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In Defense of the Anonymous Commenter

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the seems-familiar dept.

The Media 198

Hugh Pickens writes "Doug Feaver has an interesting story in the Washington Post 'in defense of the anonymous, unmoderated, often appallingly inaccurate, sometimes profane, frequently off point and occasionally racist reader comments that washingtonpost.com allows to be published at the end of articles and blogs.' Feaver says that during his seven-year tenure as editor and executive editor of washingtonpost.com he kept un-moderated comments off the site, but now, four years after retiring, he says he has come to think that online comments are a terrific addition to the conversation, and that journalists need to take them seriously. 'The subjects that have generated the most vitriol during my tenure in this role are race and immigration,' writes Feaver. 'But I am heartened by the fact that such comments do not go unchallenged by readers. In fact, comment strings are often self-correcting and provide informative exchanges.' Feaver says that comments are also a pretty good political survey. 'The first day it became clear that a federal bailout of Wall Street was a real prospect, the comments on the main story were almost 100 percent negative. It was a great predictor of how folks feel, well out in front of the polls. We journalists need to pay attention to what our readers say, even if we don't like it. There are things to learn.'"

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198 comments

*sigh* (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548211)

Soulskill, this has been on Fark since yesterday...

Why are /. mods and Smitty's so slow these days?

Re:FUCK YOU (0, Offtopic)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548233)

Hey, dont mod me down because the washington post likes what I have to say!

Re:FUCK YOU (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548695)

Please, send me all spam and shit you want to my mail: torvalds@osdl.org. (I always use THAT adress when registering to any porn site anyway)

Too slow... (0, Offtopic)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548237)

I don't care what he says, there is no value in "First post!" Ironically I _just_ missed the first post.

The value of First Post (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548259)

there is no value in "First post!"

I beg to disagree. A First Post is the perfect place to put a reply where it will be seen.

No one reads anything beyond the twentieth or so reply to an article, if you don't reply to one of the first posts it doesn't matter how funny, interesting, or insightful it is, no one will read it.

And it helps if you change the subject line. From my experience, a reply with a new subject line is much more likely to get a positive moderation than a "Re: ... " subject.

Re:The non-value of First Post (3, Insightful)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548277)

I also have to beg to disagree, because I said there is no value in "First Post" meaning, people who post solely saying "First Post" as opposed to saying there is no value in _the_ first post.

Re:The non-value of First Post (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548525)

You'd think someone with such a low UID would get that. Just shows that simply because you've been around for a long time it doesn't mean you actually understand things any better.

Re:The non-value of First Post (1)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548545)

What puzzled me was that other than them missing the point completely, they seem to have a pretty good grasp of English as far as the rest of the post shows.

Re:The non-value of First Poster (0, Offtopic)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549099)

You'd think someone with such a low UID would get that. Just shows that simply because you've been around for a long time it doesn't mean you actually understand things any better.

So not only does a First Post not necessarily deliver information, the same goes for a First Poster.

Re:The non-value of First Post (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548575)

I disagree to you then. "First Post" in essence opens it up for everyone. It's when it's an "NGAA" or whatever troll that there's no value.

Maybe hang around some more, you'll get the drift.

Re:The non-value of First Post (0, Redundant)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548619)

I'm sorry, but I am finding it really hard to see how you could confuse:

"There is no value in 'First Post!'"

for:

"The first post has no value."

Re:The value of First Post (2, Insightful)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548593)

Not true. I usually read every comment at a viewing range of -1 up. The funniest stuff is usually later anyway. It is the first posters who are either stupid trying to be funny, or wanna-be intellectuals trying to show their "knowledge". Of course you also have the ones racing to throw their off topic BS up there too, so the can be 'seen" by the ruling elites of the Illuminati.

Re:The value of First Post (2, Informative)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549171)

Whenever I get moderator status (once a week or so) I make it a point to read toward the end of the posts in order to give a chance to someone who writes an insightful or funny post to get brownie points.

Re:Too slow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548929)

To fulfill what Doug Feaver say, I, the anonymous commenter, will correct this string by saying that there IS value in first post. It lets you become the jackass of the day, much to everyone else's amusement.

Click to unpause... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548243)

If this autorefresh / click to unpause crap doesn't stop soon, I'm outta here. This isn't the only place on the net.

Re:Click to unpause... (1)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548283)

>If this autorefresh / click to unpause crap doesn't stop soon, I'm outta here.

Go to your preferences and you can kill it as long as you're logged in. Maybe it's all a tactic to annoy users into logging on. It's certainly irritating.

Re:Click to unpause... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548459)

Or just do what I do with every annoying site. Disable javascript. On a properly designed site like this one, you don't lose a single thing by reverting to HTML. And yes, I call this properly designed because it works just fine without javascript, unlike the horde of flash only sites or the ones that seem to force JS to be used as nothing more than a wrapper for an anchor tag.

Thanks to just using HTML, I wouldn't even have known about this new change if not for people griping about it. The site works fine for me, the same as it has for the last 10 years.

Re:Click to unpause... (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548941)

You now need JS enabled to metamoderate. If you haven't, or won't, you'll be directed here:
http://slashdot.org/faq/UI.shtml#ui700 [slashdot.org]

Of course, if you never log in, this is moot.

Moderation is a dead end (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549119)

Both metamoderation and moderation are a 100% waste of time on Slashdot.

Great posts are often lost at low ratings, and terrible posts get modded up. Slashdot editors pursue vendettas against various posters, and anonymous posts, regardless of content, are rarely modded at all.

This is a great site, with great content, but the only way to really experience that is to read at -1 and completely ignore the moderation, which simply does not work.

Re:Click to unpause... (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548293)

You can turn that stuff off, ya know?

political leanings (3, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548245)

It's an interesting indicator of the swing and countervailing political views of a given paper. I've noticed that in "blue state" papers, the comments are often very conservative and red-meat. Conversely, browse a rural paper and you'll find quite a bit of commenting coming from a relatively blue/liberal point of view. It's almost entirely ugly illiterate trash, but it's an outlet for those who may feel oppressed in the general population in which they live.

Re:political leanings (2, Funny)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548785)

Well, Speare [slashdot.org] , since you went out and did your research, (and I don't have class until 6 tonight) I went out and did mine. A hamster weighs approximately .12kg, and the height of my zeppelin (how else would it be portable?) is 7700m. Assuming that I used frictionless turbines in a vacuum environment and superconducting wires, the hamsters would take about sqrt(2*7700/9.81)=39.62 seconds to reach the bottom. The power generated is .12*9.81*7700/39.62=228.78 watts (enough to power a laptop). The amount of hamsters I require for the day long supply is 60^2*24/39.62=2180.72 (yes .72, it's en evil contraption, use your imagination). This does not include the hamsters required to provide the mechanical energy to grind up the other hamsters and move them up a conveyor belt. Now you may ask, "isn't this going a bit far? Do you have a grudge against hamsters? Isn't This device terribly inefficient?" Well I just happen to be a humble college student that works part time at a farm that's run near an over-efficient hamster breeder (which is where the mind control device herds them from). Hamsters nearly ruined my dads farm, and the soft hum of my laptop is a nice replacement for the reminder that even though I cant hear the sound of hamster entrails crashing to the bottom of the hamster feeder, those little bastards are paying for what they almost did. And just to shove a little more spite in their face, I waste a profuse amount of time on the internet posting on Slashdot.

