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Washington Post Turns Off Blog Comments
engine




msg:1558008
 3:15 pm on Jan 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Members of the blogosphere were up in arms Friday after The Washington Post turned off comments on one of its blogs.
Storm in the blogsphere [news.com.com]

We all know that good moderating can save a public blog or forum from poster problems.

But, do we have a similar issue as usenet had when it comes to public blogs? The only difference is the fragmentation.

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:1558009
 4:39 pm on Jan 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

[blogs.washingtonpost.com...]

there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we've decided not to allow comments for the time being. It's a shame that it's come to this. Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it's a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.

natural number




msg:1558010
 5:41 pm on Jan 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Many tolerate racial diversity. Few tolerate cognitive diversity. Unusual, profane and sick comments ought to be tolerated. Philosophy begins when people enter the forbidden zone.

europeforvisitors




msg:1558011
 9:10 pm on Jan 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Unusual, profane and sick comments ought to be tolerated.

There are plenty of places on the Web (or on talk radio, for that matter) where rude, nasty people can blow off steam. There's no reason why the POST should feel obligated to let such people take over its Web site.

walkman




msg:1558012
 10:21 pm on Jan 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> Unusual, profane and sick comments ought to be tolerated.

apparently the owner of the blog, The Washington Post, disagrees and they have every right to do so. I wouldn't tolerate them either

joeduck




msg:1558013
 12:15 am on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

There's no reason why the POST should feel obligated to let such people take over its Web site.

I agree, though it's yet another example where small abuses of the medium wind up diminishing it a lot.

It's also a small part of the censorship debate that's heating up now. Where do we draw the line between good vs bad commentary? Subjectivity rules that roost.

I wonder if some form of open moderation where abusive/advertising comments could be zapped out after x complaints would work? The problem there is that politically offensive stuff gets treated the same as simple spam.

rogerd




msg:1558014
 3:13 am on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Every community has to set its own standards. In my experience, a community that has no standards for posts will devolve to the lowest common denominator - intelligent, thoughtful members will post elsewhere, and the majority of posts will be argumentative, personal attacks, and mindless expressions of one person's point of view. This is particularly true for venues that encourage political discussion, like the Post. I've found political posters to be among the most problematic - they tend to make long-winded posts, and listen to others only enough to make further long-winded rebuttals. Almost inevitably, the political argument turns into ad hominem attacks. In addition, people with every bizarre and offensive point of view will take the opportunity to espouse their cause.

It's too bad that they chose the no-comment route instead of moderation.

JollyK




msg:1558015
 4:24 am on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Many good points made here, but the cynical part of me boils it down to one thing:

Nasty/hateful/whatever comments = Bad PR (public relations, not page rank), and Bad PR costs money.

Moderation costs money.

Turning off comments may be purely financially driven.

I hate to see it, but then again, personally, I can't really blame them. I've thought about shutting down a website or two because of that kind of thing. Eventually, I went to a moderated format, but it is expensive in terms of time and effort.

The few bad apples always seem to spoil the basket.

JK

Casethejoint




msg:1558016
 5:20 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hmm -- I wonder if there is a niche for paid online facilitation/moderation services. Do such things exist?

HughMungus




msg:1558017
 10:01 pm on Jan 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Moderation costs money.

Yep. Similar to MSN killing its chat rooms years ago.

buksida




msg:1558018
 5:56 am on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Glad I found this thread, will continue to monitor it.

I am Admin on a popular geo-political forum that is part of a large online newspapaer in Asia. Our biggest problems with the board seem to be the exact reason that the WP closed theirs.

As Admin I have been called all manner of obscenities for making decisions, closing threads, warning people etc. We seem to attract a lot of religious and political extremists.

I have turned new registrations off for the last few months, only turning them back on today ... I hope it doesnt turn into hell online again!

HughMungus




msg:1558019
 7:00 am on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

buk, I don't administer any forums but one piece of advice I read here once was: instead of deleting accounts or banning people, you trick the bad apples such that they think they can still post and they see their posts with everybody else's posts, but in fact they're the only ones who can see their posts.

rogerd




msg:1558020
 6:31 pm on Jan 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>We seem to attract a lot of religious and political extremists.

I think that is inevitable on any forum or blog that covers politics. In the old days, these people would be on a streetcorner standing on a box yelling speeches; now, it's much easier to do the yelling online.

It's too bad... there are lots of people who are willing to listen to what others have to say and to comment in a polite manner. A minority of extreme posters, though, can make the community less pleasant for everyone.

buksida




msg:1558021
 6:18 am on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

A minority of extreme posters, though, can make the community less pleasant for everyone.

Absolutely. I turned on auto registration again yesterday for a trial run and today we already have a whole bunch of people posting links to their own websites.

JollyK




msg:1558022
 4:01 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

instead of deleting accounts or banning people, you trick the bad apples such that they think they can still post and they see their posts with everybody else's posts, but in fact they're the only ones who can see their posts.

Hahaha! That has actually occurred to me. Put them on "ignore" globally and then just let them wonder why no one responds to them.

Of course, the jig's up when either their friends visit the site or they visit the site while not logged in.

It's still tempting, though.

rogerd




msg:1558023
 10:17 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

vBulletin has the global ignore feature built-in (Tachy Goes to Coventry) - it works very well about 25% of the time. I've seen annoying members creating long rant after long rant, with so little attention to everyone else that they never noticed the lack of replies. I almost felt sorry for them... well, maybe not. ;) People who switch IDs, surf from multiple PCs, etc., aren't fooled for too long.

ronin




msg:1558024
 2:18 pm on Feb 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Global ignore is an inspired feature - much better than a straight ban, I would think.

Any implementation of global ignore should also include the options to work by IP address, and by cookie as well as by username.

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