On comments

// 13 May 2009

Hold onto your hats, I’m going to say something good about the Daily Mail (without disputing its general status as the Daily Male, Daily Fail, etc…)

When I was writing this post about Flight Lieutenant Kirsty Moore joining the Red Arrows, I accidentally* glanced at the comments, and noticed that the Mail has a comments system which lets readers vote comments up or down.

It was interesting to see that all the top comments are positive. One even says:

I’m just waiting for someone to say that she was only hired because of some PC equality & diversity thing…even though putting a less competent pilot in the air with the others could potentially cost lives, no matter what their gender.

And, yes, these comments can be found. If you click through to the ‘worst comments’ section, for example, you can see that Alistair Hillier, of Sandbanks UK came up with this… er… witty one:

Yeah. It’ll be ok going forwards but wait till she has to back it into a hanger.

But the comment has a negative rating of more than 150.

For me anyway, it takes out quite a bit of the bite of these misogynist comments to know that they’ve been relegated to ‘worst comments’. Perhaps not quite as good as the newspaper having a policy of not publishing sexist comments, but given the editorial content perhaps that’s too much to expect anyway.

It’s dependent on the comment community to call shit out – maybe this is an isolated, positive example. But still, interesting. I’m sure one of the benefits is that you can vote comments up or down without having to comment yourself or get involved too much or respond directly to agressive comments.

*It’s usually to be avoided!

Comments From You

Jaime // Posted 14 May 2009 at 12:31 pm

I always wonder if the positive comments are from actual Mail readers or from feminists linked through to comment before the idiots turn up.

I’d like to think I was being overly cynical but the comments on the Susie Orobator article were too depressing.

Ellie // Posted 14 May 2009 at 5:18 pm

I guess its a good idea in a way but if voting for a comment physically moves it then it kind of prevents any dialogue from taking place between commenters.

Anne Onne // Posted 14 May 2009 at 6:39 pm

I wouldn’t lay too much store by this one article though. I occasionally read The Mail’s website to see what bile is out there at the moment (and take the time to mark down nasty comments, naturally!) and a lot of the time ‘top’ comments run along the lines of ‘This is all too PC this country is going down the pan which is why I moved somewhere else’. Ironically, people don’t see the irony of complaining about immigrants and then moving to another country to steal THEIR jobs and use up THEIR resources. Hypocrites.

Comments highly marked are often objectifying, victim blaming and generally what you’d expect from the Mail’s readership. There are good, kind comments there, too, but they tend to be marked down.

Ellie, assuming it’s a free for all to begin with, which it isn’t, because which comments they allow are already heavily moderated. Ask anyone around here how many of their Daily Mail comments got published. I think my grand total is around 1. Maybe. So I wouldn’t be that worried since they are already very selective about which Comments go up, even for a newspaper and supposedly all about sharing ‘different’ viewpoints.

joiningdots // Posted 15 May 2009 at 9:50 am

@Ellie…To be fair, I don’t think you’re going to get much in the way of meaningful dialogue with people who’s first thought on reading such a story is ‘hurhur I can make teh funniez about parking!!’…

Ellie // Posted 15 May 2009 at 2:14 pm

Yes true, I mainly meant with a view to adopting a similar system on the f word and other blogs though.

Anne Onne // Posted 15 May 2009 at 5:40 pm

Hmm… What if it’s like youtube, where ‘unpopular’ comments can be viewed if you wish, but the default setting filters them out? It might go a ways to spare those of us who don’t want to put up with them from the comments, whilst letting anyone who really is curious have a look. It’s hard to say, because every space is different, goes by different rules. Discussion is whatever the host wants it to be, and ‘dissenters’ are given different amounts of latitude at different sites.

Obviously it depends on the blog: I quite like the way different places have different levels of comments. Sometimes it might be fun or instructive to respond to trolls, but there are other times and discussions where a safe, supportive space is required.

Though for most sites, if a comment would be so unpopular as to warrant disappearing via this standard, it probably would have already fallen under the

I’d wish for the F word moderators to have less of a workload because it can’t be easy having to OK all these comments, and there is the odd ‘RAAAAULESBIANMANHATERS!!!!’ comment, so moderation is important. Should they wish to change it, I hope they work out a system that’s a fit for what they want for this space.

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