Comments on Comments

Friday, July 25, 2008

Transcript

There's been a bit of a backlash recently against the angry commenter on newspaper websites. Some are calling for newspapers to stop allowing comments sections all together. But what about democracy on the web? Bob, with the help of "This American Life"'s Ira Glass, ruminates on the dark side of the comments section.

Comments [46]

sara khan from www.thegravitytechnologies.com

Since the early days of Usenet newsgroups on the internet

Feb. 16 2010 02:23 AM
Anthea from Canada

"The Jews told us to." That was probably the best thing I've heard all day. :D

Dec. 06 2009 11:59 PM
Vadim from Ukraine

My letter is too long,read it here:
You can find more on: http://sites.google.com/site/furmuzaki/
or www.furmuzaki.ucoz.ru
http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=433068259
http://nl.youtube.com/results?search_query=furmuzaki&search_type=
(but these sites could be changed or distracted)

Dec. 23 2008 09:18 PM
Matthew A. from Chicago

Moderated or not, I think comment boards are great. The public seems to be mis-informed about important national/global issues. Be it oil drilling, energy, evolution or geo-politics. I see a slew of stories about this: "public support oil drilling helps McCain" is a great example. But no "Why do americans sopport oil drilling?"
The only conclusion I can draw is the "fourth estate" is not doing the job of informing the people (present company exluded), and is either unaware or unwilling to face the music. That's where the public comment comes in. While I understand there is a fine line between critical and abusive comments. It's my only recourse to bad journalisim. I make use of these forums to ask for better reporting. And I believe that if more people used them to demand inteligent/critical journalisim, we would all be better off. Thanks for OTM and the chance to comment,
Matthew Arney

Aug. 19 2008 02:19 PM
Peter Stern from San Francisco, CA

As I was listening to the broadcast about online forums on news websites, I only heard the black, the white, and not a whole lot of the gray. The options discussed were only to allow forums with absolutely zero censorship, disallow them altogether, or to have an editor or team of editors filter the comments (this would be the gray). All three solutions are clumsy and impractical. There's a very democratic solution that's already been implemented on a technical news forum that I sometimes peruse: slashdot.org. On Slashdot, no comments are deleted or censored, but there's a system that allows readers to upgrade or downgrade a comment. Given enough positive votes, a comment will be given a more prominent position on the page, and poorly rated comments will be less prominently placed. Amazon also has a similar system that they use to prioritize the placement of reviews on a page. A previous commenter also mentioned Digg.com, which is another good example of this. Even these systems aren't perfect, but they're better than all three options that were discussed on the show.

Aug. 14 2008 10:51 PM
Fran Fargen from Louisville, KY

I wonder why Bob chose the comment of CatherineD "..."you kids get off my digital lawn"...to air on this week's show. Not a well reasoned argument at all, yet Bob did not really offer rebuttal. I like kids, and it would be fine for them to play on my lawn, especially if they are invited to. However, I would not allow them to act in a way that is damaging to themselves, others, or my lawn. That is my choice, since it is my lawn. They can assert their rights to behave as they please somewhere else.

Aug. 12 2008 09:01 AM
softdog

Bob deliberately skips his question which Ira answers by saying, "that’s the way the royalty feels when they're not the only ones who get a voice." Which raises the questions: 1. What did Bob say? and 2. Why was it cut out?

I appreciate Ira's frank ambivalence about comments, but Bob Garfield's editing choice was counterproductive and unethical.

Even if it was done for convenience of timing, can you not see the problem? Ira says a question undemocratic and you decide the listener doesn't need to hear the actual question. At the very least it's bad radio - imposing a disruptive side issue at the climax of the piece.

It's this sort of dubious behavior which inspires the hostility in comments. When people feel the media lacks respect, trust and competence they are less likely to comment in good faith or restraint.

Aug. 10 2008 04:20 PM
Michael Andersen from Vancouver, Wash.

Sheesh. Bob gets grumpy when Brooke's away. I just heard this, and I'm hoping to cheer Bob up with the report that an on-air conversation between him and Ira brings to the surface of my heart emotions undistinguishable from those that accompany a Batman cameo in a Superman comic book.

No, it's like the difference between calculating the gravitational forces that surround one planet and calculating the gravitational forces that surround TWO planets.

No, it's like when two of your friends fall in love while you're away and you see them laughing together for the first time.

Anyway, it involves excitement. Great, great excitement.

Aug. 07 2008 12:53 AM
Jorge from IL

I find it very ironic that Bob Garfield had Ira Glass on about comments. When you cannot directly comment on any of the pieces/shows on the This American Life web site... But I digress.

