Behind the comments

Every so often, they meet face to face at a downtown restaurant or an Augusta GreenJackets game. Most days though, they trade pleasantries, daily chatter and missives without ever having to really see or talk to one another. They're the commentators who weigh in on local issues daily at www.augustachronicle.com.

 

We have profiled three people who have posted thousands of comments over the years. There's a chemist-turned-handyman, a snake-loving grandmother and a patriotic military man. They are behind the nearly 200,000 comments left on the newspaper's Web site this year.

USERNAME: ROSE//ALL-TIME POSTS: 5,362//MEMBER SINCE: DEC. 12, 2006

WHO IS SHE? Gina Lee, AugustaChronicle.com's third-most frequent commentator

HER LIFE OFFLINE: Mrs. Lee, a short blonde with bobbed hair, is an Augusta native, a Barack Obama supporter and an animal lover. The 60-year-old is a mother of three and grandmother to seven. She checks the Web site most mornings while eating breakfast alongside her pet python, Rambo, and the family's toothless cat, Hot Rod.

HER LIFE ONLINE: Mrs. Lee started commenting on the site two years ago. She says her screen name doesn't hold a whole lot of personal significance.

"There was a character on As the World Turns . I watched it for years. I always liked the name," she said.

She finds herself at odds with other commentators more often than not.

"People don't like me because they disagree with me, mostly on political things," she said. "Maybe after the elections I'll change my screen name and get a fresh start."

WHY SHE COMMENTS: "I've got opinions. I'm a person that I don't bite my tongue. Online, true colors come out. I enjoy posting as long as everyone's not fussing."

WHAT SHE'S SAYING: "My husband never posts. He tells me to stay away from it all. He's probably right."

USERNAME: PATRICIATHOMAS //ALL-TIME POSTS: 10,183// MEMBER SINCE: DEC. 10, 2006

WHO IS HE? Tom Moores, AugustaChronicle.com's all-time most frequent commentator, with more than 10,000 posts, including 5,601 this year

HIS LIFE OFFLINE: "Mr. Moores" isn't a typo. His screen name leads many people to think that he's actually a she. It's a common mistake, Mr. Moores said, and one that he encourages.

"I go out of my way to not say he or she," he said. "I say 'my spouse' instead of 'my wife.' "

The screen name was once used to manage the account he and his wife shared, but she has since gotten her own and Mr. Moores says he didn't see any reason to change it. "It's a lot of fun, even though I get chauvinistic comments that you wouldn't believe," he said.

HIS DAY JOB: Mr. Moores, who, at 58, wears a long, blond ponytail and goatee, makes his living renovating houses. The work offers a flexible schedule that gives him time to keep up with his hobbies. His customers know he likes to weigh in online.

"Some folks will even cut out my comments when they appear in the paper," he said. "I feel like I'm a bit famous."

HIS LIFE ONLINE: Mr. Moores posts 15 to 20 times a day to maintain his status as No. 1 commentator. He gravitates to "politics, anything to do with race discrimination or gay rights -- the most controversial issues out there."

WHY HE COMMENTS: "It's the best feature in this community. It has precipitated more communication between blacks and whites than anything else in this community. My perspective has changed drastically over the years because of it. It's made me more understanding of other perspectives."

WHAT HE'S SAYING: Mr. Moores' longest break from the site lasted three or four days when his cable internet went out.

"I was in severe withdrawal. It's unbelievably addictive," he said. "It's computer morphine."

USERNAME: JACK//ALL-TIME POSTS: 4,814// MEMBER SINCE: DEC. 17, 2006

WHO IS HE? Dr. John Cheatham, the fourth-most frequent commentator at www.augustachronicle.com -- more than 3,363 posts this year

HIS LIFE OFFLINE: The 73-year-old North Augustan is a retired Army veteran of the Vietnam War. He went on to study adult education.

HIS LIFE ONLINE: "I'm retired, so it's part of my pastime in the morning. Or in the afternoon, too," he said, "when it gets really hot."

He runs into a number of former military men and active-duty soldiers online.

WHY HE COMMENTS: He is drawn to political news and commentary.

"I'm a constitutionalist, politically. The election of Obama scares the hell out of me, and I comment because somebody has to say something about it."

He often comments on Rants & Raves, a feature he appreciates because of its anonymity.

WHAT HE'S SAYING: "The Rants & Raves give you the ability to throw hand grenades at everybody back and forth and no body gets hurt."

THE ALL-TIME TOP 10

Commentator Number of posts

1. patriciathomas 10,183
2. kathysueloudermilk 5,844
3. Rose 5,362
4. jack 4,814
5. baroness 4,628
6. PTHS 4,835
7. ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 3,711
8. _kpc_ 3,701
9. christian134 3,578
10. dani 3,570

THE TOP 10 OF 2008

Commentator Number of posts
1. patriciathomas 5,601
2. kathysueloudermilk 4,889
3. PTHS 4,260
4. Rose 3,546
5. baroness 3,716
6. christian134 3,479
7. jack 3,363
8. RollingEyes 3,058
9. I4PUTT 2,797
10. dani 2,622

The numbers

All-time comments to the site 328,758
Comments so far in 2008 192,431

All numbers listed are compiled from databases of www.augustachronicle.com as of 2 p.m. Nov. 12. All-time statistics are based on data compiled since the Web site's comment feature went live Nov. 21, 2006.

NOTE: The couple who post under the second-most frequent username, kathysueloudermilk, declined to be interviewed, unwilling to have their more "outspoken" opinions linked to their professional work.

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