Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Killing Comments

So what do you think? Once, not long ago it was thought that allowing comments  on a website was a good idea. It would add to the dialog and join the community together bringing together diverse thought and opinion.  And then the trolls showed up.

Trolls are those ugly little creatures who once lived under bridges believing they were all alone.  Before long, however, the troll poked his head out, made a rude noise and discovered that another troll would answer his mating call.  In their anonymity, trolls would swear and call others names.  They would make up names for those with whom they disagree.  They leave the topic, make unfair comparisons and have spewed hate and lies and mistake satiric articles as fact.

Once they were the village idiot, but the world wide web has given them a community.  They don't have to even stir from their bomb shelter or go out in public and remove their tin foil hat.  No, they have discovered a voice that is vile and does not even have to attach a name to that voice.  They can lie.  They can spread rumors.  They are not bringers of new ideas.  They bring hate, and what is more, they seem to reproduce by infection.

The results are a simple one.  While a few websites have chose moderation and warnings to their trolls, some have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with the trolls and village idiots.  Sites are shutting down comment sections or making them less visible if they still have one.  Some do not accept anonymous posts opting for members with verifiable accounts.  Some sites just quietly quit offering a place to post comments.  I noticed it first on Comcast.  I know that Popular Science has shut them off, saying "Comments can be bad for science." They point to the political war on what should be a discussion about discovery and understanding.

So the question is, should we see comments go away because the village idiot has found a new corner to spew stupidity from?  Should Facebook and Twitter require actual verifiable names and sources for those stupid memes that have given my blog so much to work with?  Is the hope, which inspired things like the "Arab Spring" and made a few of the big voices of hate tremble in fear, now gone?

Are the trolls killing the new voices of generations yet to come?