=Smidge=

This just in... (5, Funny)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548291)

Journalist learns that other peoples opinions count. News at 11!

Re:This just in... (4, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548589)

Journalists learns which articles that draws the most comments and therefore are the most controversial. This means that they get an indication about what may be disturbing for people.

But sometimes we also need informative articles and not only the disturbing articles.

As for anonymous comments - they may be valid, but it must be possible to moderate those articles to get rid of the noise and the worst forms. And in controversial questions the availability of anonymous comments may be a life saver. It must be possible to express an opinion, at least in a polite way without revealing your identity. The question is sometimes more important than who the messenger is.

oblig... (1)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548295)

fuck you!!

I disagree (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548297)

As one who frequents it...frequently...the Washington Post comment section really is a cesspit. Imagine what you would get if the Slashdot mod system worked in reverse, and people were karma whores for "flamebait," "troll," and "offtopic" tags. It isn't 4chan. But it's amazing that it's on the same site as one of the country's most respectable news outlets.

Of course, Feaver's points would carry more weight if the boards were structured differently. For instance, if WaPo had nested threads instead of a flat message board, you might see more of the "correction" and "dialogue" between different posters than you otherwise do. As opposed to ranting, which is what happens when I...I mean, some person...stands on a soapbox without having dialogue. Empty flames cast into a void.

On the other hand, I'll say with a straight face that I think Slashdot has the best comment section around, if not for the quality of the posters themselves, then because it's good at suppressing and elevating voices based on the wisdom of crowds.

But yet I go back there again and again...

Re:I disagree (0, Troll)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548493)

You disagree about the value of the comment section. You frequent the comment section. How ironic. You must spit at the mirror a lot. Can you get through a shave in one piece?

Re:I disagree (3, Interesting)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548739)

You disagree about the value of the comment section. You frequent the comment section. How ironic.

I comment on stuff, even if i think my comments aren't up to par with the editorials, some people might agree with what i said, making it valuable.

If I could, i would use a "-1 made by me" mod point on most of my posts, as they aren't really made in good english and not always relevant... But i can't always be wrong, everyone made at least a good point on something in their lives, hopefully more than once...

Re:I disagree (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548577)

As one who frequents it...frequently...the Washington Post comment section really is a cesspit. Imagine what you would get if the Slashdot mod system worked in reverse, and people were karma whores for "flamebait," "troll," and "offtopic" tags. It isn't 4chan. But it's amazing that it's on the same site as one of the country's most respectable news outlets.

...

Amazing?

Hardly.

Have you ever been involved in anything the Washington Post reports? I have. Twice. Once even made the front page, albeit below the fold. The litany of inaccuracies, half-truths, made-up crap, and downright falsehoods would shock you.

And that's for simple "factual" news.

Wait until "journalists" get to spin news that's related to politics.

"News" as reported by today's media is orthogonal to reality.

So no, "one of the country's most respectable news outlets" really never has been much better than 4chan, and there's no reason whatsoever for you to be "amazed".

Never mind the utter incompetence and lack of fact-checking.

There's a reason why newspaper circulation is dying - it's the internet, but not for the reasons newspaper fanboys think. It's because if today's newspapers were asked to implement standards, they'd misspell the word. The internet allows much wider dissemination of data contradictory to what the mass-media spoon feeds us. And it's that flow of information that has stripped the veneer of "factual news" from organizations like The Washington Post and The New York Times.

One wonders if that veneer was fake all along, and the only reason we used to think newspapers were accurate was the lack of other information channels.

I strongly suspect it was.

But now, no one wants to pay for the "privilege" of having to work to read what you know is all-too-likely to be UTTER CRAP.

Re:I disagree (2, Insightful)

Snark365 (1150861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548999)

And where exactly do you think we will get our news from if newspapers do die out? The internet is ripe with commenters and aggregators, but is almost entirely devoid of actual reporting. Trust me if the "evil MSM" goes, so too goes your precious internet "journalism."

Re:I disagree (2, Insightful)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549167)

In Australia there is crikey.com.au that employs journalists and publishes exclusively online, I believe other sites such as the Huffington Post do the same in the States. Get a grip, the newspapers won't die, just evolve away from the paper format altogether.

Re:I disagree (3, Interesting)

jakykong (1474957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549237)

I will grant you that many news stories we read online originated on paper or from a major news reporter. But not all, and not all has to. The key is to realize that you don't need people dedicated to reporting. Instead, you need lots of people who are all over the place, who can, by chance, find the news themselves. Given an internet of users, it seems absurd to me that none of them would post interesting news they come upon. Aggregators are just a way to help that information to flow.

I think the real key to solving the journalism problem, then, is not trying to keep full-time major journalists in business (if they want to stay around, they can compete like the rest of us), but rather, it's about getting rid of badly written libel and copyright laws that make everyone else afraid to post the news they hear about.

Just my .02 :)

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548633)

I agree with your disagreement. It is supremely irresponsible to just throw up an unthreaded message board that allows anon posts and is open to anyone. My UID isn't all that low but i go back to the BBS days and us "old timers" know damn well that those kinds of message boards will eventually become a cesspool of trolls.

It isn't like slashcode was refined over and over JUST because they liked to play with code. It was done in response to dealing with what happens when you run a large message board. But here we are a decade later and big companies still just throw up unthreaded message boards as if they have no idea what will happen.

Re:I disagree (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549113)

a decade later and big companies still just throw up unthreaded message boards as if they have no idea what will happen.

The print dinosaurs have no idea, no understanding, and no respect for anyone who does.
They're doing too little, too late.

Re:I disagree (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548641)

...based on the wisdom of crowds.

The what???

Hell must have frozen over, MS must have built a good OS, and we must have gotten a trillion in bailout money from the banks, because Africa kept us down.
Or am I missing something here? ^^

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548793)

Slashdot has the best comment section around, if not for the quality of the posters themselves, then because it's good at suppressing and elevating voices based on the wisdom of crowds.

On computer topics, Slashdot's "wisdom of crowds" is far above general news sites.

On general science and technology topics, Slashdot's wisdom of crowds is slightly better than general news sites (there's the occasional highly rated comment that is wildly inaccurate).

On general topics (e.g. foreign policy, economy, etc.) Slashdot's wisdom of crowds is no better than general news sites: the highly rated comments generally just parrot whatever simple-minded viewpoint is in fashion with the general public at the moment.

