Tag Archives: comments

Dealing with negative commenters

One of the consequences of the BBC’s redirecting a large swathe of the discussion around its television shows to bloggers writing about them is that instead of the BBC having to manage the comments and discussion around the shows, people like me do. Unlike the BBC, I don’t have a massively evolved comments policy – before I wrote about Outcasts, I’d had a total of 500 comments on my blog in 8 years, most of them from me, replying to the occasional comment from someone random.

Then my blog posts about Outcasts and its cancellation and the Apprentice came and I tripled the number of comments on my blog in a few months. And it wasn’t a problem, as for the most part people were quite  nice – venting mutually in their upset over the Outcasts cancellation or offering an opinion on Lord Sugar’s judgments, mostly ignoring what I’d written, often tacitly thinking or hoping the BBC would read their comment here (no evidence of this as yet) or whatever. Again, no issues.

But now I’ve written about Torchwood, a show that’s upset some people because of a number of (not particularly graphic) scenes of gay sex, arguably slow pacing and a distinct lack of a single dramatic monster-shaped climax each week (I’ll write a defense of the show soon, because I think its better than people are giving it credit for, but want to see it play out first).

But the comments situation has me scratching my head… a significant number of the comments are prefaced with "I’m not a homophobe, but…," a few are straight out "gay sex is wrong my kids can’t watch that" (despite Torchwood being a post-watershed adult-targeted programme). Do I let these comments through? Do I bin them? After all, even if some of these people are narrow-minded (IMHO) conservatives, they have a right to an opinion, don’t they? Then part of me thinks "this is my site, and I can control it all however I like. Bwahahahaha…"

Truth be told, I don’t have enough time to moderate these comments carefully enough, and the nuances of what constitutes hate speech are probably beyond the spare minute or two I have to go back through the comments and delete stuff. But for those uncertain, I’d like Currybet’s rule for news website commenting to apply here. The golden rule: “don’t be a dick.” This is a nice place, for nice people to have reasoned discussion. Follow Mr Bet’s helpful flowchart to check if you are being a dick, in case you’re not sure. A minority of you on the Torchwood posts? You’re definitely being dicks.

The heartening thing in all of this is that there are a number of stalwart defenders of the show and the choices its made calling people out for being narrow-minded et al. Hoorah for you, good people*. You’ve helped me maintain my faith in the Interwebs.

The ease of anonymity and the impersonal nature of website commenting still makes it too easy for people to Troll or vent in unpleasant ways they wouldn’t do in real life. I’m open to suggestions on how to make this harder on here… Facebook comments/true name policy only/non disposable identities only?

* I should flag: I am very happy for people to take any of my opinions and the show (or anything else I write about) to task; that’s why I enable comments. The world is made of differing opinions. But I don’t have time or the emotional energy to deal with people being dicks, so please abide by that rule if you can.

Extra interaction

There’s been some wonderful comments on the blog, between the PageRank upgrade, my increased frequency of blogging, and the inlinks from the BBC. Thanks to everyone for getting involved; from Outcasts fans from Australia and the USA upset about the show cancellation, Apprentice fans in the UK and beyond offering interesting insights on entrepreneurship, to my friends and family getting stuck into the various other discussions that have kicked off. Many thanks.

Thanks to those who’ve got in touch offline too – via Facebook and email. Really interesting and entertaining to be able to flex my brain in different directions like this.

I’ve got a new blogging project in development, which will take some of the more technical content off this blog, which I think would be good for most regular readers.

More on this later…

Trialling Disqus

I’ve been thinking for a while that this blog needed tighter social integration into Facebook etc., and came across Disqus ("discuss") whilst researching commercial spam filters for a client. Am trying it out here – it’ll allow you to comment on posts by logging into your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus account and hopefully diminish barriers to commenting marginally, not to mention make for a slicker, more interactive commenting experience.

Thoughts appreciated.

So far, all I’ve really had opportunity to notice is that the set-up process was fairly seamless and I had to do remarkably little hackery to get it to take the place of the native WordPress commenting engine, and that it syncs into the WordPress DB so even if Disqus someday goes bust (always a worry for Silicon valley start up services) – I’ll still have all the comments here.