The Trend Of Killing News Comment Sections Because You 'Just Really Value Conversation' Stupidly Continues

from the mute-button dept

Over the last year, there has been a tidal wave of websites that have decided to close their news comment sections because the companies are no longer willing to invest time and effort into cultivating healthy on-site discussion. While that’s any site’s prerogative, these announcements have all too often been accompanied by amusing, disingenuous claims that the reason these sites are muting their on-site audience is because they’re simply looking to build relationships or just really value conversation. Nothing says “we care about your opinions” like a shiny new muzzle, right?

And judging from this NiemanLab conversation with a lot of the sites that have chosen to shutter comments, most of the websites have no intention of looking back. After all, what’s the use of a local, loyal, on-site community when you can just offload all conversation (and that traffic) to Facebook and Twitter, right? Dan Colarusso, executive editor of Reuters, for example, doesn’t think comments are important because damnit people — Reuters isn’t looking to argue!

“We?re not the kind of news organization that?s about giving our ?take? on something. We?re not looking to start an argument; we?re looking to report the news. We felt that, since so much of the conversation around stories had gravitated toward social, that was the better place for that discourse to happen. We did keep comments on our opinion pieces, because we felt that that is where you are trying to start an argument in the best possible way.”

Except comments aren’t just about having arguments, they’re a legitimate and transparent avenue for readers to publicly correct your errors right below the original article, which is something many of these sites likely grew tired of. Sure, poorly managed comments can devolve into a cesspool of banality, but good commenters almost always offer insights the writer or website may have missed, could have been wrong on, or never even thought of. In short, we want you to comment — we just want you to comment privately so our errors aren’t quite so painfully highlighted. For the sake of conversation, of course.

Last week On The Media was the latest to quietly kill comments on the bottom of its newsletter, informing readers that comments just don’t provide the “kind of dialogue” they wanted:

“We value our listeners above all and are always keen to know what you’re thinking, to hear your questions and concerns, to get feedback on what you like and dislike. So why shut down the comment section? As we hear more from listeners through Facebook and Twitter and directly through our website, we’ve concluded that the comment section just isn’t the best way to have the kind of dialogue we want with our listeners.”

By “kind of dialogue” you mean transparent and public? Over at the last bastion of website interaction known as Twitter, Mike amusingly highlighted the disjointed logic of claiming to value dialogue while dramatically reducing the number of avenues for it, and the website’s response doesn’t really make sense:

Of course “nobody in our writing or editorial staff wants to take the time to cultivate local on-site community” or “we don’t like having our mistakes highlighted publicly right below our articles” don’t make for very good explanations when it’s time to save a little money and axe ye olde comment section. So what we get instead are these vague bloviations about how this is really about an evolution in conversation, and punting the problem to Facebook is really the best thing for everyone. It’s really time for some new, flimsy excuses for why websites can’t be bothered to value local, on-site dialogue, because “we killed a major, on-site avenue of conversation for the sake of conversation” still doesn’t really sound all that convincing.

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Comments on “The Trend Of Killing News Comment Sections Because You 'Just Really Value Conversation' Stupidly Continues”

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120 Comments
Walid Damouny (profile) says:

Re: Wondering out loud

Having comments on a page increases the lurkers on that page and reduces page views along with advertising impressions for the site.

Not having comments on a page will still get those lurkers to visit those pages because they were visiting anyway and would make them click through more pages in a shorter period of time.

Ka Ching!

Anonymous Coward says:

Done correctly, comments can be great. And when you HAVE a space where people can point out errors right there on the page, and there usually aren’t any, that actually can increase your credibility. (And if there are some inaccuracies, you can sometimes use comments to find and correct them – this site has done so, to its credit.)

I guess one reason to force your comments to Facebook and Twitter is that those sites have more users, so you’re hoping that your user’s friends/followers will see their comments and check out your article? But the more likely scenario is that they won’t comment at all.

Paul says:

Re: Re: comments

Of course they don’t want any truth polluting the propaganda. Most of this comment blocking started after Trump was elected. The media could not believe how little influence they had on voters

Right before the election Aol had a strory " Hillary Clinton posed to win big in Pennsylvania. Then I saw the comments. Firt one- "Im from Pennstlvania and all I see are Trump Pence signs. What gives. After the post their were the likes (pro Trump) and dislikes (Pro Hillary). There were 770 pro trump likes and about 330 pro Hillary dislikes. The Media doesn’t want you to see this.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

How stupid do you have to be to think Facebook gives you better feedback?
From a place where people fall for Onion headlines consistently, how do you expect your stories to get anything but fuzzy me-too likes once one of the thought leaders tells everyone they should like it?

Or the twitters where having any sort of debate is crippled by 140 character limitations, plus the random block lists and things that can take away voices who might have something worth adding.

It’s too hard for us to have comments, which means the bosses don’t want to pay anyone to deal with this crap anymore. They don’t think its worthwhile, we shovel out our stories and move onto the next one… people no longer believe in deep conversations on important topics… look at the “debates” and all of the oxygen sucked out of the room talking about some porn star turned brand’s ass portrait breaking the internet.

They fed people vapid junk food content, and are SHOCKED the comments devolved. Or perhaps they are terrified that someone will launch a lawsuit if a comment gives them butthurt.

Facebook isn’t a platform to engage people, its a bunch of analytics pretending to be helpful but tells you fuckall about your actual reach. Stop thinking that likes fucking matter over everything else. Stop thinking that making them use their real names will make them be nicer, its more likely to make them not engage and soon they won’t even bother with your content at all because what you do on FB have ripples that reach far and wide… or do we forget those who made comments on their FB page only to find themselves unemployed because FB stalking people for total awareness is a big thing now.

