The new iteration of the 4th estate is represented online with gusto. Outlets such as MSNBC and Scripps insist on traveling at hyper speed with us on the information super highway. They have embedded the social tools and capabilities into their new web sites to allow us to have a voice. We can now weigh in on virtually anything on their websites with our thoughts and words. There is one looming and large problem though.
We have to be babysat. With good reason.
It’s like children who look around and realize that no one is watching and thus decide to do something stupid. I find it amazing that adults view the ability to freely and anonymously comment on any story, as a green light for stupidity and hate. Not realizing a few things:
- It has no value
- You’re weak because you hide behind a computer to make your anonymous comments
- You could be found
That’s not social media. That’s anti-social media. It has zero redeeming qualities. And yet we sit here and question criticize large media outlets for a) Not being transparent b) Not allowing comments and b) Censoring their comments because of 1st amendment rights. And they do the same-To allow anonymous comments or not?
In some cases some media outlets allow everything, some allow nothing, and still others blur the lines on what is acceptable. They prune foul language and spam and yet some things make it through. The bottom line, they can’t just “let it go”. It can’t run itself. People are incapable of behaving.
Here’s your example: You are a media outlet and you post a story about someone dying in a car wreck and through the open commenting system, some of the comments say something like, “He probably deserved it”? or “He was a jerk”.
What do you do?
Your bonus question. The commenter has revealed themselves. Do you allow the comment or not?
It’s an interesting question, and the main difference I can see between blogs and mainstream media websites. The situation is a lot more difficult on mixed media, like media-blogs of the likes of Mashable or Huffington Post.
Is it ok to allow free commenting on news? And what kind of news is a commenting even indicated for? Or is it good for any kind?
I think I would probably implement a system for the community to moderate itself. For example, the Curse network on one of their websites, Wowhead, uses a system where people can vote a comment positive or negative, and when it reaches certain “steps” in negative voting, the comment starts to fade out of visibility and ultimately is hidden (just the commenter’s name is shown), you can still view it clicking a button but it’s removed from the main view, and nothing gets really censored or deleted.
That’s a good system, kinda Wikipedia-like if you will, but probably effective enough.
@Gabriele Anything in moderation is ok, except for comments…? Self policing usually ends up getting pretty messy, I tried in a forum/BBS I created a number of years ago. I say let people comment only if they create a profile-but even that can be gamed, so not sure what is right though appealing to one’s ethics, morals and sensibilities might be a good first step.
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Yes, those sometimes ignorant and blatantly hateful anonymous comments have no redeeming qualities. However, people will always judge and express their opinions no matter what. Taking down offensive material is pretty normal for websites, such as Facebook and Youtube, but when you censor every comment that you may not agree with you are taking the voice away from the people. In this sense anonymity show its worth in sharing thoughts without having the fear of revealing who they are.
I really enjoyed reading this. @marc meyer Good stuff.
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