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News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by YankeeFan, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

  2. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    How 'bout just getting rid of them entirely?
  3. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    I think they're a good idea with proper IDs. But screen names and posting the shit they do all for hits? Nah.
  4. Online comments are junk, anonymous comments doubly-so. You've got spam, completely off-topic political rants, spammed off-topic political rants, racist trolling (one hopes it's trolling, anyway), and then those delightful comments complaining that the site/paper shouldn't waste its time covering whatever the story is about, because XYZ is more important.

    If news sites want to have comments, they should have some editorial oversight in terms of selection, same as with a print edition's letters section. That said, I don't see this happening; too many sites don't even rigorously edit online copy, so I can't see them devoting anyone's time to going through comments.

    When's the last time you've been enriched by a comment on a website?
  5. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    When they're constructive and promote discussion, I don't mind them. Unfortunatley, that's about 1 percent of the time. They've become a breeding ground for cranky pants people to rattle cages.

    Like them or hate them, it does drive up web traffic. I think people need to realize who is on the other side of the keyboard, and consider the source. I never give a shit if somebody says something awful just to say it ... But too many people (readers, especially) are thin skinned.
  6. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Are anonymous posters on a message board really complaining about anonymous posts on websites?
  7. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Isn't America great!
  8. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    I think the difference is newspaper websites should be free of them; as elitist as it might sound, they should be slightly different than message boards and forums. There are 10 billion places on the Internet to post anonymously. Why do newspapers have to provide another forum, when the comments distract and detract from the content and the website, which isn't the case with most other places where people comment anonymously.

    As for comments driving up web traffic...how's that working out as far as saving the industry? If newspapers had never allowed comments, would they somehow be in worse shape financially? What, the Denver Post would also be gone, in addition to the RMN? As far as I can tell, they're doing nothing for the bottom line, whatever increase in web traffic they provide has done nothing to save jobs or add jobs or add to the budget. So they're doing nothing financially, and add nothing to any online conversation, and actually sometimes hurt reporters trying to do their jobs (http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2009/07/23/10434/one_star_tribune_reporters_hatred_of_comments).

    Why do we have them again? What's the benefit?
  9. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    There are a lot of advertisers who specify that they do not want their banner campaigns placed on pages containing reader comments.

    Those pages typically have lower click-through rates anyway, but some companies simply don't want to be associated in any fashion with the serial haters.
  10. doctorx

    doctorx Member

    The only thing that gives people more courage than alcohol is anonymity.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I've never understood the concept of people in this business being scared of words, free speech and the free interchange of thoughts and ideas.

    Some of them are awful, and there are bugs and problems with the whole idea. But why should it be "slightly different than message boards and forums"? Interaction with news stories, when done by responsible adults, is one of the BEST examples of a good use of message boards.

    Reporters hate them because they're told things they don't want to hear, criticized and called names.

    At our place, our writers hear a lot, and some of it's distressing, and I sometimes they come to me about it. I'm sympathetic to a point, but having to put up with message boards is part of the cost of writing for us these days. You can't have a thin skin, and our writers are mostly used to it, although we hear about it when things cross the line. We have ways of deleting and dealing with discussions that get out of hand.

    Finally, I really want to run screaming into the night when I hear references to message boards being about "hits." Aside from the fact that "hits" became obsolete as a term to describe web traffic about 10 years ago, that is NOT why message boards are continued. They're continued because web readers today expect the experience to be interactive, and that isn't going away.

    We're not making much if any direct money through story comments. It's done because interactivity is part of the web experience in 2010 -- and should be.
  12. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Even worse are the completely anonymous "TalkBack" columns published in the print editions with comments.

    Newspapers require a name, address and phone number (for verification) for Letters to the Editor. But they print shit from people calling a telephone number and use valuable space to post anonymous comments.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the WaPo's comments revision.
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