide
— hap
5:25 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt,
You sound like you need to get out from behind your computer and have some fun. You also sound like you need to get the corn cob out of your behind as well.
— shut the hell up
5:26 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt, maybe the guy WAS a moron and out of line for posting a vulgarity 2 times. The thing I find ironic is how you defend yourself by claiming you were simply ‘moderating’ the site. The only thing that is a bigger joke than this site in general is the claim that anyone moderates anything on it. I see comments every day that are offensive, racist, name calling, etc. As a matter of fact, on the joke of a forum board I notice that the only people banned are the ones that point out how the moderators don’t enforce their own rules. This paper/ site really should just do away from the comments in general (I know, you would be giving up too much revenue) since you guys keep making bigger fools out of yourself every time you try to moderate. The fact that you seem to be bragging about this makes you look like a child as well as a fool. Nanna Nanna Boo Boo!!!
— jaco
5:29 pm November 16th, 2009

Costing someone his job over a bad word? The perfect follow up to this story would be if Kurt Greenbaum got fired for being so spiteful
— Rob
5:29 pm November 16th, 2009

If I were the guy that had to resign, I’d be looking for Kurt the Brown Shirt.
— highcard
5:32 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt,
I have to say that I agree with every other commenter on this story. That was a really low move. The Post-Dispatch opens up their message boards to all users and takes it upon themselves to self-police them. Retaliatory attacks against users is not something that any person should expect from using these boards, save for threats of bodily harm or death.
Furthermore, it seems like you are attempting to justify your actions by saying that this occured at a school. Is a school now some sort of hallowed ground where adults are forced to abandon all crude thought? It’s not like said individual was sharing his joke with students (all of whom likely use such terms regularly, depending on the grade). By the same token, is it a worse “crime” for a teacher to send a crude email to a welcoming coworker than it is for two accountants or two attorneys?
You have now set a very confusing precedent to the STLtoday.com community, and one that I hope will give people pause about whether it’s really worth posting here to begin with. What starts with a simple vulgar joke can be taken as far as you want to with your new “power.” What’s next? Reporting an anti-Catholic message that originates from a SLU domain name? I suggest you re-evaluate what you have done to this man and state a policy as to just how far you will or will not go in the future when these kinds of incidents arise.
— Andrew
5:34 pm November 16th, 2009

hap,
–I’m sure Captain Queeg and Ebeneezer Scrooge slept well at night also.
Doesn’t mean they weren’t deranged sociopaths…they just slept well.
–The court of public opinion is running like 35-2.
–Verdict…bailiff…whack his peepee!
— dr-debunk
5:36 pm November 16th, 2009

Here’s a link to the “jobs blog” “journalist” calling out a writer by name…Stalinism is the new agenda at the PD…
http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/stl-jobwatch/uncategorized/2009/11/747/
— highcard
5:36 pm November 16th, 2009

The court of public opinion doesn’t understand the internet very well.
— rilke
5:45 pm November 16th, 2009

“Bringing up other bad comments is a red herring. It’s like trying to get out of a ticket by telling the cop other people speed.”
Assuming you see yourself as the “cop”, I’d say this is the equivalent of sitting by while cars drive by at 50 over, then pulling over a guy doing 5 over and putting him in jail. Then putting it on the evening news.
Set out the rules, then hold everyone to the same standard. If you want to start reporting people to their employers, go ahead. Just tell them. Then do it for every offensive comment. Good luck finding people who still want to comment.
— Paul
5:46 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt:
Now that you’ve ratted out some poor guy to his boss an d cost him his job, I think it’s only fair that you rat out the stupid headmaster. What idiot would fire someone over a dumb mistake that had absolutly no repercussions for the school?
Oh, I know you say he resigned, that’s only to save face and not have to say he was fired, and for what. Rommel resigned to, right before they were going to shoot him
— Robert
5:49 pm November 16th, 2009

Mr. Greenbaum, I applaud you and your ethics. As a teacher, I know that there are more important things to do during the workday than log online. Why was this person not doing his job and educating his students? With ethics like his, I wouldn’t want him within 500 yards of my school or children. He had the time to not once, but twice be an idiot and misuse his time and his employer was right to confront him with his abuse of their equipment. It makes me wonder how much time he was surfing the net and where when he had more important things to do. This is why the budgets for our schools are out of whack and our students do not get the equipment they need – misuse of payroll funds to employ idiots like that.
— Mialsya
5:49 pm November 16th, 2009

I knew you lefties at the PD were cold hearted with a cruel meanstreak, but boasting about abusing your power to get a person fired in this economy is a new low. Wow! Maybe you can track him down again and do a piece on him and his family for the 100 neediest people column this holiday season. Please Herr Kurt, don’t track me down and try to ruin my life for posting this.
— Fun Gus
5:51 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt:
Iknow, you were only following policy. Damn, I kow I’ve heard that excuse somewhere before…..
— Bob
5:57 pm November 16th, 2009

Mialsya:
You’re even scarier than Kurt! How do you know it was a teacher?
How do you know it was a man, women eat funny things too? Please tell me where you teach so that I can save the children from you. I’m going to report you to the Headmaster!
— Gerry
6:03 pm November 16th, 2009