There are several blogs (and regular web sites) where I always look forward to reading reader comments. In the age of nitch news - it can give you a window on opinions of people that dont necessarily share your view.

Then again these sites often have an option to flag the most inaaproprate of trolls and most of the time the readers do a good job of self policing.

A positive example: I'm always happy when Salon.com flags editors choice comments I think it can really help steer a discussion.

I believe that any good online community really needs to have moderators.

Jul. 31 2008 12:31 AM
Jack from Chicago

Nobody likes hateful and unconstructive comments.

But hosts of this show seem to show the most contempt for comments that simply disagree with their view. Use of labels like "right wingers" and expressions of labored exasperation add nothing to the listeners' efforts to discuss topics seriously.

Jul. 30 2008 05:32 PM
C Clark from San Jose, CA

Since the early days of Usenet newsgroups on the internet, hateful and trollish comments have dogged open forums. Moderation, like editors choosing from 'letters to the editor', has helped but is exhausting. New sites like Digg and now YouTube use comment voting as an alternative with some success. I have come to believe that I am happy that these trolls are spending hours sniping at each other on the Internet instead of going out and being boorish around me in real life.

Jul. 30 2008 03:53 PM
Jitendra from CA

Hey,

interesting post.

I really like having comments on my site. The reason is that comments offer interesting counterbalance and validation of ones thinking.

That being said, I do think there is a problem of incentives with free participation that internet enables. The issues are related to anonymity. Unlike real world conversation, where there are social penalties for being nasty, on the Internet, no such mechanisms exist. This takes away the reason for restraint and at times makes the conversation degenerate.

SezWho, A valley based company, is focused on entirely this issue. SezWho restores the quality of conversation and engagement by providing context (similar to the real world) and feedback mechanism for online conversations.

Please check it out at http://sezwho.com.

Thanks,
Jitendra

Jul. 29 2008 05:36 PM
Juan Vasquez from Greensboro, North Carolina

You guys had a point with the Ira Glass part but really Lee Siegel?!! Come on people. He complained of being called a peodophile. But why was that? Could it be that it was because he was baselessly accusing others of it?

Click on the linky goodness you won't be dissapointed.

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=08&year=2006&base_name=projection

Lee Siegle libels James Kincade saying

"It seems to me that the professor [Kincade] sniffs at the moral panic over the sexual exploitation of children only because he wants to normalize the sexual treatment of children."

Honestly, you undercut your point when you put someone on the air who has so thouroughly discredited himself. To complain about trolls you put on a troll/sockpuppet who has made a smart little cottage industry of whining that he was rightly shunned from public discourse.

Jul. 29 2008 05:28 PM
Mike Nutt from North Carolina

I'm sorry to hear that reading your comments is discouraging, but that's the kind of frankness that makes your show different. As in almost all cases, on the interweb or otherwise, I think people are more willing to comment if they disagree than if they actually valued your piece. I'm an avid public radio listener and OTM is consistently one of the most thoughtful programs around. Thanks for letting your listeners respond - even if they don't have the intellectual strength to be as thoughtful as you are.

Jul. 29 2008 11:40 AM
Jeff Jarvis from http://buzzmachine.com

I just wrote a long, considered, friendly, and I hope helpful comment here but -- sorry, I have to see the irony in this once again -- your system wouldn't let me say anything longer tahn 1,500 characters. If you want more intelligent conversations, you might want to expand past soundbite.

In any case, since Bob is a friend and he took offense at my earlier finding of irony in is report, I wanted to give some helpful advice on how to view the conversation around this piece. Since I can't post it here, please see it on my blog, here: http://www.buzzmachine.com/2008/07/29/dear-bob/

Jul. 29 2008 08:23 AM
alan from schussman.com

First, I love that Derek Powazek has commented here. Adding to what Thomas says, Derek has forgotten more about comments and community than most people will ever learn. Second, it's a shame that the commentary around this story isn't joined with both Lee Siegel's interview and the discussion with Carole Tennant. I rememeber Siegel's dishonest sockpuppetry and think it's fairly crazy that he is allowed to present himself as a sanctimonious model for online civility. In contrast, rather than ranting nonsensically about how online Critics (capital-C from Siegel's pretentious tone) don't have the right training, Carole Tennant makes a straightforward argument for the value of letting people participate --- even if, sometimes, they come across as intemperate. It's too bad the interview with Siegel didn't explore the actual substance of his response to his online critics. I would point readers to Michael Berube (http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php/weblog/against_blogofascism/) and Digby (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_digbysblog_archive.html#115125964266094876) for some pointed reactions to Siegel's horror at the hoi polloi questioning his wisdom and grace.

