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Have Online Comment Sections Become Specious?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say dept.

Communications 429

christoofar writes "Gawker founder Nick Denton says online comments have proven themselves to be not worth the trouble, a waste of resources, and contribute nothing to online conversation or even capture the intelligence of readers. From the article: 'In the early days of the Internet, there was hope that the unprecedented tool for global communication would lead to thoughtful sharing and discussion on its most popular sites. A decade and a half later, the very idea is laughable, says [Denton]. "It didn't happen," said Denton, whose properties include the blogs Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker. "It's a promise that has so not happened that people don't even have that ambition anymore. The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership — that's a joke."'"

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Use forums instead (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327107)

I think discussion sections work great in the small and medium scale special interest category. A number of smaller blogs I frequent, the comment section/side forum becomes a good area for discussion... and often times particularly good bits end up edited into the original post.

I certainly think they work much better in small niche interest groups than on general news sites. When you have a small group of generally like minded people with a certain amount of pre-existing knowledge in the topic .. you get a good discussion. When you get the diverse public with dissimilar views and often a very surface understanding of the topic.. you get the type of shit we see on this guy’s collection of sites and on youtube and so on.

I think at least part of the problem is that most comment sections are poorly designed and provide little ability for actual discussion. Many don’t have threaded replies, a simple feature that makes any comment section _way_ more useful in my opinion. You can’t really have much of a discussion if replies can’t easily be tied to each.

Also sorting by most recent (descending) in conjunction with threaded comments (threads which have had a comment recently get bumped up) I think works well to keep people talking. Again, can’t have a discussion if you can’t even find the current discussion(s).

On larger sites, I think the best approach is to have a forum on the side with topics linked to the post. This eliminated a lot of crap as there is slightly more effort in posting to a forum than posting to a comment section. Forum software is also generally much better equipped for real discussion than most comment systems.

Re:Use forums instead (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327293)

I am of the opinion that Usenet was a lot more usable for this than any webforum I've ever come across. Split messages/threads view (with proper threading, none of this messages in chronological order within thread nonsense). Proper marking of read/ignored messages/threads. Snappy offline reading. Efficient plaintext presentation. Everything in one place instead of a bazillion differing forums and accounts.

Usenet wasn't *that* bad considering it was next to unmoderated.

Re:Use forums instead (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327517)

the point of the comments sections is to NOT offer you an easy content independent from view access at your own terms. the point is to draw views to the stories, with usenet the content is shown in whatever fashion the client is coded to show it in. it's just plain content.

slashdot excels in that it's unmoderated in the sense that comments don't disappear into the void if a mod chooses so.

but I find it no surprising at all that a guy running gawker media doesn't like comments sections - who the fuck would register there now?-D for gawker they brought a lot of loss.

Re:Use forums instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327541)

Too bad it's full of warez and spam these days. On the other hand, maybe we could make it the Internet's version of urban renewal - start creating a global killfile for all the known spammer accounts and host it on github, post nntp:// links on websites, start advertising the fact that Thunderbird has Usenet built in, etc.

CAPTCHA: restart

It knows...

Re:Use forums instead (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327303)

Actually online comments do serve a subtext. When a source puts up a paywall you can get enough info out of the comments section to figure out what the full content is.

Re:Use forums instead (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327329)

Here's the problem: I just want to comment. Don't like it, flag it, and moderation can remove it. I don't want to register for user account, to have my information stored on a server, possibly sold to marketing companies. I recall one site even wants phone verified accounts? Sorry no thanks, even if the comment was important, I suppose the site will have to do without

Not just tech sites, though. Many local, national, and world news sites want a user account, some blogs want a user account, every forum already wants a user account, and I don't want the hassle of having to manage all those accounts, to have different passwords for all of those accounts, and for many sites--not to be able to permanantly delete my account when I'm done using it.

Re:Use forums instead (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327427)

I don't want the hassle of having to manage all those accounts

Some kind of single sign in system would be great for this reason. Unfortunately all the sites with enough critical mass to make it happen, I don't want to have much to do with (facebook I won't touch, google I am gradually becoming less trusting of, microsoft.. forget it!).

Re:Use forums instead (4, Insightful)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327503)

There's always OpenID, and becoming your own provider.

