Topic: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

Consider this article by Michael Kessler from the Washington Post.

It is the current trend to see anonymous comments attached to news stories at any popular news or sporting news site. Click on any hot topic and you'll soon see the comments turn to ridicule and nonsense soon enough.

Michael Kessler in the Post article argues that intelligent, careful, and creative online writing is under assault by reckless commenters hostile to reason:

Michael Kessler wrote:

And then we watch helplessly while anonymous commenters hijack threads and launch screed upon hateful screed in every direction.
There's nothing so deflating as to spend lots of time polishing off a thoughtful piece and then look at the comments to see lunatics ranting about Nostradamus-style end-times prophecy. Or conspiracy theories.

Worse are the haters and mockers who would disagree with even a simple hello. Worst are those who fail to read with any care, hurling canned insults at us, at each other, and at their political, religious, and moral opponents.

Michael Kessler cites a few examples of stories cursed by this affliction.

Can you find examples of "Anonymous Commenters Behaving Badly" in public stories at cbc.ca or tsn.ca(or some other news or sporting news site)?

Post a link to the story, state its main idea, then quote an example of the type of comment Michael Kessler cautions us about. What is your take on "The Problem with Anonymous Commenting"?

2 (edited by aneil 2009-10-30 20:56:07)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/10/30/h1n1-canada.html#socialcomments

As I was searching through CBC News Health, I came across the article "Provinces try to reduce H1N1 vaccine lineups." It's main idea is that Canadians are all demanding to get the vaccine for H1N1 right away but the carriers are unable to deliver 33 million doses in one day. The lineups are colossal and hospitals/clinics are having to shut down early and the date to getting the shot is moving to a different date. While this is occuring the Canadians are becoming more unpatient and angry. The vaccine is becoming more short and the doses are having to be cut down.

Commenting on CBC News is open to everyone, whether they're annoynomous or have their names listed when they post their own comment. Some are irrelevant to the topic, on topic, or just plain dumb. An example of a person being dim-witted is the user canuckfanjosh.

canuckfanjosh wrote:

Posted 2009/10/30
at 2:10 PM ETI'll make the line even shorter by not showing up. The vaccine is dangerous and I wont be used as a human guinea pig for GSK

3 (edited by cjawhari 2009-10-30 13:46:22)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/10/29/vaccine-flu.html#socialcomments.

I_See_The_Matrix wrote:

As long as the "important" people were vaccinated - like the politicians, bankers and the police - that's all that really matters.

The story talks about vaccination for H1N1 and how Canada will be getting way less vaccine then they did the week before. This person is saying that only the important people should get vaccinated. Without us they would not have their positions in the government, they would not have people to govern, or give money to, or arrest, because we would all be really sick and some elders and young children would die. Without us they wouldn't be important people. This is the type of example Michael Kessler cautions us about.

People should post comments that will help us when we read them, "like yes go get the shots jsut to be safe". We should read the comments and take advice from them not take offence. Important people, all people are important, we are important just in different ways. They might have more government power then us but that doesn't mean we are not important.

Anonymous commenting should be allowed as long as the comments relate to the topic and are reasonable not stupid comments.

4 (edited by twilson 2009-10-30 13:47:06)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/10/29/bc-olympic-flame-island-arrival.html
This article is about the relay of the olympic torch across Canada and that it has started in Victoria today and that the olympics start on February 12th and how Canada is very excited for it.

Selina Gasolina wrote:

Posted 2009/10/30
at 3:08 PM ET
did the Klu Klux Klan design the outfits?

My take on anonymous commenting is that it's stupid and if people really want to talk about a random topic that has nothing to do with the article, they should create their own post so the world doesn't have to read their irrelevant comments. The article has nothing suggesting or relating to the KKK at all. The olympians were wearing the olympic coloured outfits like they were supposed to be, I don't understand how if people wear white colours, people automatically assume its because of racial reasons. Everybody should just stick to commenting about what they read inside the story and not what they see in the pictures.

5

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

Another comment that was ridiculously weak-minded was by EHtheMarmot.