When you screw up, be man enough to admit it. You overreacted. Then you say it might have been a student. So what if it was?
Since this all started about funny things to eat, maybe Kurt should eat a little crow.
— Gerry
6:13 pm November 16th, 2009

Dr. De-bunk has made an excellent point Kurt. YOU at the PD have chuckled as you use (and print) the word “tea-baggers” to describe conservative activists voicing their opinions. You and all your sophomoric liberal chums at the PD know exactly what that word means yet you still print it. Why don’t you explain to some of your older readers (that maybe aren’t as hip as the majority of your dwindling readers) in graphic detail exactly what a tea-bagger is. Maybe you can have a self righteous public school teacher explain to her young class why the award winning PD uses such vulgarities. I guarantee that all of her students would know the exact meaning of this word. Sleep well tonight Kurt…
— Fun Gus
6:21 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt, can you explain why some vulgarities are removed and others are not? How is it that you and other editors/moderators permit the vulgar expression “Teabagging” to be posted endlessly? If you dont want to post the answer would you send it to me at [email protected]?
— Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum
6:24 pm November 16th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Blogs are routinely rotated in and out of the columns/blogs section of the home page all day, every day. Anyone who is a regular visitor to STLtoday.com is aware of this. And no, this is not Kurt explaining this.

Why did this story move to the blog section instead of the front page like it was earlier ? On second thought Kurt, if you’re so proud of what you’ve done put it in the headline. Apparently these comment boards can be moved at will of the PD. Could it be there are only three commenters that agree with you ?
— shut the hell up
6:36 pm November 16th, 2009

When the light bulb in my head came on as to what the word was, I laughed. Then I read the rest of the story and was taken aback.
And yes Kurt, it does sound as though you were bragging.
— jmas
6:43 pm November 16th, 2009

–Oh that’s too rich, even for you mutts.
–”Tea-baggers” is just hunky-dory, but a euphemism meant as a metaphorical device,(”circle-jerk”) is moderated…
–Revealing of your utter hypocrisy.
— dr-debunk
6:49 pm November 16th, 2009

Come on Kurt…where’s the Mea Culpa? Just cause you COULD do it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD have. Maybe this poor slob was on a break and sitting at his desk trying to inject a little humor into another mundane blog.
In this court of Public Opinion, based on your OWN facts, you’ve been tried and found guilty. What’s the sentence?
Time to man up.
— Leonard
7:14 pm November 16th, 2009

Kurt was taking the High Road and doing it for the “little children”. What a lame excuse.
Despite the Nazis being ruthless at least they had backbone and weren’t vindictive little sneaks.
Look out! Greenbaum is ruling with an Iron Fist! Let’s all go in to a collective tremble.
The only thing this action proves is that more readers need to get out and experience the richness and fullness of the real internet and the vast array of Alternative news sites.
BTW – The Globe Democrat comes online December 8th http://www.globe-democrat.com It’s certain to be the death of Stltoday.com
— Told Ya!
7:28 pm November 16th, 2009

I am just too bewildered to even know exactly what to say. I do believe that contacting this man’s employment went way over board and that an email should have been sent to the man with a warning that you would have banned him if not for the fact that it would possibly block others at the school also. I believe that that would have solved in future problems.
But based on the question, it appears that this man may have only been responding honestly even though stupidly. We have all had our stupid moments and I certainly hate seeing this man or anyone suffer such extreme consequences as losing their job over something as minor as being vulgar without warning. I understand how this must have struck a lightening bolt through Kurt’s soul at such disrespect of a person using such vulgarity on a public website that were coming from a school but contacting the school with emailing this man with a warning I believe stepped over the line. This is really an awful situation. Well Kurt we all now see that you are human capable of making grave mistakes because this was certainly one, it just leaves a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
There must be some sort of bug going around at the Post because that Doug Wong fellow over there writing on “A Conversation About Race” is behaving extremely shady and questionable in my opinion, and is the last person who should be writing anything about Black race issues African or otherwise as shown by such an ignorant question posed in his blog title, “Little girls don’t care what race a Disney princess is, so why do adults?”
Gee, maybe the answer to that could be because of the reality that there Black African royal families. Duh?
But in all sincerity concerning this story about the school employee, I hope that your actions do not come back and bite you because in all honesty I certainly understand how the nerves of this person got under your skin to cause your reaction after he posted it again. It could have been that he thought it had not posted the first time because that has happened to me on many occassions.
— D. Walker
7:58 pm November 16th, 2009

–Nice speech coming from someone who has used “tea-bagger” in anger and despair talking about those you disagree with.
–This guy was making a JOKE. It may have been unfunny to you, but it was still a joke, and a damn funny one in my opinion.
–You, other liberals, and “elite” media members and even Bill Clinton have used and continue to SERIOUSLY use the much more vulgar word. One which could be called “hate-speech”, since it is used in a derogatory manner trying to demean conservatives. You, they and them have no place to comment or complain here.
–It always amazes me the extent to which liberals twist meaning and thought to try and rationalize their hypocrisy.
–Just know you aren’t fooling anyone.
— dr-debunk
8:31 pm November 16th, 2009

