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Editorial: Why some people hate comments (and why we don't)

By dpreview staff on Aug 26, 2013 at 09:04 GMT

Barnaby Britton - Editor: dpreview.com

Mat Honan of Wired.com thinks the time has come to banish comments sections from web pages. Writing for Wired.com's Gadget Lab blog, Honan describes the 'collective delusion' among online publishers that comments are a necessary component of web content. Honan characterizes active comments moderation as 'a messy, frustrating and typically thankless affair that involves more time than most people have'.

I sympathize with this point of view. We've only allowed commenting on our content relatively recently, and in the case of full reviews, only in the past few weeks. And at first we had a tough time keeping up with the unwelcome comments - mostly spam - that appeared at the bottom of our articles. I don't know exactly where they come from, but there do seem to be armies of people in the world who are employed to sign up to sites like ours and post commercial spam in the comments until they either get bored or get banned. Nice work if you can get it, I imagine. 

DPReview admins can still see the spam, but you can't. How do we do it? Well that would be telling, but if you think that story is neat, check out this amazing deal two weeks ago my husband won $1 million...

And then of course there are the trolls. Anyone who comes to dpreview.com regularly and looks at the comments or reads our forums knows what I mean. The users that occasionally derail conversations with raving accusations of brand bias, attack other people for not knowing as much as they do, or criticize our content for not being good enough, fast enough (or long enough or strong enough, or the wrong color, etc.). 

Honan calls this 'digital graffiti on online real estate', and certainly, cleaning it up takes a degree of effort. I certainly don't agree with Digg CEO Andrew McLaughlin though, when he says that 'everyone who runs a commenting system ends up killing themselves or shooting up a post office', although I do have a few more gray hairs these days than I used to. 

All of us on the editorial team at DPReview have to reply to comments that most people would consider overly critical, offensive and sometimes very personal, but I wouldn't describe their authors universally as 'parasitic trolls'. Why not? Because pretty often, if a comment from one of our users gets me riled and I reply, more often than not they'll respond, apologizing for being hot-headed and thanking me for engaging with them. It doesn't happen every time, but surprisingly often, nonetheless. It's easy to cross the line when you're not sitting across a table from someone, and we've all done it. 

What I've learned about commenting, either by email, private message, public comments or forum posts, is that most people are pretty reasonable most of the time. And of the comments on dpreview articles, I'd characterize the majority of the discussions as pertinent and on the whole, constructive. There's always some mud-slinging of course, but that's where active moderation comes in.

Of course it's very hard not to take some of it personally. At the end of a long day, towards the end of a long week, I for one don't aways respond as well as I should to the more personal attacks that are directed towards us. But in general, if I take a deep breath and respond politely, offer explanations and ask for constructive suggestions, the fire goes out pretty quickly. Even if not, I'll certainly feel (and sleep) better. And although it's not always easy to follow, that's the advice I give to everyone that writes for the site.

So I don't think that comments sections should be banished - partly because I know there are ways of dealing with the truly suffocating stuff like commercial spam (without giving too much away, we've managed to pretty well hide it on dpreview.com) and I've been in this business long enough to know that a lot of conversations that start badly can still end well.

But I do agree with Mat Honan's final point: 

'If we want actual conversations, we have to acknowledge that those conversations are as important as anything else we publish.'

This is precisely why we continue to add new features to our forums, and if you read our weekly newsletter you'll have heard me banging on week after week about our system for creating your own articles. When we created the articles section of the site a couple of years ago, it was intended to do two things - mainly to allow us to post a more diverse range of content, spanning short reviews, technique articles, photography-related features and so on - but also, and no less importantly, to allow you to do it too. If you're a logged-in user and you've got something to say that's too long for a comments box or a forums post, why not write an article?

One of our priorities for the rest of this year and beyond is to get more comment on dpreview, to make the most of our readers' vast reserve of knowledge and experience and make our site a better resource for people who want to learn about photography. I want you to talk to one another, and continue to talk to us. Because the more you do, the less noise there will be. 

What do you think? Let us know in the... well, you get the idea. 

Source: Wired

Comments

Total comments: 288
123
IonPortraits
By IonPortraits (8 months ago)

Well, I have seen my comments disappear for no apparent reason more than once. I never complained but given the opportunity I mention it.