That's not to say that Slashdot comments on general topics aren't interesting - just that they don't qualify as "wisdom". Specifically, in order to be highly rated a comments generally needs to be a very succinct statement of a particular point of view. Even when a highly rated comment is wrong (as is frequently the case on general topics), at least the comment is a succinct summary of that particular viewpoint.

Re:I disagree (2, Interesting)

massysett (910130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549083)

As one who frequents it...frequently...the Washington Post comment section really is a cesspit.

Agreed. The Post comments are a total waste of time to read. I have stopped looking at them.

Nearly always, the threads degenerate into a pile of worthless partisan, hate-filled garbage. No matter what the story is (war? Gun control? Floods? I mean, ANYTHING) the thread turns into "It's all Obama's fault" or "It's all Bush's fault" or "liberals suck" or "conservatives are evil" or "Bush is an idiot" or "Obama is a monkey." Other unmoderated comment threads, like on Politico, are similar. The posts have no thought whatsoever. It is all two-sentence nonsense. Since they are not threaded, you can't even see what the two sentences are retorting to.

This kind of crap is not worth reading. The author of this article thinks journalists need to take these comments seriously? So, where in the story is the journalist supposed to account for racist garbage directed at Obama, or mindless hatred for conservatives? And journalists are supposed to spend their time sifting through this garbage, rather than developing stories?

NYTimes comments are worth reading, for the same reason Slashdot comments can be worth reading: readers can catch total garbage in stories and call it out. NYTimes moderates the comments so they don't slide into utter garbage. Some of the Times bloggers respond to the comments.

I doubt anyone at the Washington Post reads the worthless vitriol that is in their pathetic comment threads.

Re:I disagree (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27549091)

On the other hand, I'll say with a straight face that I think Slashdot has the best comment section around, if not for the quality of the posters themselves, then because it's good at suppressing and elevating voices based on the wisdom of crowds.

Slashdot is also good at suppressing and elevating voices based on the idiocy of crowds.

The difference between say Slashdot and 4chan is that you expect 4chan to be full of error, so truth is a pleasant surprise. On Slashdot, if you let your guard down, and you'll get burnt again and again by groupthink.

As an aside, I like posting anonymously on Slashdot, because it's more satisfying reaching the occasional +5 when you start lower. In net-speak, AC is hardmode, and anyone who doesn't post AC is a filthy casual.

Let's go, AC! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548303)

This is your time to shine! Bring on the Tsarkon Obama reports, Yoda doll insertion tutorial, "*BSD is Dying" announcement, and the GNAA recruitment posting. Don't disappoint me!

Re:Let's go, AC! (1)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548337)

Apparently you're _such_ an anonymous coward, you're even too cowardly to simply post them yourself _as_ an anonymous coward.

Congratulations.

Re:Let's go, AC! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548347)

We are torn. This does present a great chance at ruining another thread with our tripe, but we are also morally opposed to posting anything that could actually be taken as on-topic.

Re:Let's go, AC! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548351)

I, for one, welcome our new anonymous flamebaiting, trolling, cowardly overlords.

Re:Let's go, AC! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548387)

Let me introduce myself. I am the president and founder of the Anti The Washington Post Association. In the text that follows, I will explain why stopping The Washington Post is fundamental to the survival of our society. I assume you already know that The Washington Post has no conscience and therefore no feelings of guilt for wanting to biologically or psychologically engineer wishy-washy opportunists to make them even more dotty than they already are, but I have something more important to tell you. It is my fundamental belief that I, speaking as someone who is not a pestilential, mutinous money-worshipper, want nothing more--or less--than to turn The Washington Post's harebrained circulars to our advantage. To that task I have consecrated my life and I invite you to do likewise. Although The Washington Post markets itself as a high-concept, change-the-world do-gooder, its pleas are eerily similar to those promoted by madmen such as Pol Pot. What's scary, though, is that their extollment of revanchism has been ratcheted up a few notches from anything Pol Pot ever conjured up.

If you ever ask The Washington Post to do something, you can bet that your request will get lost in the shuffle, unaddressed, ignored, and rebuffed. The Washington Post uses antiheroism to let down ladders that the satanic, brutish, and foul-mouthed scramble to climb. That's the large elephant in the room that nobody talks about. Nevertheless, I indeed feel that people really ought to start talking about it because then they'd realize that I have one itsy-bitsy problem with The Washington Post's beliefs. Videlicet, they lay down diktats that force me to have to fight with one hand tied behind my back. And that's saying nothing about how the biggest difference between me and The Washington Post is that The Washington Post wants to conceal information and, occasionally, blatantly lie. I, on the other hand, want to create a world in which negativism, fogyism, and animalism are all but forgotten.

Contrary to the impression that cacodemonic Huns offer "new," "innovative," and "advanced" ideas, there is little new in their perceptions. If you think that this is humorous or exaggerated, you're wrong. If you agree, read on. Did it ever occur to The Washington Post that maybe the time has come to do what comes naturally? Dream on.

Trumpeted so many times, The Washington Post's hastily mounted campaigns have begun to feed on themselves, to generate their own publicity, to cow their opponents not by argument but by sheer repetition, and to present a false image to the world by hiding unpleasant but vitally important realities about The Washington Post's codices. If The Washington Post succeeds in its attempt to perpetuate inaccurate and dangerous beliefs about male-female relationships, it'll have to be over my dead body. There is a format The Washington Post should follow for its next literary endeavor. It involves a topic sentence and supporting facts. Is there a way to counter The Washington Post's insufferable musings? Oh yes, there is a way. It's really quite simple and can be done by any individual. It doesn't cost a thing, monetarily. It requires only time, diligence, and a desire to guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by The Washington Post and its little empire.

As I see it, The Washington Post says it's going to make us dependent on wild sectarians for political representation, economic support, social position, and psychological approval sooner than you think. Is it out of its mind? The answer is fairly obvious when you consider that it argues that it's okay to popularize a genre of music whose graphic lyrics explicitly urge mean-spirited troublemakers to turn peaceful gatherings into embarrassing scandals. To maintain this thesis, The Washington Post naturally has had to shovel away a mountain of evidence, which it does by the desperate expedient of claiming that a richly evocative description of a problem automatically implies the correct solution to that problem. The Washington Post is typical of disloyal ornery-types in its wild invocations to the irrational, the magic, and the fantastic to dramatize its endeavors. From the perspective of those inside The Washington Post's entourage, the kids on the playground are happy to surrender to the school bully. The reality, however, is that some day, in the far, far future, it will realize that we must do away with the misconception that women are crazed Pavlovian sex-dogs who will salivate at any object even remotely phallic in shape. This realization will sink in slowly but surely and will be accompanied by a comprehension of how The Washington Post looks down with a really limitless condescension on anyone who has not been dragged through the obligatory schools and had the necessary knowledge pumped into him. (Note the heroic restraint stopping me from saying that there is nothing more tragic than to find a decent, honest person who's been misled by The Washington Post's bleeding-heart adages.)