Re:Use forums instead (5, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327331)

I think at least part of the problem is that most comment sections are poorly designed and provide little ability for actual discussion

You said what I was thinking. (1) I enjoy reading replies to news articles and am disappointed by those that don't allow comments. (2) The problem is not comments sections, but poor programming by those who create them. You CAN have a worthwhile discussion on news articles if the replies are treated as separate posts & replies are directly beneath them (something that has existed since the earliest days on 80s-era Usenet).

Comment sections like those on youtube and many news sites that just dump the posts on the screen haphazardly are an example of laziness by the programmer(s).

Re:Use forums instead (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327377)

When you have a small group of generally like minded people with a certain amount of pre-existing knowledge in the topic .. you get a good discussion.

Examples: thehousingbubbleblog.com bbs.homeshopmachinist.net zerohedge.com

When you get the diverse public with dissimilar views and often a very surface understanding of the topic.. you get the type of shit we see on this guy’s collection of sites and on youtube and so on.

Examples: instructables.com "Every freaking website for a local newspaper I've ever seen that is exclusively populated by paid political astroturfers sniping at each other"

Re:Use forums instead (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327379)

Many don’t have threaded replies, a simple feature that makes any comment section _way_ more useful in my opinion. You can’t really have much of a discussion if replies can’t easily be tied to each.

Do you have any idea how bitterly the threaded comment war was fought? There are people who insist, violently, on the chronological ordering of posts.

They are probably the same people who hold repetitive flamewars amongst themselves over top-posting versus bottom-posting or inline responses.

threads which have had a comment recently get bumped up

This encourages people to post pointless posts like "bump" to try and keep their thread on top.

Re:Use forums instead (5, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327513)

Many don’t have threaded replies, a simple feature that makes any comment section _way_ more useful in my opinion. You can’t really have much of a discussion if replies can’t easily be tied to each.

Do you have any idea how bitterly the threaded comment war was fought? There are people who insist, violently, on the chronological ordering of posts.

They are probably the same people who hold repetitive flamewars amongst themselves over top-posting versus bottom-posting or inline responses.

threads which have had a comment recently get bumped up

This encourages people to post pointless posts like "bump" to try and keep their thread on top.

bump

Re:Use forums instead (0)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327405)

I think what you meant to say was: "Fr1$t Ps0t!!!!11!1!!!!!"

obviously (5, Funny)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327109)

Just look below this post..

Re:obviously (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327137)

You may not have been inclusive enough.

Re:obviously (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327501)

Perhaps not, but he still was the insensitive clod we all have learned to love, or despise.

Re:obviously (3, Funny)

Frederic54 (3788) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327143)

The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership — that's a joke

Being on /. for 13 years, I agree :)

Heck, even with usenet early 90s it was flamewars and trolls

Re:obviously (3, Funny)

troc (3606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327519)

Being on /. for 13 years, I agree :)

noob :)

(It's not often I see another 3k series userID)

Re:obviously (5, Interesting)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327169)

Slashdot, it must be said, continues to be a great source of insightful comments (a thing which is becoming extinct on the Internet lately). I think it can be put down to its great moderation system others lack, and the audience (you know, when we speak we usually know about the topic). It has grown in popularity and thus in spamming, but, again, it's filtered out. Congrats to the Slashdot team and community for making this happen. In fact, recently I read Slashdot basically for its comments. They give so much additional information/jokes/etc. to the original stories.

Re:obviously (5, Funny)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327267)

Well, nobody reads Slashdot for the poorly edited summaries or week-old stories, do they?

Re:obviously (-1, Offtopic)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327269)

Mod this one up - +1 I agree.

Re:obviously (5, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327319)

Slashdot's moderation system is the worst out there - except for all the rest.

Re:obviously (1, Funny)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327371)

Slashdot, it must be said, continues to be a great source of insightful comments (a thing which is becoming extinct on the Internet lately).

Unfortunately, contrary to your statement, your post ended up Interesting instead.

Re:obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327375)

>Slashdot, it must be said, continues to be a great source of insightful comments
Not sure if serious...
>you know, when we speak we usually know about the topic
Okay, you're trollin

Re:obviously (3, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327463)

I disagree that it's the moderation system (which often punishes people for "wrongthought" such as not liking Apple or Google). I think the superiority of Slashdot is the threading, which makes it easy to jump from topic-to-topic and read in a coherent manner. It's not a mess of confusing posts like Youtube and Facebook and other sites often resemble.

