Written in Ink

Listening to KCRW's "To the Point" right off the bat, responding to a comment from Matthew Ingram of GigaOm about internet comments having value as a factcheck, Jacob Ward (EiC) of Popular Science says that because he doesn't have Gawker's resources to create Kinja, people can tweet and Facebook their response.

Others participating in the program include Arianna Huffington, who says the trolls have become very ingenious about outsmarting her systems, so she's eliminating anonymity unless there's a question of safety involved, then the person can contact the site "backstage" to get special permission. In response, Ingram points out that often the people most qualified to comment on a subject are reluctant to do so under their real name. Arianna's (simplistic) reply: people making death and rape threats don't do it using their real names.


James Fallows of Atlantic explains why he personally doesn't accept comments and agrees with the old saw that if people don't like what he says, they can create their own blog.

Judith Donath of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society is a fan of internet comments, but says she doesn't have a problem with Fallows choosing not to have them individually. What concerns her are large sites eliminating comments or forcing people to use their real names. One example she uses is that it shouldn't have to become part of a person's real name internet history, visible to future employers and someone's children that they had stayed up all night arguing about a celebrity's haircut.

Something that strikes me as odd, Fallows keeps saying that he doesn't have time to moderate comments, but people are free to email him and he receives "a couple hundred" emails a day, some of which he might republish. I'm not sure how reading all that email takes less time than looking at a comment section and as Matthew Ingram points out, we don't get to see Fallow's emails, so we don't know which opinions he's ignoring or what criteria he uses to decide to which he might (one-way) respond.

During the segment's wrap-up, once again, Fallows goes back to the old standby (paraphrased) that if people have something to say, they should start their own blog because the audience has all the time in the world (apparently, he thinks they have more than him) to read and find dozens of individual blogs rather than a simple line of comments.


"To the Point" from KCRW and syndicated by PRI is embedded below. The discussion of internet comments starts at the eight minute mark and continues to forty-two.


Related: "Comments Can Be Bad for Science"
Related: How to Leak to Gawker Without (Hopefully) Getting Caught


Disclosure: I will not frequent a blog which does not accept or value comments.

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