Mr. Greenbaum,
As a journalist, you should know that anonymity is often crucial to protecting our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Please take a look at this website, and take note of the U.S. Supreme Court’s words on this matter: “Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse.”
http://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity
That is why some journalists are willing to go to PRISON to protect the identity of an anonymous source.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reporters‘_privilege
You chose to solicit comments on your blog. The comments feature is presented with the appearance of anonymity. The fact that the information you received from this man was unappreciated is irrelevant.
It is absolutely chilling that a so-called journalist would go out of his way to reveal the identity of someone who sent information to a newspaper.
The simple fact of the matter is that you intentionally revealed the identity of someone who sent information to your newspaper under a false impression of anonymity. Your behavior is shockingly unprofessional, and downright un-American.
— TorUser
8:33 pm November 16th, 2009

Oh, wouldn’t it be great if one of the local news stations got a hold of this and did some investigating?
Maybe someone should forward it to O’Reilly so he can do a pinheads/patriots thing on this one. Bill is not a real fan of the PD is he?
“Anonymous blog for a liberal leaning newspaper? Not so anonymous is it. Watch what you post or the PC crowd will get you fired!”
— Turner
8:37 pm November 16th, 2009

Anyone who would like to be able to submit comments anonymously to this newspaper or any other website should take a look athttp://www.torproject.org.
When used properly, it provides the ability to hide your identifying information from the websites that you visit.
(But remember that everything you do on your computer at work is easily visible to your employer).
— TorUser
8:41 pm November 16th, 2009

Turner, this is St. Louis. The TV stations are owned and/or run by the same type of monopolistic, liberal, like-minded kool aid drinkers as the PD. They would not turn on their own.
— Fun Gus
8:49 pm November 16th, 2009

I really half-expected an apology from Kurt by now. He fails to see how his actions toward one unfortunate soul, affects every reader and commenter on the PD. He has biten the hand that feeds him. He works in a field where journalists are literally, “a dime a dozen”. He must be confident that whatever source opened the doors for him at the PD, will defend him in his blind stubborness.
— thinkingaboutit
9:07 pm November 16th, 2009

Ode to us “Common Folk”
Someday our ship will come in and we’ll rid of the Greenbaum/Bush/Obama scum and we’ll be free again.
Sing and clap along for us common folk!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYNAF-QcPrE
— Midnight Special
9:12 pm November 16th, 2009

Here’s a good Youtube from Cool Hand Luke. Notice how Greenbaum is acting like the Captain. “He only did it for the man’s own good and he doesn’t like the outcome any more than we do.”
We’re ALL Luke and Greenbaum has become one of the screws
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fuDDqU6n4o&feature=related
— Failure To Communicate
9:38 pm November 16th, 2009

From you, Kurt, this is no surprise. May you reap what you sow, little man.
— Ino Ewe
5:38 am November 17th, 2009

Another great story at the Stink, full of worthwhile debate.
Couldn’t the whole thing have been avoided by posting a simple pm or a ’story’ to go with all the other ‘news’ about how the post board is full of emotionally illiterate nobs who should be ignored but if any concerns will try to sort it out.
— Fairy Feet
6:18 am November 17th, 2009

Kurt:
Thanks for doing what you did.
You just proved why people have not trusted the media.
You love protecting someone’s identity when it serves your purpose.
And when it doesn’t, the hell with ‘em.
You know Kurt, if you did this in another field, you’d probably be fired by now.
Funny how journalism and newspapers work. Interesting how they continue to go downhill.
— daHood
6:58 am November 17th, 2009

Hey Kurt,
Judge Crater is still missing. Maybe you can sniff him out.
— daHood
7:07 am November 17th, 2009

Again, the St. Louis Today comments are being used against people, rather than as a communication means.
How do you feel about costing a person a job? Do you feel righteous Kurt? Is this your idea of social media: harm people who come to your site, and make comments?
You couldn’t have blocked the IP? You couldn’t have revoked the person’s account? You couldn’t have just deleted the comment one more time?
You have no interest in embarrassing a person, but you’re obviously delighted in causing them to lose their job.
Really well done. Bravo.
— Shelley
7:37 am November 17th, 2009

I also agree with earlier posters: what kind of chilling effect will this have on the site?
See, you’re not really posting anonymously here — you’re just giving that impression. Your identity really isn’t safeguarded.
As for the person writing the comment twice, did you all happen to think for once that the person who deleted the comment did it so quickly that the person thought the first one hadn’t gone through? That rather than pushing you all deliberately, he posted twice?
Have you ever even thought about putting filters on your comments to trap those with so-called offensive words? The technology is there.
I’m just so astonished that a person who calls himself a social media director would be so proud of so foolish an action. Could be so utterly and completely clueless as to not even understand why people are offended and astonished at the action?
It’s the same as the last time people comments at St. Louis Today were used to harm someone (http://burningbird.net/node/62). I really hope that folks just stop commenting at this location. What you write here will be used against you.
— Shelley
8:11 am November 17th, 2009

–There is a trend here with liberals and “progressives” if you haven’t picked up on it.
–With the story at ‘Political Fix’ about the baker calling radical Islamists “ragheads”, to Horrigan’s piece a few months back decrying conservative bloggers in KKK uniforms, while decrying the “freedoms” of the internet, to this.
–Some groundwork is being laid down here for building more leftist control.
–Would that be “net neutrality’? Whatever that is supposed to mean, I can imagine what it will be. The internet will be shut down to those who don’t “conform”.
–WAKE UP AMERICA…FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS?…IT TOLLS FOR THEE–
— dr-debunk
10:51 am November 17th, 2009