Re:obviously (5, Insightful)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327515)

Maybe the fact stories do not have like or dislike buttons so that people can say "314 people like Microsoft" or "21 people work for Apple"?

Re:obviously (2)

TheRedSeven (1234758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327499)

Honestly, if the overlords of Slashdot want to monetize the site, the best way to do it would probably be to develop the commenting/moderation code into a standalone product/Widget/add-on service (a la Disqus) and sell it to big blog-hosting companies...Wordpress, Blogger, etc would probably real cashmoney for such a service...

Just Read FoxNews Re:obviously (0, Flamebait)

Awol411 (799294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327491)

I think the quality of the posts are directly related to the average intelligence of the article posting. I also think that as soon as you have to log in with a real name/facebook account, the quality of the postings does go up. I have participated in many insightful threads on /. and other tech forums. However, usually daily, I read the threads on virtually any FoxNews article just to make sure that their posters are just as racist, bigoted, niece, and hateful as they were the day before. I would assume that their readers think slightly different than the rest of us here. So while as a whole, I think Gawker was right in saying that forums are a bad idea.

Smart (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327123)

First - how's that for smart!

Re:Smart (0)

PenquinCoder (1431871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327261)

Not first! How's THAT for embarrassed?

Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (2, Insightful)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327125)

Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here and find out. After all, that is our religion.

Re:Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (4, Funny)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327227)

You forgot Google. Burn in hell you heretic!

Re:Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327417)

Consider me adequately upbraided for the week... I won't forget next time, I promise!

Freaking idiot doesn't even mention Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327235)

Proof of how smart slashdotters are - in title.

Re:Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327249)

What are the best mounting points on a standard Mac Pro for attaching the chain when converting to a boat anchor? Will a standard Mac Pro be effective as a boat anchor, or should I upgrade the hardware first :(

Re:Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327367)

I imagine a 1/2" threaded eye hook through both side panels with a 4" square backing plate would probably be _most_ effective. (I don't think it would be very effective at all, but that would be the best option I can come up with.)

Re:Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327487)

Trouble is it wouldn't be very effective as it'd float. What you need to do is open the case up and fill it with Linux distro CDs. That'd sink it.

Re:Ask a Microsoft or Apple question here... (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327531)

I am atheist. Neither Microsoft, Apple or Google (or the Penguin) are to be worshipped.

Turn to your inner self for guidance- not one of the illuminati's corporate tools for global domination. (and not the fun kind of domination either)

First post? (-1, Offtopic)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327135)

Was expecting a "first post" comment to immediately follow article.

Re:First post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327221)

Or, better yet, a "Frost Pist" or a "GNAA" post...

I suppose it's because the PFMs (Including this one...) is trying to prove TFA author "wrong"...

And yet... (-1, Offtopic)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327147)

...this comment will be modded Insightful.

Re:And yet... (5, Funny)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327197)

Comments mentioning moderation usually get modded down (oh no I'm speaking about moderation!)

Re:And yet... (4, Funny)

dmomo (256005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327245)

You're good. Comments mentioning comments that mention moderation are generally safe.

Re:And yet... (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327403)

Congrats on stealing his thunder.

Re:And yet... (0)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327437)

Comments mentioning comments mentioning comments mentioning moderation are generally modded up. It's the law!

Re:And yet... (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327547)

Comments mentioning Fire-breathing Chicken of doom usually don't get any kind of moderation.

I have no comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327159)

huh?

RTFA (2)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327167)

Of course, he is correct. Most slashdot users only RTFA, right?

Re:RTFA (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327233)

Of course, he is correct. Most slashdot users only RTFA, right?

They do RTFS.

Or at least the first one or two sentences, anyway.

Re:RTFA (2)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327353)

Do people generally get past the title?

Capturing the intelligence of the readership, doh! (5, Funny)

jbrandv (96371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327173)

The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership was correct! The only problem was the intelligence of the readership...

Re:Capturing the intelligence of the readership, d (1)

MichaelKristopeit499 (2549126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327471)

gawker media seems devoted to the concept of celebrity... implicitly devaluing their readership as non-celebrity miscreants.

nick denton is an ignorant hypocrite.

gawker media is garbage.

Sale! (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327175)

*this spot for sale*

spam handbagsRus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327185)

lol

It's the opposite, actually (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327189)

In this day of Kardashians, Hiltons and Lohans, I find the comments infinitely more interesting than the subject matter itself.

