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Which Came First? Trolls or Crappy Content?
It seems like the big pre-SXSW bitchfest this past weekend was around whether anonymous commenters are good or bad, whether they are trolls and whether they are the scum of the earth and should be shot with a nerf gun until they give up who they really are. AOL tech blog Techcrunch switched from using the Y Combinated Disqus comments system over to using Facebook comments. Let me just say this as Allen not as anonymous commenter 2382389A, the move was made to get more traffic to Techcrunch. Period. (nothing wrong with wanting to make money)
Robert Scoble nearly died (I think his caps lock key got jammed too) after reading some post by Steve Cheney. There seems to be two main issues going on within the posts regarding Facebook comments and trolls stories:
- Are anonymous comments bad or good
- Should we be willing to let Facebook control how we use the Internet outside of the walls of Facebook.com (I will save this discussion for another day)
It seems whenever the discussion of “internet commenting trolls” comes up, I always get into an offline discussion about which came first on a blog – shitty content or the trolls? In most cases mice and rats don’t just show up – they come when you put food out there for them. The conversation usually ends up with everyone agreeing that the trolls show up when shitty content is placed out there for them.
There are three types of anonymous commenters from what I can tell:
- those who write comments that should absolutely be deleted and ignored – racist, sexist, etc.
- those who just want to pick a silly fight – for example, when a blogger writes an “apple is great i love steve jobs” posts and the Google fans come out to just cause a silly fight or vice-versa
- those who provide commentary about why the post was clearly wrong or why the post author was wrong in his or her research or conclusion – it is this type that I think will be lost with the Facebook comment change
With regards to the last type of commenter, it’s pretty interesting to watch how different bloggers internalize feedback from anonymous commenters. I’ve noticed that one of the Techcrunch writers has seemingly been trained to believe that there is no way in hell that an anonymous commenter could be right. All you need to do is watch her Twitter stream or her replies on posts where there are a lot of anonymous comments and it’s easy to see the training she’s received. And she’s not alone – there are many others with the same type of response.
Another good example points to the SXSW Zuckerberg interview from a few years ago. It bombed, people commented on Twitter and blogs – most of the people on Twitter weren’t anonymous and yet the interviewer still told everyone to “f-off”. As if there is no way in hell she did a bad job, no way.
The real issue I see is that many bloggers don’t want feedback – there is no freaking way someone commenting on my post can be right. There’s no way my grammar could be crappy – or my research wrong. Imagine if each blogger spent some time looking at their comments and then decided if perhaps I should change how I do research or try a new style. My fear is that a move to Facebook comments will mean more “you are great” and less “here’s why you are wrong” comments.
Feel free to leave an anonymous comment below :)