For those who are trying to make this into some form of liberal/conservative fight, I’m about as liberal as can be, and I imagine others are in this thread. And I’m appalled at this break in faith between the St. Louis P-D and its commenters.
This has _nothing_ to do with being liberal or not.
In addition, there’s a big difference between a person using an inappropriate, but not out of contet term, in a thread about eating, and using racist terms based on religion. If you all can’t tell the difference, perhaps you need to watch something other than Fox. And read something other than the P-D evidently.
— Shelley
10:57 am November 17th, 2009

So the Post puts itself in the position of King Rat. And gloats about it “frankly”. Way to further alienate St. Louis! Please note: YOUR IDENTITY IS NOT SAFE ON THIS BOARD!
— Mark
11:04 am November 17th, 2009

Kurt – You truly are a “undesirable person.” (edited) Perhaps you should look in your “Unnamed Religious Book of Prayers” (edited) for some assistance in helping your desire for vengeance against people who don’t meet your christian values…
— Diceman
11:37 am November 17th, 2009

Kurt, what some of your moderators consider vulgar is quite out of date. I’d be curious as to the word, but I don’t want you to have to fire yourself.
— TheOtherGeorgeW
12:04 pm November 17th, 2009

I hope the Post Dispatch will step up and stop letting people post vulgar racial comments on blog. Please work on that while you are at it.
— Just asking
12:06 pm November 17th, 2009

I am against suing people but I hope that the person you got fired sues the post disgrace for loss of income and emotional distress. You had absolutely no reason to tell the persons boss that they posted a naughty word on the website. For all you know the person was on their lunch break.
I love how the post doesn’t delete some peoples insults in the forums while banning other for using the same words. Shows how uneven moderating is at the post. Now you go and get someone fired. Whats next sending thugs to someones home to smash their computer and knee caps who say things contrary to the post’s ideals? You are a small man in more ways than one.
— Tiredoldman
12:08 pm November 17th, 2009

From the Post-Dispatch Privacy policy:
“We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information. In some cases, however, we may provide information to legal officials as described in “Compliance with Legal Process” below. ”
Kurt, unless you were talking to a legal official at that school, how do you justify your action in light of the posted Privacy Policy on this site?
— Altongal
12:31 pm November 17th, 2009

Good point, Altongal, and one that a good lawyer will poun ce on.
— libvet
12:34 pm November 17th, 2009
H
ooray. A man looses his job durring a recession. I wonder if he will lose his car or house?
I’m sure it was worth it. I mean who ever heard such language. I’m grateful you stuck up for little guy here. Imagine if some kid read your blog (that I’d never even heard of even through u visit the site daily). I know it was stupid of that guy and he did post it twice, but how about just banning the handle?
I suppose you couldn’t ban the ip or else the school would be blocked, but this seems petty and vengeful.
— Jealousblues
12:53 pm November 17th, 2009

Maybe so, libvet, but for now I’d just like an answer. Because I think the behavior is unethical, and I think Kurt’s behavior calls into question the integrity of the private information of thousands of users, myself among them.
— Altongal
12:58 pm November 17th, 2009

This kind of BS is just the beginning for the American people. Be prepared for more brown shirt tactics like this to be used to silence any opposition to the Czar-In-Chief. I guess speaking your mind is no longer considered a right in the USA now. Only if your ideology is within the same range of the SEIU, Obama and the Gore Green Movement.
Ridiculous!
— Gaucho
1:07 pm November 17th, 2009

@Altongal: I didn’t give out any private information. I didn’t have any to give and I wouldn’t have if I did. As you pointed out, that would be a violation of our policy.
— Kurt Greenbaum
1:07 pm November 17th, 2009

Still no Mea Culpa, eh Kurt.
You’re a class act.
— Leonard
1:15 pm November 17th, 2009

Kurt, you say you did not give out private information. In your article, you stated that you let the school know what IP address the comment came from. Even though it wasn’t a name, it was still private information, because an individual or an individual’s location CAN be identified through an IP address.
Don’t be surprised if a lawyer is looking at the comments here, and possibly will subpeona this as evidence against you. If a jury was looking at this and saw all the anger in the comments, do you think they would see you in a favorable light?
— thinkingaboutit
1:24 pm November 17th, 2009

Kurt, you used an IP address to identify a user. An IP address is covered under your privacy policy, and all uses of it are defined in your privacy policy.
“Our web servers automatically collect limited information about your computer’s connection to the Internet, including your IP address (but not the e-mail address), when you visit our sites. Your IP address does not contain personally identifiable information, nor does it identify you personally. We use this information to deliver our web pages to you upon request, to tailor our sites to the interests of our users, and to measure traffic within our sites.”
And further down:
“Our site:
* Includes our contact information.
* Explains the types of personal information we collect, and how we use it.
* Explains our practices in terms of sharing personal information with third parties.”
Your privacy specifically defines IP addresses as information gathered about users. The policy also mistakenly states that “Your IP address does not contain personally identifiable information.” That is clearly and demonstrably not always the case, as in this specific instance the IP was tied to the individual user and not used for aggregate statistics. It was used specifically to personally identify the individual in question.
I’ve got no problems with you personally, Kurt, and you’ve always come across as decent guy to me. But I think you messed up on this one, and I think that’s wrong to put literally thousands of people in the position of having to wonder what other parts of the privacy policy will be bypassed after the fact.
— Altongal
1:32 pm November 17th, 2009

