This, along with the "babby" link posted in the comments regarding the story about ChaCha, is the reality of Web 2.0:
Every time the "old media" gets all breathless about the latest granular advance of the tech, I have to chuckle to myself.
Sure, there will always be Internet phenoms like the arrested Twitter guy, but the vast majority of unfiltered noise is no more promising, interesting, or exciting than the average tween conversation about Paris Hilton.
This noise only becomes relevant when one of the standouts graduates to a more refined media where the a premium is placed on quality, as has always been the case. Whether the rabble takes place in a cave or a rumpus room, on a Hello Kitty cell phone or the web for the world to see, hardly makes a scrap of difference.
I agree that on many news or blog format sites, comments can get quite out of hand to the point that I don't even bother reading them. The ideal situation is often to provide a forum for thoughtful and sincere reader feedback and opinion, without the diatribes and trolling, but even then, four pages of viewer comments can be overwhelming in a similarly discouraging way. One good compromise that I would love to see integrated in more sites is a Digg-like rating system for comments. This allows other readers to easily click to vote on the worth or significance of other comments, sorting the more popular ones to the forefront, and the others to the back. Of course this system is not perfect either, but it allows for still relatively open forum, without as much need for top-end moderation or censorship.
I've found the NPR comment-section and the parallel section of major print dailies to be moderated effectively.
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