We asked trolls to comment on this article but they went silent

Friday, 25 June, 2010

A fascinating dissection of a group of opinionated readers who frequently comment on Boston.com news articles. Many of these so-called “heavy users” post (relatively) anonymously, but were happy to go on the record and discuss their backgrounds, and how they form their views, while happily revealing their identities in the process.

Those willing to talk included people on the left and the right, males and females, people passionate about sports and people passionate about politics and people passionate about passion (the Love Letters crowd). Somewhat surprisingly, many had no problem with my using their real names in the article, though a few offered some understandable reasons why they didn’t want to be identified.

While “Boston Globe Magazine” writer Neil Swidey tried to profile a cross-section of regular commenters, one group steadfastly refused to participate:

But here are the people I didn’t hear back from: the screamers, troublemakers, and trolls (Internet slang for people behind inflammatory posts). Not a single one. The loudest, most aggressive voices grew mum when asked to explain themselves, to engage in an actual discussion. The trolls appear to prize their anonymity more than anyone else.

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Blog comments are a lifestyle choice

Thursday, 9 April, 2009

I’ve never bought into the argument that a blog must offer a commenting facility in order to be considered a blog, it’s something that is down to the author of the blog, and like anything it’s different strokes for different folks:

Some people do better in collaborative, challenging environments. Others prefer to work in peace and solitude. Some writers and directors read reviews of their work, others don’t. There’s likely no rational answer to the question of whether comments on the Internet are a good thing or not.

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I think, therefore I comment, I think…

Wednesday, 18 March, 2009

Armin comes down hard on pointless and abusive comments, and good on him.

Like any person who runs a blog, I enjoy seeing the comment counts rise to 50, 70, 100 and more, but the truth is that no more than a quarter of those comments are worth reading. The main trend in comments is to say “this sucks” or some other alternative mode of pithy, ruthless offense. This stops now. Unless you have a substantiated and thoughtful response to why something, in your mind, “sucks” please do not comment at all. From now on all comments along the lines of “fail,” “this looks like student work,” or “the designer should be fired,” will be deleted at my own discretion without notification or explanation.

I was discussing this with a blog associate in London who felt his problem though was more to do with people not reading posts they are commenting on properly. Well I can tell some stories there. I once wrote about a technical issue I had experienced, and how I had resolved it.

This however was apparently lost on a couple of commenters who suggested a solution to the problem I’d encountered… even though I’d included the exact same solution in the very post!

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Poor design lowers the tone of blogs & forum comments?

Wednesday, 3 December, 2008

Jason Kottke applies the broken windows theory of social behaviour to online environments. Does the design, or appearance, of a blog or discussion forum adversely influence the conduct of commenters or forum members?

Does the aesthetic appearance of a blog affect what’s written by the site’s commenters? My sense is that the establishment of social norms through moderation, both by site owners and by the community itself, has much more of an impact on the behavior of commenters than the visual design of a site but aesthetics does factor in somewhat. Perhaps the poor application of a default MT or WordPress template signals a lack of care or attention on the part of the blog’s owner, leading readers to think they can get away with something. Poorly designed advertising or too many ads littered about a site could result in readers feeling disrespected and less likely to participate civilly or respond to moderation.

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10 ways newspapers can improve comments

Thursday, 31 July, 2008

Ten ways to go about encouraging more meaningful comments left in response to newspaper articles online. Derek Powazek has given the matter quite some thought.

If you think bad comments bug you, they bug the good commenters twice as much. Yes, you should be paying someone on staff to be the Community Manager. In addition, you can also enable the community to help. Give every post a “This is Bad” button. Then give the community manager a private page where they can see the comments with the most bad votes and take appropriate action.For bonus points, give each post a “This is Good” button, too, so they can also tell you about the good ones. Remember that your members are not the enemy: they want to help you keep the place clean, too.

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How to successfully spam blogs

Monday, 3 March, 2008

How to successfully spam blogs (and how to fight back)

Now I know why Superman has comments disabled on his blog (… with apologies to Batman)…

You may have noticed legitimate looking comments on your blog from people with suspect names. Usually the name will be a brand name, service or literally anything that sells. The commenter’s website is obviously related to that business. Why do they bother using special keywords when Google is supposed to not follow those links? Do they know something you don’t? Yup. They know that keywords, even on nofollowed links, matter. I’d provide reference links to SEO blogs explaining this but then they’d know I’m reading and they might shut up.

