I have noticed that Nola.com has incorporated a blog-type comment system into some of their their online news stories. The system allows anonymous comments by everyday Internet users on the stories posted.
This can’t be good.
Free flowing opinions and immediate reaction to local news not good?
Reactions are fine. But these are anonymous reactions. That is, people can say whatever they want and they don’t have to be responsible for it. Sure, they have a user name but, what’s a user name in this day and age? It’s nothing right? My name’s Varg. Wait, no it isn’t. Actually my name’s Lance Vargas from Old Algiers.
I’d love to hear the opinions of average New Orleanians to the day’s news. but let’s get their full name, their neighborhood and snap a photo of them to run with the story.
Whoa! Suddenly no one wants to talk? Well why the hell not?
Because responsibility and putting an actual person with an idea means they have to stand behind it. Without responsibility, who the hell cares what people are saying? The Nola.com article comments may just end up like Craigslist rants and raves section, a wretched hive where so many posters, armed with blunt and retarded opinions and that precious anonymity can spew their bullshit without any sense of repercussions to themselves and the reader is forced to accept all of the infliction of their useless rhetoric.
Check this story about our 62nd murder of the year. In the comments section, you will find three repeated comments from an obvious friend of the victim written in, well, not the best grammar. This is followed by a fella who plainly states that New Orleans has the highest murder rate in the country (shocking news there). Then someone apologizes to that poster for us having the nation’s highest murder rate and then, yes, yours truly shows up after creating an account in less than two minutes and asks that someone what the hell are they apologizing for.
I’m not sure if there was a moderation process. If there was they are working the late shift for sure. I don’t know who it is working the comments board at 1 a.m. on Jazzfest weekend at Nola.com but I pray they have one and I pray that he or she has at least a two-year degree.
Of course, I could just post some cuss words and asinine shit to find out for sure if the comments are moderated but I’ll leave that to inevitability.
Back to Craigslist for just a second though. All sorts of racist shit gets posted there. Way more offensive shit than I would hear in 10 years living my normal life. Why do so many people embrace their inner bigot on Craigslist? Well, it’s because no one has to be responsible for what they say! They don’t have to see the horrified faces and endure the scrutiny of their friends and neighbors because no one knows it’s them saying it.
I’ll tell you what I have noticed though, the articles that come from Times-Picayune writers do not have comments enabled as much. Those written by other writers, those who have nothing more than a name and no affiliation have comments enabled more often. I have actually seen news stories signed with nothing more than seemingly a user name. Who the hell is rrhoden? The link with his name goes no where. Who is responsible for this story? Who says, “I checked the facts on these words and I swear they hold true”? Someone named rrhoden? WTF?
So this must be the way local media is headed? It’s amazing really. I never had much respect for the effect of bloggers (even after I became one) but it seems that the big guns are coming around to a blogger’s way of thinking rather than the bloggers coming around to theirs. That blows my mind.
I hate that people can anonymously spout off about what’s going on. When we do it among friends we at least have to understand that what we say is a judgment of our character in their eyes. There is a reason why people go to Craigslist to talk racist shit. It’s because they know with anonymity, they won’t be scrutinized and dismissed as the whack job they are.
Some may say this opens the doors up for more honest communication but I say it eliminates all responsibility for one’s actions.