Need I point out that the lockstep ideological conformity of The Washington Post's satraps and their mindless parroting of The Washington Post's catty cliches about charlatanism have reached a level of absurdity hardly matched by any historical example that comes to mind? Strange, isn't it, how viperine Luddites are always the first to siphon off scarce international capital intended for underdeveloped countries? I can fight only for something that I love, love only what I respect, and respect only what I at least know. It vehemently denies that, of course. But it obviously would because it's its belief that my letters demonstrate a desire to condemn innocent people to death. I can't understand how anyone could go from anything I ever wrote to such an immoral idea. In fact, my letters generally make the diametrically opposite claim, that there is a cost, a cost too high to calculate, for messing with the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. But there is a further-reaching implication: It plans to cure the evil of discrimination with more discrimination. It has instructed its loyalists not to discuss this or even admit to its plan's existence. Obviously, The Washington Post knows it has something to hide.

It may be unfashionable to say so and it may surprise a few of you out there, but The Washington Post would not hesitate to rule with an iron fist if it felt it could benefit from doing so. For all intents and purposes, we should develop an alternative community, a cohesive and comprehensive underground with a charter to provide an antidote to contemporary manifestations of flighty, randy neopaganism. (Goodness knows, our elected officials aren't going to.)

The Washington Post is currently limited to shrieking and spitting when it's confronted with inconvenient facts. Quicker than you can double-check the spelling of "nondeterministic", however, The Washington Post is likely to switch to some sort of "open the gates of Hell" approach to draw our attention away from such facts. The Washington Post claims that Man's eternal search for Truth is a challenge to be avoided at all costs. Well, I beg to differ. The Washington Post is not as improvident or unrealistic as you might think. It's more so. Let's understand one fundamental fact: It should scarcely seem questionable to anyone that the encroachment of stultiloquent, ignorant histrionics into the social fabric of our politics, our institutions, and our laws would give credence to my claim that The Washington Post spews words like "antiprestidigitation", "nondenominationalism", and "incomprehensibleness" and insidiously twists them into catch phrases designed to embark on wholesale torture and slaughter of innocent civilians. That's just a fancy way of saying that The Washington Post is out to foment, precipitate, and finance large-scale wars to emasculate and bankrupt nations and thereby force them into a one-world government. And when we play its game, we become accomplices.

In general, I find The Washington Post's initiatives drugged-out, lawless, dictatorial, and more than a little disreputable. Sure, there are exceptions, but when I observe its intimates' behavior, I can't help but recall the proverbial expression, "monkey see, monkey do". That's because, like The Washington Post, they all want to replace love and understanding with Comstockism and prætorianism. Also, while a monkey might think that we have too much freedom, the fact remains that it has conceived the project of reigning over opinions and of conquering neither kingdoms nor provinces but the human mind. If this project succeeds then unforgiving energumens will be free to crush the remaining vestiges of democracy throughout the world. Even worse, it will be illegal for anyone to say anything about how given a choice of having The Washington Post substitute pap for art or having my bicuspids extracted sans Novocaine, I would embrace the pliers, purchase some Polident Partials, and call it a day.

Though the simple-minded spring up like grass and the most addlepated cowards you'll ever see flourish, they are doomed to be destroyed forever--especially if we launch an all-out ideological attack against the forces of escapism. In particular, the first response to this from The Washington Post's acolytes is perhaps that the Eleventh Commandment is, "Thou shalt weaken family ties". Wrong. Just glance at the facts: There is still hope for our society, real hope--not the false sense of hope that comes from the mouths of phlegmatic fribbles but the hope that makes you eager to address the legitimate anger, fear, and alienation of people who have been mobilized by The Washington Post because they saw no other options for change. Finally, this has been a good deal of reading, and undeniably difficult reading at that. Still, I hope you walk away from it with the new knowledge that this is a fundamental and obvious truth that The Washington Post completely ignores.

Re:Let's go, AC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548693)

Here on Slashdot there are actually three tiers:

- editors
- moderators
- posters

The bottom tier corresponds to what the Post article is talking about... the unvarnished perspective of the public. What about the "moderators" tier? It's hard to believe that these people are better informed than the average poster, so this is really a majority-viewpoint filter on the posts by the bottom tier.

As a result, for articles on controversial subjects such as RIAA, immigration, and patents, about 96 pct of modded-up posts reflect one viewpoint. There may be one token dissenting view modded up, sort of like Gilda Radner's "Weekend Update" on the old SNL.

Very similar to Letters to the Editor (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548359)

This type of interaction is what used to be part of the Letters to the Editor section of the newspaper. Before we could spam online forums with our unmoderated comments, newspapers used to publish the best responses to their stories on the old Opinion page.

Nowadays, with that removal of editorial moderation, we are exposed directly to the effluvium and vitriol that was so carefully screened away from our eyes in those old days. Whether this is a good thing or not, I don't know.

What I do know is that opinions of low or nil value are exposed to the light of day. With this shining light most of these errant posters are shouted down and pummeled (figuratively) by right-thinking mainstream posters.

Whether this represents a significant change is debatable, though. Whereas unpublished letters to the editor forced these people to seek out each other underground, the new method still forces these posters to seek out forums where they are the majority. Perhaps it is Slashdot with its geeks and nerds. Or it is Free Republic with its right wingers, or its counterpart LGF. On the extreme ends you have StormFront and the ADL.

The result is a polarization of the web, people talking only to themselves, and less of a conversation than before. When you become a "troll" for holding a contrary opinion, how easy it is to decide to seek out communities that support you rather than shout you down.

Re:Very similar to Letters to the Editor (2, Insightful)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548401)

I don't think people should be labeled as trolls simply for having a conflicting opinion. It's when they decided to voice that opinion like an asshole that they become a troll, or even completely drop the discussion and go out of their way to try and derail the discussion by posting crap like the Yoda doll or whatever it is the trolls are spamming these days.

Re:Very similar to Letters to the Editor (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548463)

You know most of what you had to say was reasonable until you got to the point where you compared the ADL to Stormfront and I had to do a little WTF and reread what you wrote to confirm that's what you mean. Disagreeing with the ADL is one thing. I certainly think that they do sometimes make claims of anti-Semitism that are just not supported by the evidence or are weakly supported by the evidence. Comparing that to a racist, white supremacist organization staffed by neo-Nazis... not the same thing at all.

Why is it different? (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548673)

Comparing that to a racist, white supremacist organization staffed by neo-Nazis... not the same thing at all.

How exactly is it different? Both groups feel themselves victims. Both groups want justice for themselves.

Frankly, I think people need to stop all the victim-hood mentality. If you don't want to be a victim, be a victimizer! Yay!

