Sunday, November 29, 2015

Value of a Comment

Erica Westley

Even on the most creditable new sites, I think reader commenters can be a huge distraction to the mass public and occasionally take the attention away from the purpose of the story.  It is almost hard not to notice when someone comments something ridiculous or negative on a news site, that cause great amount of user interaction. Justin Ellis’  “What happened after 7 news sites got rid of reader comments” states how many of well known news sites decided to not give the public the right to comment. This right was not taken away just because of the negativity, but also for the issue these organizations had with monitoring the comments and even some legal issues that arose from various statements.

As the mass public its understandable to be upset that you don’t have the right to share your opinion on news sites, a tradition that has been practiced for years, but something must change. It is neither productive nor informing to the mass public by having unethical and unintelligent comments being made in the readers’ section. How to go about this is actually, in my opinion, quite difficult.

The New York Times’ CommentQ&A a section discusses some of the procedures in order to try and ensure the reader’s comments are as ethical as possible. Although this is a good step to try to take it does not necessarily ensure that you wont get ridiculous comments.  A news organization could try to regulate comments, but this could be tricky due to the fact one could argue biasedness and the lack of authenticity.   Since there are also millions of people on websites throughout the day, it could be very costly and time consuming to hire a team that specifically would be responsible to regulate these comments.

Another idea is to make sure the commenter is known, their name and possibly other information about them to give them more of an identity. I think the anonymous aspect of some commenters give them more courage to comment bolder opinions. Although some people are passionate about what their saying and it can come off as just plain negativity, some commenters write ignorant things just out of pure entertainment. Krystal D’Costa’s “Don’t read the comments! (Why do we read theonline comments when we know they’ll be bad?)” says, “There is also an entertainment factor to watching people make spectacles of themselves as they doggedly support erroneous facts. It gives us a chance to feel superior. The catch is of course we don't know if the person is serious—whether they actually believe what they're saying or are doing it to get an intentional rise from the audience”.

Although it might be irritating for people that simply just want to have a civil and intelligent conversation with other website viewers, I think the best decision that could be made with having reader comment problems is to disable them. At least for a while. The consequence of getting the right to comment taken away, may give time for people to think about what they are writing before they post it for the all the Internet world to see.

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