Tuesday, June 13, 2017

No Comments, Revisited



Comments sections, like discussion groups or social media, lead to depression and trouble.


Early on in the history of the Internet, "discussion groups" became popular with a lot of computer geeks with time to waste.   "Newsgroups" were formed, and quickly after that, the set of "alt" groups became a hangout for computer nerds to discuss topics in forums like alt.startrek or whatnot.   This was back in the 1980's - long before most people were even using dial-up modems to go online.  Today, everyone is on the Internet, either through a computer, laptop, pad or phone.

But not much has changed since those early days.   Early on, we had to deal with SPAM, trolls, flame-wars, and whatnot.   Since then, it is much the same, only worse.   The Internet can be a horrific time bandit and leave you depressed.   Why is this?

To some extent, it has to do with the use of text versus voice or video.   It also has to do with the idea that people feel comfortable hiding behind a keyboard and thus will say things online that they would never dare say in public.  Not only that, it turns out that it is often better if you don't know the opinions of your friends and neighbors about everything, as you are just likely to start arguments with them, if you knew how they really felt about things.

Say, for example, you post a picture of a cute kitten on alt.cute-kittens.  Seems pretty innocuous, right?  How could this possibly be the source of internet controversy?   Well, like clockwork, someone will claim you are not treating the cat properly, or argue that inbreeding purebred cats through kitten mills is harmful for society, and then some PETA jerk will chime in with "animals should not be kept as pets" and so forth.   And then a troll will post something to try to get you to react.   Two people commenting will start a flame-war with each other, each claiming to be more expert on the topic of cute kittens or whatever.

So you sigh, and erase the picture of the cute kitten from alt.cute-kittens and you move on with life.  It just isn't worth it, to interact with people online.

Now today, the "alt" usenet newsgroups are filled with SPAM and no one uses them - few even know they existed, much less how to access them.  We go on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.  People post things on Reddit or make comments on those posts.   People comment on YouTube or on discussion groups.   And much the same things happen as they did in the past.   Flame wars, trolls, arguments, misunderstandings, and whatnot.   Put a video of your cute kitten on YouTube, and within two weeks, the comments will be diverted from cute kittens to whether Illuminati are behind it all - or Russia.

Part of this is the rise of the professional trolls.   And the other part is that the "regulars" on any site like to chase off anyone who isn't them.   And this reflects human nature in the real world - the ladies in the Parcheesi club here on the island love to haze the newcomers, if they don't outright blackball them.   It is a human thing, I guess. 

As a recent study on Reddit showed, a tiny minority of people are responsible for most of the posts and comments - and routinely shout down others.   This makes the experience very narrow-minded and, well, depressing.    If you are not a Trump-supporting, pro-date-rape video gamer, you have no place on that site.   If you want to see a lot of ads disguised as postings, it is the place for you.

Youtube has similar problems.   If you want to preserve your sanity, never read the comments on YouTube.   You will walk away profoundly depressed for a week.   How can people become so angry over cute cat videos?  Yet it is possible.  Cute cats are better in Mother Russia!  Gosh, I wonder who posted that comment?

And that is the reason why I don't have comments enabled on this blog.   Because what would happen is that a few people would comment - a lot - and then there would be flame wars and trolling and outright sarcastic comments and just bullshit.  And I don't have time to referee flame wars, much less get involved in them.

Many readers have taken me to task about this - why can't they comment?   And I would like to allow that, but it is like allowing open-carry of handguns.  It sounds great in theory if you are in a bar and everyone has a handgun on a holster, until you realize that a lot of the people in the bar are drunk and belligerent.   The results are predictable.   Theory is fine, human beings muck it up with reality.

What I tell those who feel the have to comment is, Start your own blog.   Why not?   You might even get paid $10 a day to do it.  In your own blog, you can call me whatever names you want to, or referee fights between people, deal with trolls, or moderate discussions.   I strongly suspect, though, that you may find the "comments" section more hassle than it is worth.

FWIW!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry, Comments have been disabled due to the large amount of SPAM and TROLLING as well as GROOMING comments. Thanks for reading, though.

NOTE: Blogger says below that "only members may comment" - however comments have been disabled and I have no idea how to make someone a "member". Sorry!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.