Re:Why is it different? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548953)

Ok, let's be explicit here:

ADL: Defends against anti-semitism, which is a very real phenomena both in the United States and elsewhere. First, note that historically anti-Semitism has been quite common. We even have words in English whose entire meaning derives from massacring of Jews. Examples include "pogrom" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogrom [wikipedia.org] and blood libel - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_libel_against_Jews [wikipedia.org] both of which originally were terms about Jews even though they have now been generalized to other groups.

Today, throughout the world you can still find anti-Semitism of all sorts. Even if we focus on the United States we can still see it. Many anti-Semitic incidents continue to occur even in the US. And one has prominent, influential anti-Semities such as the late Louis Farrakhan who among other claims claimed that the Jews controlled the FBI and the Federal Reserve. Anti-Semtism has bee real for much of history and while it isn't nearly as severe at it once was it is still there.

Now, let's contrast that to Stormfront. They are a white nationalist, neo-Nazi group. Their primary claim of persecution revolves around focusing on a set of racial groups who have historically been far more likely to be persecuting than be persecuted. They continue to advocate racist and hateful viewpoints even while claiming that they are persecuted for their beliefs. Yes, if you idolize mass murderers like Hitler, people aren't going to treat you well. Stormfront was founded by an individual who was previously imprisoned for trying to overthrow the government of Dominica to establish a white-run dictatorship.

Is this enough to make the differences clear? One is an organization trying to make a racial group control the world and win a "race war." The other is a group that's main concern is that their race/culture/ethnicity get left alone. That's even before we get to the fact that the ADL has in the past become involved in issues of discrimination against other groups other than Jews. They are nothing alike.

Re:Very similar to Letters to the Editor (5, Interesting)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548883)

This is , who is the head of the ADL:

"Can you be anti-Zionist and not be an anti-Semite? Almost never. Unless you can prove to me you're against nationalism. If you're one of those unique individuals in this world that's opposed to American nationalism, French nationalism, Palestinian nationalism, then you can be opposed to Jewish nationalism. Is it racist? You bet it is. Every nationalism is racist. It sets its laws of citizenship, it sets its own capital... It sets its songs, it sets its values. It is, if you will, exclusive, and you can even call it racist. But if the only nationalism in the world that is racist is Jewish nationalism, then you're an anti-Semite.. I don't want to make any apologies for it."

Notice how what Foxman says is no different from what the Storm-Front members say about white-nationalism They say: "Yeah, white-nationalism is racism. But you can't oppose it unless you oppose nationalism of other groups: Japanese nationalism, Jewish nationalism, Arab nationalism. If the only nationalism in the world that is racist is white nationalism, then you're anti-white."

Re:Very similar to Letters to the Editor (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548895)

Messed up the link.Should say: This is Abraham Foxman [philipweiss.org] ...

Re:Very similar to Letters to the Editor (3, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549121)

Yeah, Abe Foxman is a bit of an ass. He is incidentally wrong about the nature of nationalism. To use an obvious example, US nationalism can be non-racist in nature. And I'd be inclined to argue that one can be a nationalist for pretty much any country without being a racist. However, white-nationalism is distinct in the following ways: 1) white nationalism isn't connected to any country, but rather a desire to rule pretty much everywhere. White nationalism is fundamentally wrapped in neo-Nazi and other views where the most tolerant forms advocate large scale oppression of other groups. 2) Zionism was made in response to genuine anti-Semitism so that Jews would have somewhere to go when there was severe persecution. Let us not forget that Zionism was founded after the Dreyfus Affair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_Affair [wikipedia.org] . Jews continue to be the target of severe anti-Semitism all over the world. And again, the ADL has helped when other groups have been persecuted. See for example part of the ADL's ongoing effort to help stop Mormon persecution. The ADL also helps run an interfaith/interethnic summer camp for highschool students. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/04/06/a_different_kind_of_camp/ [boston.com] . Yeah, that's real racist of them.

nationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27549247)

If the only nationalism in the world that is racist is white nationalism, then you're anti-white.

Most other nations are made up of (mostly) mono-cultures of specific ethnic and linguist backgrounds. The only countries that are not based on this are the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, which were founded on immigrants (and pushing aside the Native indigenous populations). There are some elements of immigration to South America as well, but not as the first series of countries listed.

Now even four listed, the first immigrants were Anglo-Saxon, and in later decades the "dirty Italians", etc. came along, but these countries have generally made immigration work by telling people they have to give up some part of your previous culture to become one of "us". The USA generally asked people to do this more, and the Canada somewhat less.

AFAIK, all other countries have a more "us vs. them" stance. So, to that extent you can say that most types of nationalism are based on race.

Re:Very similar to Letters to the Editor (1)

nicholdraper (1053972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548835)

"Newspapers used to publish the best responses to their stories..." Best in who's eyes. I much prefer the current forums to the editor controlled forums. I would like the forums to be more unmoderated. The pretense that we have to be protected from the f-word is silly. I rarely swear in public. Yes I have a college education and I have no trouble coming up with descriptive and illustrative language to get my point across, but when I want to describe my health insurance to the widest possible audience, the best word is four letters long.

but...... (4, Insightful)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548377)

online comments are a terrific addition to the conversation

what if these online people express a view that does not flatter one of your advertisers. Would you take them seriously then.

Re:but...... (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549009)

what if these online people express a view that does not flatter one of your advertisers. Would you take them seriously then.

The irony here is that a readership who feels involved in the publication, is probably going to come back more often. For an advertiser this means being exposed to negative comments, yet at the same time have more chance to influence said eyeballs.

Defense?? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548419)

Umm why should you have to defend what is a right guaranteed in the constitution?

No one says you have to make sense or add value when exercising your right.

Re:Defense?? (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548537)

Sadly, the constitutional guarantee is not equivalent to a practical ability to make anonymous comments. Yes, anyone is legally allowed to anonymously comment on whatever they want, but the question of whether or not anyone will see that comment is entirely different. You can create a website and write everything under a pseudonym, but unless you manage to get to page 1 on Google, your opinion will never be heard. On the other hand, if you write a comment on a popular website (such as slashdot), your comment will at least have a fighting chance. This is what is being defended: the system that allows you to post anonymously on the Washington Post's website, where lots of people will see the comment.

Of course, the whole situation is a bit twisted, since you now need the permission of large media companies to make anonymous comments in a meaningful way. As the Internet becomes more popular, that will become more true.

Re:Defense?? (3, Insightful)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548803)

You are confusing free speech, which is a constitutionally protected right, with the "right" to be heard by others. Such a right does not exist, nor should it. It is your responsibility that your voice is actually heard.

Re:Defense?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548887)

That is just what the grandparent is saying.

Re:Defense?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27549035)

You are confusing free speech, which is a constitutionally protected right, with the "right" to be heard by others.

No he's not. You're a moron.

