By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

It’s rough out there

And, unfortunately, I will have to consider turning off comments if things don’t change. I’m not looking for the dialogue on Media Nation to be all that elevated. But insults along the lines of calling people transsexuals (for the record, Media Nation is a transsexual-friendly zone) and “so’s your wife”-type attacks reflect badly not just on the person making them but on the proprietor of this blog.

Some of the best blogs out there don’t allow comments — Talking Points Memo, Altercation, InstaPundit and Andrew Sullivan among them. So I’m really not all that reluctant to go with no comments, and instead to post an occasional e-mail that I think is worthy of putting out there.

I’m sorry to say this right after having been called a “pansy.” Believe me, that had nothing to do with this, except as further evidence of how badly the comments here are deteriorating. (For the record, Media Nation is also a pansy-friendly zone.)

Enough said.

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22 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Are you cleaning out the comments? I haven’t seen any of those when I peruse the comments periodically.

  2. Mitch

    Dan, it seems as though most of the abusive remarks are coming from anonymous posters, or more likely one anonymous poster. Can you restrict comments only to those of us with blogger accounts?

  3. Anonymous

    All you need to get a blogger account is an emai address. You can get a Yahoo or Lycos address and flame away even if “anonymous” is prevented from posting.

  4. Mitch

    Absolutely, but I’m thinking that extra step might put off some trolls. It’s something. I’d rather not see comments go.

  5. Steve

    Huh. I haven’t seen much in the way of attack comments here either. Are you cleaning them out already, Dan? Say it’s not so! I thought this place just attracted a more civil kind of discourse.I find blogs in general (and this blog in particular) a little like usenet newsgroups where one person always starts the thread. It’s workable and interesting to the extent that the blog owner chooses workable and interesting topics.It would be too bad if comments went away here.

  6. mike_b1

    My apologies. I shouldn’t have stooped.

  7. Anonymous

    I think proper comments aids the ethos of blogging, as far as bringing alternative viewpoints to light. I hope the frequent visitors here will at least try to remain civil and on-subject, regardless of the discussion at hand.Anyone who doesn’t attempt to maintain a high level of debate, is, of course, a poofter. =)

  8. sco

    Dan, it would be a real shame if you turned off comments. Sure the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty bad in the comment section of most blogs, but I think it’s the instant user feedback that makes blogs different from, say, TV or newspapers. Sometimes it means putting up with idiots, but I’ve found that those people generally get bored quickly.Besides, now that you’re a professor, can’t you get a grad student to moderate your comments? (joking)

  9. Anonymous

    Say it ain’t so, Dan. This is one of the more intelligent blogs out there and the smart, insightful and sometimes bizarre comments help make it even better. A pansy-friendly zone? Probably tupip and asparagus-friendly, too.;-)

  10. Rick in Duxbury

    I concur with the posts above, Dan. Those who foul their own nexts with rhetorical vandalism may be part of the landscape; I hope not, though. It’s not about left or right. At least for me, it’s about attempting to see why those with whom I disagree feel that way.

  11. Steve

    Ah. Hmm. Now I found the comments. Seems Mike got the word. Let’s hope the offending anonymice do as well.I used to moderate a usenet group, so I know what a thankless task it is. This has the advantage of being Dan’s place, so no one will cry CENSORSHIP, as people do on usenet. The disadvantage is that the community here reflects on Dan, just like Atrios’s reflect on him and LGF reflects on Charles Johnson, whether they want to “own” that or not.

  12. Anonymous

    My take is that the unkind comments are coming from RW types. It’s easy to be a tough guysitting behind a keyboard. Dan, Wolcott has had a couple of invectives thrown his way the last few weeks too, you aren’t the only one!

  13. Anonymous

    [I apologize if this gets posted twice – I think I made a mistake and deleted it the first time.]Dan, I think you should turn off the comments feature. As someone already pointed out, this is your blog, and we come here to read you. Others are free to get their own blogs. I think some of the stuff that gets posted here and the ensuing food fights are a distraction, and it isn’t fair to you. Here’s what I suggest:- Turn off comments.- Get a new email address for readers’ comments, and post it here.- Take your neu email address off of this site so readers won’t fill up that mailbox.- Whenever you get around to it, check your readers’ comments email account and peruse the messages. If and when you find something interesting, post it here.pg

  14. neil

    Re pg–great, Dan’s blog can be just like the Globe ombudsman’s! Surely a model to aspire to. “Here are some examples of mail I have received in the last few weeks…” Not too hot, not too cold, just right. Guaranteed not to offend. Yawn.Turning off comments at this stage is premature. If the blog were rife with nastiness would be one thing, but this is due to a couple of remarks of the Henny Youngman so, how’s your wife and my kids variety. Big deal. Also, if you’re only here to read Dan’s posts (what a nutty idea–I should try that!) and not the comments, I am not sure but I believe it is technically possible not to read the comments. (That’s a joke, hopefully within the bounds of protocol.)

