08 February 2010

Blog comments controversial?

Via Crisisblogger, you can find a link to a post on mashable.com about a brewing controversy about comments on blogs.

Seems some people making comments have been nasty:

Popular gadget site Engadget has recently shut down comments. It’s a temporary measure, it says, but the blog took it because the “tone in comments has really gotten out of hand.”

Quel horreur, indeed.

Anyone running any local website of any kind knows the trouble of not only cleaning off the scorch-marks from the site but trying to keep the vicious little buggers from setting all sorts of flaming bags of dog-turd alight in the first place.  The Telegram site and cbc.ca/nl have all had their share of comment wars. 

There is no full-proof method short of closing off comments altogether.  Your humble e-scribbler shut down comments for the longest time.  Then it seemed like a good idea to open them up with varying ways of making sure people took some responsibility for their words. 

The system in place right now is mostly based on the honour system and for the most part it seems to work.  There are Chinese and Philipino spammers who sometimes get through but they get deleted as soon as they are found.  Comments that add nothing to a discussion are very rare.  The most recent spurt happened over the weekend but that lasted only a few hours.  Cleaning up the mess was simple.

The most remarkable thing about SRBP is that the people who do comment manage to remain respectful and generally offer some thoughtful input.  The exchanges may get heated but for the most part things remain civilized. There is no magic formula that others may copy that just seems to be the way.

And SRBP isn’t unique in that respect.  You can find a great many Internet spaces locally and nationally where the comments sections offer input that is sometimes more significant than the stuff in the post itself that sparked the given conversation.

Now aside from the spammers, everyone is familiar with plants.  For the most part, they are easy to spot and they really don’t cause much of an issue.  Any audience is usually savvy enough to tell which comments come from real people and which comments are from a script.

Interestingly enough, there doesn’t seem to be much online comment about blog-writers who pen their own sock puppet  -that is, planted - comments apparently in an effort to make their space seem more interesting or popular than it is.

The phenomenon certainly exists.