Engadget Latest To Try Comment Cooling Off Period; I Can't Figure Out Why

from the sorta-missing-the-point dept

Last month, we wrote about a local news website in Illinois that was getting frustrated with the dialog in its comments, and it instituted a “cooling off period” where it shut down its comments for a while, hoping that it would drive away the less desirable comments. The whole thing made no sense to us. Those types of commenters would eventually come back, and the solution should be offering better incentives and better overall discussion for commenters, not blocking out everyone. And yet… (without giving credit to the site that led the way last month), it looks like super popular gadget blog Engadget has done the same thing, apparently after comments over the whole iPad thing got too heated. Engadget, of course, is owned by AOL — and you would think that if there were any company out there that understood group dynamics online by now, it would be AOL. Honestly, I’m still really confused as to what this will actually do, other than make Engadget a lot less interesting for those readers who took part in the community.

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Comments on “Engadget Latest To Try Comment Cooling Off Period; I Can't Figure Out Why”

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Rahul says:

Re: Re:

Actually, “things getting heated” means flame wars going on in the comments, usually not even related to the article content. Mindless and childish personal attacks to the point where it is detrimental to the “Engadget Community” as a whole.

If it was just people arguing passionately about information in the article, that would be ok. But this is obviously a completely different issue.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Live in a Van, by the River (under a bridge)

That’s actually what they’re doing. Reviewing all the lowest-ranked users, deciding if they should ban them from commenting. Sure, they can create a new user ID and come back and pick more fights, but since the more frequent users actually know one another on that site, it would take a while to build up the reputation as being a particular company’s “fanboi (sic)” again.

Also, they were probably getting a lot of off-site traffic, since they had some of the more comprehensive coverage of the device. The comments may have been negatively affecting their ability to sell more premium advertising space, so they turned them off for the time being.

ProfessionalGun (profile) says:

Two words. . . .

Publicity stunt.

This won’t solve a commenting problem. At least, not the commenting problem they claim to have. It will get people talking about Engadget, and more specifically, it will draw attention to the supposed drama within the reader community. Engadget claims that only a small percentage of its readers are commenters. I’d say that percentage is likely to increase thanks to all this new talk – and that was the plan all along.

Engadget is guilty of flame baiting their reader community with headlines designed to incite wars within the comments. It’s good for business because it increases traffic and page views and ad impressions. The ONLY reason to shut that down is to bet that it will increase those numbers when it comes back.

It’s enough to inspire me to remove them from my RSS feeds. I don’t like being manipulated so blatently.

Negrito says:

Re: Two words. . . .

I agree. I deleted them from my iGoogle, and thats how i came across this site. Needed a new Tech gadget.

Honestly if there werent 15 of the 20 stories a day about the iPad. I doubt there would have been any controversy. They shut the comments down because the readers/commenters were right, they favor Apple way too much, and this comes from someone who owns a Blackbook, an Apple TV, and iPod Touch, and a Time Capsule.

Apple failed miserably to live up to all the hype, lets move on shall we?

dssstrkl (user link) says:

Not the whole story

Engadget stopped allowing comments while they use the banhammer on known troll and spammers. They’re also checking their usage stats to see if there’s any correlation between no comments and traffic. I have to say that the comments have become increasingly stupid and vitriolic lately, so I’m glad they did it.


Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Not the whole story

They’re also checking their usage stats to see if there’s any correlation between no comments and traffic

Eh, my guess is if there’s more traffic, it’s only because people went to check out the story about why they have no comments.

I’ll say, from my experience, comments are most certainly not the main driver of traffic (stories with the most comments do NOT correlate well to stories with the most traffic), but they do account for a non-trivial amount of the traffic.

Comboman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not the whole story

I’ll say, from my experience, comments are most certainly not the main driver of traffic (stories with the most comments do NOT correlate well to stories with the most traffic)

That seems counter-intuitive. I suppose most comments are posted when a story is new and most are posted by “the regulars”, whereas stories that get a lot of views are older (relatively speaking) stories that get wider exposure (linked to from other websites). I’ll bet that stories with the most comments correlate well with traffic for the first two or three hours after a story is posted, but that the correlation decreases over time.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not the whole story

Also, there’s a difference between visits and views. A highly commented article would have a lot of “views” but not a lot of “visitors” since one person constantly refreshing the page adding more comments would increase a page’s “views” but not its “visitors”, and flamewars are usually between a small number of people.

TFP says:


Apple fanbois are stupid, fact! Windows fanbois are laughing at stupid Apple product, Apple fanbois are screaming that they’re gonna buy one for their mum – unless they’re over 40 with failing eyesight who commute… a lot, then it is the perfect iPod replacement (tho obviously not for wide-screen films or long stretches of reading eBooks or writing long emails with a virtual keyboard).