  15. Dan Kennedy

    I’m not going to say exactly what I was looking for, but I will say that I found it in this thread. So I’m optimistic that I can keep comments alive. Let’s hope.

  16. Anonymous

    I was the one who said (civilly, I hope) that I’m here to read Dan, and Usenet is alive and well. I was almost of a mind to stop looking at comments.Dan, I think you made a good call if you were reassured by the (nicely calm) discussion. Something that makes the comments appealing for me is that you participate in them. I remember you posting about being on one side of the Terri Schaivo discussion, then seeing you change your mind over time.

  17. Anonymous

    In a related note, The Herald has closed down it’s forums,and the Projo’s have been rendered useless. The nonsense has to stop. Not that this stuff is criminal,but some of the on-line virus activity is(like this Friday situation). It’s costing everybody money.

  18. Anonymous

    Neil, obviously, I understand that the comments are optional reading, and it takes an act of volition on my part to access them.The thing is, if they are there, I am going to read them. And I assume I’m not alone in that (but I’ve been wrong before). And having read them, I generally wish I hadn’t. Then I go ahead and read them again the next time.I just don’t think a lot of the comments here are anywhere near good enough to wind up closely associated with Dan Kennedy’s work. But if you visit the blog, you’re bound to read them, and go away with them as part of your impression.pg

  19. Al Toid

    Getting ready for the non-anonymous comments. 🙂

  20. Anonymous

    This is dear to me, so I will break my hiatus and post after a few weeks abstinence. It is very clear you attract a very diverse audience here, from left to right, professional to idle, and civil to let’s say less sophisticated. Most posts self-regulate into good exchanges, but I think you don’t step in enough to guide and arbitrate in some heated situations to calm things down. You obviously don’t have the time to step in very often, but just keep an eye. Correcting someone’s behavior in public maybe also have an educating and enlightening effect that could teach them not to revert to such insolence. The scrutiny from your arbitrating might foster more softened attitudes and styles.I got turned off by some discussions lately and some subjects or lack thereof, that it didn’t seem to be worth it to post for a while.But it would be a shame to take away this valuable feature, especially when it is not yet that unmanageable from what I see.The bogs you mentioned without posting are usually self-absorbed soap-box wonks who don’t have time to take others’ pulse. In the case of Sullivan, it is simply cowardice: He can’t take the heat and he doesn’t have the chops to take on public opinion and criticism. He has many many many critics from ALL sides and his message post would be beyond unamangeable; probably painful. So he just cherrypicks the emails. He is irrelevant and an idiot by excellence.If you look rather at the posting volume other more popular blogs and let’s just take KOS for a moment, every subject has 200-300 plus comments.Besides the fact that it is a gauge of popular interest and support for the site, agree or disagree with the subject or the message, it is a huge revenue source that when a blog owner has the courage and smarts to manage it, it can be very lucrative. It exponentially increases the traffic.Do you think Andrew would prefer putting his hand out for money rather than pull all that extra ad money from Blogads and others?? Of course not. But he doesn’t have the courage or strength to do it and face the heat. The reason why he lives in windy Providence is so he can stick his finger in the wind and write accrodingly. Now Time pays for it.Even Time magazine would love to have the extra income stream now that he migrated over there, but he won’t do it.So my vote is for preserving the most freedom with the least restrictions and strings attached.The people who transgress will be known to all in here as the low lives who drag discussions down. I have come to identify a couple of them on here and don’t put too much stock into what they say. I am sure others do the same. We don’t have to like each others views.We don’t have to endorse or smear.We can comment with our emotions and language in check. This would be a good day to start.The last few years have been defined by the heated polarized atmosphere all around. But the people who should be getting the heat are the people in the light, people voted in office and public media persons, NOT common people between them looking to further civil discourse.People are dying just what we want to do , with or without insults and are being censored into asphyxia. Recent Google and China headlines – among thousands other situations across the world- rign a bell?And I hope it stays that way for long.Before I exit, I have to give you your due, Dan, where you stood and took criticism and responded to many directly.Cheers,N.

  21. Anonymous

    NOW are guys convinced he should turn comments off???

  22. Ron Newman

    Please leave comments on. They make this blog into a dialog between you and us, the readers. I’ve been commenting on you for years, and you generally seem to appreciate it…

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