Community on the Information Superhighway (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327201)

It's the "information superhighway" and, just like a physical superhighway, everything is impersonal. Somebody cuts you off and drives slow in front of you and you mutter an oath under your breath. Because you don't see a mother and her newborn, you see a big hunk of metal. There is no community on the pavement of the interstates, it's basically every person for themselves. On the highway, discourse is one-way and usually pretty foul. If they had budged in front of you in the supermarket, you might say "pardon me but I'm in line" or just let it go and imagine her life to be a lot more hectic with a newborn. I surmise that bumper stickers are an actual attempt to let someone know you belong to their community -- although with my luck it's always some conservative with a Ken Cuccinelli bumper sticker reminding me of how much I absolutely loathe living in The South (but I digress).

Similarly, sites without a community are going to have absolute crap for comments. These aren't people trying to establish a reputation in a community. They don't want to help people or take time to share their views and vision. They have something to say -- could be negative or positive -- and they will say it with little disregard for others. It will be curt, it will be one sided and it will most likely be harsh. Communities are as rare on the "information superhighway" as they are on the real highways of America. Very few parts of the country have people willing to let you in and rarely you might feel an affinity with another person driving your preferred make or model of car or displaying your bumper sticker for your preferred asshole ... er ... politician. Discourse doesn't happen without community. Community is protected by moderation (usually which affects visibility). And communities seem to thrive or have a feedback effect when discourse is strong, respectful and healthy. Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker have none of the above -- and if they have moderation it is heavy handed deletionary censorship. So all they get is drive-by shootings or white panel vans with painted over windows offering free candy.

Side note: if you've read this far, you've already exhibited a mild disposition towards a community as I don't think this post (in its entirety) would be read by anyone on the aforementioned sites. If those sites don't establish anything they are doomed to have specious comments.

Re:Community on the Information Superhighway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327535)

You can see the same sort of thing in any sort of real-time chat as well. I'll use the MMO game example because I haven't been on IRC in years.

The curious: they try to ask relevant questions, often get some of the assumptions wrong but are trying to learn
The helpful: they provide good and useful answers to the curious
Bitter post-helpful: they criticise the incorrect assumptions and tend to say 'read the wiki'
Pranksters: provide answers that are blatantly absurd, even to new arrivals, sometimes get a few laughs
Trolls: provide bad advice or throw out random attacks against some grouping of people that might be present in the chatting area.
Spammers: don't have anything important to say, but they say it repeatedly

Fortunately, many games support an ignore list, which is very useful for those last two categories.

The problem is that as any location (game, forum, Slashdot, etc.) grows in popularity, the rate of relevant posters grows linearally and the rate of trolls grows exponentially.
Even worse are the zealot trolls, they actually believe the tripe they spew and attempt to shout down anyone who counters their claims. Fortunately, they tend to be uncommon encounters, with the natural habitat of /b and Slashdot. Oh drek.

Moderators Job (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327207)

Isn't it the job of Moderators to be sure people stay on topic? To me comments are important. They help to either verify the story, or expose the mistakes. Happens on /. all the time.

Re:Moderators Job (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327297)

Depends on the situation. Moderators may also be tasked to protect the site's reputation by removing any comments that cast doubt on their version of the story, or and comments that support a non-mainstream position. They may be tasked to enforce an ideological view to give the impression of community cohesion, or just to minimise legal risk by taking out any comments that could be deemed libelous in any way. The moderators enforce the rules, but it's management that makes them.

Re:Moderators Job (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327435)

That may happen in some places, but then that website gets labeled as BIAS. If the site continues to do this, everyone will know about it and avoid going there. You can't decieve people for long.

Not a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327211)

I have been a frequent commenter on several sites for many years. I used to enjoy being part of the conversation but now many of the comments are just poor jokes, insults and other foolishness. In particular I've given up on gizmodo.com where even the articles have become offensive.

I don't agree (5, Interesting)

leptonhead (791323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327231)

Denton's opinion tell us a lot about the kind of web site he visits. The internet is a heterogenous place, and this is reflected in the quality of comments posted to various online forums, just like it is in the quality of the content posted by web site editors (CNN.com is throwing stones in glass houses posting an article like this). Look at a web site like Lambda The Ultimate. The quality of posts there is often on par with peer-reviewed journal articles. The Haskell subreddit also often has incredibly valuable discussions, all provided for free by the readers themselves.