Virtual keyboards are a pain and if you buy the wireless keyboard doesn’t that kind of make it a crippled netbook? text and voice recognition are the way to go. Does the iPad do either?

‘Why my mum will love the iPad.

My mum will love the iPad because I have to buy it because Apple made it. I will have to give it to her, because it’s useless to me, being neither a phone, real computer (multitasking), or multimedia device (wide-screen, ebook, Flash – loathe it or indifference, it’s still part of the web media experience for a couple years yet), and offers no onboard HDMI or even DVD watching abilities. So, I will give it to my mum who shall be pleased that one her offspring actually remember her, and whenever I go round (once a year at Xmas for four hours so she can give presents to the grand-kids), it will be sitting there on the coffee table, pristine and untouched.

Apple happy, me happy, mum happy, 3000 more starving kids in never-heard-of-it-stan.

And my disconnect from reality shall finally be complete. Thumbs up Apple.

Copyright Franc Kaos.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Flamebait

sadly this is a pretty accurate description of what endgadget has become.

and its not all the fanboys faults either. you can not expect people who have been reading a site for years to idly sit by while the tenor and quality of their site changes and very much for the worse.
and when you add the taunting, flamebait riddled articles and overall ridiculously poor product evaluations by their so-called experts who’s articles have been called out even by some in the fanboy crowds, what else can you expect than this as the outcome?

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Flamebait

…and this is different from techdirt fanbois how exactly?

Currently I am stalked by a troll (he will appear in a few moments, I am sure). He tends to destroy threads and kill discussion. I tolerate it.

While much of what you discuss is Apple related (for Engadget), the reality is that the same thing can be said for almost every discussion area. Call them fanbois, kool aid drinkers, suck ups, syncopates, whatever… it’s the nature of the game. Like minded people glom together and pat each other on the back, telling each other how smart they are.

Communities like that need disruptive outside forces, as Mike says those sorts of posts make him think about his views a little bit and sharpen them. Without that, most discussions would just be back slappers. Not entirely useful, and certainly not intellectually challenging.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Flamebait

Why would anyone bother stalking you TAM? At most your comments are slightly humorous while continuing to be misguided and less than insightful. Really doesn’t seem much worth stalking over.

No one is stalking TAM. He’s only recently figured out the first rule of trolling: turn every argument against you into an argument against everyone else. So, lately, he’s started calling anyone who actually asks him to respond to a direct question “a troll” and claims that others “stalk him” despite his eerie stalking of this site. I find it amusing that he claims his stalker will “appear soon” when his own comments flood this site and “appear soon” on just about every post. But the really funny part? Claiming that it’s his “stalker” who “destroys threads” and that he “tolerates it,” when he knows darn well that it’s he who has a habit of taking threads here way off on tangents and that it’s I who “tolerate” it since I could easily ban him. Of course, it’s not that I “tolerate” it. I’m just fascinated to see the ridiculous lengths that he will go to in his comments. If you only knew his backstory, you would realize that TAM is a really sad case, so we might as well let him have his fun.

So, basically, just take those claims with a grain of salt. It’s just more TAM trolling. Funny stuff, but nowhere near serious.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Flamebait

Sorry Mike, you are not correct.

I don’t answer people who call me “industry shill” or somehow think I am some sort of spokesman for the music or movie industry. I am neither, nor do I work in either industry.


You don’t have to be too smart to see a trend, do you?

Mike, please: expose my back story. you are the guy who claims he doesn’t know how to reach me, yet you know my backstory? PLEASE!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Flamebait

You said: So in the end, we are back to pile of opinion on opinion on opinion pieces with little real science or real numbers to back it up. Congrats!

And then I said: Moreover, the UK estimates are consistent with a 2006 Industry Canada commissioned study on the costs of Internet provider notification schemes. The study concluded that the cost of a single notification was $11.73 for larger Internet providers (more than 100,000 subscribers) and $32.73 for smaller Internet providers. Considering the sheer number of notifications – last summer Bell Canada acknowledged receiving 15,000 notifications each month – the costs quickly run into the millions of dollars.

The disparate impact between big and small Internet providers highlights another hidden cost of three-strikes systems – the negative effect on the competitive landscape for Internet services. The UK estimates that the costs on small Internet providers are so great that consideration should be given to exempting them entirely, since the additional burden would result in decreased competition. The same report identifies the disproportionate harm to wireless carriers, who would face massive capital costs and be placed at a competitive disadvantage.

With a link the Canadian governments findings: http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20100127/0622237940#c245

Then I said: Did you check out those numbers from the Canadian government yet? How about those UK estimates?

Then you said: The Canadian numbers also vary greatly depending on the questions asked.

And I asked where in the Canadian goverments numbers vary greatly?