I don’t know, Kurt has repeatedly expressed his dislike of some of the odd/inappropriate posts on the Talk of the Day blog. The posted comment was vulgar and meant to be so. Kurt decided to investigate a little and decided to send it on when he discovered it was a school. I am sure he suspected the culprit was some kid. The guy got discovered because he was too stupid cover his tracks. If any of you manage employees, you can easily understand why he resigned/got fired.
I certainly empathize with Kurt on having to deal with this stupidity on a daily basis. I personally would not have sent it on, unless it was a repeat offender and wouldn’t have publicized it but its not my site.
This blog has asked several times about the future of the commenting feature on stltoday.com–I think the comments on this topic tell you exactly what you should do.
— mello01
2:30 pm November 17th, 2009

Funny that Mr. Greenbaum was offended by that word, but the PD allows this idiot on Political Fix say the word “teabagger.” That is a very vulgar and offensive comment to me, but since it is a word that is liked by the far left (in attacking conservatives), in particular CNN and MSNBC commentators, it is allowed to stand on the PD. Kurt, at least be consistent, okay?
Sick and vicious, you are not a conservative but a far right wing fascist racist corporatist homophobic Brown Shirt weblog echochambering yobbo yapper!
Conservatives believe in civil liberties, a clean environment, small government and low taxes. Ain’t none of those amongst y’all tea baggers!
— Tim Hogan
8:38 pm November 16th, 2009

— A CENTRIST
2:40 pm November 17th, 2009

Mello01,
The guy got discovered because he trusted the Post Dispatch to protect his privacy. Did you cover your tracks?
— jmas
2:42 pm November 17th, 2009

Yeah and as we talk about inappropriatness just think of the many 100’s of 1000’s of times on this site you’ve had to read through viltriolic insults of Whites, Catholics, Christians, Conservatives……. with zero moderation of those comments.
I know plenty of people that have already labeled this as Nazism and it seems completely appropriate for the action that was taken. It’s easy to imagine Greenbaum in a black Schutzstaffel Uniform (SS) smashing down doors and hauling innocent people out in to the street.
— yeah no kidding
3:22 pm November 17th, 2009

Kurt,
As a journalist, I’m shocked at your apparent self-satistaction in unmasking a commenter’s identity. That the commenter lost his livelihood because of your actions only makes it worse.
Not only do your actions seem to be a direct violation of your Privacy Policy – your contract with the users of your site – but exposing the identity of an anonymous source is something that should never be done lightly.
Do you honestly believe that your actions comply with your policy of only releasing personal information to “protect the personal safety or property of our users of the public?”
I fully agree with TorUser: “It is absolutely chilling that a so-called journalist would go out of his way to reveal the identity of someone who sent information to a newspaper.
“The simple fact of the matter is that you intentionally revealed the identity of someone who sent information to your newspaper under a false impression of anonymity. Your behavior is shockingly unprofessional, and downright un-American.”
That you can’t be bothered to be transparent and fully report the name of the school, the names of the headmaster and IT director, or obtain a comment from the man whose job you played a part in erasing, is a display of – your words – “meager information.”
In my moderation of comments, both in the past and I hope in the future, I zealously guard the ID of those who take the time to participate – even those whose opinions and verbiage I find abhorrent.
Must’ve been a pretty slow news day to go through the trouble of putting someone on the unemployment line for a one-word comment. Do you have the IP addresses of every local school memorized? Or is there a reason you know the IP for this particular school?
When you offer someone anonymity, you should defend it, not gleefully expose them. It’s fitting that your post is tagged with ‘vulgarity’ because I find you action highly objectionable. Not to mention a pretty ***** move.
— Dylan Smith
3:24 pm November 17th, 2009

@jmas I said nothing vulgar on my post. in fact, I never post anything vulgar, so I am not worried about being discovered.
Bottom line, dont post something in a public forum if you cannot risk being exposed. The internet is not as private as some of you think.
— mello01
3:33 pm November 17th, 2009

“Bottom line, dont post something in a public forum if you cannot risk being exposed. The internet is not as private as some of you think.”
— mello01
3:33 pm November 17th, 2009

We can expand on what mello01 says to the Warrantless Wiretapping of American Citizens started by Bush and expanded by Obama, “if you’re not doing anything wrong then you shouldn’t worry if the government is tapping your phone. You should have no expecations of Freedom of Speech in a so called Democratic and Free Society until you’re a large corporation like Lee Enterprises. Then you have as much right as your money can purchase.”
— Yeah no kidding
4:14 pm November 17th, 2009

Careful highcard, this guy might get you fired!
— AllowishusDevedanderAbercrombie
4:21 pm November 17th, 2009