Magnus says:

Re: Re: Re:

We’re not “heading towards” that, the inception of Homeland Security and the National Security Administration, as well as Patriot Acts I/II/III (etc. etc. etc. there are many more too numerous to call forth by name) and so on, post-9/11, fairly well clinched it. Big Brother turned 17 this year. Terrorists won, after all.

Now, as regards social media, one shouldn’t even deign to go there unless one is capable of handling the privacy settings. Or at the very least, having the sense to set up a dummy profile for the less publicly palatable of one’s own opinions – one that isn’t in the least tied to yourself/your real name, your work/coworkers, or any other people or institutions you are involved with in “real life” that might get their panties in a bunch over what you really think. That’s just basic common-sense. And all the more applicable for employers that have the audacity to demand your social media accounts for their perusal (make another dummy especially just for their appeasement).

sam1am (profile) says:

If I wanted a one way conversation I’d subscribe to a newspaper, if such a thing still exists. Comment sections are one of those unique and great things you get with the internet.

I used to love The Verge and its comments section, but it completely turned upside down when they shut off comments. The site lost its charm and intrigue so I left and haven’t looked back. I am really curious how many others have done the same.

The good news is that if it weren’t for shutting down the comments, I never would have been looking for new sites to follow and I wouldn’t have found Tech Dirt, which very closely aligns with my way of thinking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Those were heavilly moderated comments...[]

…Letters to the editor differ from a comments section in that they are heavily vetted before hand…

My local newspaper requires a phone number with all letters to the editor or they won’t even consider them for publication. They will call you to verify that you are the author of that letter; this also verifies your consent to publish that letter.

But I have never heard of them not publishing a letter that was critical of the paper or of an opinion contrary to the paper’s position.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Those were heavilly moderated comments...[]

“I have never heard of them not publishing a letter that was critical of the paper or of an opinion contrary to the paper’s position.”

It would be a hard thing to detect if they did. Most newspapers get a lot more letters to the editor than they can publish, so most of them never get printed. If a critical letter is omitted because it’s critical, it would be difficult to say that’s the reason rather than just a lack of space.

Glenn says:

Not that I visit a lot of sites, but while I do see at least a few useful comments on the sites I visit, all too many are of the “look at me! look at me!” variety. Really, is highlighting “funniest” comments useful? or just “entertaining” (for someone)?

I don’t use facebook or twitter or any of the other “comment engines” out there, but I also block them where they are used.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Really, is highlighting “funniest” comments useful? or just “entertaining” (for someone)?

Short answer, ‘Yes’. Look at TD’s system:

Funny/Insightful votes get readers to put a little extra effort into their comments (I’m a lazy exception), and can be a signal that an otherwise banal statement contains a subtlety that might be missed by a casual skimming. Spend a couple of weeks visiting on a daily basis, and you know who’s the Class Clown, the Wild-Eyed Anarchist, the Voice of Reason, the Genius, the Orator. Hell, you can even recognize many Anonymous Cowards by their writing styles.

Comments become part of the author’s original post (not just a tacked-on bonus), and the authors interact with commenters. This results in a conversation, rather than a broadcast. Places like TD feel like coffee shops or public houses rather than movie theaters.That’s a community.

_____
– I’m ‘The AC who mentions Kurt Gödel and kitten vivisectionists way too often’.

Thadius Quantioxen IV says:

Re: Re: “TD”

Ok, I’ll be the one to ask… who is “TD”?

You see, I’ve decided read something on the internet, (an electronic “web” of sorts that holds the potential of becoming a veritable “information superhighway”). Unsurprisingly, I almost immediately come across an initialism without an explanation, which obviously is detrimental to comprehending what it is I am reading, because is stops my flow dead in its tracks (so to speak) since I now must attempt to deduce what these two letters mean according to what some asshole somewhere wants them to mean. In other words, not typing two particular words while still typing dozens of other words that surround them is lazy, idiotic, rude, unconscientious, selfish, self serving, elitist (in a certain sense), and stupid. It also, and this is the funny part, makes what you typed incomprehensible to those that read it unless they go out of their way to attempt figuring out what you meant when you chose to save one half of a second while still using many more of those same seconds to type complete words that may actually be easily understood, which is something that those with a career in the written word strive for. A blatantly worthless sort of excercise masquerading as communication between two humans such as this, to me, is priceless.
In summation: Bastardizing a language you wish to communicate in and alienating while also irritating those you wish to communicate with by taking no pride in what you type at them is utter foolishness. It makes you look like a simpleton that is too lazy to care, because you are just that for doing so.

This is one of the many reasons the exchange of actual useful information using the internet was doomed from the moment of its creation- because the lazy dummies will always ruin something with the potential to be good. Thanks, pal.

EDIT: Hey, I just figured out what TD means. Or at least I’m PS I do, AIR? How W you K what IM? Either way YLAI, situations LTO can ofte BCWOTAD, as is to be expected. I’m glad there are Os that feel TWIDAI.

Shootem Badguys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: “TD”

I’m glad you finally figured out the abbreviation to the website you frequent.  That is, if you think TD means TechDirt, then yes, you are right.  I know what you mean because I use reasoning and basic logic to deduce what you mean, unlike posting a triad about how upset I am that someone would use a frequently abbreviated version of the websites domain.

Making up abbreviations to prove your point doesn’t quite prove your point, though.  It just kind of makes you seem bitter about the fact you went on a tangent about not knowing the name of the website lol. (Laugh out loud).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There is yet another reason to remove comments. This reason is the totally idiotic legal responsibility of site owners for on-site comments content.

In the US there is no such legal responsibility. Site operators are fully protected under Section 230 of the CDA.

As a result, site owners either have to pay full-time moderators, or face lawsuits due to “illegal” comments not removed “in time.”

This is simply not true. We don’t have full time moderators (or, really, any moderators). And while we occasionally receive threats, pointing them to Section 230 and telling them to buzz off has always worked to date.

