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Friday, May 16, 2014

On the Internet, Everybody Knows You're an Asshole

Posted by on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Another online publication ends their comment section. Is this a trend toward getting rid of comments, or is it just another indicator of how out-of-touch traditional media still is with online culture?

The National Journal announced Friday that it would become the latest publication to eliminate its comments section. While they remain committed to the noble calling of serving the public interest through the exchange of ideas, Editor in Chief Tim Grieve writes, the comments section of the venerable Washington insiders’ publication doesn’t live up to those standards.

Somewhat related: Have you read Laura Hudson's excellent piece in Wired about how to end online harassment? It's an important piece, not least because for far too long victims of online harassment have been told, basically, to suck it up, that the internet is never going to change:

The good news, though, is that Internet harassment can be combatted and reduced. While the problem is far from solved, a few online communities—especially in the world of multiplayer gaming, which has long struggled with issues of incivility and abuse—have come up with some innovative techniques to deter harassers and sometimes even reform them. If Facebook and the other social networks were to take a page from these approaches, they could make huge strides in turning the Internet into a less toxic place for everyone. But embracing their lessons would also require a whole new way of thinking about online behavior.

Go read the whole thing.


Comments (27) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
TheMisanthrope 1
JFC, isn't there somebody OTHER than fucking Anita Sarkeesian to highlight in these damned discussions?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on May 16, 2014 at 2:20 PM · Report this
rob! 3
Great header, Paul. XD

21-year-old meme. That should baffle the kids.
Posted by rob! on May 16, 2014 at 2:34 PM · Report this


Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 16, 2014 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Paul, you should really read the comment section here sometime.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on May 16, 2014 at 2:44 PM · Report this
No one gains a thing from 98% of comments sections. Seriously, there's no real benefit.
Posted by Jizzlobber on May 16, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Report this
Internet media is in love with itself and any idea it has. I think once it's played our for a while, rejecting comments sections will become increasingly normal.
Posted by Jizzlobber on May 16, 2014 at 2:48 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 8
Never read the comments.
Posted by Original Andrew on May 16, 2014 at 2:48 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 9
@5: Right? No good solution that doesn't involve some amount of mod oversight that websites aren't willing to pay for.
Posted by undead ayn rand on May 16, 2014 at 2:50 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 10
If you want to make the Internet civil, you have to remove the people from the Internet or filter out people that aren't in your personal social circle. Failing that you will have assholes online because there are assholes in person.
Posted by Sam Levine on May 16, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Mattini 11
Paul, you're right. What's the point of maintaining my presence as a talking martini glass? Commenting on this site doesn't enrich my real life in any way. E-goodbye forever.
Posted by Mattini on May 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 12
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Posted by Last of the Time Lords on May 16, 2014 at 3:11 PM · Report this
wisepunk 13
Posted by wisepunk on May 16, 2014 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Banna 14
Old media is finding out their audience isn't the monocle-wearing group of sophisticates they thought and, like parents who find out their kid dropped out of law school to pursue their dream of a career in burlesque theatre, are showing their disappointment by cutting the little ingrates off.

We are all guilty.
Posted by Banna on May 16, 2014 at 3:23 PM · Report this
fletc3her 15
I've been involved with some communities that have been remarkably civil for well over a decade. Mostly technical communities so they don't stray into politics or religion.

Although the absolute most toxic community I ever experienced was a coffee discussion group at Sweet Maria's. The people there were just downright mean. They made most politics boards look polite.
Posted by fletc3her on May 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 16

I think it also helps when a blog has a community of sorts. This is also why I don't wade into the comments sections for larger forms of media, such as traditional newspapers or, egads, YouTube. Any asshole with an Internet connection will spew whatever they damn well feel like there.

My favorite blog community example was this UK blog I used to read, where a Holocaust denier suddenly showed up in the comments. The commenters relentlessly reverse-trolled him until he went away.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 16, 2014 at 3:45 PM · Report this
venomlash 17
Posted by venomlash on May 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 18
Ron Paul 2016!
Posted by Gern Blanston on May 16, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
though it makes me feel like a dork, I love checking in on slog's comments to see what this little cohort is saying. I sincerely enjoy all the regulars: keshmeshi, supreme ruler, ugurtha, vel duray, etc.
Posted by bradl on May 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 20
Seven proxies? I never felt the need for more than one.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on May 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this
very bad homo 21
Slog is the only place I read comments, and even this can be a snakepit sometimes.
Posted by very bad homo on May 16, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 23


I only read the comments here too since there are (usually) few enough to actually keep my attention but enough to make it interesting.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 16, 2014 at 9:47 PM · Report this
Lissa 24
I agree with both 19 and 21. I love Slog, and I think that it is the fact that it is a smallish community that makes it work as well as it does. I also think that being able to not see the unregistered, and the IRL meet ups that happen are a big help too. Before the SLOG Happys, as I understand it, things got really ugly, but once you've had a beer with some one face to face, it's harder to be an asshole to them on line.
Fnarf and I have different positions on gun control, for example, but since we've met in real life, we understand each other better, and he no longer accuses me of murder. :)
Posted by Lissa on May 16, 2014 at 9:53 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 25
I agree with @15 and @16. Communities that are focused around common interests have a much more favorable signal to noise ratio than those of newspapers, TV stations or magazines. The more general the site, the more trolls it attracts. The comments section of USA Today is a chamber of horrors.
Posted by Dr. Z on May 17, 2014 at 7:33 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 26
@16 Yahoo News stories have by far the worst comment sections out there. Especially egregious are any news stories involving race, gender, sexuality and religion. The only thing worse would be reading the Klan's comment section.

Newspapers and other organizations need to monitor their comment sections. And when people are abusive on these comment areas we need take action; write complaints to these organizations and ask to have them remove.

In the aftermath of the murders in Kansas City last month there were people posting hate speech about Jews on the Kansas City Star's video website. I wrote their public editor and got the posts removed.

Posted by passionate_jus on May 17, 2014 at 7:43 AM · Report this
I love watching the guys at the National Review learn their readers are assholes.

I love even more watching the rest of the world realize the writers at the National Review are fostering colonies of assholes.
Posted by six shooter on May 17, 2014 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Sean Kinney 28
The National Journal and the National Review are not the same.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on May 17, 2014 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Catherwood 29
So @28, I'm not going to find scholarly research on, and reviews of recordings, respectively, by The National?

Why fucking bother, then?
Posted by Catherwood on May 17, 2014 at 10:49 PM · Report this

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