Sunday, December 29, 2013

Various news sites and Internet services try to clean up user comments

Major news and Internet service sites are trying to “clean up” the quality of user comments, according to a story in the Washington Post Saturday by Barbara Ortutay, link here
Facebook may have enjoyed an edge in this area by requiring real names as user-ids.  YouTube has started requiring Google+ accounts and being signed on to make comments, which then show up in the Google+ feed, with the videos often embedded automatically.  This seems to have been working for the past two months or so.  It is true that it makes Google+ an effective way to publish some viewpoints to an already interested audience.
Many customers of shared hosting services find that they do attract enormous amounts of spam comments, which requires bulk moderation.  Blogger already pre-screens comments as likely to be spam, particularly anonymous comments, to the point that they don’t show upon the Blogger’s screen at all; on the other hand, comments made by those signed on with Google accounts are much more likely to pass preliminary screening and wind up in the Blogger’s moderation queue.  
The article notes that some sites, like Popular Science, no longer accept comments at all.
On my older sites (see posting Dec. 26), comments could be made only my sending me emails, which many people did; and practically all of these emails did get published in a separate directory, including those critical of me.
The tone of comments on controversial stories is quite interesting.  Of they are quite blunt, particularly on crime stories or dealing with issues like gun control.  Many Internet visitors do seem concerned with inequality as an existential issue and seem to feel it is an area where personal action matters.  Comments on characters in soap operas (like “Revenge” and “Days of our Lives”) are often interesting to me.   The series of comments last winter on the New York Times about Social Security and the debt ceiling were instructive, as a couple of California law professors explained how the Trust Fund really works.  

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