« Chills Down My Spine... | Main | Mielestäni teillä on söpö presidentti. »

Everyone's Talking About It


Hey, remember that post I made a few days back about the DNT and its commenting system? It turns out that suddenly everyone's frustrated about the same syndrome. Internet: we must decide. Either we can give a voice to every anonymous talk-radio reject in an effort to drive up hits, or we can provide quality content to a comparatively small number of intelligent readers.

Or, we can (gasp!) come up with a new idea, a new model that is more structurally sound. But for now, read on:

In theory, it's a great thing. We're giving the people a voice! But the reality is that commenting either attracts loathsome people or somehow causes ordinary people to express themselves in a way that is loathsome.


Maybe commenters are just on one side of a cultural disconnect between two incompatible ideas of what the social conventions of the Internet should be. One is based on the standards of real-world, off-line politeness. The other is a kind of communal game in which whoever is cleverest and pushes the most buttons wins.

-- Time Magazine (7/10/08), via Fimoculous

Why should we all build our homes and give residence to the trolls under them? Comments on blogs inevitably implode, and we all accept it under the belief that "open is better!" Open is not better. Running a blog is like letting a virtuoso play for 90 minutes are Carnegie Hall, and then seconds after their performance you run to the back Alley and grab the most inebriated homeless person drag them on stage and ask them what they think of the performance they overheard in the Alley. They then take a piss on the stage and say "F-you" to the people who just had a wonderful experience for 90 or 92 minutes. That's openness for you... my how far we've come! We've put the wisdom of the deranged on the same level as the wisdom of the wise.

-- Jason Calacanis (7/11/08), via Gawker


I kind of agree, but you don't want your internet to be secular; electrically networked "countries" with human defined boundaries. Or even worse, a division between the people who are maybe smart and maybe not. We might create a cyberspace cold war :)

A new model might be tough to come up with. Just throwing out ideas here, which are not mutually exclusive (note, "people" means the email address you require)...

- You could drop people -- or even worse, specific messages -- off your list in a despotic manner, but that would take a lot of time (I think this is what DNT does).
- You could have people vote on comments (+1, -1), and then pluck them if they go really low (not really Duluth attitude, but is the most likely the best part of PDD's solution).
- You could use a spam filter.
- You could do the login per post thing, so that the required "PDD" letters for a message is email specific. Password to post, if you will.
- You could limit who gets to initiate a post (but, that is so not Duluth).
- You could have 2 lists, maybe; in essence, separating people who know each other from the foreigners, as it were. A secret club :) Wait, there already is one. Good move, IMHO.

This list, I think actually benefits from trolls. But, that's just my philosophy about forums in general. I'm not against the grain you are suggesting we run, but I should be black-listed because of my own noise, I suppose.

If you want to avoid the noise, I think PDD has done that to good effect compared to other forums I've seen.

I still don't see the danger in being anonymous. It is nice to put a face to a name though.

Btw, that hypothetical drunken homeless person mentioned by Jason could quite possibly have been the best critic, since he wasn't affected by the audience. Not only that, Jason forgets that the internet "tools" we use make it very easy to gloss over a message if we are so inclined, so the pain in reading fluff -- like my own -- is diminished.

Noise ... over.

Wrong usage of the word "secular". I meant separated, disjoint, or pick your word.

There are posts on PDD that I don't care for, I think are too repetitive in nature, too geeky (sorry, ya!) or are opposite of my beliefs...for those I don't read them. There are comments on posts that are as equally small minded as the people or post that the writer is complaining about. I take it with a grain of salt and go on. All in all I feel that PDD attracts a group of thoughtful, creative people. Let me be my own editor.

By the way it is restricted who can post a topic....I have been trying to 'join' so I can post something for a few weeks now and get a message that PDD is not accepting any new members.

i don't think we need babysitters. i think we're better than that.

in the end, the "sitters" become corrupted. as we've seen on other blogs, sitter/moderators often edit other's posts to fit the rest's groupthink bias...which is indeed the antithesis of the Freedom of Speech mantra that's bandied about so often...

John Gabriel? You must be kidding! All right, I'll hold down my animosity so I don't get 86'd.

Adam, if you think about it, it's really just a recipe (intended or not) for denying public voice.

People of power here are suggesting a selective forum. I disagree, but it is most certainly up to the web master(s).

Other forums do it according to their likes and dislikes, but the strength of crap coming from your link is humanistic poodoo.

I hope PDD doesn't turn into a circle jerk.

All right. You can kick me out if you want now :)

For the record, the other local boards suck.

Every option already exists: You can allow everyone to comment anonymously, or you can have everyone register their identities, or you can censor comments you don't like, or you can form secret clubs that people can join by invitation only. If the guidelines for any given forum are clear, I don't see a problem with any of these possibilities.

What I hate is when the moderator of a forum revises the comments of a participant to change the meaning of what has been written. This is slimy, cowardly behavior. The DCB does it all the time.