Sean Costello says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

that would be fairly hard, considering that isn’t the reason they remove comments. A fairly convenient excuse.. but in no way the cause. Most of the sites that have shut down their comments are conservative news sites where they have no desire to hear the opinions of their readers. They just want to feed them propaganda and then move on to the next line of bullshit for the day.

Sean Costello says:

Re: are you serious?

MetArtScroll, I’m not sure where you get your “facts” from, but you can’t sue any venue for comments made. In fact, we have this fancy thing called freedom of speech in America, and you can’t see anyone for anything they say, unless it directly slanders another individual. Even still, you can’t sue a venue because someone used that venue to make a slanderous comment, you can only sue the individual that made the comment. Try not to make up your own facts, please.

Magnus says:

Re: Re:

Have you ever heard of a legal disclaimer? I’ve seen scores of them, not surprisingly, also plainly displayed just before the comments sections on websites. Hell, even forums have them. You’re actually even also waving your rights to legal recourse when you register accounts, even also to forums (if you’ve read one TOS, you’ve basically read them all – there’s a legal disclaimer within every one).

Basically just stating that the website, webmaster, site staff, affiliates one and all, etc. are NOT responsible for contents supplied by third-parties, which may or may not, fall within the scope of the law. And that’s enough to cover their backside.

That excuse therefore falls flat on it’s face. Legalities and liability have nothing whatsoever to do with this silencing of the public voice. That is just an excuse.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: It is all about spam

But there does not appear to be any filter out there for spam comments

There are tons of spam filters. Akismet is the most popular, but there are many more. We actually use a combination of a few and run the comments through a string of them. We get somewhere between 500 and 1000 spam comments caught each day and just a small percentage of false positives (and an even smaller number of spam comments getting through). The idea that spam overwhelms sites with comments isn’t true. The filters are pretty good.

TC (profile) says:

Speaking For Myself....

I run a network of small entertainment based websites, and speaking for myself, comments are impossible. Using WordPress and trying to combat the mountains of spam that gets posted was just ridiculous. I was spending two to three hours a day just getting rid of shit that had nothing to do with the posts and comments on the sites.

I didn’t want to get rid of the comments, but when you’re a one person operation that has but a few hundred loyal readers, it’s hard to justify keeping it when 90% of the comments were the generic “I love what you wrote” bullshit just trying to get a free link back to their spam sites, as opposed to a reader or listener making a legit comment.

I see the same thing happening on sites I follow in the entertainment industry also. When Variety and Hollywood Reporter can’t be bothered to clean out spam posts, who else is going to bother either?

When a site is able to find the time to care – IndieWire for one – things are always better. But the volume of comments that are legitimate to the ones that are either spam or trolls is usually so low, at least in my experience, that it’s a wonder anyone still has comment sections or worse yet, bulletin boards where trolling and flaming reigns.

I also have to agree with MetArtScroll – I worry about being held accountable for something stupid, or even libelous, that a commenter might post, even though I have limited control over it. With more and more courts shoving their heads up their asses and allowing people to blame the messenger and not the actual message writer, I don’t want to have to deal with that as well.

Just my two cents…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Speaking For Myself....

Removing comments due to being unable to deal with the flood of spam thanks to low resources is one thing, and though sites are fairly safe from liability for comments posted by visitors, ‘fairly’ safe isn’t ‘totally’, and court isn’t cheap, so that’s understandable as well.

What people are pointing out as ridiculous is the large sites removing their comment sections and then claiming that they are doing so in order to enhance the discussion, which is beyond absurd. It’s like cutting down a forest and claiming you did so to enable people to ‘better appreciate the trees’. In both cases it’s a lie, and a lousy one at that.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Speaking For Myself....

“I didn’t want to get rid of the comments, but when you’re a one person operation that has but a few hundred loyal readers, it’s hard to justify keeping it when 90% of the comments were the generic “I love what you wrote” bullshit just trying to get a free link back to their spam sites, as opposed to a reader or listener making a legit comment.”

There are some excellent plugins for wordpress to help with this. I’m one person running a couple of websites with more than a few hundred readers, and maybe two spam comments a month slip through and require my personal attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Speaking For Myself....

comments are impossible. … I was spending two to three hours a day

This is why many places shut down comments after X days on an article because you can find the spam comments YEARS after the original post was made.

I worry about being held accountable for something stupid, or even libelous,

This is also a trueism. Few of us have the stomach for a legal fight.

My understanding of Google’s newer SEO policies are they give comment-posting sites a higher searchrank so there is an incentive to keep comments.

Ron Don Volante says:

You know, even though I’m of the opinion that a well moderated comment section is better than no comment section, I can’t say I blame news orgs from banning comments if they don’t have the time/money/staffing to moderate them. I used to be a frequent commenter(sp?) at my local paper’s site but after constantly opening up article after article and seeing the top comment as a troll and the comments to that troll be OTHER trolls over and over and over again (and often the same half dozen people) I gave up. Of course the reasons for trolls taking over have been debated endlessly so I won’t go into them here.

From the newspaper’s perspective they can either have their comment section usually descend into a wretched hive of scum and villainy, pay somebody to moderate it (in an era of do more with less especially in journalism), or just do away with it all. Frankly, I’d rather have my newspaper have an extra person on fact checking than working to ban troll after troll that wanders into their comment section.

Violynne (profile) says:

Sure, poorly managed comments can devolve into a cesspool of banality…
Pay someone to moderate a comment section? Think of the profits, damn it!

I sit in the minority who appreciate the removal of comments from news sites. I’m with Reuters: just report the news and tell everyone to shut their damn mouth about it.

I just got sick and tired of “banal” being the primary reason people post. Trying to wade through that shit to find the one or two decent comments isn’t anyone’s definition of “a pleasant experience”.

I will say this is one of the reasons I appreciate Techdirt. The staff just doesn’t report the news, but relates it to different arenas, which is definitely reason to spark a discussion.

