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Washington Post Ends Blog Comments

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-01-20

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Lots of mean people said hurtful things on the Washington Post blog, so the Post said, and in response the Post has turned off comments for the Post.Blog.

The Washington Post really blew it. WashingtonPost.com executive editor Jim Brady posted the news that the Post was shutting down the commenting feature as of 4:15 PM ET, January 19th:

What we're not willing to do is allow the comments area to turn into a place where it's OK to unleash vicious, name-calling attacks on anyone, whether they are Post reporters, public figures or other commenters. And that's exactly what was happening.

Sounds like Brady is channeling Eric Idle. But what were all those horrible commenters saying? We'll never know, as Brady continued his post:

That leads into the second complaint. The reason that people were not routinely seeing the problematic posts I mentioned were that we were trying to remove them as fast as we could in order to preserve the reasoned arguments many others were making. We removed hundreds of these posts over the past few days, and it was becoming a significant burden on us to try and keep the comments area free of profanity and name-calling.

Before we take up a collection to send Brady and Co. at the Post some salve to help heal the pain of the blogosphere, let's look at his next line:

So we eventually chose to turn off comments until we can come up with a better way to handle situations like this, where we have a significant amount of people who refuse to abide by the rules we set out.

Fish. Barrel. Elephant gun. Digg already solved this problem, by allowing users to score comments on a scale of +3 through -3. Once something has been scored, users viewing at a certain score threshold won't see anything below it.

Digg's model doesn't require a squad of interns to sit around and censor comments 24/7; the users do that work instead. All the Post has to do is require registration, and then it can boot offending users at its leisure should it feel the user community isn't modding the abusers down fast enough.

Once comments get turned off in a blog, it's not a blog anymore. Without interactivity, Post.Blog becomes a vanity PR vehicle. And that's too bad.


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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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