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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Credentializing comments

No wonder the mainstream media fears comments. This may also explain why so many trolls consider themselves to be self-appointed blog police. Although I doubt they have much effect here:
Ionnis Kareklas, Darrel D. Muehling, and TJ Weber, all of Washington State University, found that the comments on a public-service announcement about vaccination affected readers’ attitudes as strongly as the P.S.A. itself did. When commenters were identified by their level of expertise with the subject (i.e. as doctors), their comments were more influential than the P.S.A.s.

Online readers may put a lot of stock in comments because they view commenters “as kind of similar to themselves,” said Mr. Weber — “they’re reading the same thing, commenting on the same thing.” And, he added, many readers, especially those who are less Internet-savvy, assume commenters “know something about the subject, because otherwise they wouldn’t be commenting on it.” The mere act of commenting, then, can confer an unearned aura of credibility.

That news may be especially disturbing to those already skeptical of comments’ overall quality. Dr. Kareklas and his team were inspired by Popular Science’s decision to get rid of the comments sections on its website; other publications, like Pacific Standard, have done the same. And Tauriq Moosa memorably wrote at The Guardian that the comments section “sits there like an ugly growth beneath articles, bloated and throbbing with vitriol.”
If only those nasty online peasants would shut up, stop interfering with the flow of propaganda, and recognize that communication is supposed to go one way!

The article appears to ignore the obvious fact that most sites permitting comments are communities of a sort, and commenters, being members of that community, are often familiar with the other commenters and therefore know how much stock to put in the credibility of another commenter. I put stock in a commenter for the same reason I put stock in a media site, which is to say, his past performance. Why wouldn't one trust a known expert, with whom one is familiar, more than a public service announcement from an institution known to be corrupt?

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56 Comments:

Blogger MATT February 15, 2015 10:34 AM  

I dont understand people that have nervous breakdowns over comment sections. I think they should kill themselves.

Blogger Salt February 15, 2015 10:37 AM  

Much of the vitriol I see in comments at various sites all revolve around one thing... seeing through the bullshit. Of course they don't want comments; they're anti-confirmation of their bias.

Anonymous trev006 February 15, 2015 10:45 AM  

Given that journalists by nature have to be generalists- and inferior, conforming, stenographer generalists at that- of course they hate experts with heft. It's one of the reasons, as if we needed some more, that their business model is being exterminated.

Anonymous sawtooth February 15, 2015 10:54 AM  

If a blog doesn't post comments; then screw it, I'll skip over it to those bloggers who aren't afraid of possible dissent.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza February 15, 2015 10:55 AM  

Comcast, frontier and other ISP could not let this happen, would they?


Blogger wrf3 February 15, 2015 10:58 AM  

From the article: One theory, she said, is that when people feel threatened by evidence, “they may be a little bit less receptive to it than when it already fits into their existing worldview, their way of thinking about social relations.”

Science is only know discovering what Christianity has said for 2,000 years? That our tendency is to reject external limits on behavior?

Color me shocked.

Anonymous That settles it February 15, 2015 11:01 AM  

I'm a doctor and I think all you idiots should shut the hell up.

Anonymous Will Best February 15, 2015 11:07 AM  

Many sites just hide behind facebook, and unless you have 50 odd friends your posts aren't made public.

For the life of me I can't figure out why Disqus got rid of showing down votes. Sure occasionally you have to whether a troll/flamer storm but they get bored eventually.

In fact, they should go even further and create an algorithm that gives you a site score based on net upvotes, weighted for the quality of the up voters/downvoters (as in people that also have a lot of upvotes on the same site).

Anonymous H2 February 15, 2015 11:10 AM  

For Yahoo! aggregated articles I just give the article a quick skim and then head to the comments. Even some NYT comment sections are starting to see the light. From what I've seen Salon and Slate are still echo chambers, and Huffington Post has a good comment section one in a while.

Anonymous Observable Fact Man February 15, 2015 11:16 AM  

"I think it's a very firm part of human nature that if you surround yourself with like-minded people, you'll end up thinking more extreme versions of what you thought before."

Cass Sunstein, oblivious that he is speaking about those who think like him.