You’re never going to get clickbait-headline grabbing news sites to value their own content. The “If it bleeds, it leads” gives zero room for conversation as the primer for pushing the discussion into one direction has already been set.

Man kills self with firework on head? Primer set for “Darwin award for natural selection”.

Black person killed by police? Primer set for race baiting.

“Cat saved by fireman” Primer set for “daaaw, wooky da widdle kiddy”.

In fact, it would be better if sites who want to continue having comments just have a programmer write the scripts to produce them, since they won’t change.

If I recall, didn’t Techdirt once have an article noting how the tone of the first few comments sets the tone for most of them?

That is “social communication”. Thanks, but no thanks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The problem is that when those sites that only report the news see that people go to other sites where they can discuss things, they start talking about Google News stealing their money and other bullshit.

People want to comment on the news. We did have done so since long time ago when reading the newspaper or the news on the TV/radio, and it’s silly not to be able to do so on the internet.

Even if the comments sound banal, or are just “oh, I like this” or even trolls, they are feedback that should be taken into consideration, not only by the news site, but also by the other readers. And there is also the insightful comment that is a jewel of information.

Sometimes you just need to know that you aren’t alone in what you think. That there are other people that think like you, even if they try to silence them.

I think that thanks to being able to know what other people thought on Twitter, or on sites like Techdirt, is what got other people to reject things like ACTA or SOPA more actively.

Beta (profile) says:

Re: Re:

‘I sit in the minority who appreciate the removal of comments from news sites… Trying to wade through that shit to find the one or two decent comments isn’t anyone’s definition of “a pleasant experience”.’

I don’t understand. You’d prefer not to read the comments at all? Then why not… refrain from reading the comments at all? If you prefer to read the article and not the comments, you can do just that regardless of whether there’s a comment section down at the bottom or not.

I understand if you just can’t help but dive into the comment section– really, I do. But wouldn’t it be better to have a browser setting, or a separate page, to remove that temptation while still allowing discussion for those who want it?

Violynne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Many news sites are designed to force users to scroll down a page or two to read the entire article. By the time you get to the bottom, bam, there are the comments, if even a handful are visible.

I will say this, though: some sites have taken a better approach to have their cake and eat it too by hiding comments until a user actively engages to view them.

This is the better solution, but the reality is most sites are just tired of the garbage being posted. It’s easier to clean this up by just preventing a place for the garbage to be thrown.

That’s why I’m in the minority. I’m okay with that. 🙂

Ed (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. You can almost guess what 90% of the comments will be simply by the subject of the article being commented upon. Each site has a handful of the same people who spew garbage and ad hominem like projectile vomit. Wading through comments on sites like Yahoo News is the equivalent of watching some of the worst dregs of reality TV. Good riddance.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Anyone can 'report' the news these days....

Anyone can report the news these days. Once the first article is published, it’s just a copy/paste cycle from the rest of the internet. What keeps sites valuable, and people returning (in my opinion) is the particular spin an author adds [if she bothers to] and the tenor of the comments.

Reddit, Stackoverflow, heck even Slashdot are all about the comments. While a headline or a good story may bring users to a site, it’s the comments that keeps them there.

Personally, I don’t do Facebook. I am more likely to post comments at sites where I can post anonymously, or pseudo-anonymously without registering [ like here on Techdirt 😉 ]. Occasionally I’ll bother to create an account on a site, but that’s typically a comment heavy site like Slashdot.

Sites that don’t allow anonymous posting, or worse ones that require you to use your Facebook or Discus credentials (I really detest forcing you to log in with an account that facilitates cross site tracking.) are like magazines you flip through at the dentists office while waiting for your appointment. If you are bored, you flip through a few pages now and again. There’s no brand affinity or loyalty.

If a website operator can’t be bothered to maintain a comments section he’s saying that he can’t be bothered with maintaining a clientele. That website is telling their readers they just don’t care enough to bother.

It’s like the republican party having told women they belong in the kitchen, latinos they belong back in Mexico, and calling all african-americans stupid, poor, and criminals and yet still then expecting them to vote for the republican presidential candidate. You don’t think it could happen? Then you weren’t paying attention to the 2012 presidential election.

News is cheap to reproduce and your competitor is just a click away. If you don’t care enough about your audience to at least allow comments, then you shouldn’t expect your audience to care about you.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Anyone can 'report' the news these days....

So you are saying, that once one web site publishes an article, it’s impossible for any other site to:

copy/paste that article directly into their website?

write another article based on the same facts exposed by the original article?

something else entirely?

Or do you just like calling things bullshit?

bc (profile) says:

I blame the dumbed down public for this.
From the comments I have read on numerous news sites, it looks to me like there is no intelligent conversation taking place anyway. It’s often a cluster of back biting, snarking, and off topic arguments that would completely derail any intelligent discourse… particularly if the topic is controversial. If I had a publication, I’d close the comment section too. Too many idiots with free time, trolling to make themselves feel impotent… eh, important.
Either get a moderator so we’re not subjected to the angry trolls with a keyboard, or close the comments.

Thrudd (profile) says:

moderating

So far all I have read is – it’s too much work – and – we have to pay someone.

What total unabashed short sighted fully blundered tosh.

I peruse a number of one man shows. .. Er sites and most have two things going for them despite some having absolute dorks clogging their comment sections.

They have content people like, they have an actual fan base that like them
The second is where you get your core team of fan moderators.
They cost nothing but a hello once in a while and the occasional feedback to the comments at large.

People actually like volunteering for stuff they like or care about even if it is just a community of fans with nothing else in common.

shane (profile) says:

Income and Outflow

It’s funny, true, but the issue is quite simply that it costs money to have good moderation, and without it comments sections devolve into filth, especially on heated topics.

Seen it time and time again.

Always impressed, in fact, by moderation at TechDirt. Perhaps you should publish your model? It can also be the result of the target audience I imagine.

