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OPLIN 4Cast #776: Are comment sections still cesspools of evil?

Posted in 4cast, and communication

An internet axiom you’ve probably heard multiple times is “Don’t read the comments!” There’s good reason for this. The comment sections of many sites, blogs and platforms have become hotbeds of controversy and uncivil arguments that often devolve into the worst humanity might have to offer.

Most news sites turned off their comment sections more than a decade ago, in an attempt to avoid the morass these online areas might become. Some new research is now making that decision perhaps somewhat regrettable…but the war over whether or not to open comments to the public is still being waged, and now its making headlines.

  • Killing Website Comment Sections Wasn’t The Brilliant Move Many Newsroom Leaders Assumed [Techdirt] “While yes, many readers are often incoherent trolls, many other readers actually (gasp!) know what they’re talking about, and their input and conversations can actually improve journalism.”
  • Mega commenters are the best part of TikTok [Mashable] “For users, each video has the potential to host a chatroom’s worth of dialogue and exchanges. It’s where people share praise, fight, criticize, harass, share context, make requests, tag friends, and show just how funny they can be. There is no TikTok without comments.”
  • CBC is keeping Facebook comments closed on news posts [CBC] “We did so because we were seeing an inordinate amount of hate, abuse, misogyny and threats in the comments under our stories. Our story subjects were attacked. Other commenters were attacked. Our journalists were attacked. Misinformation and disinformation were rife. “
  • “We disagree on what the space should be”: Editors discuss the future of comment sections [Nieman Lab] “Dealing with bad-faith actors in the space also proved time-consuming. One panelist described problems with racial issues in the comments, “It kind of became a game of ‘whack-a-troll.’ Any time we even just moderated a comment, a new account would pop up to pick up where that conversation left off and it became very abundantly clear that it was the same person doing this.” As the newsroom worked on handling the situation, other commenters reached out, demanding that the troll problem be addressed. The situation resonated with research showing that uncivil comments can hurt a newsroom’s overall brand.”

From the Ohio Web Library;