Monday, October 25

The Commentariat (4#) -

There are a lot of troubled people
floating around out there on the Internet . . .

Not all of them are full-tilt lunatics, of course, but some people who would never dream of committing an act of vandalism in their physical neighborhood or wouldn't even aspire to engage in overtly anti-social behavior with their personal contacts experience a strange inhibition-dissolve in cyberspace, spewing poisonous invectives and seemingly gratuitous malice at others.

This kind of feral savagery has become a big problem for newspapers which want to provide comment sections for their readers.

One New England newspaper
shut down comments recently because:

"what once served as a platform for civil civic discourse and reader interaction has increasingly become a forum for vile, crude, insensitive, and vicious postings. No story subject seems safe from hurtful and vulgar comments."

They have since restored them:

"We switched to a monitoring and content management system to control comment abuse. We halted commenting for about 24 hours as we made the switch."

Justin Ellis explores this issue at Nieman J Lab, but left out one facet of the discussion: in some cases, those moderating a comment thread have been accused of being unfair by selectively deleting comments in order to maintain ideological purity.

These problems seem to inhabit some sites more than others, though the origin of all this rage still seems rather mysterious.

# Complaints about videos of Anwar al Awlaki
available on YouTube and demands to get rid of them.

# Spoof: Ex-Disney boss
Michael Eisner re-brands the Tribune Co.