Jul. 29 2008 01:14 AM
Thomas from geistbearbrewing.com

Derek has spent more time thinking and writing about comments/community online issues than most of these commenters will in their entire life. If you want to take the issue seriously give Derek's links a read, as someone who has his book and been reading his sites for over a decade.

Jul. 28 2008 10:47 PM
Derek Powazek from San Francisco

I already posted my two cents about this story, but I still don't feel better. I think that's because Bob's partly right: comments do suck sometimes.

So, instead of just poking him for sounding like Grandpa Simpson, I'd like to help fix the problem. Here are ten things newspapers could do, right now, to improve the quality of the comments on their sites. (There are lots more, but you know how newspaper editors can't resist a top ten list.)

Read "10 Ways Newspapers Can Improve Comments" here: http://powazek.com/posts/1063

Jul. 28 2008 07:26 PM
Andy Howe from St. Paul, MN

Very interesting broadcast.

I normally love listening to Ira, but this broadcast hurt on so many levels. The discussion board shouldn't have been up in the first place, he shouldn't have chimed in on the discussion (let the community figured it out for themselves--not big brother), apparently there was no clear community guidelines with ramifications of breaking the guidelines, Ira and the management apparently didn't think through before this incident on how to handle this type of community-bashing, and Ira definitely should not have taken the post down.

Think about how the community was left -- with a lot of negativity about the story, mother, and kids.

Maybe, just maybe, if the community was allowed to continue the discussion under clear discussion guidelines, a brighter ending for all could have occurred.

I hope Ira and the management of learned from this.

Jul. 28 2008 02:27 PM
Kevin O from Seattle

I'm suprised the story didn't mention the similarity between many citizen comments and the political discourse on talk radio. As Rush and Bill O have taught us, to win a debate TALK LOUDER and attack the person you disagree with.

Jul. 28 2008 11:47 AM
Aaron Graff

I have listened to this program for years, but have never commented before, nor have I ever read the comments before. I am familiar with the general level of discourse that occurs in just about any comments section of any article written anywhere on the internet. Unless it occurs on a local level, it's ease and anonymity seem to bring out the worst in people.

However, this story on comments happen to coincide with another podcasts discussion of comments and I thought I would bring it to the attention of OTM, since I am fairly certain that they don't listen to many video game related podcasts. On July 7th episode of 1upYours, notable game designer Denis Dyack appeared on the show to discuss his recent interactions with a notorious gaming message board and he touched on many of the same subjects you discussed in your story. Particularly interesting to me was the topic of Reciprocity, which he described on a clinical level, and which Ira Glass on your show described on an emotional level (which is something I always turn to Ira's TAL for). It's an interesting discussion, and one I would recommend for anyone interested in the struggle between anonymity online and real people.

Jul. 28 2008 09:25 AM
Jeffrey Techentin from Rhode Island

How delightfully ironic that you managed to Godwin a radio piece about internet comments.

There are solutions out there in the works to ferret out the worst offenders. One promising solution is "StupidFilter," which you can read about (and implement, please!) at http://stupidfilter.org.

Jul. 28 2008 09:22 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I take Bob's direct question, aimed it seemed at another listener who asked for a response to a comment, quite to heart.

Yes, Bob, I am insane.

But I don't post anonymously, though I understand the Roanoke exception. Ira really should have considered the consequences of putting those girls and their mother on the air before he opened the bulletin board. I could tell him a hair-raising story, involving John Hinckley, about the consequences of a radio program if he needs a primer.

Luckily, I post only to a few sites; OTM and the New Haven Independent (an on-line only newspaper) and, very occasionally, the New Haven Advocate. At NHI, I have known the editor since he was a Yale undergrad. At the NHA, I've known the arts editor since he was 9 and I was an undergrad student actor in a traveling children's theater group.

As you know, OTM attracted me because it is on WNYC, where Andrea Bernstein works, whom I have also known since she was at Yale. It is always good to write for sites where someone can vouch for one's insanity. It was so nice that you had her on since I mentioned her.

In this society, merely having a memory seems an adequate qualification for that insanity label.

Great discussion!

