In the article, Why some publishers are killing their comments section, Ricardo Bilton explores the trend of online media outlets disabling their comments sections. If anyone has ever read a comment feed online you won’t find it hard to believe that such outlets are taking this stance. Some comments sections have become so uncivil that buzzfeed wrote a funny post on the horror. Who has some of the worst trolls seeking attention online? According to buzzfeed, the New York Post and CNN make the list, Facebook and Youtube are top contenders as well.
The fact that some organizations don’t even offer the chance to give your cyber two cents like The Atlantic is not surprising. Personally, I support strategic moves like this 100%. Today it seems that if someone doesn’t get to say their opinion online than its not heard. In the same vein people think that commeting online is their chance to unleadh their “truthful, most harsh opinions and they do so. Now, I do think there is a real chance for intellectual dialogue online. However, there are some problems with the cyber platform.
First, there is a different etiquette for talking online than talking in person. And all can agree that the former is less superior than to human interaction. For example, grammar is very important. You have to make your first impression by the written word only. No facial expression, grunts, sounds, mannerisms find a home here. If what you said online would make the person cry if said in person are you really conducting yourself in a civil manner thats open and honest to successful dialogue? No. But this is the nature of online debate. In this platform it is easy then to take advantage of a kind of anonymity. You can kind of say what you want without repercussions. And sometimes, this leads be people to say outrageous things.
Huffpost got it right when they announced that commenters would have to link their accounts to their facebook account. This is going to force people to be more civil online. Usually your facebook friends include your mom, coworkers, newly made friends you are trying to impress, and lastly your rigorously devout christian Aunt Jackie. More than likely you will think twice about the content of your posts when you have to be aware who might be able to read your response (all 700 of your “friends”).
Also, online sometimes online is not really a platform for dialoguing. Rebecca Rosen, a writer for The Atlantic wrote in 2011,“Even in places with smart, thoughtful readers, the comment sections tend to be more like lists of unconnected ideas than genuine conversations”. How often have you initiated a conversation with a person via their online account and they never answered you back? They never even acknowledged your reach out. This simply does not happen in person. If someone enters in your personal space you have to acknowledge them. Online, people choose to ignore, respond, and dialogue in a way that does not follow the the norms of in person interaction. So when then Atlantic choose to not offer a commenting section on their media site they are simply acknowledging that sometimes its an uncivil and therefore useless platform.
To further support their position the Atlantic wrote an article on how commenting affects a sites quality and traffic. In the article, Adam Felder makes an argument that putting tighter restrictions on comment etiquette nurtures a space where conversations are civil and intellectual. Also, putting less notoriety on the comments draws more attention to the article and its content-where it should be in the first place. And in some instances it increased traffic to the media’s site. Food for thought.