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Wait, somebody actually reads the comments at the bottom of Globe and Herald articles?

Who knew? Doug Bailey, formerly of the Globe, reads them enough to work himself into a lather in print today.

I agree with his basic point: The comments represent the basest form of humanity, from the sort of people who blame Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton (and now, of course, Barack Obama) every time somebody gets mugged in Roxbury.

But you know what, Doug? Your pals at Morrissey Boulevard and Herald Square share the blame.

They haven't set up forums for intelligent discourse on the events of the day. They've set up the digital equivalent of blank sheets of paper taped to the wall above the urinals in men's rooms. Of course people are just going to scribble and rant.

Real community - and the intelligent discussion that goes with it - takes real work. And real community is a two-way street - people react differently when they know somebody is on the other end of the ether. What do you expect is going to happen when people realize there's no there there? Compare the rantings on your typical news story with either MetaFilter or, locally, the BoMoms forums (so somebody at the Globe does get it).

Doug, you end on a weird note, complaining, at great length about an alleged local blog that's become "an authoritative source," even among the Knights of the Keyboard, despite writing "exclusives" based entirely on the comments of anonymous comments on newspaper articles.

Why not name them, Doug? Call them out! Isn't that what good journalism is all about? Exposing wrongdoers and stuff? Why wimp out now?

For the record, no, it's not Universal Hub. I rarely look at the comments on Globe and Herald stories and I've never, to the best of my recollection, talked to Doug Bailey.

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Comments

Is it like a PR thing- you get paid by people to manage spin and so forth?

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Dan - That is exactly what a media consultant is. (I work in PR) And is why I find it so weird that he basically shoot himself in the foot by acting like a total crybaby @sswipe in the Globe!

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All those people blaming Clinton, Kennedy and Obama should be ashamed. I of course blame everything on Bush, Bush, Reagan, Bush and Bush(why not blame Prescott and Jebb while I'm at it) for all of life's problems.

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there is a lot more tangible evidence of Bush Fail.

In any case, why is anybody getting worked up over the ravings of commenters in comment sections? That stuff is raw sewage. The people who hawk their conspiracy theories and knee-jerk "analyses" there are the people who have the time to listen to Rush Dimbulb and Jimmy Severino and internalize the hate and rage.It is much easier to blame their losertude and lack of steady employment on minorities, immigrants, and women than it is to face their own pathetic incompetence and impotence.

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I guess that depends on your values and what you believe in. I guess I could see the Clinton/Obama/Kennedy fail if I were a conservative or republican.

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Except for the fact that Clinton handed Bush a balanced budget after receiving a high deficit (BUT BLOW JOB BLOW JOB BLOW JOB), while the privateering kleptocracy and bathtub drowning crowd gave us the lovely economy we are enjoying today.

But CLINTON GOT A BLOW JOB IS THE SAME AS LOOTING THE ECONOMY UNTIL IT COLLAPSED BLOW JOB in the estimation of many Globe and Herald comment rants.

Oh, and OBAMA is black and BIRTH CERTIFICATE has not had much time in office to turn things around.

There is more than a qualitative difference in the performance of the economy under Clinton and Bush. Judging Obama now is like deciding who gets to the World Series after 20 games.

My dad is a conservative republican who really liked McCain and even canvassed for him in the primaries - he voted for Clinton, Gore and Obama based on conservative economic management issues. Traditional (e.g. not neocon and not wingnut) conservatives don't buy the republican brand when it means FAIL.

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You couldn't be more wrong.

Clinton didn't hand Bush anything.

Clinton and the Republican Congress wrote up a balanced budget and were only able to because of the massive uptick in tax receipts from capital gains on the back of the phony tech-stock bubble.

A liberal crowing about that is as dumb and ignorant as a conservative crowing about the housing bubble as some kind of economic miracle, which they did of course before the crash.

Please get a clue before you cast another shitty round of votes in 2010.

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Thanks for pointing that piece out. It was so.... strange and pointless.

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Bailey's point is basically correct that free-for-all, anonymous commenting (like this one!) at the bottom of a news story devalue the original content itself.

Only the brain-dead would bother reading the comments below stories in the Boston Herald, particularly those following one of Howie Carr's hit pieces juvenile rants columns. How could I have been so brain-dead to read any of those comments, I mutter to myself. I'll never do it again. And it reminds me why I would never ever want to pay for a copy of their paper -- why would I want to be seen with a product in my hand that has such nastiness attached to its name?

The Boston Globe's comments are, on average, only slightly more intelligent, but that's not saying much.

Only the New York Times seems to have high enough percentage of thoughtful comments that they are worth reading -- in that case, you can click through for "Editor's Selections" and "Reader's Recommendations" to get the best ones, instead of wading through the hundreds of mediocre comments.

