Day: February 19, 2008

The Simple Mechanics: Comments on the caucus blog @ the NYT

Eoin Purcell

Sometimes its the simple things that cause the most trouble
The Caucus Blog is one of the best innovations I have come across in the US Election* (And by picking it I don’t mean to diss any of the dozens of other Main Stream/Net Native and Personal Election blogs out there). The New York Times has accomplished a lot with this blog, posting just enough to keep interest alive (look at the comment counts), posting material that would never reach the paper, live blogging events and tying together a really wonderful all round election coverage.

But they posted today about comments and I think it goes to the heart of the issue for publishers of all sorts, be they newspapers, books or magazines:

Passions are hot; tensions are high. We’re facing yet another series of extremely competitive contests in the Democratic presidential primary race, and many of you have chosen your candidate and ardently defend your choice on this site.

But if you choose to offer your comments here, please refrain (we ask again) from name-calling. None of you deserve to be called an idiot, a moron, a juvenile, racist or sexist.

There is more and you should read it too because it hits all teh problem buttons when it comes to comments. My key concern is the anonymity one though:

Third, we will continue to ask that you use a name as close to your own as possible. We discourage people from trying to post under several names or aliases or nicknames. It’s dishonest and unfair to others who assume they’re reading a thread with many voices, as opposed to repetitive chatter.

I can’t agree more, the use of pseudonyms just ruins discussion boards and enables commentors to go astray so easily. It encourages rapid and wild statements without fear of repercussion. I wish the web was so transparent that everyone knew who everyone else was. It would make policing comments easier, make providing forums like The Caucus Blog easier and generally make teh web a better place, and I know many people disagree but I just cannot help but feel anonymity has led us down the wrong track on the web.

You won’t change my mind,
Eoin

* The ACTUAL election is going to be such a let down after the Democratic contest ends! Whenever that is.

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