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Poll questions help readers express views

How do you like our weekly online poll questions?

I have learned a lot of reader views this year as a result of their responses to our online questions.

Before they started, my fear was that in asking what is basically a yes or no question, that that is all we would receive in response.

My fear was not without some foundation. Some weeks the results seem like they have come from a Third World election with an overwhelming majority on one side or the other with little in the way of thoughtful comments that we could run in the E-Letters section.

However, most weeks we get a nice variety of comments from readers who have clearly put some thought into it. If you have become a fan of that page, you are already familiar with what I am referring to.

In no weeks since the polling started have we been unable to fill the space we wanted to fill. That is a wonderful thing for an editor to rely on. Some weeks we shorten the space up and in others we let it run because readers have responded so well. In no instance were these decisions based on lack of reader input.

That is gratifying.

I first started reading Numismatic News in 1969. I picked up a free copy at the Forest City, Iowa, Coin Show. I read the letters page of this paper and another. It was on the basis of these letters that I decided to subscribe to Numismatic News. I thought I would like to join the group that had such interesting opinions and was given the space in print to write  them.

In the intervening years, when I came to sit in the editorial chair, I still pinch myself when I think that I am now giving readers the space to have their say.

I thought this privilege was important in 1969 to my collecting life. I still think it important as we come close to the 40th anniversary of my personal acquaintance with Numismatic News.

Collectors share many opinions, but if anything, over the past 40 years, the variety of opinions has been getting larger despite the occasional calls by some readers to clamp down on the opinions expressed by other readers.

Interestingly, the loudest calls for clampdown have not come from those who think someone has injected too much politics into the letters but on the topic of when the 21st century started.

In 40 years, I don’t think I have seen half as many letters generated by any other topic. Even though the calendar says the 21st century started in 2001, the overwhelming majority of readers wanted it to be in the year 2000 and were not bashful in explaining why this should be so.

Certainly these letters helped to explain why proof set sales and bullion coin sales and anything associated with the year 2000 saw banner results at the time.

I don’t expect readers to agree with everything that finds its way into the Letters space, but I know from experience that cutting other readers a little slack if they veer off topic occasionally pays dividends for all of us. Most importantly, this respect we all show to one another enriches the experiences of all of us.

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