Ionportraits.gr

0 upvotes
Ferling
By Ferling (8 months ago)

I don't have a problem with photography. Just people in general. If I could just do away with clients, then my production would go so much smoother. Oh, wait.. :)

It's easy to stand ones ground when a subject is based on an actual experience, and I'll give weight to others whom may disagree, so long as they can prove that they actually did the work and have a real experience to back it up.

Too many folks are just soundboards of others, or decide to treat members as punching bags. Perhaps there is a definitive medical reason or diagnosis for this. Whatever it is, it can be toxic. Dump their accounts and they'll create a new alias and come back swinging.

It's why I fully believe in a "real name" forum. Don't hide behind an alias. I accept that not everyone is going to agree with what I have to say. Good! Correct me, if I'm wrong, and don't generalize. If you have an actual experience to back it up, then share it.

0 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (8 months ago)

What i also like is that DPR staff is active in the comment section.

0 upvotes
arhmatic
By arhmatic (8 months ago)

We all remember the Hasselblad Lunar and Adobe Creative Cloud.
The articles were ok... I almost passed them.

Then the comments...
Hours and hours of fresh, original entertainment.
Priceless!

11 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (8 months ago)

And let us not forget about the "white orbs".

1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (8 months ago)

May I respectfully suggest How To Be Outraged On The Internet:

http://thepessimist.com/2013/08/07/how-to-be-outraged-on-the-internet/

Seriously, this could have been written by Ken Rockwell (and he'd even get the joke.)

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
odoketa
By odoketa (8 months ago)

There exist places where commenting provides a valuable service, providing context or additional examples or helpful feedback.

With my apologies for contributing to the negativity already present on this post, dpreview is not one of those places.

I'm not sure how so many angry, mean people ended up in one place, but they did. And changing that culture will take a lot. It's especially funny when I compare it to some of the photography groups I belong to, where members are generally supportive, even if the group is completely internet based.

So, for me, on this site, I'm with @typicalarmchairphotographycritic - comments are punishment for scrolling too far down.

2 upvotes
sandy b
By sandy b (8 months ago)

Its just not here, and just not now. I have seen this in video card BB's way back in the 80's. It's a community thing. You think its bad here, try hanging out on a pick up truck forum. Anonimity breeds bravery and contempt.

0 upvotes
randalusa
By randalusa (8 months ago)

Control-freak, everybody must think like me moderators MAKE THEIR OWN labor by presiding over every conversation to keep their readers from, oh my, hearing the unapproved thoughts from independent thinkers.

0 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (8 months ago)

given 99% of what we delete relates to someone's sister making $8000 on her computer last month, this comment shows an admirably open-minded approach to spam.

5 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (8 months ago)

@Simon. Things are removed, and threads locked. And that without any spam at all. Without anything really to complain about. IMHO.

Now, maybe there are much more removed that I don't know anything about. Those real spam stuff. I thank the moderators for that and the work they do.

But what I see is the totally sane things that is altered, removed or blocked. That I do not like.

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

I have noticed some things shuffled around, deleted, removed.

Any time I have seen things deleted, it has been easy to understand why. While I may not have asked them to be deleted them myself, I didn't miss seeing them when they were gone. I have seen no troubles with this deleting thing.

Some things get moved from forum to forum and I sometimes wonder why. Generally it makes sense. Sometimes it does not make sense (to me) but it is no harm in the end...

I haven't noticed any truly insightful comments being deleted. Well, one mentioned something about '42', but I think the Vogons got it...

0 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (8 months ago)

Ok you're talking about forums, on an article about comments. We don't really moderate the comments unless we really have to.

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (8 months ago)

OK. My bad.

0 upvotes
mzillch
By mzillch (8 months ago)

But without comment sections, how will we learn that 911 was an inside job, the moon landings were faked, that the president was born in Kenya, etc.?

5 upvotes
Gerard Hoffnung
By Gerard Hoffnung (8 months ago)

I guess I am in a minority in that I find that very often, I learn something from a comment that I probably wouldn't have learned otherwise. Discussion in comments sections, particularly on very technical issues will either clarify something for me or drive me to further research on the internet. I read at least some of the comments on any article I read and find it easy to skip the nonsense and focus on the good comments. On more than one occasion, some very funny comments have been posted that give me a belly laugh that just makes my day. I'm OK with comment sections.

2 upvotes
vroger1
By vroger1 (8 months ago)

You are absolutely not in the minority. I value the opportunity to make my views known- once in a while when I dispair about the lack of foresight or the intent of manufactuers to aggressively get the "buck" without a thought to the consumers wants or needs, I might say something "difficult" but always nicely.