@Dylan: Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your point of view, but I respectfully disagree with two points. First, I hoped to express this as a straightforward recounting of what happened. I don’t believe I’m being gleeful in this post. Second, I did not reveal any personal information. I didn’t have any to reveal and I wouldn’t have if I did. I informed the school about the comment. They already know their own IP address.
— Kurt Greenbaum
5:01 pm November 17th, 2009

Well, you can run your forums the way you want to,
but I would want to see if you violated any TOS regarding privacy.
Also, in all fairness, you should be pretty up front about outing people prior to their posting, so that they k ow you might do that.
All that being said, what a jerk move on your part. Posting a single vulgarity is merely offcolor, and hardly worth tracking down. Seriously, I am going to go to town on you guys.
You’ve been warned
— Chris Tolles
5:25 pm November 17th, 2009

OK, Kurt, I’ll spot you the privacy policy consideration. I disagree, but you’d be the one who’d be more familiar with Lee’s approach to their privacy policy. I’d say that interpretation would never fly at Gannett, especially after that incident in Wausau. Despite my many beefs with that company, I respect their position that that sort of info goes out only with a court order or to avoid imminent harm.
But, your readers don’t seem to agree, and a contract requires understanding by both parties. If individual info can be released that readily, perhaps you should revisit the language of your privacy policy and make that clear.
Questions remain, though. One – why bother? Is this commenter such a frequent offender? Why not just ban him? If you don’t like whatever word was used, why doesn’t your system just hash it out? Further – how did you “notice” that the IP address was that of a local school? It’s not all that common to identify an IP that casually.
If you’re going to be revealing information that can ID the computer from which a comment was made, you are effectively IDing the person who made the comment. You should make public the situations in which you do so. Is it just when YOU don’t like a comment? Or if I don’t like what someone’s said, will you tell me from which computer it was posted? Was this a public school you provided information to – an arm of the government?
I’m very familiar with what a pain some commenters can be – the litany of ridiculousness is unending, and the desire to smack them through their monitor is never too far away. But really, you work in a newsroom. How many of your coworkers had the same reaction to the question about the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I can imagine a scenario in which revealing information about a commenter to the authorities would be appropriate. If someone makes a specific threat, sure. But not if someone has a bit of snarky fun with the language.
I fail to see why your action was necessary, or even justifiable.
Thanks for the debate,
— Dylan Smith
5:43 pm November 17th, 2009

Kurt,
I am amazed by the overwhelming number of folks who are calling you out on this. Please, please move this to the front page of the website so people can “take a shine” to the challenge of chewing you a new one. I hope the person who “resigned” is reading all these comments. On their own private computer, with their own IP address of course.
— shut the hell up
5:48 pm November 17th, 2009

Yeah, right Kurt. You already said it was only there a minute before it was reposted. As poorly as this site works you know very well he only reposted i9t because he thought it had not worked the first time.
And you bragged saying you weren’t sure what they could do with so little info but you forwarded it anyway. You violated his privacy by connecting the content of his post with a specific IP.
You ignore all sorts of hate, racism and homophobic rhetoric on this site. And just because it got you angry he posted after it being deleted you decided to come down hard on him.
And then you gloat about how you got him fired.
If you really cared about the forums you would do something about all the hate. But that brings you clicks doesn’t it?
You knew what was likely to happen to the guy. You could have just contacted them. Told them who you were and that you wanted no more posts from that IP. Without revealing the content of the post and connecting it to an individual user. You didn’t need to forward them the time and every other detail. But they needed that to get the guy fired didn’t they.
Squirm Kurt Squirm. It’s about time. Now no one feels safe posting on the forum. You violated the trust people had.
And Oh by the way. I don’t have a boss for you to contact.
— John Todd
5:58 pm November 17th, 2009

Moderate your comments. That solves problems of spam and inappropriate content. Finding the person via their employer was shady and, in this economic environment, just plain mean.
— Cathy Summers
6:09 pm November 17th, 2009

Kurt, I hope one of these posters is a lawyer.
You clearly violated your own Privacy Policy.
I hope this guy sues the PD. Your actions are outrageous, and it’s disgusting that you continue to believe you were right. I’m close to speechless. I’m appalled at your behavior.
And to the other teacher that defends Kurt’s atrocious decision: teachers have down time every now and then for various reasons, some of which are not unethical. I would know. My wife and I are both teachers.
— HalJordan
6:15 pm November 17th, 2009

It was a sophomoric joke, but a joke nonetheless. Letting the dogs loose was certainly uncalled for in this instance.
Your moral high ground rings hollow to me as I’m certain you routinely move much more offensive comments without any attempt to find the commenter.
I’m afraid the posters have you over a barrel, Kurt. They say when you’re in a hole to stop digging. Interesting to see this from a social media director and likely to become a social media case study for the future.
— Snowyaker
6:15 pm November 17th, 2009

Where in your privacy policy does it state the possibility of the Post-Dispatch contacting you unsolicited via server information pulled off the IP?
Are you saying that the Post-Dispatch feels free to call place of business at this point, merely because I’ve posted on this site?
— Altongal
6:27 pm November 17th, 2009

Only if you post something Kurt doesn’t like, Altongirl
— highcard
6:30 pm November 17th, 2009

You should have called his grandma too.
— Attack! Rat
6:34 pm November 17th, 2009

