Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Friday, April 23, 2010

On Comments Section Meanies

If I have one piece of advice to give after years of frequenting the most troll-heavy regions of the ninternet, it's this: Never underestimate the proportion of your readership who are housebound or suffering from serious mental or physical illness. In an absolutely frightening proportion of cases, when you find yourself asking the question "Jeez, does this guy ever leave the house?", the answer would make you weep. In an absolutely frightening proportion of cases, when someone makes a comment like "god, why don't you just get a life/get a girlfriend/get a job?", they are making a suggestion that is roughly as unrealistic as ordering their enemy to sprout wings and fly. Why is the internet such a mean place? Because so many of the people writing on it are in more or less constant pain. Why do people take things so seriously on the internet? Because for so many of them, it is their only source of human contact.

Occasioned by this:

"Last October, The Philadelphia Weekly published an article by a woman who wrote of her inability to function after a car accident (She hadn’t had health insurance). Here was one comment by a woman calling herself Rux P.:

"...Get a spine!! I’ve had breast cancer, a mastectomy and chemo. with minor health coverage and survived it... Get a minnie mouse bandage and go to sleep."

Why is the Internet such a cruel playground?

Yes, Taffy, why was "Rux P" so short-tempered and unsympathetic? Perhaps "Rux P" was just having a bit of a bad day that day, what with the severe breast cancer and all.

I'm not saying that we should cut people unlimited amounts of slack - there are some rather juvenile people out there, plus even people who are really having a bad time sometimes have to be censored or shut down on simple utilitarian grounds if they're causing too much trouble. But in general, it's worth wielding the moderator's hammer with a little bit of sympathy for the fact that you're often dealing with some really very unhappy people, and that it's often better to recognise this and have a bit of common humanity rather than taking the Nurse Ratchet approach to anyone you find difficult to deal with.

I appreciate that many readers will find it strange or even hypocritical to hear such sentiments coming from this source, but I do have to point out that this blog was once a lot more popular than it is now, Crooked Timber is still a very popular blog, as was in its day, and despite the obvious pitfalls and dangers associated with my own dysfunctional personality and style (many of which are the direct result of lack of sleep, awww diddums), none of them ever had anything like the sorts of problems that sites run by the self-appointed gurus of web community moderation are beset with.
19 comments this item posted by the management 4/23/2010 04:45:00 AM

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