Re:I don't agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327493)

Agree. Good comments can add a lot of value by pointing out down-right errors or the sillyness in an argument. Just look at some of the really good comments here on Slashdot. It's true there's lot of noise, but much reporting is just stupid noise in the first place anyway - also one man's noise is another man's music.

My favourite kind of comment is the one where you hit a blog article through Google, read it because it sounds interesting, end up thinking "oh, really?", scroll down to the comments and among the noise find one added 2 years after the entry was posted by another sceptic who did a little more research debunking the whole post. :)

Gawker Media think their readers are stupid (4, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327239)

....film at 11.

This comment (2)

dlenmn (145080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327243)

This online comment has proven itself to be not worth the trouble, is a waste of resources, and contributes nothing to this online conversation or even captures the intelligence of readers.

Re:This comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327349)

me too

Wel...DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327251)

Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker

Right. Because those sites are the best example of places catering to intelligent readers.

Don't listen to Nick (4, Insightful)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327255)

Nick Denton is an idiot. He runs Gawker Media, which is itself a joke of a syndication network. He hires wannabe journalists and gives them bags of cash to bribe industry insiders into leaking stories so he can put them on his blogs. Of course the comments sections on Gawker Media sites are stupid. He also dismisses the politically charged and logically sound comments on Jezebel, which I wouldn't call the epitome of intelligent discourse on the internet, but it's definitely heads and shoulders above anything else hosted by Gawker.

Look at the comments on this Ars Technica piece [arstechnica.com] : all topical and useful. Look at this comment thread [reddit.com] (particularly this one [reddit.com] ! one of the most helpful comments I've ever read) about someone learning how to program in Perl.

In TFA, Denton says:

Give other commenters more power to "up-vote" or "down-vote" posts? "We don't really believe in the democratic process of decision-making when it comes to discussion," Denton said.

What a prick. Of course he doesn't believe in the democratic power of anything, because he's authoritarian, narrow-minded, grossly incompetent as a "journalist"—and deplorable as an editor, too—and all Gawker media sites (I'd entertain a counterargument defending Jezebel) operate on one rule: feed the trolls. Not all the examples of good comments I gave above have user-moderation systems in place, but the ones that don't just have good content that attracts good readers. Nick wouldn't know anything about that.

Re:Don't listen to Nick (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327425)

Spot on. It's amusing that Denton fails to see the poor quality of the comments match the poor quality of the tabloid articles Gawker publishes.

Cole's Axiom (5, Funny)

hierofalcon (1233282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327259)

Cole's Axiom sums it up. The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

I don't know about "specious".. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327279)

..but most of the time I find them to be feceous.

First Comment! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327283)

First Comment!

Maybe not a joke, unfortunately. (5, Insightful)

BaronHethorSamedi (970820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327289)

Maybe Gawker, et al, need to come to grips with the terrifying possibility that online comments absolutely do capture the intelligence of the readership.

there are exceptions, but yeah. (2)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327299)

fivethirtyeight and other specialized blogs can often have worthwhile discussion taking place in the comments section. slashdot itself of course has a long history of being as much a place for discussion as it is for anything else.

however, in places where the comments section is ancillary to the main purpose of the site (primary-source news sites such as cnn, video sites, etc) seem to contain the most dire comments sections.

here is the truth: there is no single activity in which a man can engage more thoroughly disaffecting of the human soul than the reading of youtube comments.

They need a better system (2)

mshenrick (1874438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327301)

They only work if you have a vote-based, threaded commenting systems like on here, but the best example is on reddit. Then you can see the best comments easily and reply

Who speaks? (4, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327305)

The ignorant are often more outspoken than the intelligent.

How quaint... (4, Insightful)

jklappenbach (824031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327309)

A comment forum commenting on comments about comments.

Gawker? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327313)

So wait, they interviewed a guy from Gawker/Gizmodo as evidence? Their fucking articles are complete shit in the first place, let alone their comments section. That's like citing Fox News as evidence that all TV is terrible and does not work as a communication method.

Random /. quote says it all (1)

PenquinCoder (1431871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327339)

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. - Salvor Hardin
When incompetent people comment on the internet; trolling, flamewars, and even violence is all that will follow.

Gawker? (4, Interesting)

Dragon of the Pants (913545) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327343)

So wait, they interviewed a guy from Gawker/Gizmodo as evidence? Their fucking articles are complete shit in the first place, let alone their comments section. That's like citing Fox News as evidence that all TV is terrible and does not work as a communication method.