EHtheMarmot wrote:

Posted 2009/10/30
at 3:09 PM ETThe best way to reduce the lineups would be to inform them about all of the potential dangers of this untested unproven vaccine.

But the lineups in this botched over hyped panic will allow our media to manufacture a story line that there is some sort of great demand on the part of Canadians to be vaccinated. In fact there are over one half of Canadians (much in line with Europe and the US) who do not believe in this flu shot. Our health minister is on record saying she wants 100% of Canadians to be vaccinated. This with the fact that Canada has bought 50 million flu shots from GSK (who are enjoying record profits) surely indicates that our government wants everyone to be jabbed and has the inventory to deliver it.

Like cabbage patch dolls and tickle me elmo's on sale at Walmart, this shortage has all the signs of a well staged campaign to build demand with false shortages. It even has the media helping out, how convenient.

6

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

While looking around on CBC.ca I came across a link that said that the leader of the Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff hired Jean Chrétien as chief of staff. I personally think this would, and could very well be a smart decision on Ignatieff's side. Chrétien is a very experienced and hard working man. He definitely would have some intelligent insights when it comes to this new occupation. However, I came across this one comment that was only on the first page of the article. ..

" Yesterday's party hires yesterday's man to try and revive their sagging fortunes. How pathetic."

I really believe this commenter has no idea what he is talking about. Sure Jean had many difficult outcomes during his years of being Prime Minister, But he is definitely a very educated and hard working man. I can say this from experience, because I met Jean a few months ago at the Vancouver Liberal Convention in May. Him and I had a conversation about the ways that Young Liberals can act, and help our future. At first when I saw him I didn't realize it was Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. I know that before I had a conversation with him I was brainwashed into thinking that he was a bad man only because he may have made mistakes during his leadership. But who doesn't? I'm pretty sure that Stephen Harper has made some big mistakes aswell. I really just don't understand why someone would most a comment like this without knowing factual information about Jean Chrétien and Michael Ignatieff. I have met both Michael and Jean and they are both very intelligent individuals. Jean will do a great job as Chief of StafPr

7 (edited by kmarsh 2009-11-03 13:47:27)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/11/02/ns-coyote-attack-tests.html#socialcomments

Okay so basically the story is that a girl was found dead because she was attacked by two coyotes. Parks Canada staff killed one coyote and shot another, but the injured one has not yet been found. The coyote that they killed has been tested and somehow it was proven that this is one of the animals that participated in the attack. I am curious to find out what lead them to conclude this. What test proved it? When I was scrolling through the comments to see if anyone else thought the same thing, I came across this.

Western Separatist wrote:

"Here's my version:

What to do if a Coyote approaches:

• Shoot it."

Did this person even thing that MAYBE everyone doesn't carry a gun with them when they go hiking? Obviously not. This is a really stupid comment. Even though this comment is at least on the topic, it is still a very judgmental thing to say. I think that anonymous commenting is not the greatest idea and that if a website choses to have it, that it should be more closely monitored. We cannot all together deny a person to post a comment anonymously because this is obstructing their freedom of speech. If this right is denied, there is going to be a commotion. So my suggestion is just place some guidelines where the person posting a comment and see and read them. Then, if the comment does not follow them, the moderators have the responsibility to delete it.

8

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

While I was looking on www.cbc.ca I read the article titled "Alberta H1N1 clinics suspended" The article is explaining that the H1N1 vaccination clinics have been overwhelmed with people wanting the needle. Because so many people have been lined up to get the needle they have been running low on the number of available vaccine doses. Which means that they are giving the needles to those who are at more of a risk, such as, pregnant women, children six months to five years of age, people under 65 with chronic health conditions, people living in remote and isolated communities and health-care workers. After I finished reading the Article I noticed the comment listed below.

anthonyc wrote:
Posted 2009/11/01
at 8:40 PM ET This proves my theory, that there is most stupid people alive now, than intellegent people. The idiots have taken over.

I looked at the comment and I laughed. The comment was stupid not the people. The commenter may think that the people are stupid for wanting to get a needle that is believed to lower the chance of getting H1N1, but personally I don;t think that they are stupid. The health care people have been recommending to get the needle so they are getting it because apparently it will make them healthier.