Monday (profile) says:

OK. I wanted to read everything again just to be sure. Dropping the comment section, because it might be laborious for many, is also beneficial for DHS, NSA, etc because comments can no longer be made anonymously. You have to have an identity to make comments on Twitter, or Facebook – the two main alleged venues for comments, cited here.
I have stated this before that I am not PC. I think PC is Gay! Nevertheless, I occasionally enjoy making the anonymous comment. Facebook and Twitter doesn’t allow this to happen. If the comment is so offensive, it generally ends with the account’s deletion, eventually meaning or resulting in no harm, no foul; ending any neutrality in the process.

I don’t believe any website is responsible for an individual’s comments, but eliminating a comment section is, as well pointed out, excising your loyal followers from having any kind of discourse… be it constructive, or inflammatory.

Personally, I like a good laugh now and then, and I find what might offend some people, really funny, and I can get beyond those comments and suss out the true dialogue. What I don’t enjoy is when the conversation gets so off topic, it becomes disruptive to the flow of the article’s intention. Most of these types of comments are their own satire.

However, I do believe major sites eliminating the comment section is unproductive, but there’s a deeper reasoning behind the move – eliminating anonymity.

I fully understand the sole proprietor, mom / pop operations etc., getting rid of them because of the time constraint placed upon the web owner. I have noticed, a relatively decent percentage of sites I follow, never had a comment section to begin with. I also follow their Facebook and Twitter pages, and I have had to make my comments to them through DM / PM‘ing them. I resorted to this earlier this week, and was amazed that I received a response – even flattered! Because, if you think about it, it actually required as much if not more, time, to read my comment and make the reply. This sacrifice was made in lieu of having my comment either debated on, or deleted.

Anonymity, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that they are not out to get you. 1984 is a walk in the park compared to today. I’m just saying…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

an extract from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/10/end-online-comments

Comments sections also give the impression that all thoughts are created equal when, well, they’re not. When Popular Science stopped publishing comments, for example, it was because “everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again…scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to ‘debate’”. When will we see the humanity and dignity of women as a fact, rather than an opinion?

A philosophical comment on her comment and Popular Science’s.

If “evolution” is not up for grabs and is “demonstratively” true then the logical conclusion is that we cannot/will not ever see humanity and the dignity of women as a “fact”. The underlying logical consequence, if you take “evolution” as a fact, is that the lessor members of any species are to be thrown to the wolves, so to speak. So, in the case of primates, et al, the females are the property of the dominant males. Since, according to the general view of evolutionist, human beings are primates then it is only appropriate that the females be accorded the status of property.

I posit a simple challenge to all evolutionists to demonstratively prove that transition forms exist today. Not just a possibility but demonstratively provable. Because if you can’t actually quantitatively prove it, then mayhaps, the entire idea is invalid and the logical consequence of following that idea is also invalid and that other ideas are more valid.

It is interesting to note the following. For those who actually investigate the originator of Christianity, Jesus Christ and for his first generation disciples, women were regarded highly and to be honoured no less than any man. In point of fact, the strong were to defend, provide for and protect the weaker members whether women, children or other defenceless members.

I know that there are many who call themselves “Christian” and consider women and children and anyone not like themselves as second class or third class people. These people are not disciples of Jesus Christ. I may hate the actions of people but I don’t hate the people because but for the grace of God, there go I. I am no better than anyone else, I just have the opportunity to be a disciple.

Kalean says:

This is happening elsewhere, too.

Wizards of the Coast is shutting down their forums as well, though they had the kindness to give plenty of advanced notice so that the massive userbase could migrate outward.

This isn’t a journalism company, but the excuses given are similar. At least that catchphrase ‘we really value conversation’ isn’t being thrown out.

But we all know the real reason for each. “We don’t want to pay moderators and support staff any longer”.

Anonymous Coward says:

If I were to create a new news site or blog these days, I wouldn’t place a comments section to begin with. The reason being is I’d want nothing to do with policing the thing from all the spammers, trolls, and misogynists that flock to such forums.

If you do stand on one foot and squint in the proper way, the “wanting to facilitate conversation” explanations do actually work. First of all, traditional news generally is all one way, journalist to public. Second, if you’re trying to facilitate that in an efficient means, you don’t want to clutter that dissemination with noise (comments). Third, online forums have become cliche with the amount of rancor, backstabbing, hate spewing, spam, trolls, and other comments that do not facilitate responsible debates. Editorial staffs are rightfully fed up and throwing their hands up in disgust. Jettison the whole thing because there’s no fix to the situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I beg to disagree.

It’s not that such people flock to online forums or comments sections.

It’s that when people argue or discuss things, they do it that way. Check out a discussion IRL next time. Or next 10 times.

Trolling, hate spewing, rancor, backstabbing, misogynism, insults… aren’t something that the internet brought magically, as many people claim. They were already included with the human nature since ancient times.

What the internet did was to allow people to speak without such limiters, like a truth serum. The internet just brought up the real nature of Humanity; on the internet, we are less hypocrites than IRL.

And the fact that we are some rude, uneducated bastards that don’t know how to hold a discussion without insulting or disrespecting the other part.

If you want to know how someone really thinks, check out how he argues on the internet and his thoughts. And even then, it doesn’t work with all the people nor in all circumsntances.

So yeah, if you want to hold more educated arguments on the internet; the solution isn’t closing it, but giving people a proper education, for starters.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree with you fully. Comment sections are generally packed with all the things a news organization doesn’t want particularly spammers and racist / sexist people looking to get a rise out of people.

Most organizations aren’t willing to hire a half a dozen people to act as moderators full time. A comment section that is updated only once a day is almost meaningless (no real ability to have a discussion) so if you want to do it right, then you have to do it near about real time. Delaying a comment even 24 hours generally ends the discussion as people move on – and reflects one of the more amusing ways that Techdirt deals with people they don’t desire to comment on their site.