What did they truly expect? (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327345)

Maybe I've grown up with the internet and I can't appreciate what they wanted, but what person thought that communication between people would improve when we remove many of the givens of human interaction? That's just nonsense.

In the early days of the Internet, there was hope that the unprecedented tool for global communication would lead to thoughtful sharing and discussion on its most popular sites.

Who were these early Internet hopefuls? The article sets up a nice straw-man as far as I'm concerned. Did Denton recently stop engaging comments? Goatse didn't persuade him back in 2000? Frankly, this is exactly why I can't quit Slashdot. No one has built a better comment system or a better community. SN Ratio is still bad here in absolute terms, but I can pick my SN by filtering and thanks to moderation, much of the noise has moved beyond Slashdot.

wait, wait, now (2)

deadline (14171) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327351)

quod erat demonstrandum

Ooh! (4, Funny)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327475)

You speak French!

Only reason I still visit Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327365)

The comments are the only reason I still visit Slashdot. Yes, there is a lot of junk to wade through, but in this community at least there will usually be an intelligent response that offers insight into the issue being discussed that I may not be able to find elsewhere.

accountability (1)

node636 (2526762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327385)

Flame wars, trolls, and other santorum ooze up everywhere because there is nothing dissuading commenters from posting. Most mechanisms that attempt to enforce accountability are also open to abuse or require too much effort. possible solution: Forum Mod AI and either track 'anonymous' posts or not allow them at all. You make too many comments that are deemed useless, your account is suspended and eventually deleted. Since user data is already being tracked, cross-referencing new user applications with old user data, would be a viable option. Perhaps even logging last known IP addresses of banned accounts only, to add another field for cross reference. The computation required to achieve this would be offset somewhat by the decrease in comment volume.

"Capturing the intelligence of the readership" (3, Insightful)

Winkletron (2591303) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327387)

Such a statement assumes that intelligence exists in the first place. Comments sections can work. But, as soon as a sufficiently large audience shows up, it devolves into cesspool of ridiculous, poorly thought through, extreme opinions, and personal attacks. *Insert something racist/homophobic/sexist/generally hateful here*

Denton was naive to begin with (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327389)

In the early days of the Internet, there was hope that the unprecedented tool for global communication would lead to thoughtful sharing and discussion on its most popular sites.

just like when television first came out we thought it had potential as an unprecedented tool for learning. HA!

He has a point (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327395)

Comments on blogs and news articles (and youtube videos of course) are almost entirely worthless. Almost no one puts thought into their comments, even when it's attached to a well-thought out article. They don't "capture the intelligence of readers", rather they capture the unintelligence. Another example is twitter. Choose a trending topic, read some of the tweets, and weep for humanity.

On the other hand, forums can be extremely valuable. I'd class Slashdot into that category, even though technically these are still comments on news articles. Forums can be excellent at capturing the intelligence, wisdom or experience of its members. Some examples that come to mind are Whirlpool or XDA-Dev. Of course you still get ill-thought out nonsense, but the format encourages continued participation in the discussion, rather than blogs where people write some bullshit and then move on to the next story.

Still useful (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327407)

The only thing that keeps me going to my local newspaper's site is the anonymous comment section. While there are some crazy and trolling comments, the anonymous nature of the system leads people to post more provocative points of view (and possibly even more honest opinions, but in any case, many opposing viewpoints are posted and discussed). Sure, there are sometimes personal attacks, but overall it's interesting to read opinions from other local people. There's a minimal moderating system where abusive comments can be reported (and sometimes that system itself is abused by people that want to get rid of opposing viewpoints), as well as a thumbs-up/thumbs-down system.

When another semi-local paper switched to a non-anonymous facebook commenting system, the usefulness of the comments went way down. (as did some of the more extreme views, but I don't mind reading those extreme views, or even wading through a number of useless "first post!" comments if it means getting more interesting comments).

Look who's talking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327421)

> "It didn't happen," said Denton, whose properties include the blogs Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker.

Of course, I see no self-criticism about how awful some of those blogs are, in which a female journalist publicly bashed the World Champion of Magic: The Gathering for being... well, him; they also publicly crucified Dilbert's creator after misunderstanding (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt) one of his posts, and let's not forget the less-than-smart way in which they handled a security breach which exposed thousands of user's passwords.

