On September 6, 2009, the News and Tribune printed a column written by Lindon Dodd about the creation of the Clark County Chatter. The column offers more insight into the Chatter's beginning and better explains Mike Hutt's part in bringing the Chatter to us.
Thank you, Mike and Mike, and thank you, Mr. Dodd, for a more personal look into the first chapter of the Chatter...http://newsandtribun...ine-forum/print News and TribuneSeptember 6, 2009 DODD: Mikes come together to create local, online forumBy LINDON DODD
I recently met with two guys, both named Mike, who are responsible for starting and running Clarkcounty
chatter.com. This is the online forum that was begun when the Hey Martha forums were shut down by the Evening News. The chatter site was up and running on July 1 and as of Aug. 28 there were 270 registered members.
Jeffersonville resident Mike Hutt is one of the moderators on the site. He is known on the forum by the moniker Not Super But Honest Mike. Hutt remembers feeling the need to replace the old Hey Martha forums and talked to his buddy, known as Supermike.
“I asked him about 8 o’clock and by 11:30 he had it going,” Hutt said.
Supermike, who agreed to meet me under the condition I didn’t reveal his actual name, had a strong desire to replace what he strongly feels is a necessary outlet for citizens in Clark County.
“Online message boards are not so different from the days of town hall meetings. You bring up a subject and the community considers it. When the previous forums were shut down unexpectedly, I realized that someone needed to step forward and fill a void,” he said. “And, simply put, I felt it was a way that I could contribute to our community that best suited my abilities. I can be involved, yet maintain my privacy. And while some may see this site as no more than idle gossip, others tell you it is so much more — it is about the exchange of ideas, healthy debate and the fostering of a sense of community.”
The site is registered for three years. Rights for a couple of similar domain names were purchased for around $200. This is a free forum site that generates income from pop-up advertisements.
Both Mikes say the former Hey Martha forum and their current Clark County Chatter have been responsible for breaking several important news stories well before the mainstream media — including issues with the methadone clinic on Ind. 62, the Salem-Noble Road issue, wrongdoing by Jeffersonville Clerk-Treasurer Peggy Wilder, the attorney in a can story and the recent fatal shooting in Jeffersonville.
The most controversial topics are usually those which make allegations or spread personal tales about prominent people in the county, usually those in political office. Supermike has gone to great lengths to keep the discourse civil without feeling like free speech is being suppressed. There is no tolerance for profane language or sexually explicit content. A much tougher call comes into play when personal references are made. Often it is much harder to determine truth from half-truths, or downright unfounded allegations. Mike Hutt recalled that the Clarksville string has a lot of problems with, “Inappropriate language, childish things which borderline on libel.”
Supermike added, “Some people think they can say anything. Suits can be filed against a screen name/user name. An administrator could be subpoenaed and the e-mail/screen name and IP names are all the administrator could provide.”
This is the only information that Supermike has access to as the administrator.
Mike Hutt added that if somebody strongly feels a statement is inappropriate, “If somebody reports it, we will probably pull the post.”
Hutt has had one anonymous adverse message left on his phone, but said most of the feedback for him has been positive.
“I’ve had quite a few people come up and talk to me, shake my hand, and thank me for getting it going. Most people think it’s something that is needed.”
Both think that as coming elections get closer, the forum will play a role in the campaign/election process.
I think there have to be distinctions between comments made that are false or lacking in credibility versus posted things about prominent people in office that they just don’t want made public. Should it matter if a public office holder is a domestic batterer, in dire financial straits, a deadbeat dad, has some moral indiscretion in their background or has some other moral or character flaw? I suspect the answer to this question will vary according to one’s beliefs. Information itself is simply another tool to evaluate what kind of candidates voters want in people who run their local government.
Both Mikes will devote much of their energy to running a clean and productive forum that will benefit the community and give a voice to those who otherwise feel they have none. You can check it out for yourself by going to the clarkcountychatter.com Web site.