Jul. 28 2008 05:50 AM
Richard from Marin County

This was a very intelligent, balanced, and much needed discussion. I used to go on these comment boards regarding news topics and politics, but there were so many hot-heads that you couldn't have an intelligent discussion. I agree that moderation is the probably the answer for problematic boards. It's a good middle ground: more democratic than the old school letter to the editor, but weed out the trolls, screamers, and haters.

Jul. 28 2008 12:39 AM
Joe from New York State

I live in the countryside. And my local newspaper is very opinionated, very arrogant, and not to be mistaken for one which would ever win a Pulitzer prize. Bullies the weak; ignores the sins of the wealthy. After all, if the paper went after the movers and shakers of the community, the editor and publisher would not be welcome at the Country Club. To criticize openly is to open oneself to public invective and rumor. Responsible anonymous comment can serve a useful purpose. Editorial boards can be as bad as anonymous bloggers.....

Jul. 27 2008 10:17 PM
JuleS from Chicago

I appreciated and agree with the Roanoke Times editor's viewpoint on the subject. Although no one deserves to be unfairly ridiculed in such a public arena as the Internet, if one attempts to quell the negative comments, it discourages the forum. If we allow pornography to be plain sight on newsstands, what's wrong with stating one's opinion of someone else's politics or beliefs or opinions in an insulting way? And what IS insulting? It's all a matter of perspective.

Calling for harm to come to the object of one's ridicule, of course, is wrong in the same way that shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater is. And there is no limit to the depths some people will go when they've turned on a fellow human being, for whatever reason. The Internet is just one more place that such people can spew the venom that they feel they need to .

As we've heard so many times before, our freedoms come at a high price -- often higher than that of much more restrictive societies. Like it or not, it's an all-or-nothing package. Yes, democracy DOES entail responsibility -- but too few practice it, and we as a society feel impotent to do anything about it -- or just don't care anymore. Our society has developed a callousness, and indifference to the lives, the suffering, the joys, the pain, the despair, the hopes of others that is shameful and sad.

Jul. 27 2008 09:40 PM
Clarence Ewing from Chicago, IL

Online forums can solve their troll problems in a very simple way - require posters to use their real names. Force users to stand by their comments and they will think more than twice before spouting off on any and every topic.

I feel that commentators who are worried that using their real identities will result in harassment or negative attention to their words shouldn't be posting at all. If what you have to say is so sensitive or provocative your anonymity is critical to the process, your statement doesn't belong in a public forum.

It's a little sad how the Internet has become the equivalent of the bleachers at Wrigley Field, with otherwise rational people indulging their worst natures while hiding behind pseudonyms. Web masters have it within their power to regulate the material that their sites display. I wish more of them would.

Jul. 27 2008 07:43 PM
lucifer prometheus from The Tubes

While OTM generally presents an astute critique of broadcast and print, this piece demonstrates the famous inability of the old media aristocracy to cope with new media. A pack of fools yelling obscenities on a street corner does not generally herald the end of democracy and free discourse. Nor does it represent the essential nature thereof.

The self-important fellow from the New Republic doth protest too much. No raucous comment thread can actually shout down the article that it is attached to- simply because many more people look at the actual article.

The democratic ideal that the internet presents is embodied in everyone's ability to post and read the content of their choice. It is rather pompous to assume that much of it rests on the interactive features of websites attached your precious print and broadcast media outlets.

Add and remove them as you feel necessary and rest assured that one way or the other you are having little or no effect on the democratic nature of the internet. The old media have always been basically one-way conduits of information. It is no wonder that the old media's websites have yet to learn to walk the fine line between moderation and bedlam that has prevailed on every well-run web forum since the Usenet days.

Jul. 27 2008 04:15 PM
Hunter E from Kirkland, WA

I think part of this has to do with the collision of "old" and "new" media (as much as I hate those terms, they're useful as shorthand). When I think of the discussion communities that work, they tend to be for online properties -- blogs, podcasts, the like -- while many of the worst examples are online faces of "traditional" media outlets (check out the comments on your local newspaper or TV news station's website to be truly horrified). But then, there are several examples of very "new media" entities that are just as bad (YouTube comments, anyone?). So there's something else here.

That something is community. And a central tool in creating that is, yes, user registration. Most people think user registration's main valuable lies in the ability to ban troublemakers. But it's a lot more than that. When people in a conversation know that they will be recognized and connected with what they say, this turns on an internal moderator. A really good internet discussion works like a small town. Everybody knows you, and you don't step on someone's toes, because you know they might have your back in the next debate.

Of course, active moderation, something that a lot of "old media" outlets don't bother with, also plays a big role. The civil exchange of ideas that occurs when an internet community works well is somewhat of an illusion maintained by people ready to jump in and delete when someone shows up just to shout names for male genetalia in the middle of the conversation.