Then you said: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100202/1839308015.shtml#c524

you can search techdirt and find them yourself. It’s all out there.

have a nice day!

Obvious troll is still obvious.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Flamebait

Then you said: The Canadian numbers also vary greatly depending on the questions asked.

And I asked where in the Canadian goverments numbers vary greatly?

See, there is your problem. I said Canadian numbers, and you added the word government. I wasn’t talking about Canadian government numbers, I was talking about surveys done in Canada or on Canadian users.

The most common one (that Mike often refers to) shows about 20% of users as downloaders, by defining downloaders as “people who have downloaded in the last 30 days”. That is what I mean about when you adjust the question, you get different answers. By moving the parameters, you get different answer. Previous surveys from one the major ISPs (BELL) had them claiming 40% of people running P2P, and other studies had that number as low as 10%.

The UK numbers are the same. One study showed as low as 10%, others much higher. It comes down to the question, the methodology, who was asked, etc.

These are all studies that have been on techdirt in the last couple of years.

So I am sorry, I cannot answer your question because you are asking something I didn’t say. I have no comment on Canadian GOVERNMENT numbers, because I have never talked about them to start with.

I trust this settles the issue for you, and NO, I am not going to go back through techdirt for the last couple of years to find you links for each survey. I am not your research intern, sorry.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Flamebait


I enjoy your posts. You do go straight to Flame mode in alot of cases, and i do not agree with most of what you say, but it’s very entertaining. Instead of waiting for Mike to “Out” your back-story, why don’t you enlighten us with some history. You don’t have to be specific. I think it would be interesting to know what your story is, and why you are so interested in these discussions. Or, you could go straight into flame mode and slam me, either one would be fun reading.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Flamebait

Flame mode is a little in my nature, my father says I don’t suffer fools very well (and I too am sometimes the fool).

My backstory isn’t much to tell, except to say that I am not in the riaa or mpaa or any of their related companies, nor do I produce movies, music, or write books. I am however very interested in space where economics meets legal, and in particular how it intersects with the internet and the various business models being tried. Let’s say that marketing is more or less what I do, and that does involve understanding business models from various industries, to see how they play out.

So far the only slam I have for you is that your name is too short, buy a couple of extra letters, okay?

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Flamebait

Thanks for taking the time to respond TAM, I think I’m starting to get the picture here, and by all means correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you do almost the same thing as Mike (or similar).

If that is indeed the case, your constant disagreements with Mike, and what “appears” to be a flagrant attempt to discredit him at every turn, makes absolute since. If indeed you’re in competition with him, and it “appears” by your backstory that you are to some degree, then you would have a personal interest in seeing him discredited.

If I’m wrong, fine, would’nt be the first time, but that’s what it looks like to me.

Your right, my name is short, but it’s easy to type and remember. I do plan on getting on the email list here, so I will be adding some letters. The blog gods don’t seem to like short names……

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Flamebait

AJ, I have not benefit or loss specifically in seeing Mike succeed or fail, except perhaps that some people will come away from this site with a more open view of the world rather than a more closed one.

When we look at any system (from copyright to the monetary system, from evolution to how the lineups work at the grocery store) you can always find some bad in them. Where I tend to comment against Mike’s views is that he plays the game of looking very closely at one grain of sand on the beach, or pulls back way far and you can’t hardly see the beach. Copyright, trademarks, and all that get abused all the time, but so does the tax system, speed limits, and heck, some people jump the turnstiles to get on the subway. We don’t shut down the subway because of a free people jumping in and not paying, nor do we suddenly make the subway free (even if there is clear public demand for free transport).

So I don’t compete against Mike in any way, I am not trying to be a guru, I haven’t given a panel discussion of any sort in about 8 years (unrelated to anything discussed here, for another business), and Mike’s success or failure won’t change my life directly one iota.

This is a good place to try to shine some light into the dark corners, and I hope that I get a few people to think about their views a little more before committing to them. Then I have succeeded 🙂

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Flamebait

The “big offensive” against you is because you are no longer attempting any sane discussion, and are down to dismissive comments, name calling, and expecting me to act as some sort of spokesman for an industry I am not part of.

Sorry, but your comments for the most part of not on topic, and involve mostly attempting to bait me into a non-relevant discussion, or are a direct attempt to insult me or call me out as a fool.

So I don’t tend to react to them, except to point on when you are doing so (such as you are doing now).

Jason (profile) says:

Misinformation is being spread by Engadget staff regarding the root cause of disabling comments.

While I choose to use a Mac, I’m comfortable using my XP work laptop as well, and like to get a “balanced diet” of gadget news.

Engadget has historically provided both, which I naturally enjoyed. But recently Engadget was posting nothing but dozens of hollow adoring iPad articles for weeks, at the sacrifice of other content, and the few non-iPad articles were littered with pointless references to the iPad or iPhone in some way, with flame bait such as citing (actually quite unjustified) why Windows 7 is a poor operating system for tablets and slates. This caused the “regulars” (even myself) to voice annoyance over the trend.

