The danger of comments at community sites

The discussion thread just mentioned in the last story is also a good demonstration of what can happen when newspapers and other localized publications open up discussion threads. In particular, the St. Louis Today site, which runs its weblogs using WordPress, doesn’t put much in the way of restrictions on comments. What’s happened is a group of people have moved into the discussion area and setup housekeeping.

You can’t read a thread where it isn’t dominated by people like robsmyth and others, with their own insider language and discussion–usually only incidentally related to the topic.

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One Response to The danger of comments at community sites

  1. Our local paper has a similar policy on comments, which serves as an open troll invitation. They’ll post a story about a tragic car accident, for example, and the comment thread will rapidly fill with racist comments about illegal aliens in cars (despite the actual facts, of course). I’ve written to them and suggested that they either moderate comments or at least monitor them, but no response. The end result is that anyone with intelligent comments to make won’t do it, because they don’t want to be associated with the previous nutjob commenters.

    A recent survey indicated that the majority of users prefer moderated communities, and your example is one of the reasons, I’m sure.