Jul. 27 2008 03:11 PM
B K Ray from Chicago, IL

My first thought was to expect the same of commenters as from journalists, and that is to identify themselves and leave contact info for more direct responses. But the lady from Roanoke had a very good point about anonymity and the usefulness of it. It would be nice if in some instances people were not able to post anonymously, but then there are things that many of us know that would prove beneficial to a great many if they knew, although telling them would imperil our employment, so we will say nothing or speak anonymously.

Boards should be monitored, it is not an inhibition of free speech to do so and to not do so makes reading the comments a waste of time and it also prohibits the much needed and often wanted dialogues on boards.
I have seen message boards become communities as well as descend into flame wars and nothing else. So they do have potential for both good and ill in society.

Also if someone writes a story and someone comments on it, the writer should be able to comment on the comment as well. I think that it is still a matter of finding the way and the way will require monitoring. It was pretty okay, up to Nick.

Jul. 27 2008 01:47 PM
jr conlin

Interesting article, but I'm afraid that there are some errors within it.

One of the largest ones is presuming that all those wishing to be part of the conversation have some level of humanity.

Sadly, this isn't the case. There is a (thankfully) small minority of sub-human individuals who are not willing to enter discussions but instead leave leave their comments like so many bullet-holes in the side of the orphanage.

Although it was mentioned in the report as being surprising, I'd also like to note that a depressingly sizable portion of those leaving comments are unwilling to do the level of effort required to be minimally conversant in the discussion. One can only presume that these same individuals feel equally repressed and justified as to why they boycott McDonalds for refusing to sell them Whoppers.

None of this is new, of course, or even unique to the internet. Such (lack of) discussions occur on call in programs, letters to the editor, or muffled grumblings in the crowd.

Sadly, the greatest problem with inviting open discourse is that people will actually do so.

Jul. 27 2008 12:49 PM
Marian Swerdlow from Manhattan

I disagree with Glass' implication that there is anything democratic about allowing any and all anonymous comments, or undemocratic about not doing so. A point that I don't think any commentator has made yet jere is that democracy entails responsibility. Making an anonymous, hateful, unconstructive comment entails no responsibility. When we vote, we are anonymous but the responsibility is there because we have to live with the consequences. Posting irresponsibly has no consequences.
I also think that both Glass and Garfield are taking these comments more seriously than their posters do. For ex., I was totally amazed when one of my colleagues, who plays a very constructive role in our workplace, confided in me that he goes into chat rooms and posts angry, hateful comments. He told me he doesn't even really believe what he writes! He said he just enjoys being outrageous and provoking people He thought it was a hoot. I felt revolted. He was taking advantage of the anonymity of the forum to have a negative impact, without having to accept any accountability for it.

Jul. 27 2008 12:37 PM
dan from New York, NY

I'm surprised that the either-or debate here (allow comments or not) misses the point. If you look at sites with informative, intelligent comments (try slashdot.com, matt yglesias, or maybe even here) you see places where people are committed a conversation -- in good faith, more or less -- about something relatively specific. I never read "comments" on the NYT website, or any similar site for general consumption, because unlike the former, these sites are so large, and have failed to cultivate a loyal, self-selecting commentariat, that they are no more than 200 people shouting into the night.

This point is proven, I think, by the fact that the small news paper editor at the end of the piece likes comments, and thinks they add value.

The point is that in order to have "democracy," you need an actual community of people willing to engage. "The Internet" is not a community, but a million communities -- which have to be created and cultivated. There isn't just a community "there" waiting for a comment board, which is why, for example, Ira Glass's comments section was a failure. It wasn't for a lack of a moderator -- most good sites do not have one, and are moderated in essence by the commenters themselves -- but for a lack of a community of people interested in having an intelligent discussion on the internet (which is separate from however intelligent Glass might think his radio listeners are).

Jul. 27 2008 11:29 AM
Lenore from New York City

Just moderate the thing, that's all. All you say above is that the comment should be "relevant." You could add a few other categories, describe them how you will, and the most egregious racism, insults, etc. can be excluded.

What, too simple?

Jul. 27 2008 10:48 AM
Elle

I love how some of the comments here strengthen Lee Siegel's argument in the next story.

Jul. 27 2008 08:59 AM
Rick Evans

Who is Ira Glass kidding? Himself? He's the one who through the manipulative methods of confessional journalism got the teens in his story to air their private gory details. It's HE who opened them up for focused ridicule by offering up HIS website to be the unmoderated forum where any anonymous nitwit could spew.