Here is a link to the post I am talking about: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2009/10/31/calgary-h1n1-vacccination-clinics-close.html#socialcomments

9

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/10/19/f-swine-flu-myths-facts.html#socialcomments
This was an article that was about H1N1 misconceptions. It showed seven different swine flu myths that people should know about. The comment I have below is one of the comments that I thought that did not relate to the article.

sonatime wrote:
Posted 2009/10/22
at 9:04 PM ET This has to be one of the best clips on scientific facts without the usual spin factor from NYS Assembly Hearing on 10-13-2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch5OuzB9L48

I believe that anonymous comments should not be posted if they are not relevant to the issue. There are so many stupid comments that people post that make no sense at all. When I saw this comment I started to laugh because it was so irrelevant to the topic. I think that people should only post comments that are appropriate.

10 (edited by cdejong 2009-11-02 14:34:13)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

I recently found a comment on CBC that was related to the H1N1 epidemic. The story was about how the government decided how the drug for the virus is safe for people to use. The writer of the story was saying how all of the ingredients in the shot are listed on the container or case. But the argument was that people were not going to be buying the shot in person but only receiving it. So her or she went on to list the ingredients in the shot and how they are not harmful to a person. They said that the shot contains small amounts of mercury but they quickly reassure the people that there is more mercury in a can of tuna than in the shot. I found a very stupid comment.

idletalk wrote:

MSinterpret wrote: "So actually, the light chunk tuna has LESS mercury than the vaccine. The albacore tuna has slightly more."

Thanks for the info, I will also refrain from injecting tuna directly into my bloodstream or that of my new born

I could call this stupid squared because they have a stupid comment writer commenting on another stupid comment writer that is commenting on a stupid comment in the story. This shows that the stupid comment phenomenon has a snowball effect. I think that this is a prime example on why they should be eliminated. Plus this makes all the grandmas who read this believe that they will get the virus from tuna.

11

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/11/02/h1n1-vaccine.html#socialcomments

As I was scrolling down the CBC site. I found this and I thought it would be interesting. The title of this article is called Next week's H1N1 vaccine doses not yet firm. There is about over a thousand people there waiting to get the H1N1 shot. They have to wait hours to get their H1N1 shot.

Fractical wrote:

Numbnuts Harper does not watch Canadian NEWS.

I scrolled down and looked at this comment and I laughed. This comment has nothing to do with Next week's H1N1 vaccine does not yet firm.

12

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=296993
As I was scanning tsn.ca for interesting stories with even more interesting and 'bad' comments, I came across the post about the famous left winger off of the Washington Capitals NHL team, Alexander Ovechkin. The post is about Alexander having to miss the next week of hockey, three games to be exact, and all of his previous and current injuries. As I was browsing the comments sent by anonymous people I read one that particularly interested me. A person by the screen name of WVUmountaineer published the following comment.

WVUmountaineer wrote:

spoiled kid with a bad attitude. Flaunting his fancy cars and going 100 mph on the beltway in DC is not something i would recommend. I don't care how good of a driver you are.. THAT'S DANGEROUS. but i guess it suits his 'bad boy' image as a cheap shot artist and a selfish player on the ice. If he's such a 'bad boy', why doesn't he ever drop the gloves and fight like a man, not a punk.

I believe that this person should feel ashamed of himself, Alexander didn't get hurt or hurt anyone doing these allegations, and it's not proven that he even did do that. It is irrelevant to the article and he or she shouldn't be wishing pain and injuries upon others.
This is an example of why commenting should not be anonymous because I feel that if you have the guts to say something and speak your opinion then why don't you have enough courage to show your name, yes some people might hate you for accusing their favorite player of being a bad guy but, like the saying goes, If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. Especially when you don't have the guts to 'be a man' and show everyone who said it.

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

WARNING: this one will make you mad.

Check out the anonymous "Thumbs Down" votes on this story about the tragic loss of 3 Manitoba ball players in an accident:

http://iblog.stjschool.org/dsader/files/thumbs_down.png

Who clicks "thumbs down" on this type of news?