This definitely opens a door I’m not 100% comfortable with. I agree with the people who’ve said you should have just e-mailed the OP to desist (with laying out the consequences for not doing so — i.e., contacting your workplace). But, to out him/her to their employer? That’s crossing a line. *Especially* considering that the OP was making a joke about the original topic, and not using that work as a epithet.
— Julie
6:49 pm November 17th, 2009

I don’t see any disclaimer above your comments field with words to the effect of “we reserve the right to pursue vendettas against people who post content here based on a special secret set of criteria that we enforce at our whim, so watch what you say.”
Just add that disclaimer and this would be perfectly fair and not petty and evil at all.
— proteus
7:35 pm November 17th, 2009

“director of social media” ?? Really? It would appear to me that you really need to re-take whatever test it was you took to get this job. Or was the title bestowed upon you because you had the most FB friends?
I visit many places on the web everyday (don’t worry – I’m self employed) and this was my first time through here. It was interesting to say the least. I now continue on… best of luck to you.
— webwanderer
8:04 pm November 17th, 2009

So basically you’re a humorless jerk, Kurt, and you’re proud of it.
Way to make your paper look good, too, now that everyone knows it has a staff willing to turn people in if they say things the staff dislikes. Ought to be helpful developing sources.
— Michaelk42
8:16 pm November 17th, 2009

Even fellow media people from St. Louis are blasting Kurt on stlmedia.net:
http://stlmedia.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=print&action=display&thread=7030
You have to register to enter this site’s message boards.
— News Hound
8:27 pm November 17th, 2009

Also: the “Think Of The Children!” defense is lame.
What you did may have been legal as well as permissible under your site’s rules, but that doesn’t make it ethical or proportionate to the “offense.”
Writing the gloating blog post about it, however, is what really puts it over the line.
Just think, if you hadn’t posted this, most people would have never known.
— Michaelk42
8:57 pm November 17th, 2009

You all have no shame. Besides getting someone fired over some bull, you write ANOTHER story about it. Give it a rest and get over yourselves as being white knights on the internets. You should be ashamed.
— AsHat
8:59 pm November 17th, 2009

Kurt, I just wanted to say that what John Todd said pretty much sums it up for me.
The comments on these stories should have been removed long ago because of the fact that they are mostly hate, and no one can moderate them worth a [email protected] They simply have no redeeming value to the news that I can see, except to raise $ for the paper through controversy. I am done with this paper over this.
If it makes you feel any better over this though, I hope more people than you are forced to lose your jobs since the entire paper has been worthless since Lee took over.
— jim
9:02 pm November 17th, 2009

I don’t understand why you are proud of this. Kurt, you just lost the Post Dispatch another paying customer! Enough people like me and you may be joining the fellow you got fired.
— Lamar Vannoy
9:08 pm November 17th, 2009

I don’t get it? part of female anatomy?
— timmy
9:16 pm November 17th, 2009

Do you realize what I’ve been through for the past 20 years?
— Dave Mustaine
9:19 pm November 17th, 2009

Come on guys…quit fighting. We have better things to do with our time.
— Kirk Hammett
9:24 pm November 17th, 2009

I’m going to continue with the comments already made.
Kurt Greenbaum is a pathetic human being. I would usually continue on an enlightening tirade about you and personal habits, but I value my job and prefer not to get fired.
Instead…I’m going to offer my apologies to you. It’s obvious you feel threatened by the end of newspapers as we know it. Please keep grasping for every last bit of importance you can hold on to until the end. It’s the only thing you’ve got.
I hope you have a great holiday season. This time next year, newspapers will be extinct and the tables will have turned. Good luck finding a job in an industry as out dated as the silent movie!
— MississippiFolk
9:31 pm November 17th, 2009

Here’s an idea…
Kurt should resign…show at least as much dignity as the guy you blindsided…resign NOW
— highcard
9:42 pm November 17th, 2009

Now, I may never achieve the top of the journalistic heap like Bob Carpenter, but I do believe that you went a bit too far, sir.
— Mike Krukow
9:43 pm November 17th, 2009

Meep
— Carlos Miller
9:44 pm November 17th, 2009

This idea of yours went down quicker than my plane.
— Bob Richards
9:48 pm November 17th, 2009

It appears Kurt Greenbaum has a fresh set of downs. Who wants to come over to my place to listen to some Yanni?
— Bryant Gumbel
9:50 pm November 17th, 2009

Free Mr. Clark!
— The fat kid from Lean On ME
9:51 pm November 17th, 2009

Does anyone want to see what happens to the Sports Machine if I press the big red button?
— George Michael
9:54 pm November 17th, 2009

It’s just been revoked!
— Roger Murtaugh
9:59 pm November 17th, 2009

After reading these comments, my days as a shock jock are officially over.
— Ed Goodman
10:03 pm November 17th, 2009

Seriously, you all should stop being immature about this. It waters down the effectiveness of the comments that have a valid point against his actions. All of his arguments are very weak…is no one else at the PD reviewing this action?
— jp
10:04 pm November 17th, 2009

I agree jp!
a/s/l?
— BH_Road
10:07 pm November 17th, 2009

This is outrageous. How in the world did you think this could possibly be a good idea? I’m canceling my post subscription and my season tickets tomorrow.
— some guy
10:08 pm November 17th, 2009

