1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Message boards/comments on stories

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SF_Express, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Probably a bad day to start this. Maybe it will hang around when things are quieter.

    The Diversity Committee at the Orange County Register wants to stop reader comments on stories, because they're so out of hand, vile, racist, etc.


    For now, the editor wants to wait to see if the boards "correct themselves."

    We've had some issues with message board at my place. Racist comments directed at people. Sexist comments directed at women's writers and posters.

    My take troubles even me sometimes -- but it's that if we want interactivity with our readers, we just have to live with some of this stuff. Post guidelines, monitor as best we can, and sometimes have thick skins when the comments are directed at us. And at our place, people can rate others -- with their overall ratings affecting when and how they can post -- and report bad stuff.

    We DO want interactivity -- and there's just no way to have the resources to monitor every post on every message board. So we're going to have to live with some of the shit.

    I think that's the way to go, but there might be those who agree with the OCR Diversity Committee, that it's better not to have them at all than to put up with the worst stuff.

    Any opinions on this? If not today, next week? :)
  2. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    It's probably worth pointing out here that ESPN.com experimented with opening up their stories and columns to comments, I guess to try and act like Deadspin, and Bill Simmons' stuff got carpet-bombed with so many snarky comments (many of them funny, many of them tasteless, some of them both) that the site threw up its hands disabled the ability to comment on columns after about three days. They tried to delete some of the bad stuff at first, but there was such a huge volume of it, all of it anonymous that they simple couldn't handle it.

    If you think people are emboldened to make racist, sexist comments on SportsJournalists.com behind the veil of anonymity, check out a newspaper message board sometime where people's emotions aren't held, at least to some extent, in check by professional ethics and civility. Scary, angry, racist, vile stuff. Blacks suck. Muslims sucks. We should nuke the entire Middle East, etc.

    It's interesting how on Deadspin, the comments are what keeps bringing people back as much as the stories. Newspapers and mainstream websites want the "cool factor" that blogs like Deadspin or Kissing Suzy Kolber have, but they would freak out if people started to make jokes about Muhammad Ali "trembling with excitement" before a bowl game, or Rex Grossman calling himself a "cumslinger, not a gunslinger" and how he was going to do horrible thing to ESPN female reporters.
  3. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Ahh, these newspaper message boards/reader response sites are flawed to begin with.

    I don't think they generate the type of reader response/discussion that newspaper management likes to think they would. From my experience, it's usually a very, very small minority of readers -- plus a few trolls with their hot-button issues -- who participate on a regular basis. Just like the responses we get by snail mail or e-mail or phone call.

    I think management still operates under the fallacy that you can direct the flow of Internet traffic -- when it seems to work exactly the opposite, always more of a grass-roots effort. There is little rhyme or reason to which message boards (like this one) or sites (MySpace, Google) become wildly popular.

    Who's to say why SportsJournalists.com became The Place To Be rather than some Poynter or APSE message board that, on the surface, is exactly the same? That's the beauty of the Internet: the people go where they want, not where you tell them to go.

    And that's why these newspaper message boards rarely ever work. You can't just make them into something you want them to be. You either have to commit to it, and live with results you might not like, or not commit to it at all. ... Or you can hire Moddy and Gutter. :D
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I think the negatives outweigh the perceived positives of attracting an audience. My wife's dad is a huge sports fan but lives in a smaller city where there is no sports talk radio. When he flew in for Thanksgiving, I picked him up at the airport and put on the all-sports station so he could listen to idiots. His tolerance level was 15 minutes. People with a brain do not find this very entertaining on a steady basis. I think the freedom that the Internet offers is a novelty for many right now, but that the over-the-top stuff wears thin after a while. Intelligent people don't want the guilt-by-association of being "one of those cretins."
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Doesn't matter the topic. They seem to quickly degenerate into name calling.

    The best of the newspaper web responses are about equal to the worst of here.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Well, see, here's the thing:

    In that OCR story, there was also talk about how helpful the message board was on the stories about the Anaheim Hills fires. So there are benefits.

    We do lots of traffic on our boards, and it's not all the same people, but then again, we're a little different than a newspaper site, too.
  7. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

    The biggest thing is, how heavy an editorial hand do you want on your message boards?

    Do you need to edit them at all? Why not just have a disclaimer that pops up whenever anyone tries to access comments, to the effect that comments don't represent the opinions of the newspaper or its writers, blah blah blah?

    If management ignores the content of comments (or maybe ignores all but the most persistent spammers and trolls), comment sections and message boards become self-policing...like this place often is.
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Some become self-policing. Many don't.

    They just degenerate and, as Frank_R said, it wears thin on most people.
  9. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    About a month ago, Yahoo disabled their message boards that were linked to each story.

    Never really read them, but all of a sudden the links were gone. In its place, a short note saying they were reexamining how to better use the message board feature.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    There is a libel fear if you edit them. Then you become responsible for the content. You don't want to do that.

    You can delete way out-of-line posts, though.
  11. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Freep just started that with that piss-poor website redesign and most of their messag boards have turned into just that... racist/fanboy/pissing contests (insert the appropriate choice for whichever topic is at hand)
  12. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    Sites do not become popular haphazardly with no rhyme nor reason. There is no secret why Google and MySpace became popular; those sites took concepts that were already popular and were starting to reach critical mass and increased usability tenfold.

    Comparing this site to MySpace is laughable. Almost every major popular recording act and celebrity is on MySpace. Tila Tequila became a D-list celebrity because of her popularity on MySpace. When Moddy gets a Rolling Stone cover shot, I'll be convinced.

    But when it comes to the Internet, a good rule of thumb is earnestness gets you nowhere -- Poynter and APSE never had a chance.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page