In some ways, I really make a habit of avoiding the conversation of what to do about commenters on news sites. The questions of “Should we allow comments?” or “Should we require real names?” is kind of irrelevant to me as a 22 year old American male who grew up with the internet.
To me, it’s kind of like peanut butter and jelly. Why not have comments? You can’t have the internet without the interaction. It’s like spaghetti without meatballs. How can you argue against it?
But, I know the arguments. Philosophically, I think we agree, but it’s just not something I care to spend a lot of time talking about, because what we should be talking about is how to get quality comments, not arguing whether or not to require real names. I know, though, it’s one way people see as a way to encourage quality interaction.
Quite honestly, I ignore comments on news sites for two reasons: there’s far too many for any intelligent or readable dialogue to go on and there’s hardly a sense of community.
I remember reading a story on the New York Times website a few months ago about how dirty our drinking water is across the country. It was such a good story that I felt felt compelled to write a comment. Interestingly enough, I noticed the comment section was filled with largely insightful and interesting comments, but I had trouble making much sense of anything, as there were simply too many comments to know what to do with them. Who wants to shout out 30 different people with a bunch of “@’s.”
This all leads me to my larger point that there’s no community on big paper sites. Sure, there could be, but it’d be huge, and kind of hard to establish that feeling of “belonging” that blogs often offer. That’s the paradox of the internet, we love the exposure and access of a worldwide platform, but always strive to make it feel like a small neighborhood community. Hello, Twitter!
That’s why on the Nah Right comments, if you’re a commenter, it’s the place where “Everbody knows your name!” I’m serious, if you’re there enough, people know what you’re going to say. Now, the Nah Right comments don’t exactly stay on topic, but it’s more of a community that most sites could ever hope to achieve.