from the muted dept
The name of the game is about being cheap and lazy without looking like you're being cheap and lazy, and the justifications being flung about by editorial staffs are equal part absurd and fascinating. Popular Science, for example, declared that on site discussion of news articles is "bad for science." The Verge recently decided to shutter news story comments to help "build relationships." Bloomberg recently killed news comments and insisted it wasn't a big deal because, hey, most people can't be bothered to comment and therefore news comments "don't represent our readership."
Few of these sites seem particularly concerned about the fact that shuttering comments makes it very clear they don't really value truly local community, and lack the willpower to nurture and protect on-site (or in app) participation. Nor do they seem to realize that data has shown that toxic comment sections can often be dramatically improved simply by engaging a little with readers.
The Daily Dot is the latest to put comments "on infinite hiatus," the site proclaiming it's basically giving up after a few of the bigger troll flare ups of the last few years:
This trend is about more than just raw engagement. It’s also about what kind of engagement we want to have. We’re at an interesting point in the history of the Web. In the wake of Gamergate, Celebgate, and the Reddit Meltdown of 2015, both publishers and social networks are grappling with the same fundamental issue: how to foster engagement and dialogue without inadvertently feeding the trolls in the process.The solution: don't let anybody say anything publicly on your actual website. Ingenious! The site continues:
"The general consensus is that we need to detoxify the Web—to make it a cleaner, nicer, safer, and more inclusive place to live and work. Of course, at the Daily Dot, we would like to see a more civil, compassionate Web, but we want to be careful that in the name of fostering civility, we do not inadvertently kill all dissention.The notion that you can somehow bring managed civility to the entire Internet seems like a fool's errand. You can bring civility to your own comment section, but again that takes time, money and effort that it's abundantly clear many websites aren't willing to provide. So instead we get esoteric, disingenuous, incoherent musings on how being too lazy to engage with your own readership will somehow save the broader Internet from the menacing troll hordes. Like other sites, The Daily Dot proclaims that "hey, we're still on social media" before dropping the now all-too-common line about how this is all about improving the conversation:
It’s a different route toward the same goal: to deliver the news to our readers, wherever they may live online, and to keep the conversation moving forward.It's like putting duct tape on the mouths of everybody in town because of two jackasses at the pub, then proudly patting yourself on the back for spearheading an amazing revolution in kindness and communication. Obviously sites are free to insult and ignore on-site communities as they see fit, but it would be a notable improvement if they could do it without the nauseating hyperbolic claims that they're just trying to save the Internet from itself.