IMHO, newspapers should either do something like what Adam suggests above, or just get rid of the comments sections on their website. Just say no. Get rid of the useless comments. Let those people rant at some other discussion forum.

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If article comment systems have no system in place to separate the constructive comments from the raw sewage all you will end up with is a big Lord-of-the-Flies comment-laden mess. The recommend/not recommend/editor's selection feature is pretty handy and gives you some sense about what readers find meaningful - besides giving the author of an article an easy platform to receive reader feedback, isn't that the point?

Karen Zgoda
http://www.karenzgoda.org
http://www.fussy-eater.com
http://editmymanuscript.com

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I will never post another comment again - sadly all the facts that I post about Boston's budget and property tax system, charter schools and more (often with links to original source material) have obviously been dismissed for what they are - facts that because they weren't published in the newspaper cease to be facts.

Woe is me (until I find the next article that interests me).

Let's face it there's a pecking order - the Herald stuff - mostly take it with a grain of salt. Globe commentary - maybe a shaker of salt and some occasional nuggets. UH comments - on the whole pretty good - especially regular, registered users. The author assumes we can't think for ourselves - tad of a pompous ass if you ask me.

Personally I think that if the papers are the fourth estate - bloggers, commenters etc. are the fifth estate. You need to do your homework - but the forum has some unique advantages to disseminate information that may otherwise not make it into the press.

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The comments there are terrible, but they are a response to the article. The articles have the tone of "this is the last word" and so the responses are the same tone. There is no discussion and none of the commenters can develop personalities.

It's really a problem with the paper and the way it works. The articles are rarely followed up, there is rarely a series that educates the readers and takes them into both sides of the question. Really the news is too spotty (or diverse and eclectic) to develop in-depth understanding among the readers.

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Herald comments are good because Black Helicopters Are Real?

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At least nobody at the Herald is publicly bitching about his own readers.

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Options to post anonymously are killing intelligent discussion on the Web. This is happening everywhere you look. I realize there are valid reasons why someone may want to post anonymously, esp. if s/he could face some type of retaliation (e.g., pissed off employer).

It happens on UH as well. As a whole, the snarkiest, meanest, and most gratuitous comments come from anons. Don't get me wrong, some anon posts are sharp and insightful, and some non-anon posts are nasty. But for the most part, if someone wants to level a cheap shot, they do so anonymously.

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I think it has to do with the inability to detect sarcasm through text. but there are plenty of Anon's who troll for whatever reason they get off on it; and those who are truly bat shit crazy.

A Posting policy and moderation are what is needed, and frequently works. Also a blogger that engages his friends, critics, and commentators alike.

Some blogs don't have the time, then you have news sites that just filter out the most hateful or venomous laden diatribes. It's their own fault.

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Well what do YOU know, you big doodiehead!!! Anons are teh roxors!!! GO ANONS!!!

And also, neilv is a sexy, sexy man.

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I wonder what's the website he's talking about if it is not this site.

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Because I want to get the inside scoop from the media elite who frequent it on what's *really* going on in this town!

Of course, given how vague he is about it, who knows? It could be a blog in New York or Dubuque or someplace. Doug Bailey's newspaper writing skills must be getting rusty - can you imagine a non-Track Gals column that goes to such lengths to smack somebody without mentioning them?

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Doug, you end on a weird note, complaining, at great length about an alleged local blog that's become "an authoritative source," even among the Knights of the Keyboard, despite writing "exclusives" based entirely on the comments of anonymous comments on newspaper articles.

Im gonna guess he was talking about Bostonist? Its the only other site I can think of that has what could be considered a far reach across the city.

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George Snell notes that to make his case that newspaper comments are unverified and often wrong, Bailey cites two examples that are unverified and quite possibly wrong.

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Yeah, my first thought on reading that column was "Oh, some guy is bitching about anonymous people saying unverifiable things without naming the people or using verifiable events?"

Bailey's column was a great big bucket of FAIL. Random ranting with no goal and no purpose. "You internet meanies just stop it! Yeah, Doug, why don't you go ahead and take your ball and go home?

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His article read like an anon post, which is amusing considering his gripe.

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how does the new york times keep such civil and well-spoken discourse in the comments on their site? A more educated readership? Constant monitoring? The contrast between it and other newspaper web comments is staggering.

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...is to decide why you want to let people comment at all. Then decide how that should fit with the mission and character of the paper.

Nurturing a respectable forum is difficult, but I think that a lot of the big sites -- which should be able to afford clueful people to direct things -- secretly *like* the sheer quantity of activity generated by an imbecilic ranting free-for-all.

Another theory is that some of them hold the Web and their readers in contempt, in a pearls-before-swine sort of way, and don't expect or want to see intelligent dialogue. Self-fulfilling.

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