I'd say you can't have your cake and eat it too - if your business is based on troll-level journalism, you don't get to complain when the trolls gather around you.

Not a failure of the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327423)

I believe that the whole reason this conception of the comments section as a place which can lead to thoughtful discussion is not misfounded, the problem is they have spread a very wide net when they opened up such a concept to anyone in literally the entire world that chooses to comment. They have captured the intelligence of the average reader because the average reader is a moron who can't grasp anything beyond his personal biases and preferences, and they do not like to be wrong.

Were they to take the comments section seriously, they would have to do what several blogs I read already do: Severely moderate the comments themselves to strictly limit what gets posted to certain users and only then if it has to do with the topic at hand. It sounds draconian but it is actually not much different from what already occurs in actual publications of higher learning and scholarship. They won't publish any idiot that writes in, but if you follow certain guidelines and speak intelligently they will publish your review or response (generally only if you're qualified to speak on the topic, but some of them do allow a more open interchange).

Overall the internet can be a tool of previously uncomprehending exchange of information, but people will not just automatically act like intelligent beings. Given the choice, they'll resort to the same madness that made you wish for a realm in which you could exchange information lacking such interference in the first place. Thinking that the internet would be any different just stems from the idealism of creating something new and believing everything will be perfect in your newly created utopian future.

False generalization (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327443)

It's true that the average quality of comments in many blogs is generally poor. But that doesn't mean that comments in general suck. I have read many technical blogs with high comment quality, reporting errors in the blog, opening interesting discussions with the blog owner, coming with new insights, or linking to other blogs/websites with interesting and related material.

I know it is popular to rail on against slashdot and how horrible it is, but for certain topics, I often learn something new, or get a different perspective on things. Many different people with many different technical backgrounds frequent slashdot. And I value the different perspectives that crop up once in a while. While I personally am uncertain about how effective the modding system here on slashdot is, and if it could be improved, I don't find it too difficult to filter through the comments to find those comments *I* find interesting or insightful.

I think the readership of a blog or site definitely affects the general comment quality. And for certain sites, that might mean that restrictions or even removal of comments for readers in general are a good idea. But just because the comment quality on certain sites is generally poor or horrible, it does NOT mean that comments in general are of poor quality, or that online comment sections in general are useless or a joke.

Implementation (3, Informative)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327445)

Look at the comments on a random story here at Slashdot, and then look at the comments on a random story at CNN or Fox News or, if you dare, YouTube.

There is a right way to do comments and there is wrong way to do comments. In my mind, "moderation" is key. Slashdot has a well thought-out moderation system and the others have absolutely zero moderation, at best a "Like" button.

Forums with dedicated moderators often have excellent discussion/comments as well.

From their own comments, (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327449)

"Censorship is not American. "

"Nick "Hitler" Denton, wants control over media and free speech....What a patriot."

"seriously!!! what else is there to talk about when baseball is only 23 days away!"

"Like cruddy old people music. We should ban that, just because I want to."

"Obama's fault."

"i am not reading that novel." (In response to a three-paragraph comment)

"Where can i get the cliff notes to this post?" (Likewise)

"Go PHILLIES!!!!"

you're looking at the wrong sites (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327455)

I use several sites where each article generates hundreds of very erudite comments per day, too many to read, often. Most are moderated but with a gentle touch. No I'm not saying where in case they get overrun by idiots.

he's just mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327483)

because he went to /b/

Can't comment to CNN (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327505)

Even CNN won't let Anonymous Coward comment. And we know Anonymous Coward is the most prolific commenter around, both good and bad, agree and disagree, intelligent and just outright stupid.

Denton is a wad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327525)

This guy is a fucking joke.

You run sites that thrive off of cheap troll bait hits and you end up with a bunch of trolls.

How about Denton pulls his head out of his ass and looks at the content of the sites before he paints the entire internet as flame bait for commenters.

Invaluable for Tech Help (2)

Droog57 (2516452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327533)

I find forums and comments to be an invaluable resource for technical help for many things. I'm in Process Controls and use web forums all the time for obscure questions. And when migrating to Linux for the first time, I was very grateful for the help that I recieved from that Community. The general trend toward ditching older, experienced tech support hands and throwing long existing tech libraries into dumpsters make forums the last bastion of searchable help. Couldn't live without them.
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