Site Suspends Comments For 'Cooling Off Period'

from the this-is-the-internet dept

Via Romenesko we learn of local Illinois news site Pantagraph.com that has suspended comments on local news stories as a "cooling off period" after it felt that the comments had become too uncivil. I'm wondering how this will actually help. This is the internet that we're talking about here, and once the comments are turned back on, I would imagine that they'll quickly return to the same level of civility (or lack thereof) pretty quickly. If you want to create more civil commenting policies, a "time out" doesn't do that. Putting in place better incentives does.


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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 5:22pm

    Heh.

    "P.S. -- Thank you for your comments on this decision. No more comments are being accepted on this matter as of 3:30 p.m. Dec. 31."

     

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    Tailsnake, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 5:32pm

    I've actually found the whole process that you have to go through to be a commenter on the Gawker sites (Gizmondo, Kotaku, LifeHacker, etc) tends to weed out most of the "uncivil" commenters.

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      Metafilter requires a five dollar fee (one time) to be able to comment, and you still get jerks (although, fewer of them.) Everyone is a dick about something.

       

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        The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 6:05pm

        Re: Re:

        Did someone call my name? ;)

        Seriously though, online flame wars are older than the internet, somewhere I have a box of logs from about 1980 or so with some pretty amazing battles (I was a spectator, not a participant).

        A cooling off period may be enough to get the most strident drive by flamers to go away, perhaps encourage kids to move on to other things, but in the end, the comments will re-open and the issue still won't be fixed.

         

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      Chris (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 4:40am

      Re:

      I am not a big fan of that method though. Ever since they did that the number of comments has been dramatically reduced. I think that method hurts more then it helps. I never saw that many "uncivil" comments.

       

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    davebarnes (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:01pm

    WTF?!

    A fucking cooling off period!
    Who the fuck are they kidding?
    Stupid fuck-heads.
    I could go on, but am too lazy.

     

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    DS, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:32pm

    Wake up, this is happening all over the place.

    My local newspaper had a message board at one time, until things became too 'uncivil' for the editor.

    Of course, his definition of uncivil was calling him out when he had a temper tantrum (Calling people who used the message board losers who lived in their mom's basement and were useless as customers as the did nothing but leach off of the free content that they provided when he did it was a-ok. Pointing out how unprofessional he was when he said such things, wasn't.). He was very quick to delete any article that mentioned his name, or any other newspaper.

    What he was never quick to do was put a stop to the user arguments, even though there had been an influx of new members from a town a county over, who did nothing but infight and cause arguments.

    As a matter of fact, when he closed the forum, most of the jerks had since moved on, and we were actually getting some rather good discussions going about the city.

    You know, things that they could have used (and actually did use in one article).

     

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:32pm

    I think it's actually a good idea... Having seen flamewars in comments, I think that if you setup a 2 day cooling period, people will move on to something else. It might not resolve the underlying issue that some people are jerks about everything (and all of us are jerks about certain things) but this is the Internet we are talking about, not the World Wide Anger Management Network.

     

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    Clueby4, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    Lack of "offensive" posts = moderatedworthless site

    I don't need the world filtered for me, so when I encounter a forum or comment section with a lack of "offensive" post I assume it's moderated (ie worthless) and move on.

    Simple rule: don't feed the trolls. Which should have an addendum for the slow witted with internet access: "Ignore the trolls, too"

     

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    Henry Emrich (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    A "cooling off period" -- suuure.

    "Did someone call my name? ;)"

    Heh. :)
    "Anti-Mike" actually said something clever -- who woulda thunk it. :)

    Seriously though: you did a hard-copy dump of a flame-war Ca. 1980 --- and then you *KEPT* it around? For almost thirty years? Why? Or is this a scenario where you were a sysop, and ran a local dial-up BBS or something?

    If that's the case, then you should send those "logs" (or more exactly, digital COPIES of them!) to the guy who runs www.textfiles.com. He LOVES stuff like that.

    But yeah, I actually agree with you on that one: the millisecond they re-open comments, the war will start again. Especially if they allow anonymous posting.

     

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      The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:06pm

      Re: A "cooling off period" -- suuure.

      Seriously though: you did a hard-copy dump of a flame-war Ca. 1980 --- and then you *KEPT* it around?

      I can't really say where it is from (without giving away a little too much of myself) but safe to say there were national multi-user systems with local dialup long before AOL, and even before the first of the BBSes (I remember the first BBS in Canada, most people would be hard pressed to name it).

      Then again, I can remember when 110 baud was "fast". :)

       

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    Rooker, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:08pm

    Moderation or voting

    I've always noticed that trolling and highly abusive commenting is more of a problem on sites where the owner is less engaged with those commenting.

    There are two really effective ways they can deal with that problem:

    1) Have someone (or a team of someones) volunteer to weed out obvious trolling

    2) Use a commenting system that allows up or down votes, like Disqus, IntenseDebate and Slashcode.

    On any popular site, there will be regular visitors who care about it enough to slap down trolls. On something like a newspaper or other business website, they might be more comfortable having one or more employees to do that.

    The exception is YouTube ... I don't even know what planet YouTube commenters come from, much less what would clean up their comments.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:26pm

    Who was it that said "Life is a blur of Republicans and meat."?

    Oh yeah. Zippy the Pinhead said that. So true.

     

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    Jake, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 12:10am

    Just as a point of clarification, what 'better incentives' did you have in mind? Because Techdirt's own incentives not to be an abrasive, narrow-minded jerk in the comments seem a bit lacking if the 'discussion' under some of your posts is anything to go by.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 1:25am

      Re:

      Because Techdirt's own incentives not to be an abrasive, narrow-minded jerk in the comments seem a bit lacking if the 'discussion' under some of your posts is anything to go by.

      Indeed. It's something we're hoping to improve on this year...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:31am

      Re:

      "Narrow-Minded" = Doesn't agree with Jake and isn't afraid to say so, and hurts Jake's feelings in the process.

      Jake, you pussy.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Take the Balloon Boy incident. Had there been a delay there on comments, most people wouldn't have gotten quite so riled up, because it turned out to be a hoax, and this was discovered in short order.

    So, yes, Mike, in some cases it would help.

     

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    Andy, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 10:54am

    I live in the town this news site is from. The comments are regularly a source of the most biggotted comments I've found online. Now, I'm not saying I'm at all surprised as I would expect no less from many of the people living in this community, but the amusing thing is the huge disclaimer on the site that all comments are reviewed before being made public. If that was indeed the case, most of the comments never would have seen the light of day.

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 11:03am

    Cooling off period in comments

    There is a place for incentives (good behavior, for example), and a place for penalties (bad behavior, as an example).
    This is a place for penalties, and one way is to block anonymous comments (though allowing them to be published anonymously) and then blocking people who are uncivilized from the site.

     

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