Saturday, August 15, 2009

A couple of my responses to Sac Bee's commenting survey

"Do you read comments?"
Typically I like to look at comments when reading news. But I've had to actively avoid reading Sac Bee's. So many hostile, vindictive, bitter condemnations of people in the news! I've seen this in other local papers too -- don't know if it's actually worse here, or if it just hurts more to see it here because I live here. Discouraging to think these commenters are the people in my community.

"When do you flag?"
Personal attack or violent wording. The "they deserve what they got!" comments directed at people who have suffered some terrible fate are sickening to read, but oh well, they're that commenter's opinion. But sometimes it gets very close to or crosses the line of "personal attack." I make a great effort to not be offended just because I disagree with the commenter's perspective, no matter how vigorously I disagree. However, any threat of violence, no matter how metaphorical, I think is unacceptable.

"What about anonymity?"
Oh, I see the conundrum. Anonymity allows the really hostile people to vent with no inhibitions (KluKluxKlan model of extremism). But part of what encourages comments in general is being able to just fire one off. Having to register is too much trouble, or invasive, or too much commitment. I've often started to comment at a site and then just clicked away when I realize I haven't already registered there and I don't want to bother to do it now. What really makes it easy are sites that use my Google or facebook ID.

Of course, the best solution: more intellectually active readers. Yeah, I know that's a pipe dream. But you could help. On Twitter I'm @pkapk -- have you noticed how frequently the reason I retweet a SacBee tweet is because of funny mistakes in the headline? Maybe better sentences from the Bee would generate better comments to the Bee? Like some kinduva karma zen mojo thing...

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