In his swipes at Bob Garfield for being "royalty" or "anti-democratic" he needs to look in the mirror. His shutting down of HIS forums reminds me of what happens when an authoritarian or royalist regime liberalizes freedoms then takes draconian measures to withdraw those freedoms for all because of a predictable few anarchists or merely embarrassing commentators.

Kinda like China's ongoing yin-yang dance with freedom of expression. And like China, just because a forum in Glassistan is shut down does nothing to prevent commentators outside his borders from dumping on the him or is subjects. These days anyone can start a dumponthisamericanlifestorytellers blog or Google group.

BTW Ira. As of the moment I write this anti-democrat, royalist Bob Garfield hasn't shut down this forum.

Jul. 27 2008 07:39 AM
chiggins from DC

Shutting down comments is undemocratic, eh Ira? Okay, but to paraphrase Carlin, if your democracy is made up selfish, ignorant, judgmental people, then your comment threads will likely be filled with the selfish, ignorant, judgmental sentiments.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Jul. 26 2008 08:29 PM
CatherineD

Wow, I just kept waiting for you both to say "you kids get off my digital lawn". Pathetic!

Jul. 26 2008 07:31 PM
Derek Powazek from San Francisco

I posted some more thoughtful comments here: http://powazek.com/posts/1040

Jul. 26 2008 06:23 PM
geo8rge from Brooklyn!

1) Anyone can set up a msg board, if there was going to be a msg board wouldn't be better if it were one you controlled?

2) The This American Life episode mentioned featured 2 girls who were selling their bodies for drugs. What comments did you think they would get? I would suggest Mr Glass just give control of the msg board to the subjects. I admit with multiple parties it might be hard to do.

3) The comments section is often more interesting and fun to read than the article written to the NY Times style guide aka mid-atlantic bland. How do you people expect to compete with Talk Radio?

4) Who is an apparachik from National Pentagon Radio to complain about some msg board commentators. BTW, I send by $25 yearly donation to WNYC mostly for OTM.

Jul. 26 2008 05:02 PM
andrew hennessy from college park, md

The sample of responses chosen does not represent the entire population. OTM’s, “both reductionism commentators are right” belittles legitimate criticism.

Does anyone deny that the free press is drawn to sources and stories from centers that “society” deems qualified? Time is scarce. What is an expert? Who and how does society confer expertise? What society? Look at today’s OTM guestless list (the topic is comments, and who are your experts)?

From the prospective of many professional voices the fringes are by definition unreliable. “Experts” are often taken at face value. It was the age of reason. Historically that thinking has both cured disease and brought destruction. It does not mean it is objective or true.

Jul. 26 2008 04:14 PM
Ben from Hamilton, NY

Glass is wrong, I think, to call you a royalist. An aristocrat would be more apt - the issue isn't hereditary, it's worth.

And I don't think commenters are a threat to food journalism or commentary. True, their opinions often aren't worth very much, but they are also completely derivative - dependent on the journalist/critic/blogger.

Jul. 26 2008 02:57 PM
Nixxy Russell from Philly PA

Glass nailed it. Why should he keep open a forum used by those posters to trash the people who were telling thier story on air.

Jul. 26 2008 01:37 PM
Derek Powazek from San Francisco

My God you guys sound old when you talk about the internet. Here's a suggestion: Next time you talk about all those crazy kids on the internet, try talking so someone under 30.

Jul. 26 2008 04:11 AM
Ethan Stanislawski from New York, NY

The Internet has not dumbed down human rhetoric. Newspapers always got angry letters, hateful letters. Death threats are not new to the Internet. What's changed is that it's become much easier for that kind of rhetoric to be received. For every Letter to the Editor that has ever been published in the New York Times, there are 20 hateful, racist, obscene letters. The Internet has just made it easier to send that kind of message, and people who wouldn't go the extra mile and pay postage. That's why if newspapers are to have comments, they need to regulate them to same extent they regulate letters to the editor.

Jul. 26 2008 12:03 AM
mike from Phoenix AZ

any open site will attract the trolls.

you should make people sign up for a user name and password, and log IP addresses for all who post. that way you can IP ban the worst offenders.

Yes, having a moderator it makes it more difficult to post a comment, but if someone's thoughts are important enough to share with the public writ large, they would take the extra step.

failing that, just disable the thing. there's no reason all media need be interactive.

Jul. 25 2008 11:32 PM

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