Saying "never read the comments" turns a blind eye to abuse

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I think it depends on the forum, site, etc. The newspaper sites seem to invite some toxic trolls on a regular basis even with facebook integrated login. Unless I am feeling in a misanthropic mood I can’t look at that.


Once I was reading an article in a print magazine and thought “I can’t wait till I read on the comments on THIS one”. Duhhar.

Yeah not reading them is the easiest way to ignore the hostility. I actually enjoy this site’s comments. Relatively free of jerkos.


He offers no solution!
The article is just “Bad comments are bad, Blame the website hosts.”

No acknowledgement at all of the issues that the open web has with anonymity, censorship & free speech, sock puppets, trolls & griefers, racists and SJWs, spammers, 'bots, doxxing & dogpiling, privacy, authentication & user account management, or the rest of the competing factors that make supporting a comment thread problematic.

Just saying that it would be good if things were better is not going to make it so…

Though certainly some systems are better than others (This one here @ BoingBoing certainly being in the best-of-breed) the real problem is with people.
It’s looking for a technical solution to a social problem.


For those that disagree with the premise, or just don’t want to deal with comments on certain pages:

Chrome - Shut Up (toggleable comments - works with nearly every website I’ve found)
Safari - Shut Up (same as above)
Firefox - CommentBlocker (whitelist/blacklist, uses similar rules as Shut Up)

Shut Up saved a piece of my sanity.


And of course even those pale in comparison to YouTube where most comments seem to be the product of a racist, homophobic Men’s Rights Activist algorithm.


Obligatory Coding Horror(@codinghorror) :

(Seriously, where do I need to submit a PR for a onebox for Coding Horror and XKCD?)



Pushing the limits of commenting to such a degree one questions whether they are even made by a human being!


How about instead of “don’t read the comments” we tell people not to care about them, because they’re just intentionally distressing comments by angry, anonymous people who don’t actually matter in the reader’s day-to-day life, likely don’t even believe the things they write, and only write them to get a rise out of the reader?



There are various ways to deal with comments that some people find offense, none are perfect.

Before the “cleanup”, Fark’s commenting system was minimally censored (though like BB, shows definite political bias in moderation). Without anonymous comments nor instant registration, Fark didn’t suffer particularly from drive-by trolling (but had many ongoing users known as trolls and alts), plus you could self-censor your view by adding the worst of the trolls and rabid political nuts to your personal ignore list. Since the changes, Fark no longer tolerates most political incorrectness, but in the process has lost much of it’s character and, frankly, is now kind of boring.

Of all the ways of dealing with abuse, I prefer the slashdot approach to comment control – instead of blocking/discarding, comment “moderation” by randomly selected long-term users adjusts a “score”, and then meta-moderation addresses the worst abuses of the moderation process.

Logged in users can then choose for themselves whether to filter out low-scoring comments as well as how strongly to weight each type of moderation event, and even whether to apply additional weighting to “friends” and “foes”, or even “friends of foes” and the like.


well, there’s a difference between not reading the comments and feeding the trolls.


There are comments?


It seems like this piece is mostly aimed at policing, or moderating the comments when you’re the owner of a blog or website - rather than encouraging visitors to read through every single one of the comments made by fellow visitors, no matter how lame or offensive the comments might be.

I’ve been helping to moderate, or been the lead moderator on several sub-forums on a very popular web site, the soi disant “Front Page of the Internet,” for around 4 or 5 years now. I moderated other online communities before that. I used to read every single word that was posted on these forums, but it amounted to an unpaid full-time job. I brought on other people to help with the moderation chores but they aren’t as irrationally obsessed with the job as I am.

Fortunately none of “my” sub-forums are the massive default ones on that site. The ones I moderate are hobby-related forums with 10k or fewer members, with fewer than 10% of those being very active participants. The rules are to be nice, stay on-topic, stay away from politics, religion, etc. and not make personal attacks in the comments. I rarely have to remove comments or give someone a talking to - though we do get a few stinkers once in awhile.

As much as I enjoy and learn from those forums I’m taking a couple of months off to sort out some medical issues, and now after being away for a couple of weeks I’m not sure that I want to go back. As well-behaved as the vast majority of the members of these particular smaller forums are I’m finding that I’m really burned out.


i never read my own comments. who knows what this windbag will spout next.


That is probably the best model if you have enough commenters to make it work. It requires enough people for statistics to largely smooth out individual influence. For a site with more like the number of commenters on BB, I think their solution is about as good as you can do.


Oooohhhhh, the comments on the Oregonian’s site are reliably awful :grimacing:

But yes, other sites (like this one!) are much better. A good comment section is a big attraction for me, because I enjoy reading what other people have to say about things I’m interested in; at the very least it’s entertaining, and I often learn a lot as well.


Whenever I feel too good about the state of mankind I turn the comments on at liveleak.

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What the hell is it worth local news sites and their comments sections anyway? Doesn’t seem to matter what the article is about - it can be something about puppies and kittens wrestling and the comment section will be filled with racists, truthers, birthers, tea partiers,and any other fringe group you can name spreading hate.


“How do we fix it? Simple: Hold platforms accountable. Whether it’s a big news publisher or a large social network, if we’re sharing information or ideas on a platform and are immediately overrun by abuse that threatens to silence smart conversation or the potential for meaningful connections to be made, put the burden on the platform.”

I believe his solution is in line with what you’re saying - that we do need to solve this with cultural change. Organizations that host and permit these comments should dedicate resources to impact the communities that develop on-site toward a more inclusive and positive one.