“Enough already” was the sound of the chorus.

Their “solution” was to insult the readership and create an “iPad” free version of the website, only to kick up the ridiculous iPad over-coverage and adulation, which of course only invoked more poor commentary.

If you could actually see which comments were up and down ranked, the up-ranked comments were quite understandable in their complaints and not “trolls”.

Sean says:

Re: Re:

“But recently Engadget was posting nothing but dozens of hollow adoring iPad articles for weeks…”

You mean in the weeks running up to an Apple event a gadget blog was running more articles about the highly anticipated product from a company that changed the direction of music players, then phones, and now was making a foray into tablets?

Yeah, it sounds pretty god damn standard to do this. Beieve it or not, they may have been running those articles because PEOPLE WANT TO READ THEM and there’s this crazy belief that having readers is better than not having readers.

Bitching about gadget blogs going ‘Pro-Apple’ in the weeks before one of their events is beyond stupid, it shows a complete lack of any common sense or basic understanding of reality and I pity you for being so stupid.


DS says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thanks for pointing out the reason for the comment war..

Yes, you can read them, on the APPLE ORIENTED BLOG that they also run.

And no, not everyone wants to read an article that says NOTHING 8 times a day. But the thing is, to find that one that says something, you have to look at every frakin one.

They’ve also pointed out how to block all Apple stories from the RSS feed, which nobody liked either, because that also blocks LEGITIMATE news regarding Apple.

This, combined with a site update that made a lot of people frustrated, really made a lot of people turn. And we’re angry, because we LIKE the site. If we didn’t LIKE the site, we wouldn’t be angry.

Androidawg says:


Example of high quality blog posts.

Posted by Toolbag1:
Apple sucks. All Apple fanboi’s suck. UR all fags. lol. rofl.

Posted by Nuthugger2:
@Toolbag1 YOU ARE THE FAG!! if u h8 apple so much then get out of here. UR a fag and you suck it!!

Posted by Toolbag1:
@Nuthugger Yo momma suck it. She needed an iPad after last night.

Such wit and insight is overwhelming. No wonder they killed the comments. Their readers are all retarded.

bob says:


The only reason I have ever gone to Engadget’ web site was because I clicked a link that took me there.

Most people have their own skew, what ever the topic is.
That will be reflected in any comment area.

Where I really have problems are the instances where the person is attacked for their views, and the views are not discussed.

Thank god that in High School I had an episcopalian reverend who taught a critical thinking class. It was the most difficult and rewarding class I have ever attended.
His class room had three walls of sliding blackboards, each always covered with text.

Ben (profile) says:

Problems Deeper than commentators

They are suffering a lot of blow back regarding the degarded quality of their coverage and response from the authors of the articles. Unfortunately they went the childish way: took their ball and went home.

Over-hyping the iPad leading up to the announcement, in combination with dozens of pointless articles about the iPad after announcement and including references to Apple products in a lot of the other articles, as well as defending themselves poorly led to a large revolt within the comments.

The issues a lot of people had were their bias in general of Apple and their skew towards overloading their site with one product (something ridiculous like 60 iPad articles in a couple of days). A lot of people were calling them out.

Instead of tackling the issue head on, they mocked/taunted the commentators, and threw up a article asking if people hated Apple news and added a way to filter Apple news. But that was not want many wanted. Most people liked Apple coverage in general, and were not calling out that but mostly the pointless articles about the iPad and perceived bias. After continuing this back and forth, it just exploded in their face.

Let this be a lesson to CwF + RtB = $ implementers. The CwF comes with some caveats (and I know Mike never said otherwise). If you do it incorrectly, you can have the people who build your community turn on you if you’re not interacting with them in a way they like. The reader input is extremely important in building a fanbase with the web today, and it is best not to piss them off too much.

kelly says:

Re: Problems Deeper than commentators

readers have had the option to filter all apple news for a long time (well over a year, more like 2 iirc).

they post it every time apple has a new product release because people that didn’t want apple news, contrary to their expressed self interest, insisted on reading and commenting on said articles complaining about apple news.

don’t like a post? don’t read it. don’t like the attention to apple in general? too many references in other posts? find another source for gadget news. there are many, many other options out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Problems Deeper than commentators

A: People don’t want to filter ALL Apple news… What if Apple created a cure for cancer, the iCure, and was announced exclusively on Engadget? Granted, a rather extreme example, but it does sort of make my point.

B: Because if you wanted REAL news about what the iPad was, you had to filter through an s-load of articles a day to get real information.

C: We like(d) it there. We got angry when things were being taken too far. The only people that complain are the people who care.

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