0 upvotes
mactheweb
By mactheweb (8 months ago)

For me that's the main reason for reading DPreview comments.

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (8 months ago)

The problem with many forums today is that they are run and moderated by too many people that are politically correct lunatics that are biased, petty and immature. They like to portray themselves as liberal, fair and openminded but in fact they are the opposite of that. DPreview is guilty of that.

1 upvote
Nathebeach
By Nathebeach (8 months ago)

For example....?

1 upvote
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

Clearly the bias affects editorial content. However the irony is that the comments section is usually more useful than the reviews. The comments have point-counterpoint discussion, whereas the reviews are (sensu stricto...) infotainment monologues.

The comments are the helpful part. The actual info is frequently in the comments.

0 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (8 months ago)

If DPR really believes in public commentary, they should allow public commentary on the actions of their moderators because the moderation is, to be kind, inconsistent. In lieu of this, every action their moderators take should be "moderated" by the management of DPR and reversible if need be. DPR seems to have no idea what is going on in their forums. I've had an entire post deleted for one "offending" acronym. That post took a considerable amount of time to think through and compose. Deleting the entire post and thus destroying my intellectual property was more than moderation. It was censorship on the part of the moderator. Bear in mind the acronym was a form of WTF which a search of the same DPR forum where my post was moderated/censored will uncover hundreds of posts using the form.

0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (8 months ago)

Read the fine print regarding intellectual property (hint: the short answer is "no.").

That said, as far as I can work out if a post or if an entire article generates clicks, the party's on. Content is secondary or even tertiary as long as people see it -- and buy stuff.

0 upvotes
mapgraphs
By mapgraphs (8 months ago)

Another thought,

If you're going to be more involved with comments, and placing a higher priority on comments, will that be at the expense of doing reviews?

0 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (8 months ago)

no

6 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (8 months ago)

Thank you very much for de-spamming work.

3 upvotes
Dean A Givens
By Dean A Givens (8 months ago)

You have my appreciation for allowing comments. You also have my sympathy for being the one who has to "moderate" such things. As a long time reader and sometime poster of the forum sections, I will say that I have received much more help and understanding from the serious posters than harm from the trolls and "nattering nay-bobs of negativism."
As for the trolls, etc. all I can say (to paraphrase a line in the movie Cool Hand Luke), "What we have here is a superior case of inferior communications."
Please continue ad infinitum and don't let the ad nauseum deter you. IMHO, it is a great service to all photographers you provide!

4 upvotes
typicalarmchairphotographycritic

Personally, comments are nothing more to me than punishment for scrolling too far south in an article. I am perfectly fine with forums; a place separate from my other net activity where I can willingly go to chat (or argue) with others… unfortunately, it seems like the internet really wants me to know what other people are thinking about AT ALL TIMES. That’s why there are twitter feeds on the side of the page, comments on the bottom, and customer reviews on almost everything I search for.

Now, I’m not just someone who wants to tune-out the rest of the world: comments can occasionally be useful for offering aa unique insight, and you might even find someone who can offer an opinion without acting like an ass, but to get to them you have to slog through a diverse cast of annoying commenters.

If DPR wants to keep putting up with them for whatever reason then that’s their prerogative. Honestly though, I think the world would be a better place without them.

1 upvote
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (8 months ago)

The whole point of comments is it transform the internet into interactive media.

Without having comments, the internet just becomes an electronic book, newspaper, or TV show. And even they allow "letter to the editor" or some sort of feedback.

Once you combine comments with some sort of rating system, the user gets feedback of some sort, even if there is no reply.

10 upvotes
citizenlouie
By citizenlouie (8 months ago)

I feel the pain for web masters. The idea is wading through constructive criticisms and destructive criticism. Censorship isn't a solution, because censorship really turns people off, sometimes creative people with genuine ideas. Spams have no place whatsoever, however.

1 upvote
Ybor
By Ybor (8 months ago)

This has to be the single dumbest Comment section related to a DPR article since the inception of the site. And, after reading through most of the comments I want to puke so I think I will. I am not a fan of DPR forums or articles but they provide occasional entertainment.

2 upvotes
randalusa
By randalusa (8 months ago)

Curiously enough, your arrogant disposition left me feeling a wee bit toward the vomiting end of the scale. For decades, many people KNEW that the major news networks and most of the big-city newspapers in America were run by liberal atheist liars. Yet their fake TV news programs permitted NO feedback while the newspaper owners decided which letters to the editor would be allowed public airing.