This is sad that a man will now be unemployed over this, this is bad for the city.
— Rich Parent Shattered Jock Strap
10:08 pm November 17th, 2009

We hate laughing at bad jokes.
— The Company
10:12 pm November 17th, 2009

I’m just a STL chick…typically don’t share much more I wonder, Kurt, since you are so amazed at your bloggers defending the use of a vulgarity, are you busy tracking down all of the people on this blog and on all of the other bloggers that are using vulgarities?
You’ve probably seen this e-mail address post on this site before, so you know that I’m no crazy and my comments are mostly level-headed. I am just baffled by this, though. Why this guy? Why this expletive? It really does seem like he may have double posted because he didn’t see his comment yet. A stupid, irrelevant comment, yes…but not any worse than I’ve seen on here. Do you have proof against this?
— jp
10:14 pm November 17th, 2009

Creepy
— BH_Road
10:15 pm November 17th, 2009

me?
— jp
10:18 pm November 17th, 2009

See? I’ve seen much worse on this site.
— jp
10:20 pm November 17th, 2009

ell, guess I walked into this one. So much for public discourse. Goodnight.
— jp
10:32 pm November 17th, 2009

I run a lot of websites and I manage forums and comments threads as well as other places where people post all kinds of personal, identifiable information about themselves. You’d be surprised what some people put online about themselves thinking their privacy will not be breached.
The great thing about the internet is that most of the time it’s ignored, moderated, and left alone. I could humiliate and ruin a person a day if I so chose, but I don’t. Why would I?
An internet persona is basically an extension of a person’s innermost thoughts. They use it to try out different ideas and personalities.
Here, anonymity is the core of free expression (no matter how vulgar, childish, or controversial) because anonymity allows people to speak, research, and discuss things without fear of condemnation. It’s good that you can do that somewhere, and after a few weeks your comments tend to expire into relative oblivion. You can discuss unpopular ideas, or express your shames, or just act like a kid. Isn’t that a good thing? Sure we all have to put up with nonsense on the internet, but it’s practically a given now.
You violated someone’s privacy for violating your stupid posting guidelines. There’s nothing funny, cool, or clever about that. I hope google publishes your search records. See how you feel about it then.
— doctor yoo
10:46 pm November 17th, 2009

What happened to all of this talk, Kurt?
http://www.igreenbaum.com/2009/09/6-reasons-were-lazy-about-story-comments/
— oops!
10:54 pm November 17th, 2009

“We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information. In some cases, however, we may provide information to legal officials as described in ‘Compliance with Legal Process’”
Also, it looks like you violated your privacy policy. Can someone fire you now?
— doctor yoo
10:56 pm November 17th, 2009

I have to agree with the other people commenting here: You WAY crossed the bounds of your job and got a dude unnecessarily fired. (Whether or not he “resigned” after being confronted is beside the point: It was your actions that set his unemployment in motion). Moreover your initial response to ghetto prez proves how self-righteous you are. Totally uncool.
— mkg
11:27 pm November 17th, 2009

Doctor Yoo may be on to something…
— Susan Kidd’s Lovechild
11:29 pm November 17th, 2009

So was this compliant with stltoday.com’s privacy policy?
“We will not share individual user information with third parties unless the user has specifically approved the release of that information.”
You disclosed confidential information on a comment poster to a third party which caused them to loose their job. I hope you get sued.
— Anonymous
11:41 pm November 17th, 2009

You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Greenbaum.
— Quincy
12:38 am November 18th, 2009

Mr. Greenbaum-
Your actions are reprehensible. It is in your best interest to resign at this point as well. At least, you should go on voluntary suspension if there were such a thing.
Making such a brash decision without warning or reprimand is out of line.
You’ve lost another reader.
— Snax
12:48 am November 18th, 2009

Your claim that you didn’t give the school any information they didn’t already have is belied by your statement in the article that you forwarded the school the WordPress e-mail alert with the IP address. Either you have no idea how the Internet works, or one of your statements is a bald lie. In either case, you’ve definitely violated the man’s privacy, which would be bad in any event, but especially so from a member of the journalism community. And give your insistence that you’ve done nothing wrong, you clearly have no business being a “director of social media.”
— Shmuel
12:55 am November 18th, 2009

I’m thinking someone should help Kurt get to the unemployment office.
— potatohead
2:04 am November 18th, 2009

This is so very wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to begin.
Most unfortunately it ends with an entirely inappropriate and disproportionate outcome.
— Tacitus
5:44 am November 18th, 2009

I can hardly believe this. Kurt, for the many reasons that have been so well elucidated above, you are a total piece of (something I won’t say here so you won’t call my employer and get ME fired).
I hope the PD fires you. As has been pointed out, the moderation here is inconsistent at best anyway, yet you expend all this time and effort to vindictively get someone fired? Unprofessional, immature and BAD FOR BUSINESS! Looking forward to hearing about your pink slip.
— Brian
5:47 am November 18th, 2009

My bet is this: He didn’t tell Arnie Robbins, Kevin Mowbray or Mary Junck what he was going to do before he did it.
Bet they aren’t real happy with Kurt.
— daHood
6:02 am November 18th, 2009

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