Judging from the fact that PDD and Progressive Action have the least amount of trolls posting, though they certainly have a lot of them lurking, it's probably best to require people to register their identities. I think it also helps to know who's actually moderating, as we know with PDD and PA. I don't know if anyone really moderates at the DNT, I've seen some really nutty posts there that blatantly violate their guidelines.

Plastic.com had a semi-effective system for encouraging some minimal standard of comity, built off the Slashdot-style post-rating system. But it turned into a contest to see who could get the most upods, and encouraged some weirdos to produce multiple aliases so they could moderate their own comments. It did quiet the riffraff somewhat though.

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

No one is "suggesting a selective forum" or any other changes to PDD. PDD is pretty good at self-governance, because it is a real community that has been around for five years, and many of the people here have been posting for nearly that long.

I'm talking about the internet at large here, not PDD.

What's up w/ PDD not accepting new "memberships"?

A few months ago I was overwhelmed with new membership requests. The thing is, none of these new members ever posted anything.

I shut it down, but people still emailed me asking to join, in which case, I signed them up.

I keep meaning to change that page to say that if people really, really want to join, they should email me and introduce themselves. But I'm lazy.

It would be great, Barrett, if you could do something like that. I've posted at least two things for other people because they can't join and have had to defend PDD several times over the last couple months because, in the words of its critics, it's not open because it won't accept new members.

H'mm, I lurk here a lot and I almost never post. Does that make me a troll?
My suggestion? When and if a bunch of us lurking trolls start an excessive amount of posting, then do something, otherwise for the most part things seem to be moderating themselves.

For (hopefully) the last time: I am not talking about PDD here.

No, Shane, you are not a troll. Neither I nor anyone else ever thought such a thing. Lurkers are not trolls.

I posted this, as I said earlier, in response to Internet trends in general. Not PDD.

I was trying to be humorous with my troll comment. Claire's comment about lurking trolls struck me as being an oxymoron.

Shane, Iwhat I meant was that there are people who lurk on various listserves and don't post anything, but lurk there to gather information for their nefarious purposes, including, but not limited to, cutting 'n pasting comments made on one listserve onto another for the purpose of mocking of or criticizing the poster. If someone just reads posts, but doesn't post himself or himself, that's cool by me, that's not what I mean when I say someone is a lurking troll. I belong to my college alumnae listserve, where people are forbidden to repeat information they read on the listserve without permission from the person who posted the information. Draconian, yes, but it provides people with some peace of mind that others won't go blabbing their business elsewhere. Don't know how effective it really is, though.

self-governance comes also comes from familiarity. there isn't very much anonymity here as is the case with other blogs, chiefly because, we (READ: most of us...this isn't a dig on newer members) pretty much are at the very least familiar with each other on a personal level. the familiarity that we have here differs a lot from anonymity in one main area: accountability.

I say stupid shit from time to time (okay a LOT of the time)...and i can (and often do) get called on it. it'd be a lot different if nobody really knew each other...

moderators? babysitters? CAPTCHA...hell no. we're better than that. bedises, it wouldn't be PDD.

It's easy to focus the conversation on PDD, even though the original post was referring to the entire Internet, because this is the only site where I care to read the comments. Most are funny, smart, local, or have some other value to me. But, for example, I turned off AOL comment boards because I don't even want to SEE what those people are writing.
I wonder; can I make it so I don't have to see youtube comments? That would be great.

I was using PDD as an example in my first post. Sorry if I offended anyone. My point was the proverbial, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

I still disagree with the sociological trend and its consequences implied by some doomsdayers.

I guess the noise wasn't over.

In any case, I agree that most forums collect delinquent people, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing to the internet or to people. Having "nefarious" voices around is, IMHO, healthy.

Uhg (cromagnon, me, says): Communication across avenues eventually breaks social barriers, regardless of nefariousness.

Noise again. Oh brother, will somebody get me to shut up? :)

I think Zra has a really good point. If you know, however slightly, the other people on an online forum, because you actually see them, interact with them in real time, you are more likely to "own" your postings. Or maybe I should write "own up to" your postings? Whatever.

For news outlet forums: discourage conversational exchanges between posters. Raise the expectation of same kind of care and thought as in writing a letter to the editor. A few ideas:

*limit comments to one per user id, per article.
*strictly ban and delete posts containing ad hominem arguments
*paid employees to moderate forums 24/7
*promote active community moderation, flag posts that violate standards

These steps may encourage more reasonable people to express themselves without getting into a knife fight. Increasing the number of well-reasoned comments would dilute the impact of extreme posts, a better sample of the community. I realize the last thing needed is another front to defend, however this might be considered a new civic duty. Absolutely continue to allow all viewpoints, even extreme or unpopular ones: they are still valid. Hopefully balance should be reflected in the overall sample.

Final obvious note: text is flawed. Even with social text exchanges amongst friends, the wheels of intent can easily fall off. To judge words alone without personally knowing, seeing, or hearing the writer: a challenge at best. I'll admit to participating in many failed attempts of both humor and sincerity. I like words, but damn if they don't always go in the direction pointed.

Post a comment

Seriously: If you click "post" more than once, you're going to end up looking really stupid.

If you don't see your comment after it's published, try refreshing your browser.