When Voice of OC launched more than four years ago, we did so with the belief that a transparent and unfettered conversation about civic affairs is one of the cornerstones of a healthy and vibrant democracy.

To that end, we allowed total anonymity to our commenters.

Our thinking was that readers should be able to say what they think about the personalities and issues in our articles without fear of retribution.

For the most part, we were right.

Many of our readers often offer brilliant thoughts on the goings-on at local city halls along with an occasional story tip that pays off.

But unfortunately, too many comment threads have been hijacked with unrelated and disturbing rants that verge on hate speech.

We intended a hard look at local government — not a nasty one.

The vast majority of our readers seem to agree with us, as we’ve had many complaints about the hate and vitriol that too often flows under our articles.

This issue is not unique to Voice of OC.

Nearly all major news organizations have had similar troubles with commenters and decided to either dedicate full-time staffers to monitor comments, require some level of registration, or both.

As a small non-profit, we want our resources focused on producing high-quality journalism – not monitoring comments – so we’ve decided to switch to a comment section that requires registration through Facebook starting Tuesday.

We’re confident that readers who have a true interest in a healthy civic debate will embrace the transition.

Please let us know what you think — as always, we’re listening.

The Editors

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.