Now we are in paradise at last, the ability to hear what honest citizens think of stuff. And let me tell you, the results aren't pretty down below stories by ABC, NBC, NPR (which started heavily moderating) and CBS. AP stories also.

Thanks to talk radio, Fox News, other regular people on the internet and forums, we have entered an era where masses are learning true history and getting real news. THEY are speaking up. Yayyyyyy.

As for camera / product reviews, VERY OFTEN the reviewer fails to mention 80% of the features that annoy the crud out of me. Yet I learn about them in the comments.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sandy b
By sandy b (8 months ago)

Thanks to talk radio, Fox News, other regular people on the internet and forums, we have entered an era where masses are learning true history and getting real news.

LOL.

0 upvotes
Nathebeach
By Nathebeach (8 months ago)

I am curious if and how comments have contributed to improvements in dpreview and even in product manufacturing.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

They provided much needed money (=clicks) for DPR.

0 upvotes
randalusa
By randalusa (8 months ago)

Ask yourself that question. If you designed a camera, would you not want to read the comment section below reviews to obtain direct feedback from buyers or potential customers?

1 upvote
Nathebeach
By Nathebeach (8 months ago)

That is my point. Remember the Toyota Echo? That was the result of Toyata doing exhastive research to see what young people want. They did their survey's at schools and rock concerts and the result was the Echo. More retired people bought it than youts. It screwed up Toyota's target demographic (the idea being that young buyers become repeat buyers). BTW it was a good car, just not stylish.
MAYBE more useful info can SOMETIMES be gleaned from comment boards than by conducting expensive market research.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
The Andy G
By The Andy G (8 months ago)

The trouble is sometimes the Dunning Kruger phenomenon. People who have no idea that their opinions make no sense derail conversations. Sometimes people who have no idea how their cameras work go into lengthy and wildly speculative debates over things that can be looked up easily in the user manuals or in physics textbooks.

Down-voting is needed.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
11 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

Dunning-Kruger

"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision." - Bertrand Russell

I didn't know it had a name.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

Can you cite an example from the DPReview comments?

Anyhow I don't think there's any reason not to ask how such and such works on a gear comment board.

Not clear how long descriptions of solvable problems derail the thread of comments, simply explain how the feature works or where to look it up and move on.

(I can remember being wrong about software features, but contrary comments made me download the latest version and do a recheck.)

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

HowaboutRAW, I don't think 'how does exposure compensation work?' is an example. I don't think an aversion to reading a manual is an example. If anything, asking a question can be evidence the person has doubts or realises something aint right.

Still, there are times people get stuck on some ideas...

PS - doing a recheck sounds anti- Dunning-Kruger

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

Tan68--

Huh, why are you bringing up exposure compensation? And if some one raises that question: Politely and quickly answer it and move on.

(Of course such an answer can elicit all sorts of contrary claims---see claims that bokeh and shallow depth of field is best done with huge telephoto lenses; a claim only true under extremely limited conditions with basically nonexistent lenses.)

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

The original comment contained "debates over things that can be looked up easily in the user manuals" and you asked about examples from the forums.

I took that to mean you might disagree with that. I somewhat disagree, myself.

I don't think someone asking a Q, even if because they didn't want to read the manual, deserves a label like D-K. I used EC as an example of a common Q.

Still, there are D-K moments to be had...

PS - likely Andy doesn't mean failure to read the manual is D-K. Arguing a dead horse about something stated in the manual is another thing.

I place the keyboard at my feet and take 3 steps back with my hands on my head.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (8 months ago)

Tan68--

Ah, I should have clearly written: "linked example".

As I'm sure you know sometimes knowing what to look for in the manual is more than half the battle.

A more obscure example right now I'm trying to figure out if firmware update 1.14 or 1.13 for the Samsung NX20 increased the raw shooting rate of the camera. Forums, Google searches and the Samsung website don't provide answers.

0 upvotes
mpix345
By mpix345 (8 months ago)

I don't think comments are any issue whatsoever, but anonymity clearly is.

(posted by an anonymous member)

0 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (8 months ago)

also, the fact that a recent passport-type photo and full address of the poster are not shown are additional issues that plague us.

1 upvote
Ybor
By Ybor (8 months ago)

I think the majority of people here cannot stand each other. Count me among that group. Many comments help fuel the foregoing statement.

1 upvote
CIASpook
By CIASpook (8 months ago)

This story is dumb and the author should be banned.

Just kidding!! Good stuff!!

2 upvotes
MarshallG
By MarshallG (8 months ago)

I appreciate the comment section, and if the editors chose to thin out the vitriolic comments and/or promote the interesting and useful comments to the top, it would meet with my complete satisfaction. Even if it means having some of my comments edited for brevity in mid-sent...

4 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (8 months ago)

I'd have to agree. All too often mindless complainers get the most attention from the moderators, with pointless accusations of brand bias, mistaken criticisms of methods used, or just here rudeness.

Other than showing their openness to engage with this, it's all a distraction (if an amusing one) from those users who are contributing genuinely useful content. I sometimes wish they'd just delete such comments and privately explain to users how they are breaking the rules than give them so much attention.

I do respect them for allowing comments on reviews at all, though, which can have useful feedback from like-minded enthusiasts. Yet on the whole, the quality of discussion in the 'self-regulated' forums is far higher than in the comments section, this one included!

1 upvote
Simon97
By Simon97 (8 months ago)

I can't stand the shills. They come in the comments or forums and shill some site, acting like it is regular conversation. One example is the user who shilled some memory card recovery service. It was their only two posts and awoke an old thread to post. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are for real unless you check their profile.

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (8 months ago)

Comment sections are a huge revenue boon for website owners. It brings people back to the page and keep them there.. and the participants are interested in that topic (e.g. photography), which lets you negotiate higher rates for ads.

If DPR were just articles and reviews, the web traffic would be 10% of what it is.

7 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (8 months ago)

"If DPR were just articles and reviews, the web traffic would be 10% of what it is."

Oh yeah?

0 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (8 months ago)

i count three factual errors in your comment, and one with a grain of truth. Any idea which is which?

2 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (8 months ago)

So @Simon and @Barney, do you dare stop all comments on this site, including forums, and test your belief? Because I assume your both comments here means that you don't think DPReview is depending on the users writing. Or?

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (8 months ago)

@ Roland, I don't really understand your post but no we're not going to do that.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (8 months ago)

I thought that you challenged Jogger's claim about 10% traffic.

0 upvotes
KonstRuctor
By KonstRuctor (8 months ago)

I think that on this site very clever and interesting comments (generally). Very seldom I meet roughness or spam. On my photosite in Russian people write very evil comments which are often offensive and offensive, haughty. Often people want to offend the author of article simply that he made good work and slightly was mistaken at the description of any function, for example cameras.

3 upvotes
zigi_S
By zigi_S (8 months ago)

The comment section is often the most interesting part of any site.

3 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (8 months ago)

Comment section is a necessity if you don't want dictorship. If you didn't read the comment section on yesterday's New York Times headline "Confident Syria Used Chemicals, U.S. Mulls Action", you would think most American support Obama's action. Reading the comments and you'd find about 80~90% of American are against another war and raise question about the narrative of the article. NYTimes' comment already needs to be approved before appearing (70% of mine sensored) but if you take that away, it would just be official government mouthpiece.

2 upvotes
mpix345
By mpix345 (8 months ago)

Did the comments section reference a poll about the level of support, or are you assuming that those comments are somehow representative?

2 upvotes
Ybor
By Ybor (8 months ago)

what?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

D-K

1 upvote
Grevture
By Grevture (8 months ago)

So ... By reading comments on a single web article from a single newspaper, you can predict with a 10 percent margin of error what the entire people of a nation with a 315 million inhabitants think about a foreign policy issue?

I am not entirely convinced comment sections at web sites really do much to prevent dictatorship, but they sure can be entertaining ;)

Or as a previous reply said: D-K

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

" it would just be official government mouthpiece"

It would not be government mounthpiece, it would be (and is) a private propaganda machine, just like other "news" outlets. If Military-Industrial Complex wants more profits, they use them, quite effectively.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (8 months ago)

It was one of my PhD students who created the very controversial Third Voice years ago, but I've never been inspired to enable comments on my research group's WWW site. I think they increase site traffic and do provide some value in both feedback and identifying related material, but filtering seems problematic both in terms of the effort required and risk incurred (there are things us .edu and .org sites just cannot have on our sites, not even momentarily).

I've commented plenty on DPReview, and I consider this my test case of how useful commenting and reading comments can be. Thus far, not really all that useful. The forums are a different story -- much better content:fluff ratio. Still not sure if a forum or a wiki works best; forums add new (temporarily interesting) things more cleanly, but wikis avoid duplication better.

1 upvote
KL Matt
By KL Matt (8 months ago)

Wired doesn't like comments because they are vivisected in their own comments on a regular basis. Often for good reason.

3 upvotes
Imagefoundry
By Imagefoundry (8 months ago)

You can't just throw together a comments section and hope for the best, I am afraid. Even banning the abusive behaviour is not enough - you actually have to nurture a particular tone (or culture, if you will) that fits with the rest of the content on the site - by introducing interesting topics, suppressing bickering and generally fostering a pleasant, helpful environment.

Can you, DPreview people, see yourself being *that* involved? Because otherwise it's just like the rest of Internet: loud, stupid and mostly misinformed, with an occasional sparkle of brilliance :)

Here on DPreview (without pointing any fingers) there are communities that are helpful, witty and generally a pleasure to visit, and then there are exact opposites of that. Guess which ones are in majority :)

1 upvote
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (8 months ago)

A major reason to allow comments is to entice people to come back to a site, whether to add more comments, or whether to rouse other people's comments.

Are mainy of the comments uncivil, sloppy, or worthless? Of course. The main reason for that is that people can give themselves fantasy names ("Carlos Danger," etc). Invisibility brings out the worst.

The most obvious cure is to adopt a "real name" policy. Anyone who visits blogs or sites that require real names will think they are on a different planet: adults who think twice about what they say or respond; people who avoid excess or insults so as not embarrass themselves.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (8 months ago)

yes, because asking someone to create user accounts using their real name always results in such actions. just look at Facebook.

0 upvotes
JerseyJohn
By JerseyJohn (8 months ago)

I used to believe that one should use one's "real name." Today, there are just too many nut-cases out there for me to use my real name... Hence, "Jersey John" only reveals a general geographical location. JC PS: So... jkoch2 is your real name ;)?

1 upvote
JDThomas
By JDThomas (8 months ago)

I think using a "real name" system is a good idea. People definitely enjoy the anonymity of the web as a tool to attack people who don't agree with their own self-absorbed views. If people were held accountable for their actions then maybe they would be more inclined to speak civilly rather than act like they are in some wild west saloon.

Obviously I use my real name and I'm willing to be held accountable for any mistakes that I make. As far as nut-cases go, well, most internet nut-cases could probably find out who you are some way or another. They seem to be obsessive about things like that.

Using my real name has caused me problems with internet psychos from time to time, but I sometimes have to deal with psychos when walking down the street as well. Such is life.

0 upvotes
karet
By karet (8 months ago)

Having a combination of first name and last name that is unique in the world Google still turns up stuff I wrote in 2006 on car forums or a magazine forum. Although I'm not ashamed of anything I wrote online I would not want a future employer to dig up my complete life and areas of interest with one click. I was also actively reporting birding observations to an online database. Using my real name would make it possible for a potential burglar to predict when I would be out of the house and for how long. Using your real name is fine if you're a professional photographer and want to be seen and found by potential customers but I like to feel free online in what I write and keep some distance from my private life.

1 upvote
mrdancer
By mrdancer (8 months ago)

I find many comments helpful, with useful links, etc.

I also think that a 'comments' section allows knowledgeable readers to add their two cents in where, in many cases, the original author may have done so but could not, due to the nature of writing a widely-available piece (where one has to be more politically correct).

5 upvotes
dmanthree
By dmanthree (8 months ago)

Does anyone actually read all the comments?

0 upvotes
Herb B
By Herb B (8 months ago)

I actually read quite a few comments but once it starts to be overly negative. I move on.

0 upvotes
57even
By 57even (8 months ago)

Without comments and forums traffic on this site would fall off a cliff.

It's like democracy. Everyone gets to vote, even the daft, the dumb and the antisocial. It sounds like a recipe for disaster until you consider the alternative.

Even when people react badly to an article or another comment, it's a sign that they are unsure of themselves, and therefore probably reluctantly taking things on board.

2 upvotes
Rbrt
By Rbrt (8 months ago)

Yep. Comments keep people engaged.

1 upvote
TN Args
By TN Args (8 months ago)

"Without comments and forums traffic on this site would fall off a cliff."

And there is the real reason for the editors of this site to disagree with Honan. Commercial self-interest. Not the stuff he actually wrote in the article.

0 upvotes
Ybor
By Ybor (8 months ago)

By Rbrt (32 min ago)

Yep. Comments keep people engaged.

But does it keep them married?

0 upvotes
57even
By 57even (8 months ago)

@TN args

Commercial self interest is not incompatible with the point that engagement is a way to encourage people to come to a site, which is why you are here for a start.

It's commercial self interest to make products that people need and want and let them choose. Would you rather someone else decided for you?

If you hate it so much, you can leave any time.

1 upvote
TN Args
By TN Args (8 months ago)

57even makes ridiculous comments. Where did I say I hate it? I note you did not disagree with my point at all, so why the stupid 'get lost' comment at the end?

0 upvotes
Scott Birch
By Scott Birch (8 months ago)

I like comments because the occasional one can be useful; even some of the very rude ones. Some of them can even be funny.

14 upvotes
Rbrt
By Rbrt (8 months ago)

In fact, I've learned quite a bit from reading comments sections, not only here but elsewhere such as online newspapers. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people out there!

5 upvotes
Mattoid
By Mattoid (8 months ago)

If you are going to delete 'trolling' comments then you are against free speech and you may as well not have comments.

2 upvotes
Scott Birch
By Scott Birch (8 months ago)

Not so. This site is private and speech is therefore not free. Are people free to yell whatever obscenities they choose at you in your own space, Mattoid?

8 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

Sometimes rights are misunderstood.

2 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (8 months ago)

Free speech is not a license for rudeness, grafitti, or anonymous slander. Habeas corpus came before freedom of speech. To this day, many countries have laws that protect reputation, privacy, or state security, without anything resembling a First Amendment right.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (8 months ago)

A good troll causes a flurry of responses, with people checking out later to see the progress and respond to the responses. An active community of talented trolls is a great asset of any ad-supported website and should be cherished as they ;) are money makers.

1 upvote
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

"Free speech is not a license for rudeness, grafitti, or anonymous slander".

Sorry, but it is. (I assume you are talking about not physical graffiti)

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

Just another Canon shooter, I get where you are coming from. If you mean your comments 'in general', great. If you mean this site, you got the aggravating Terms of Service to deal with.

even if you do mean your comment 'in general', test it out during a discussion with anyone that has authority. No anti-government sentiment here. Just a fact. Speak freely during a traffic stop :^)

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (8 months ago)

1. Free speech does not mean that a forum is obliged to keep every post. They can remove everything they want. If you have something to say, that's your call. No one else has to repeat it or publish it.

2. There is no limit to free speech. You can say whatever you want. Even being rude doing so. Otherwise the speech is not free. But ... if you break a law with your speech, you might have to go to prison.

0 upvotes
Jcradford
By Jcradford (8 months ago)

First, don't sweat the small stuff or the small people. Second, early on in our web development years (anyone recall the 90s?) we came to the obvious conclusion that engagement drives traffic. Wired is full of crapola. But buyer beware is always at play, eh? And then there is a free speech issue vs control and power. March on!

1 upvote
RichRMA
By RichRMA (8 months ago)

Surely they can configure/buy some software that would effectively weed-out the spam and the violent commentd and if some is left-over, who cares? Ignore it, respond, whatever. Imagine if in normal conversations, people had to edit out other people's responses just to suit 3rd parties that might overhear.

1 upvote
ovatab
By ovatab (8 months ago)

you are a troll if you "criticize our content" ;)

0 upvotes
contadorfan
By contadorfan (8 months ago)

I love comment sections. The reactions to an article sometimes tell more than the article itself. Often the comments will discuss a subject with more depth than the article or will bring up good counterpoints. Also, commenters can be very witty.

2 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

Comments increase the traffic and increase the ad revenue.

1 upvote
alatchin
By alatchin (8 months ago)

I applaud their move in my comment :)

0 upvotes
Slynky
By Slynky (8 months ago)

"I sympathize with this point of view."

"What I've learned about commenting"

I? Who wrote the article? Damned if I can figure it out...

2 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

Weren't me.

I also noticed 'I' has no byline. Maybe the Wired people stopped by and dropped off an editorial.

0 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (8 months ago)

i think the website just became self-aware.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (8 months ago)

Me.

2 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

Hello me
Meet the real me

1 upvote
agentul
By agentul (8 months ago)

anyone care for a Turing test?

1 upvote
Artpt
By Artpt (8 months ago)

DPReview, good to bring an article like this to the surface....two humble comments:

1. Can an enthusiast photographer submit an article for review? What fraction of your audience is the occasional but passionate photo taker who wants to capture better photos of their kids in daily life (my working title to submit, by the way...).

2. The "dislike" feature button was mentioned in this tread. My comment would be then how to manage a popular "dislike" comment...censoring it would place it as "inapproprate" and lump it with a spammers and/or clearly inflammatory personal comments. Most unsavory comments are not inappropriate.

"Disliking" may not enhance searching for the useful comments. Rather, letting it stand will highlight that comment and perhaps galvanize others to do the same. The comment is now popular, but not necessarily useful.

We may all have to read through and simply look over the ones we don't agree with.

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

They tried a 'Dislike' button for a while. I don't think I miss it.

Some sites hide the comments that are showered with dislike. The comment can still be viewed if it is clicked. Is this the type of thing you have in mind ?

1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (8 months ago)

To answer your first question, yes, you can submit an article that could end up published on the DPR homepage. If you mouseover your name (top-right of the page) you can 'Manage Articles'. Write your article and submit it for publication. If we like it enough, it could end up being seen by everyone.

0 upvotes
Artpt
By Artpt (8 months ago)

Jeff, I will do what I can to provide an entertaining and informative article for consideration.

Thank you!

0 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (8 months ago)

The reason for HAVING an Internet is to be able to comment pretty much exactly how you feel, and without there being any repercussions in the "real world." Long live forums & aliases. (But yes, ditch the spam, I detest any useless advertising & such.)

2 upvotes
MikeStern
By MikeStern (8 months ago)

Sometimes it turns out strange ways.
Last year one of my favorite photographers put up a new article about his methods of post processing his images.

After following his blog and website for years, I decided to enter my one and the only comment for his article. It was the very right article to share my opinions of his photoshop editing.
My comments included my appreciations of his photography, writing skills and managing his blog -as well as my feedback to his methods of editing. No matter how respectingly I wrote, he took it very personal. He was very offended. First he commented back to my comment. Starting nicely, finishing madly. I could feel he upseted himself while writing his own comment.
Next day he deleted my and his own comment from his blog. Deleted me from his following and blocked my comments. Then he took the entire article down. And next day, he put up a new article all about it. Without mentioning my name, he trashed me and tried to take his frustration.
I felt sad. And found him on Facebook to send him a personal message. (I was not allowed to contact him on google+ platform) on this Facebook message I introduced my self with my real name with my credentials as an artist and photographer. Just to tell him I was not some troller. I was a real person writing. I included my apologies.

Weeks later, I observed his post production style to be changing. I felt my comment actually helped him to think, improve his editing. (Not over saturating, over contrasting, extreme hdr look shadows highlights detailing his pictures etc. ) He appreantly finally digested my opinions even though it was harsh experience he put himself through.

But I lost my entire enthusiasm looking at his website even though I always liked his work. His personality interfering with his work and with his connection to his followers caused me to delete his bookmark from my favorites while I believe he had sleepless nights.

I learned a lesson. I put limits to my honesty writing my comments.

12 upvotes
Ybor
By Ybor (8 months ago)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....... ........

0 upvotes
radamczak
By radamczak (8 months ago)

I got a shock a while back when a thug and all-round bruiser on one forum (begins with 'F') where urban warfare had broken out stated posting regularly on another (begins with 'P') noted for its helpfulness and bonhomie. Couldn't have been nicer, fitted right in. Just goes to show, human nature.

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (8 months ago)

The nurture v. nature debate comes to mind...

0 upvotes
D200_4me
By D200_4me (8 months ago)

The thing to remember about comments is that all reasonable people will instantly recognize when other people are making unreasonable comments. It all works out in the end, even if some idiots post stupid comments :-)

3 upvotes
Ybor
By Ybor (8 months ago)

people who use smiley symbols = :(

0 upvotes
Franklin J Ellias
By Franklin J Ellias (8 months ago)

I have found the forums and comments on DPR to be very helpful and informative. After reading your reviews and the comments that follow it has helped me make purchases and photographic decisions.
Many times the comments bring information that is helpful for those of us that have not had the varying experience of others.
Yes, there are those that only have negative comments about a given brand of products or are always challenging a finding. However, within a short time there is another response clearing up the issue.
Now that I am semi-retired and actively pursuing my love for photography; when I read an article of interest and have questions they are answered by comment-ors as well as your staff.
Please continue...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
Total comments: 288
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