Interesting thoughts from Yahoo’s Virginia Heffernan:
Mostly I don’t mind it, getting jumped by commenters day after day. Often I think it’s good for me, like growing up in a tough neighborhood. Sometimes I’m even surprised at how thin-skinned new writers are, or writers who aren’t used to the rough-and-tumble world of online commentary. “I can’t take it,” a prize-winning, top-selling poet told me recently. “I’d rather write for my mom only than get knocked around by the bullies who comment online.”
I try to tell these sensitive writers that online commentary is its own form, with its own conceits, tight as a sonnet.
And in gaps in the vitriol, there are often flashes of extraordinary insight. I would say there are always those flashes. [There] are questions I’d genuinely love to address with readers, maybe in some shared space between the column and the comments. But the truth is, I get a little scared to go down there to comment-land. It’s a rough scene, like a punk club, and I might—I will—get hurt.
Is there a way to comment without trolling, bullying or gaslighting? Does the threat of rough commenters scare you away from writing? Does the sight of cruel comments at the end of the piece color your impression of the piece?
Comments on You will hate this article: thoughts on internet commenting
I think the best way to stem the tide of h8ter comments is to moderate your comment section severely and let everyone know you’re doing that. Enforce it with a required logon if you have to. If anybody complains about it, explain that you are in fact Hitler.
I don’t think cruel comments would color my reaction to a piece but then I rarely read comments and never if the site is unmoderated. However I do think hate breeds hate and you have an obligation not just to yourself but to your entire community to take that shit down.
I was just about the say the same thing- this article makes a greeeeat case for moderation. On moderated sites and blogs (like this one, say) you get lots of great conversation and back and forth on articles. On unmoderated news sites (and youtube) it’s not even worth reading the comments, much less getting involved, because they are so incredibly bottom-of-the-barrel. If you will allow trolls to come out and call the writer a slut for no reason, those trolls will come, and they will do.
Not only is it not worth reading the comments on sites like youtube or yahoo, but doing so usually winds up pissing me off and ruining my mood for a good hour. Seriously. I have decided to never read another yahoo article comment for fear I will punch my computer. Keep calm and don’t read the comments.
That is why I love the empire dearly! I can read comments and even though I know the terrible yahoo-esque ones get deleted, I revel in ignorant bliss. I feel sorry for you girlies…that must get really frustrating at times.
Moral of my comment: Props Empire Staff. Drink copious amounts of wine on your retreat; you deserve it.
I juuuust said something to my girlfriend about how much I hate commenters on other sites, and love reading comment threads on any offbeat site. I always end up feeling dirty and irritated after other sites. Good job being smart, well spoken and funny, everyone!
And good job, moderators! 😉
Yes! The comments on the Offbeat sites are part of the draw!
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