Skip to content

Bring Back the Comments Section!!

August 22, 2016
 (image via wikimedia)

He’s probably not saying anything nice. (image via wikimedia)

Most news websites don’t have comments sections anymore, and it’s easy to understand why.  People call each other names and curse at each other.  Commenters hurl sexist bigoted racist insults.  Even worse, people brag about making $850 a day working from home.

National Public Radio recently made news by announcing it was removing the comment sections from its website.  For some, it was news that NPR had a website.  NPR’s website is a lot like its radio, except you can add inflection when you read NPR’s articles aloud.  If you read NPR material with a FOX News voice, then you have something that average Americans can listen to.

I can understand NPR closing its comments because everyone on their radio stations speaks in such calm, monotone voices that they don’t know how to handle all the arguing that a comments section brings.  NPR employees don’t know how to handle the raw emotion.  At least, I’ve never heard NPR hosts express emotion.  It must baffle the NPR website moderator to feel the emotion from commenters calling NPR left-wing socialist shills who couldn’t be successful without government funding and public donations.

It’s too bad that it’s so difficult to find a good  comments section on a news website anymore.  In the old days, I could scroll through CNN, FOX News, Associated Press, USA Today, Reuters, and a bunch of other traditional news websites.  The comments were more fun than the stories.  I could be well-informed on the latest current events and up-to-date on on all the new fashionable insults.

Now I have to read Twitter or Facebook for comments, and that’s inconvenient because comments are about scattered topics, and you have to follow the right hashtags.  The comments, though as vulgar and asinine, are more disjointed and disorganized.  If I’m going to read political vitriol, I want it to be organized.

News sites admit they don’t like dealing with the negativity of comments sections anymore.  Maybe it costs too much to hire a moderator to delete all the offensive material.  Then when commenters get deleted or banned, they complain about getting censored, and that causes websites even more headaches.  Maybe it was these trolls who forced news websites to get rid of comment sections, but if that’s true, then they let somebody else’s bad behavior dictate policy.

I’ve deleted comments from my own blog, but I don’t do it often.  Since I usually write about books, I don’t get too much of the controversial stuff.  If I get a “You suck!” comment, I leave it alone.  In fact, I appreciate the “You suck!” comment.   I’ve deleted comments only for extreme profanity.  And one time I deleted a lewd comment some guy made to a female blogger.  At least, I’m pretty sure the blogger was female.  On the internet, you never know for sure.  Anyway, I’m the only guy who’s allowed to make lewd remarks in my comments section.

Closing the comments section shows the reader that the website owner thinks communication should be one-way.  The reader is supposed to take in whatever the website says and like it, no matter what.  If I wanted to read something with no opportunity for immediate response, I’d buy a newspaper.  I gave up newspapers over a decade ago, partially because I couldn’t respond to it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I rarely write comments.  I only leave a comment if I have something to add that hasn’t already been said.  I don’t write comments just to say I agree or disagree, though maybe I should.  But I appreciate the chance to write a comment if I choose to.

Closing the comments means that the political arguing has moved on to other outlets.  All those arguments that are destroying friendships on Facebook?  I blame the news sites.  Arguing in a comments section might have been pointless, but anonymous rants can cleanse the soul.  Now when you rant, you lose friends.  I don’t have many friends, so I don’t talk politics to anymore, but not everybody can as good at conflict avoidance as I am.  It’s a talent.

If there’s been a breakdown of civility on social media and in our personal lives, it’s CNN’s fault.  It’s Fox News’s fault.  It’s Associated Press’s fault.  It’s USA Today’s fault.   All that hostility should have been confined to their comments sections of their websites.  Instead, it’s crept into our personal lives in social media.  For the sake of families and friendships, please… please… please… bring back the comments sections.

*****

If you’re tired of political stuff and negative comments, you’ll probably enjoy my book .

5 Comments
  1. I use my the comment section on my blog (https://winstonscrooge.wordpress.com/) as source material for my next blog post. I have a rather obsessive self identified white supremacist who comments regularly.

  2. I wish people commented on my blog, https://strangelypeculiar.com/, but only one person does regularly. I love reading comments. When I used to take the newspaper, I always read the letters to the editor first. I miss that. Anonymity seems to bring out the worst in people, but there are sometimes real gems among the dreck, and it’s always good to read points of view different from the author’s. Enjoy your blog, btw.

  3. Agree. The amount of rude hurtful comments is surprising. But the networks have fostered it.

  4. They are closing comments sections because the media constantly lies and they couldn’t keep it covered up any longer with comments enabled. There are effective ways to deal with trolls and spam, those are just cover stories. On Aug 21, 2016 7:08 PM, “Dysfunctional Literacy” wrote:

    > dysfunctional literacy posted: ” Most news websites don’t have comments > sections anymore, and it’s easy to understand why. People call each other > names and curse at each other. Commenters hurl sexist bigoted racist > insults. Even worse, people brag about making $850 a day working f” >

  5. It is amazing that people can’t just be adults about their comments but I suppose people get crazy riled up about things easily. Maybe it’s like people with jacked-up trucks or gold chains and bling; they just desperately need attention and want to have a voice. It does make it one-way communication, as you say. In the blogging world, feedback is helpful, whether good or bad, for the most part. I don’t delete comments unless they are profane, either. It’s okay not to agree with me. I don’t agree with Crocs or at home-whitening kits or pre-ground coffee(curse it!), so that’s okay. I have no opinion on Nicholas Sparks, for the record.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: