Comments are thought to be an added value to a newspaper’s siteâ€”providing another reason to read. You come for the article, and stay for the interesting discussion. The only problem is, there is no interesting discussion. Almost never. Not even from the mythical supersmart New York Times readers.
McClear trots out some “Sample comments, notably[sic] only in how uneducated and un-thoughtful they were?[sic]” The sample comment below was made on David Carr’s book excerpt in the NYT Magazine.
if he wasn’t a reporter for the new york times, would we be reading this?
This is uneducated and unthoughtful? This seems to me to be a pretty succinct summation of what a lot of people think about Carr’s story. But McClear’s opinion of the comment sheds some light on what is going on here – she thinks it’s “uneducated and unthoughtful,” so it must be.
(By the way, another sample comment McClear uses later in her post is one on a New York Daily News story that says simply, “W-h-o-r-e.” The irony of a former peep show girl finding fault with that comment is too delicious to pass up! Nothing against peep show girls, some of my best friends…)
What McClear is arguing here, seems to be that what the news industry needs is to further isolate journalists from those nasty readers. Perhaps we could greet our Web site users with a “Letter to Readers” splash page the next time they come to our Web site:
We have been carefully reviewing your article comments over the past several years and, regrettably, we have found them not to be up to our standards. You have frequently expressed yourself poorly, awkwardly, and just downright incomprehensibly. Many times you have said things that, well, we think just should not have been said. As a result, we will discontinue comments on our articles. Now, we know that many of you enjoy posting comments, write us when comments have been temporarily disabled, and read comments on controversial stories, thereby driving up page views, but we believe that, relieved of the distraction of uneducated and unthoughtful opinions, you will find our Web site a much more civil place.
We thank you for your opinions in the past, but from now on, please keep them to yourself.
Whatever happened to, if you don’t like them, don’t read them? Not only that, it’s not unusual to find comments posted by experts or eye witnesses who can add something to the story that may have been missed by the reporter. Look, I think a lot of comments are stupid too, but who am I to judge? I’ll bet a lot of people will think this post is stupid.