I would also say that using Facebook or Twitter is a much better idea for many of them. It’s classic Web 3.0 mentality, shift the responsibility to someone else and enjoy the majority of the benefits. Facebook comment sections on sites are a great idea, it generally requires people to use their real names and associate themselves with their comments, this makes the comments mostly self policing.

In the end, the idea of “starting a discussion” may not appeal to everyone. Not every site and every page has to be interactive. Not everything has to become a grand social experiment in shared thinking, it can just be news and information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The problem isn’t what they do with their own sites.

But then, if people go away from those sites that don’t let them comment to sites where they can comment, they are the first ones to complain and start talking about real journalism and about other excuses.

That’s when they don’t request a Google Tax (that doesn’t even tax Google) because, you know, linking to their sites and then commenting the news on another site is copyright infringement (you know, you are linking to their sites, visits go to them and that).

The purpose of those taxes isn’t copyright or whatever, but to take away competition from them by generating legal insecurity over the sites.

And also, using Twitter is neat, yeah. Or Disqus. Mainly because it doesn’t require you to use your real name (in case you didn’t notice). Facebook is a bit different and even then are having issues with their real name policy and some people (like LGBT).

Btw, regarding self policing, you are missing a point.

People always think about “self policing” and they think of people being less rude, no trolls, no harassment, and taking responsibility for their own comments or actions.

That, of course, won’t protect you from snarky comments, sarcasm and other ways of making your life a pain in the rear without actually breaking any laws. There are plenty of ways of being a polite jerk. And you don’t have to seem a jerk to make someone’s life miserable.

Now you see, you’re missing a small detail: nowadays you face consequences from comments that shouldn’t have consequences.

It’s widely known that when you go to a job interview, the prospective employer does a pair of searches related to your name to see what they can scoop. That’s when they don’t ask for your FB password (is illegal, or it should be).

Now, you see, let’s say that you have religious, political or sexual views that don’t go along with the views of your prospective employer. Let’s say you’re gay, or that you belong to a different religion (or to none at all), or that maybe you’re left wing oriented and your company is a conservative one. Or that you are an advocate for workers’ rights, something that companies tend to dislike a lot.

I’m not sure if you remember the part about discrimination in Human Rights, but google it. And yeah, it’s illegal to discriminate based on what I’ve posted above.

Yeah, if you have to post using your name it means that you can be discriminated either by:

– Not being able to exercise your freedom of speech by having to self censor your political, religious, sexual or other views to adjust them to a majority.
– Facing consequences for having expressed yourself freely, even if it shouldn’t have any.

So yeah, your “self policing” in many cases means “censorship”, because you aren’t free to express your views without facing consequences that you shouldn’t face and that are no-one’s business.

And what I say about a job it could apply to a lot of things in your life, not only to a prospective job search. Views that are contrary to the government’s can get you flagged or profiled at least, and maybe even investigated, depending on the country.

So yeah, while you take away trolls, rudeness and other stuff, by requiring the use of real names, you also take away speech from the people.

One of the greatest things of the internet, and specially, of anonymity is that it gave us more freedom without, as you say, having to take responsibility.

Apart from what I mentioned above, not facing the consequences of your actions means that you won’t threatened for them either.

You see, you make a comment that someone doesn’t like: it was a polite one, properly reasoned and that, but some guy didn’t like what you said. Now he goes, he gets your name and starts sending you threatening calls or emails (anonymizing himself). Or he starts threatening your family.

Political dissidents often face such things (they express their opinions using their name), usually from government sponsored sources, and that happens even in “democratic” countries. That, of course, when a death squad doesn’t go to their homes and kills them or threatens their family. Or just beats them up.

You know, I prefer the (not so) anonymous internet. At least I know what people really think, without them having to hide behind a facade of falsehood. And I (when I say “I” I mean my persona, me, not a nick) won’t get insulted or threatened for expressing my opinions.

Trolls, racism, insults… I don’t like them, but I’ve learned to ignore them. They are bad, but not bad enough so that I would sacrifice my freedom of speech because someone is insulting my nick.

It’s like with encryption. Criminals will take measures not to get caught whether you put backdoors or make them illegal or not.

Widely spread encryption makes you safer from their efforts to mess with you, because they don’t know who you are and who to target.

It’s the same with anonymity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good,

I’m hoping that most of these forums end up getting back-ended to a distributed torrent style system.

There WERE really good features of the usenet. The problem was that backend administration was extremely expensive, which is why it is all but dead now.

Backending web forums to a torrent style database, perhaps with bitcoin style blockchain for the posts and usenet style moderation would allow web sites to run forums cheaply, externalize content liability, ensure anonymity, and confound censorship.

The real challenge of the port, is in writing a DBI type hook that will integrate easily with most CMS’s. I don’t have time for it, but hopefully somebody will do it, if it isn’t already out there.

William Martin says:

Comments to news articles

Comment sections are being banned because news agency’s are acting like Pravda before the wall came down (the wall to keep people in, not the one to keep undesirables out).
It was very enlightening how intelligently and varied many of the opinions are expressed in the comments sections. Differing view points may sway opinion and improve our overall grasp of current situations. “They” must have been worried that their political or moral slant was being undermined by those opinions considered undesirable.

It must be that the propaganda Czars want only their opinions to be viewed and not the common or uncommon citizenry. Especially opinions opposed to crooked thinking news reporting.
My Dear friend is from a formerly communist Eastern European nation. She said that all the people knew that the news articles, reports, and editors opinions were falsehoods.
The people are not stupid. The people are quite well informed even at the lowest levels in a society where news is censored. This is because when news is censored the people begin to spread the truth.
All these calls for ending comments will someday backfire and the citizens of the world will be informed of truth and will stand against this oppression.
The oppressors will be destroyed by their meddling.

