Comments Archive

Reporter gets rude emailer in trouble with boss, saves world

There are two ways to respond to crude insults. One way is to remain above them, either ignoring the jerk or responding politely. The other way is to embrace the insult as an excuse to behave like a jerk yourself. Guess which way a reporter for the Wall Street Journal took recently? The screenshot accompanying

What’s a nice girl like you doing in a comment section like this?

I have much respect for every woman who dares to use her real name when posting online. As a comment moderator for several years, I saw just how dangerous that can be. What women can expect online was highlighted recently when women who work at Jezebel, a blog aimed at women, complained publicly that the

9 tips to make comment moderation easier

I’ve written often that comments are useful on news sites, anonymity serves a purpose, and making those things work requires adequate, local moderation. But there’s the hitch: Moderating comments on an active site can be a daunting task. Phillip Smith, whom I follow on Twitter, sent out this today: Volunteered to cover comment mod on

Every mistaken idea about comments, neatly packaged

Rarely have I seen as many wrongheaded statements about news sites and comments rolled into one package as in a recent post by Una Mullally on the Agility. Let’s start here: If we didn’t have editors, news stories would land scatter dash on the page regardless of their importance. In many ways, prurience already drives this.

The unfortunate human element in news sites

You’ve heard, I guess, about the software bots that the Associated Press is using to write thousands of corporate earnings reports? Writerbots have been around awhile — here’s NPR on what was then called StatsMonkey in 2010. And they’re coming on strong lately; see Slate on the LA Times’ quakebot. I’m not too upset by

Anonymous comments and the mythical Facebook fix: Jen Eyer’s TEDx talk

In this video, Jen Eyer makes the case for anonymous comments. I have been a fan of her work with comment moderation for several years; she made MLive’s comment area into what I hoped would be when it grew up. MLive isn’t perfect. But perfection isn’t possible — not even if you “require” real

Journalism ethics: Why we are responsible for the mud-slinging in our comments

If journalists have an ethical duty to protect those who provide content, what does that mean in practical terms? I’ve seen much discussion of a duty of care regarding journalists who, as part of their job, take physical risks or cover events that leave psychological trauma. At the higher levels of journalism, where foreign correspondents

Use the Commenting Rule of Twos to save your sanity

Reporters who are asked to take part in the comments on their online stories sometimes say they’re worried they will do something stupid. And I’ve heard editors express the same fear — about their staff, of course. But in the several years that I worked with reporter comments, there were only a handful of times

Steal this idea: An interactive sports Believe-O-Meter

I can’t take all the credit for the Cleveland Indians’ remarkable late-season playoff run;  I’m sure their players and coaches had a little to do with it. But I’m sure that they were inspired by a desire to boost the team’s rating on The Plain Dealer/ Believe-O-Meter: The story of the meter, in brief: For

The case for online comments

Popular Science shuts off comments on its website; cue the Comment Wars again. I can’t help myself. So: my counterarguments to the comment critics. (The executive summary: The problem with online comments isn’t the commenters. The problem is lazy, cheap, cowardly or clueless site bosses.) People say nasty things in comments People say nasty things