On the subject of “suspect names” there has been a surge here in comments from “people” with names like Sam01, Sam02, and so on. Needless to say they have very little to contribute to the topic at hand.

I used to appreciate the fact comments could add useful discussion to a post, but now I’m beginning to wonder, as some days the facility seems to be more trouble than it’s worth.

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Links for 20 November 2007

Tuesday, 20 November, 2007

STUPID KRAP: “Based in Sydney, Australia, STUPIDKRAP.COM is an artist-run portal and on-line store, featuring EXCLUSIVE limited-edition high-quality art prints and collectables, by your favorite underground artists.” I also hear an official launch party is on the way in December… +

Marketing Books Online: a few words in favour of print and books:

With book coverage in print and newspaper sales declining, authors and publishers must extend their reach to the Internet if they want to boost book sales and publicity. Furthermore, authors are more involved in marketing their books than in the past as publishers can’t or won’t do enough.

I especially like point one though; “no need to rely on battery power, electricity, or a working Internet connection to read print.” +

A filter for stupidity?: “Even if it isn’t a huge joke, the idea behind StupidFilter – to create a sort of “spam filter for stupidity in comments” – is surely timely. Lord, do we need something to filter out all the stupidity out there.” Does it work in the OFF line world as well?! +

Keep browser lock-out a thing of the past: Be sure your website or blog “works” in as many browsers as possible, not just one…

If you’ve been using the Web since last century you’ll remember that many, many sites back then had a nice and friendly disclaimer saying “You need [insert name of currently popular browser] to view this site. You can download it from [links to a specific browser]”. Even today some sites do this, though that behaviour is less common now than in 1999.

Thankfully the rise in the adoption of web standards put an end to most of this carry on, but bad habits still linger it seems. +

Randomness at Authentic Boredom: as the title suggests, a random selection of designery bits and pieces. I love the talking umbrella! +

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Links for 18 November 2007

Sunday, 18 November, 2007

The Great Specificity Swindle!: great article by Andrew Tetlaw at the Sitepoint blogs which clarifies the cascade in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Myth: Embedded styles take priority over external styles and inline styles take priority over embedded styles.

Sometimes I forget these things… +

webfruits: is a Flickr collection of, if I say so myself, well designed websites compiled by Italian web designer Sonia Anepeta. Another resource for those in search of design inspiration! +

Want More Professional Comments? Just Add Style!: Chris Pearson discusses the comment management solution he uses at Pearsonified.

Without question, getting comments from interested readers is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of blogging. Unfortunately, interacting with people through comments is an asynchronous task, and this oftentimes makes it difficult to follow the ongoing conversation.

This is definitely of value to bloggers who have multiple and lengthly comment conversations to keep tabs on. +

Mormon men strip for the faith: WTF? A risque calander featuring Morman missionaries! So, the missionary always knocks twice, then?! What would Moroni say about this?? That’s it, I’m not opening the door next time Morman “missionaries” come knocking. +

Pagination Gallery: Examples And Good Practices: what is “pagination”?

A mechanism which provides users with additional navigation options for browsing through single parts of the given article. Parts of the article are usually referred to by numbers, hints, arrows as well as “previous” and “next”-buttons.

Why is it important?

Structure and hierarchy reduce complexity and improve readability. The more organized your articles or web-sites are, the easier it is for users to follow your arguments and get the message you are trying to deliver. On the Web this can be done in a variety of ways.

“In a variety of ways” indeed, as the gallery, in usual extensive Smashing Magazine fashion, goes to show! +

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Links for 5 July 2007

Thursday, 5 July, 2007

  • We love our business cards… though some can be a little plain! If you’re looking for some inspiration before ordering some new cards this is the place to go! There are some truly awesome business cards about… (spotted at TheNews.com.au)
  • Focus – Keep Your Focus, Keep Your Sanity: as Mozart said “the shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” I don’t think we were really cut out for “multi-tasking”!
  • Design Federation is a blog and discussion forum that promotes the work of Australian new media designers.
  • Tay at Super Blogging was officially commenter number 100 here since I turned on post commenting with the recent redesign! Who will be number 200 then?
  • Some of my recent posts have been included in a couple of blog carnivals in the last week! Thanks to Anja Merret and Megan Bayliss for featuring me!

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