Re:Defense?? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548909)

Joe Random Anonymous can speak far louder today than at almost any point in history. Working to increase the visibility of all anonymous comment (if you see this as valuable...) makes sense; complaining that it isn't perfect is just silly.

Re:Defense?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548599)

I agree. Not everyone is mandated to be erudite and intellectually stimulating in their commentary. If they were, then what would all the erudite, intellectually stimulating commentators have as fodder for their erudite and intellectually stimulating opinions? ;)

------proud Anonymous Coward! :D

Re:Defense?? (3, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548609)

No one says you have a constitutional right to free speech on a privately owned message board, either.

Re:Defense?? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549117)

I also agree with that, except that once a forum becomes public, it should fall under the jurisdiction of the 1st amendment. ( many will disagree with me, but thats ok )

I would argue that the forum in question is public.

I would also argue that regardless of public status if the forum hoster has accepted ANY public funds, they are also bound.

Re:Defense?? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549139)

It's mostly quibbling, but clarity can be valuable: Nothing says that guests have a constitutional right to free speech on a privately owned message board; the owner certainly does enjoy constitutional protection.

Re:Defense?? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548657)

Responsibility. Saying something is a right, taking the time to think it through beforehand to make sure that it contributes positively to the discussion is a responsibility. Would that there was a little more responsibility in the exercising of quite a few rights, not just that of speech.

That reminds me of a story about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548441)

... the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

Anonymous scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548443)

Mod em all down; let CowboyNeal sort 'em out.

They're DEAD, Jim. (1, Flamebait)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548449)

Feavered says: 'The subjects that have generated the most vitriol during my tenure in this role are race and immigration,' writes Feaver. 'But I am heartened by the fact that such comments do not go unchallenged by readers. In fact, comment strings are often self-correcting and provide informative exchanges.'

Uh, maybe Feavered didn't notice (even though it is the subject of his commentary) it but those "exchanges" are edited by politically correct editors who will edit out the most politically threatening information.

Who reads the Washington Post anymore anyway? If you want to see interesting exchanges about race and immigration, you won't see it in places where the best arguments against the political zeitgeist have been edited out and then proclaimed not to exist.

Anonymous Coward (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548465)

To ban anonymity is just a simple (and hypocrite) way to repress freedom of speech. Politicians would desire that, for sure.

On the contrary, anonymity is a practical way to express opinions without loosing time in unuseful registration procedures.

competition with radio (4, Insightful)

woverly (223564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548467)

The Washington Post has merely realized that it needs to allow ignorant posters their forum in order to compete with talk radio. I have seen little evidence that ensuing discussions necessarily iterate to rational, informed conclusions.

Providing a forum for extreme ideas is a bit like teaching creationism in science classes.

WHAT A FUCKING surprise ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548471)

that being able to say what you like sometimes you get the truth...

just because you might not like the way someone says something or their view does not mean it's not valid

editors like a easy life with bursts of ego enhancements along the way...

Re:WHAT A FUCKING surprise ! (1)

infolation (840436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548571)

monkeys with typewriters also post the truth sometimes - it's no show of greater insight or intelligence just like noise versus terrorist chatter

Journalists can learn? No wonder he's retired (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548477)

Geez, doesn't he know that journalists need to teach everyone else the right way to think?

Of course, reach back to your younger days in school. Remember the schoolmates who went into journalism?

Yeah, for the most part they weren't the sharpest tools in the shed, now were they?

Those are the people who supply us with most of our world view.

Scary, ain't it?

More bad journalism... (4, Insightful)

kencoe (1474539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548495)

I am somewhat surprised that a longtime editor would make such an absolutely ridiculous statement. Apparently, the journalist (OK, editor) did not do much research before publishing his view. It is pretty common knowledge that comments on a story are not a cross section of the readers views. Most readers are passive, and do not comment on every story they read. They will only respond to those which strike at their sense of values, or that the reader strongly oppose as false (obviously, this is my reason for commenting now). If everyone who read a Slashdot story commented on it, Slashdot would need far more storage space than they use now. Almost any Blog or News Site would have ample material to reference from their comments section to demonstrate the fact that the fringes of the audience's views are echoed in the majority if the responses, and that only an exceptionally striking article will receive more of a balanced response (yes, Virginia, there is an audience).

Re:More bad journalism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548651)

I am somewhat surprised that a longtime editor would make such an absolutely ridiculous statement.

...

Never been directly involved with today's media, have you?

I'd be more likely to be surprised if he managed to make that statement without about ten egregiously misspelled words.

Journalists? Hah! What an asinine name.

It wasn't long ago that a supposedly-respected "journalist" thought "fake but accurate" was good enough. And the community of "journalists" has completely failed to discredit and utterly disown those miscreants and the "journalistic" environment that allows such an appalling lack of standards.

That should tell you all you need to know about "journalism's search for truth".

Yeah, this is Slashdot, so calling attention to that incident will probably get this modded down as the slashtards don't like their sheltered world view challenged.

But when the news organization that ran the story itself characterized it as "fake but accurate", that's an irrefutable admission that "news" is anything but "accurate".

Re:More bad journalism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548911)

...If everyone who read a Slashdot story commented on it...

You think we read a story before commenting? You must be new here.

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548497)

Sounds like he learned something from slashdot.

-proudly anonymous!

Wisdom of the Commons is Overrated (5, Insightful)

mtapman (1259686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548499)

By definition the world is mostly made up of average people. For those of us that were products of public schools and other institutions that accepted everyone regardless of their abilities or backgrounds we can probably think back on groups that showed exactly what "average" means.

This combines with the most common failure of unfettered democracy, the tyranny of the loud (and perhaps underemployed/bored/obsessed), to create a perfect storm of vitriol, ignorance, and selfishness in places like an open forum online.

Quite simply, people without knowledge or experience in a field deserve less speaking time than those with knowledge and experience. If those people that are excluded from a discussion because they are ignorant or inexperienced want to participate than they should take the time to become knowledgeable and experienced in the field.

I always like to see open discussions but I also like to see comments rated and organized so that I can sift through the crap to get to the gold, something that guyminuslife mentions is missing from the Post's website system.

And to speak directly to a comment from the original article, the fact that the comments show the true feelings of the citizens of this country is interesting from a polling/election point of view but the details of those comments don't add much, if anything to the discussion at hand. This is especially true of indefensible positions like racist or sexist comments.

How exactly are the positions indefensible? (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548709)

Saying racist and/or sexist positions are indefensible doesn't make it so. How are they indefensible? I've heard a lot of arguments in defense of those positions.

You're going to have to do better than, "I don't agree" to convince the people who are making those arguments that their positions are indefensible.

Re:Wisdom of the Commons is Overrated (0)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548839)

By definition the world is mostly made up of average people.

I'm guessing you weren't a math major! If 50% of the world were seven feet tall and the other 50% were five feet tall then the average height would be six feet, but that doesn't necessarily mean that most people are average (six feet tall).