Allowing anonymous comments on real news can be ridiculous, and detracts from the primary message of the story.

There will be change at CBC, I hope. News should be just the news. Allowing knuckleheads to share the page to do nothing but detract, discourage, and destroy genuine human interest is so very wrong.

Do these downward pointing thumbs accurately represent 10-12% of Canadian readers? Disheartening at best, maddening at least.

The news affects us, as it should, but including anonymous comments in the same medium don't just alter the message - the comments become the message. Democratizing the news is one thing, but anyone can start a blog and shout to the wind if they want. News journalists belong to a higher "estate". Who will fight to preserve the journalist's creed of the Fourth Estate?

The public journalist should be held to account for errors or bias or any general violation of the creed. Perhaps this is thinking by execs at CBC to allow "accountability" beneath each story.

However, what code can anonymous commenters be held accountable to obey?

14 (edited by krochford 2009-11-04 13:59:29)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2 … alcomments

gfinale wrote:
Posted 2009/11/04
at 2:20 PM ET              For some reason nobody ever sees the role hockey sticks (extemely strong clubs) play in       
                                       checks. His hands and arms with hockey stick went into Fanelli to clobber and ply his helmet       
                                       and head.

Talking about irrelevant comments, I was reading an article about a young hockey player was injured in a check. They say that it was a clean hit his feet never went of the ice and there was no stick involved. But the kid who got hit had turned his face into the boards where the Zamboni entrance is on the metal frame. The hit was so powerful guy suffered skull and facial fractures, and it even broke the helmet. So when I began reading the comments I came upon this comment in particular and didn't understand how this 'Anonymous' commenter came up with this comment.  Yes, the article has to do with hitting and checking but "extremely strong clubs" in a hit when you use your stick it is called cross-checking and you receive a penalty, but in this hit according to the article it was a clean hit they are just punishing him because he needs to learn some self control.

15 (edited by camyshak 2009-11-05 13:41:32)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

I found myself reading through the news stories, and as I came cross the article that read "Closing schools for a few swine flu cases little help". I quickly came to realize that this article was about how some may think closing the school would be best, but others disagree entirely, and the writers of this post disagree. They believe closing the school would be worse as we are forced into malls, and community based centers where seniors and smaller children are more likely to receive the sickness and die. Instead of at school, thus sending kids home, where they have no idea how to prevent the sickness, instead of being at school where they could easily be taught.

Commenting on CBC News is open to everyone and anyone, most importantly annoynomous users that post irrelevant comments on the issue. Completely side tracking the readers of the " IMPORTANT ISSUE" that the post talked about in the first place. Why do we want annoynomous users posting comments on their irrelevant or relevant perspectives, when we have a wide open fact news story. The plain idiotic comments do nothing but distract us, they do not help, but only make a fool out of the writer of the story.

Here is an example of an idiotic commenter:

TLC12345 wrote:

Posted 2009/08/20
at 11:03 AM ETH1N1 will turn out to be nothing just like the Bird flu,Sars and West Nile that was also reported on the news to death,way back when.

16 (edited by shmyshak 2009-11-13 13:56:05)

Re: The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/11/13/h1n1-vaccine.html#socialcomments

luggnutz wrote:
Posted 2009/11/13
at 1:45 PM ET "They should just pass them out at Tim Hortons for all the sleeping sheeple.
Give me a double double....WITHOUT SQUALENE AND MERCURY."

This person is saying that we have bought so much vaccine that they should just be handed out at
Tim Hortons. I disagree, people should get vaccinated, better safe then sorry. People should be aware of what the dangers are that come along with the virus. They shouldn't just say "Oh I won't get it", because it can get to anyone very easily if they aren't careful. People should be supported to go and get the vaccine to be as safe as possible to prevent themselves from getting sick and others as well.

Anonymous commenting should be allowed, but all stupid and unreasonable comments should be kept off the internet where everyone can see them. The more vaccine the better, because people will be encouraged to get it, so that way there will be no shortages of it in any way.