Sortinghat (profile) says:

Throttle opening up

The big corporations since the Bush era have really gone full open with the global agenda throttle and are really pushing it mostly suckering in the smart phone people with micro payments and flashy stuff.

It’s not just the comments section but in the PC market (or whatever is left of it anyways) you can’t own any software anymore and everything is monthly subscriptions using the (phone model) of micro payments including business software not just stupid video games.

We have all downgraded back to Windows 7 and XP offline in the living room and it is a world of difference in what legacy software you can use and editing abilities especially if you have the older Creative X-Fi card that comes with free stuff!

Windows 8 and 10 is very hard if not impossible to do movie edits as a lot of things were discontinued or removed but on 7 and XP it isn’t hard to find the right software to do things you need to do.

Nobody wants an operating system just for an operating system they want it for the software. Apps are not replacements for installing and owning your software you bought and paid for giving you the right to keep it forever on your PC or however many they allow at at time.

Matt (user link) says:

News sites nixing comments

This is about the fact that the major news networks have been allowed to canabilize one another and monopolies allowed to flourish – all allowed like our telecom industry to be bought by foreign nationals – especially Israelis- or American dual nationals and Zionists. Add to that that the news media has been proven beyond a doubt to be 100% treasonously complicit and essential to the 9/11 attacks and on going false flag attacks which incontrivertible evidence proves was a Mossad run op in conjunction with treasonous neo cons and project for a new America dual citizenship Israelis allowed by some unfathomable depth of corruption to actually hold some of the highest and most sensitive senior posts dealing with national security – making it easy for them to be in position to order the release of some 200 plus Mossad agents arrested on September 11th posing as “Art Students”. Many with explosives and taped taping the towers blowing up while dancing and high-fiving each other atop an explosives filled van with a logo mural of an airliner exploding into one of the Twin Towers. Another group actually taped & shot themselves working on one of the topmost floors of tower 1 and filling it wall to wall with boxes of detonator caps made for mini nukes by a company owned by Haliburton and traced to Cheney. These detonating caps are for mini nukes exclusively. They were allowed to use it free till the day before the attacks by its new owner- Larry Silverstien, a Zionist who bought the Towers just weeks before the attacks in a Port Authority asbestos condemned building crazy sale- for 3 dollars – ensuring them for 3 billion specifically against a terrorist attack using airliners. Something insurance companies almost never allow. Yet all these agents were released by their fellow Israeli Zionists in our government and all News reports by the Zionist owned media ignored those reports and focused immediately on Israel’s enemies who could never have mounted such an attack in the first place- period. Now these same treasonous news media are busy completely skewing US election poll results and misreporting or under reporting candidates that are more populist or beating those they’ve paid for and own in both parties – that is when they allow them any coverage whatsoever. Since they are all also owned by the .01% of the worlds population that even the corrupt Major National News Media actually ADMITTED will own 99% of the worlds wealth and resources in 2016- whilst the rest of us billions and billions of 99% of the population ALL SPLIT BETWEEN US THE LEFT OVER 1% of wealth they’ve not yet figured out how to steal from us slaves yet. But that one time report on this was the only time it will be reported on by these propaganda arm kingmakers of the .01%… So – comments sections that will allow the 99% to post their outrage and the truth and see our own numbers and stregnth? Hahaha! Don’t hold your breath, my fellow 99%r’s! It’s time to take back our country and government. We should start with the treasonous major news media. Remember- they are literally nothing. We are the 99% (Mossad & Rothschild .01%), DONT TREAD ON US

Sortinghat (profile) says:

Re: News sites nixing comments

Break it up will you? Nobody can read one big wall of text. It’s better to seperate your comments into multiple parts so it will be easier to read.

Most people on here are smartphone idiots which on such a small screen you see only a few sentences at a time to begin with.

I shudder to think when watches will go online and the text format gets EVEN SMALLER!

Aniya jackson says:

People need to stop that negativity because thats how we end up in tragedy I am 10 yrs old and if u donot umnderstand loo up a movie called deathof a las vegas showgirl and murderurs rapist assulter sexual assuter if u are looking at this I want u to know that whatever u have done to someone the police are eventually gonna catch u u will not winn god will punish u and everyone who has suffered from tham from the bottom of my heart im so sorry

Anonymous Coward says:

I choose to comment anonymously and when I submitted the word “test” you people listed me as “anonymous coward.” Typical listing that encourages public input. News organizations have known for some time they are losing money so their ploy is let em comment until other social websites are created that we have a financial stake in then cut off the comments so the social sites with ad dollars take up the financial slack. This is nothing more than censorship cloaked in…well we media dont have to tell the truth now do we. Media have shown their inability to report the and now creat it as nothing more than old yelliw journalism.

Sortinghat (profile) says:

Society gone down the pan

People are a lot more aggressive then they were in the 90s and to be honest there was some scary shit going on in the 90s too with lone bombers killing people and foiled plots of worse things.

Today’s society is all built into a protective bubble of the liberal agenda *which I think is paid by the extreme right to make progression look bad* and as a result we have people who have branded themselves.

America is a branded nation where people will scream their favorite thing is better then yours. Coke and Pepsi are owned by the same rich elite but they want you to fight to the death about which brand is better.

Now a day’s everyone is in their own niche and separated.

Yes we are more diverse then ever Obama and I hope you like it! So diverse nobody can agree on anything so nothing gets done!

Oh Boy I love diversity!

Sortinghat (profile) says:

Most sites just wind up either having trolls or paid shills where two or three people BS each other all the way down the page preventing other commenters from getting any words in edge wise.

Then 1 OF the 3 BS people will say “Look I’ve had enough with your false accusations and will not say this again I am thru!” then the next day he is back doing it some more!