Re:Wisdom of the Commons is Overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548853)

I fully agree with your post. But I will also take it a step further. You mention that rated or moderated comments add to the discussion, and they definitely do. However, you'll also find that comments get modded up simply because the author/poster gives the appearance of knowing what they're writing about, regardless of whether they actually do. This is entirely too common on sites like our beloved slashdot. Simply because someone writes something with an air of authority, less-knowledgeable people lap it right up as if it's correct. Frequently flat-out wrong information is modded right up to +5 around here. Sometimes the correct information gets modded up to +5 right alongside it, and sometimes in rare cases, the wrongly-informed +5 even gets modded down. But unfortunately, that's the exception and not the rule. Those wrongly-informed +5s usually end up staying up there.

Journalists should not pay attention to readers (4, Insightful)

517714 (762276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548501)

Journalists should report the news as objectively as they can. Paying attention to their readers is pandering, and it results in a feedback loop with predictable consequences. We need a thoughtful critical press capable of asking hard questions and not settling for non-answers from those in the news. We need a system in which the President (and others in power) cannot exclude a journalist because he/she asks those hard questions.

Anonymity is an interesting concept, but we should recognize that the guy up on his soapbox in Hyde Park is not anonymous even if we do not know his name.

Re:Journalists should not pay attention to readers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548617)

Well, in a world where C-SPAN (a camera pointed at Congress) gets labeled as having a liberal bias, is that even possible to do? To many people, the mere act of asking a question about what you've been told is considered being "liberal". How can you be objective when arguably half the country doesn't understand what objectivity even is?

Re:Journalists should not pay attention to readers (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548721)

Journalists should report the news as objectively as they can. Paying attention to their readers is pandering, and it results in a feedback loop with predictable consequences.

This isn't a truism. Paying attention to readers can lead to pandering, or it can lead to providing factual information that reporters had assumed was well known enough to not need to be stated. I think an interesting experiment would be a paper that does allow comments and pays attention to them, and directly responds to ones that present factually incorrect information or premise conclusions upon it.

Such an experiment might result in much more informed readers and discussion, although it would also be a lot of extra work and might drive away those who are so set in their beliefs they refuse to consider the facts.

We need a thoughtful critical press capable of asking hard questions and not settling for non-answers from those in the news.

Agreed. Moreover, we need a populace that demands answers both from the press and from politicians who refuse to answer direct questions. We need a populace who is willing to vote based upon which politicians actually answer questions.

We need a system in which the President (and others in power) cannot exclude a journalist because he/she asks those hard questions.

I'm not sure our current system isn't the best we're likely to get in that regard. We just need the public to be aware and care enough when t happens and vote the bastards out.

Re:Journalists should not pay attention to readers (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548931)

Paying attention to their readers is pandering, and it results in a feedback loop with predictable consequences.

Yes, such as leaning so far towards one (stereotyped) position as to become anathema to persons of contrary opinion, and sometimes not even to the moderate readers on their own "side" (Fox News, HuffPost, ring any bells?). One would think that's not too wise, as it narrows your potential readership.

OTOH, the comments section / forums become an ecosystem where loyals reassure each other and bark together at the moon, and trolls give them something more to bark at in exchange for the thrill of being complete jerks from the safety of their keyboards.

I might add /. has been at times on the very verge of such position, were it not for some discerning /.ers

Tehy jsut dno't g3t it... (0, Offtopic)

Shard.Oglass666 (1507693) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548661)

I am not a cAt...I aM not a caT...i Am n0t a cat!

Setting the tone sans comments (1)

ojintoad (1310811) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548717)

In relation to this, it is amazing to me how many sites are able to set the tone for the conversation without having a forum/comment section on their own site.

Pitchfork Media [pitchfork.com] has some of the most controversial music reviews. I still don't think you can leave a comment directly on their pages. Compare that to NME [nme.com] , where the first review I opened had a comment section.

From the political isle: Instapundit Glenn Reynolds [pajamasmedia.com] and Matt Drudge's Druge Report [drudgereport.com] . These two pages set the tone for many (not all) conversations in the conservative blogosphere, yet no direct comment section. Same for the conservative magazine National Review [nationalreview.com] . I'm wearing my political beliefs on my sleeve here. I invite someone to post a liberal site sans comments, I can't think of one on the top of my head.

The effect of removing a comment section forces the reader to search out if someone has a counterpoint to your opinion, which while it may not be terribly difficult via google, is something people simply are not accustomed to doing. This has two effects. It protects your reputation, since it is possible that someone reading your page would never know an opposing opinion. As an extension of that, since your reputation is far cleaner than a page with potential detracting comments, your message is securely delivered - whether it is that pitchfork thinks band x is good and they are also sponsoring a music festival featuring band x that you should purchase tickets for (no direct conflict of interest there!), or that you think policy y position is a good one and that you have friends that would benefit if policy y is advanced (Larry Kudlow at NRO here).

It may not necessarily be a mark of cowardice to not have direct comments on your site, but the inclusion of it is definitely a mark of bravery.

What he means is... (1)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548725)

This is about money. It's not enough that news be reported accurately from reliable sources, vetted and checked for accuracy. These days it is paramount that the news outlet must show a profit to the parent company that owns the news outlet.

Trying to make this into "I'm now open minded" or "I've rethought my position" isn't the full story.

The business is "show a profit". Not "reporting news" or journalism.

Imagine (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548737)

Journalists are learning that listening to people might be newsworthy. Or, at the least, indicate where the news might be.

I can handle censors editing out the most obscene language. I might handle censors deleting or editing calls for unlawful actions. I can even handle censorship of the most obscene pornographic material on a public forum.

Otherwise, unmoderated forums are a valuable tool to society, the journalists themselves, and even to government. Anonymous posts have been acceptable since the days when we revolted against England.

And, the Post is just figuring that out?

Now, if they would just improve the format of their stupid page, they might be worth reading.

You should post anon - at least here (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548789)

Used to have good karma, got totally modded down by people who simply disagree with an opinion different from their own.

Oh well.

ah! (1)

blondie.xo (1527639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548841)

I'm never posting anything anonymously ever!

In a world with proper journalists (-1, Offtopic)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548861)

Comments on online stories would be very different. So many "news" sources are skewed towards their own agendas and income sources, not towards telling the truth as best as they can.

We see plenty of "news" stories on so-called "reputable" sites about malware / botnets etc who "forget" to mention this is an almost 100% exclusive Microsoft issue. Don't they know? If not, the reporters ain't qualified to report the stories, if they do know, why is it being censored in the version that reaches the audience?

Political parties love to "advise" the mainstream media by offering rewards and punishments for spun stories either praising or slandering someone / group and being passed off as "unbiased news". This is especially true at election time; the one time they NEED to get us actively engaged enough to tick their box but not too engaged that we see true the wall of bullshit they are spinning.

This agenda-led or income-led reporting obviously draws comments from people to seek to correct the stories they read by adding facts (intentionally) missed in the report itself.

"He who controls the media, controls the message." - (the name escapes me right now).

Reporters always like to feel their knowledge / word on any subject they do a story on is better than any citizen commentator. It's what keeps them being treated as a special case in regards to how they can harass people for exclusives and claim that hounding someone with cameras / microphones is "in the public interest" and should be defended at all costs. It's how they can embellish parts of stories out of all proportion because it's the juicy part that will make money and still claim to be "exposing the truth".

Most of all they know that many bloggers do just as good a job as they do, without the special status or bias and have to try and ensure that the publics mind still values THEIR version of the story over others. By accepting any input from mere morals, their self perceived Godhood is weakened.

Like many others, their industry is failing, their reputations / trust have been shattered because of corporate / political / religious influence to the extent that many don't believe them. They look to those who are untainted for truth. They see the writing on the wall; they know they are becoming irrelevant.

When people lose faith in the traditional sources of news, ie the ones the mega-corps have bought and paid for to spew their "truth" they bypass it to look outside the mainstream for news. The mega-corps don't like this, so their response is to astroturf. They will employ people (usually indirectly so it can't be easily traced back to the source) to flood blogs, forums etc to spew their propaganda under the guise of "normal people". They will use any and all means to try and discredit dissenters and the site itself hoping to undermine the validity of anything exposed there. The idea is to force people back into trusting only the mainstream news sources.....who are already on message.

The thing they fail to understand is that the internet has changed the rules. Until they do, they will only spend a LOT of money trying to control the uncontrollable while destroying their reputations piece by piece. They may gain the occasional victory, but it will invariably come with a cost in a public backlash and some former customers deciding to start using a competitor instead. By the time they eventually "get it" and evolve, they will be pariahs.

Trust and respect are not things you can buy, they need to be earned. They are won and lost on not only actions, but the intent behind those actions. They are also two way streets.

Whirlpool.net.AU, are you reading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27548965)

We in the Asia-Pacific region have just seen Fiji's coup-lead gov't impose restrictions on what can appear in its media...

One newspaper has left space for all the articles that got cut by coup's censors, with words like (from memory): "This article cut by order of the Government."

A letter went out to all media organisations, advising them not to publish anything negative about the sacking of judges, etc.

and I couldn't help thinking of all the signs of censorship to be found (last time we checked) in Australian Whirlpool.net.au's forums

Read through any longer thread in their forum section (ie: forums.Whirlpool.net.au) and count all the places where a moderator has removed a post; the poster's name remains, with time of the (now removed) post, but the ideas &/or points of debate are lost by the community, with no way to check up on moderators' levels of fairness.

People who post in forums.Whirlpool.net.au can also be placed a form of intellectual isolation, called being "in the penalty box," eg, for too many posts, that "had to be removed" by Whirlpool.net.au's over-zealous moderators.

Look at the language: "[put] in the penalty box"

Who would design a system, that throws so many of its users into a "penalty box" (by such a term).

You've got to wonder how the [faceless, nameless] designers of that system was raised...

As an Aussie, myself, I feel embarrassed & offended each time I see the remains of a removed post.

Has the person written something that offends one of Whirlpool.net.au's [hidden] sponsors? (Very likely ISPs, whose services can't be scrutinized too much.)

There ought to be a law (as there seems to be, in Sweden) to protect Freedom of Speech, even in such private would-be communities.

But, as it is, a sizable [but unnamed & faceless] gang of moderators continue to pick & choose posts for removal from the blinkered (if not sacred) halls of Whirlpool.net.au and - even if we can't know (for sure) that they are gov't bureaucrats, it feels the same as if they were.

Faceless, unnamed, hidden behind nicknames... even their removals are hidden from the community.

Also interesting is that there are hidden forums, that one has to "wait for access to" - eg:

Politics, Odd Stuff, etc. are things that Whirlpool moderators can't tolerate from newcomers...

and, of course, newcomers can't even read the mysterious threads that are hidden there.

Politics behind closed doors (newcomers not welcome) seems both undemocratic and indicative of the low level of democracy available in AU itself, at least compared to other Western lands.

Electoral boundaries are "adjusted" to make elections outcomes more random, just as extra weigh is carried by faster horses, to insure that it's not as easy to pick a winner.

An undemocratic "preference-based" voting system is forced on voters:

  ie, if my chosen party doesn't win, my vote can go - even against my wishes - to a very different party, according to the deals that parties make, again behind the scenes)

as is voting itself.

(Shock-horrors if we weren't compelled to vote in large % numbers! It might reveal what we feel about the electoral system! And that system might be changed!)

It feels just as insulting & wrong that these anonymous post-snatchers do what they do as it seems (at this distance) what Fiji's coup / pseudo-gov't is doing to its media's reporting.

To me, feels like living in a colony... vigorous debate falls away, when one finds their vote is misdirected in some elections (due to the "preference" system).

I ask: What does each of these gangs need to hide or suppress?

People will NOT stop thinking & expressing their ideas, just because they find such ungracious responses to them.

Sanitized news (in Fiji) is like the sanitized threads in forums.Whirlpool.net.au's

signs of a blinkered mindset that has no place in a connected world.

It's time to see both of these "blockers" lose their wars against freedom to express/report/discuss (as we wish to express ourselves).

Internet comments will terrify you. (5, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549023)

I started using the Internet when it was the ARPANET. Nice place. Interesting people. Cool projects. Then it became the Internet, then AOL hooked in, and suddenly I discovered that a large percentage of my fellow countrymen are ignorant, illogical, paranoid, quasi-literate, parochial, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, racist, anti-intellectual believers in UFOs.

I mean I knew they existed, but not in such numbers. The Internet is democratizing, and it sure as hell shows what's wrong with democracy.

Re:Internet comments will terrify you. (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549135)

believers in UFOs

I don't believe that every flying object is identified; it would be quite illogical to do so.

Then again, I don't believe that an unidentified flying object is of extra-terrestrial origin based on its lack of identification either, maybe that's the belief you were implying.

Re:Internet comments will terrify you. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27549207)

You're right: he did forget to include nit-picky pedants in the original list. ;-)

Downward spiral is profitable (5, Insightful)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27549085)

Online media, unless operating purely on subscription basis, needs ads. Ads are priced according to unique clicks and time spent on that page by readers (reader's interest). A lot of posts indicate interest. Controversial, or even flamebait articles frequently generate the longest comment trails. Scholarly, analytical articles go with scarcely a comment. Thus the tendency of some online media to adjust their content downward.

This is not a new phenomenon. TV has learned it a while ago - witness daytime shows, Ricki Lakes, Montel Williamses, Jerry Springers, and other tabloid trash programs. The difference now is with the immediacy of feedback, hence this spiral happens much faster. Anonymous posts (and to a lesser degree even nicknamed posts, like mine), only add an accelerant to this process.

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