Sortinghat (profile) says:

The socialist revolution in Egypt during the first half of the Obama era helped made this shit happen. The US and other western governments got paranoid because it was organized by smartphones so they think “If it can happen there it can happen here!” but in their minds it’s the right wing people who believe in God and go to church that will do the uprising.

So now chances are if you got to any news source they don’t like your computer or device may slow down as spyware is being loaded in. Not third party spyware. GOVERNMENT spyware.

Notice lately on a lot of sites that you have to type really slow or you miss letters/spaces? Here it’s normal speed but many sites I can only do one letter at a time or it skips over.

Sortinghat (profile) says:

Tried of political bullshit

People are tired of political BS being spewed and are calling out on it plus paid trolls that causes two people to cuss or argue with each other over the same stupid thing usually the wrong thing over and over and over and……..

It’s a hassle now to even have a comment sections. Until there is limits on how you advertise and we have a separate internet for phones and desktops it’s just going to get worse not better.

People close their ears at anything requiring physical labor on improving our network. Too bad as that’s what it takes.

Anon says:

Anonymous comment MATTERS

It just pisses me off so much when people shutting down comment on their websites say “oh, you can comment on Facebook or Twitter”. It is NOT the same! First of all, “commenting” on Facebook or Twitter vastly privileges social media power users over regular people. If you’re a famous person, your comments on an article will spur a public debate, if you’re a regular person, your comments will be no more effective than kvetching to your BFF on the phone would be. Second of all, it privileges people who are in the mainstream…yeah, a lot of people mark their comments as anonymous so they can be jerks, but a lot of people also do it so they can tell the truth about their lives. Should someone whose boss checks their Facebook account be forced to use it to comment on an article about workplace relations? Should a woman be forced to out herself publicly as a rape victim to use her traumatic story to make a comment about sexism? Should someone be forced to reveal to everyone that they have, say, bipolar disorder, if they want to point out that a writer is unfairly scapegoating “mentally ill” people for mass murders? This is BULLSHIT.

Edith Aint says:

Needless to say....

Good thing this site allows comments! Although mostly a “liberal” problem, censorship is becoming more and more common for both sides of the political aisle. As if the party dichotomy ain’t just a scam to trick different people into supporting the same police state by wording the same laws in different ways to appeal to individual neurolinguistic programming for our psychological phenotypes….But I digress.

Running a Google search for the phrase “comments disabled on news websites” in the year 2018, the most recent relevant articles are from 2015. Anything more recent than 2015 completely omits either the “news” or “disabled” part, at least on the all-important first page of search results, displaying only “how to disable comments on Facebook” over and over again. Like Google is censoring discussion about censorship.

Kyle (profile) says:

Re: Needless to say....

Not sure if my comments will ever see the light of day on here either but Google for years went with Watson AI. The kind that lost without feedback.

Look up Watson AI vs Jeopardy the one that’s an hour long due to Q and A at the end. Google and other companies bought these robots. Watson kept getting skunked by the world champions until it could receive feedback from other players to improve it’s answers.

Kyle (profile) says:

Alt news sites

Funny that alt news sites for the most part still allow comments and most of them are not spam until you get about half way down. Then you finally get to the people hashing it out. I call them keyboard warriors. The left wing sites are fast on the hammer. Fox has a weird system of randomly removing comments from select articles and Reddit Google only shows archived threads. Reddit now all you get are spammy replies from people.

WW3 is going to be done digitally no need for nukes or even the threat of a high altitude EMP. No it’s going to be online and controlled at the top. The right have the radio and the left have the web. Always been that way but more so with the rise of phones and the decline of geeks running the show.

This will lead people to want……..no I mean DEMAND a world order to fix things.

Kyle (profile) says:

Alt news sites

In fact the Watson Google uses does NOT allow feedback hence why Google is now just a digital yellow pages. I am not sure how much hand Google plays in censorship or if it’s simply what the AI believes people want.

If enough people click on a certain thing the Google AI (Watson) assumes you want it when you type the keyword in. So if a lot click on Snopes even hitting the back arrow after not liking it still counts as unique traffic hits.

The AI assumes everyone must want Snopes.com when searching for this thing so puts Snopes at the top of the list each time. That’s also why Tom’s Hardware always shows up even though Tom isn’t really that helpful. Most of the replies are like “Ummmmmm did you try compatible settings?” Even if the OP says they did in and more in their post.

People do not seem to read these days.

Jules says:

Journalists are getting dumber

I think the problem is that because there is less money in being a journalist nowadays the news is being written by dumber and dumber people every day since the best and brightest tend to go the highest paid positions. I am a student at Columbia Law School and recently met a student at Columbia’s journalism school who told me she really wanted to go to law school but did so poorly on the LSAT that it wasn’t an option to go to any law school at all. The LSAT is essentially an IQ test and Columbia’s journalism school is supposed to be the best in the country. What does this say about journalism today?

I think the effect of this is that an increasing number of people are able to understand the subject of a news article on a deeper level than the author and when some of those people then point out the author’s flaws in the comment section, the author violently reacts (perhaps in an almost simian-like manner) and tells their boss they can’t work under these conditions. Some of these bosses (only slightly less dumb themselves) then agree to delete the comment sections to placate their employees.

MatthewDE67 says:

Terrible Authors

There is so much OPINION out there masquerading as ‘real’ or even as ‘news’ and the people writing these articles are afraid to be proven wrong or worse, incompetent. So rather than have facts get in the way of contradicting their wonderful, poorly thought out/produced piece, instead they remove the comment section so things like fact checking or maybe pointing out how the author may have misinterpreted or misrepresented something can no longer be presented to contradict or enhance whatever garbage they have written.

While comment board abuse and verbal fights are something that is a real problem at times, removing it all together just makes sure that nobody can voice their concerns over what might be very terrible and/or wrong information being provided. It’s just creating more echo chambers for these hacks to hide behind and post whatever they like without the possibility of someone pointing out how wrong they may be. It’s pathetic.

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