Here's the deal. There is a narrative, it is controlled by those in power. They reinforce it by presenting their side pretty much 24/7 and ridiculing or destroying anyone who fails to toe the party line. If you don't see it, you either agree with it or are too stupid to open a Snak Pak without adult supervision. The more they shout at each other in their echo chamber, the deafer they become to anything other than their own perspective. They control all the former avenues of critique and correction, like organized religion, science, academia and the press and use them to promote their narrative.

That's all there is to that.

Blogger Rabbi B February 15, 2015 11:18 AM  

Hey, if it wasn't for the AD Council and PSA's how would I be able to function as a viable part of society?

Philistines!

Anonymous Steveo February 15, 2015 11:20 AM  

The genius of the comment section is this - quickly reading/scanning a wide variety of opinion/thought can illuminate potential discrepancies in your own thoughts or arguments and perhaps point you in new directions for further investigation. They can be a remarkable learning tool, but the warren isn't interested in learning, it's interested in reinforcing already introduced and accepted dogma. Learning is problematic for the warren - including the scientific warren.

Anonymous Old Man in a Villa February 15, 2015 11:23 AM  

http://www.greenbrideguide.com/blog/real-green-wedding-tale-two-ceremonies

From the article above, a snapshoit into the private life of the "pshycologist" who spearheaded the study. It is hard to believe that this isn't an Onion piece, but alas, it is real.

We're so far down the rabbit hole at this point there may be no getting back.

Anonymous Axe Head February 15, 2015 11:29 AM  

For the life of me I can't figure out why Disqus got rid of showing down votes.

Life skills needed, but MIA.

Anonymous kfg February 15, 2015 11:30 AM  

" . . .too stupid to open a Snak Pak without adult supervision."

I had to look it up. I'm an adult smart enough not to open one. I've already invested years into learning how to open an egg.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey February 15, 2015 11:34 AM  

Taking it all way too seriously.

Anonymous Leonidas February 15, 2015 11:38 AM  

Some of the best info I've ever gotten off of this site has come from commenters. There are also some real trolls around these parts. I do not need Vox - or anybody else - to tell me which is which.

Blogger Rabbi B February 15, 2015 11:44 AM  

".... a wide variety of opinion/thought can illuminate potential discrepancies in your own thoughts or argument ..."

A terrifying prospect for the faint in heart. Shutting down comments only serves to reveal an insecure, impotent man who never want to consider the possibility that their position on any given issue may not prove to be unassailable. People should understand that the truth on any given issue is always a win-win (except for those hell-bent on suppressing the truth). There is no doubt in my mind that it will be our failure to hold fast to the truth in this world that will eventually be our undoing.

When I go to the doctor for a physical exam and the results come back positive for cancer, do I want the doctor to massage the truth of my condition because I may may not be able to handle the truth or the doctor is afraid to make me feel bad? So much of the time it comes down to simple pride and the golden rule of saving face no matter what.

Anonymous Rolf February 15, 2015 11:44 AM  

Indeed.

A local news channel that I frequented in large part because the formatting was not egregiously craptacular just disabled comments, and said "you can comment via Facebook." I've posted thousands comments on their various news stories over the years, correcting problems with the stories or other comments, expressing support, or just my experience or understand if the issue. I don't do FaceBook because it's an unsecure data-mining operation. So I just emailed them to say I'm taking my newsgathering and eyeballs elsewhere.

It was a comment community with a lot of names/handles of local people I recognized and understood (in their online personas), and because they couldn't be bothered to "moderate" the discussion they just moved it all to "social media" (where they track and commoditize people better). My guess is they really didn't like the dissenting voices, and because more of a persons real identity is available to Facebook, they could subtly exert more control of comments via the easier identification of FB users.

Commenting on news stories is valuable, no doubt. moving it all to a crappy platform like FB or Twitter was the same as telling me to go away and stop contradicting their narrative.

Anonymous Clay February 15, 2015 11:48 AM  

Good, Leon. We'll meet again at Thermopalye.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 15, 2015 11:51 AM  

Remember, women don't like to be challenged. Comment sections are full of misogynist jerks challenging women by presenting, y'know, facts and stuff. Gammas (which I suspect are over-represented among the scribbling classes) think like women.

Blogger Rabbi B February 15, 2015 11:53 AM  

One of the greatest things about the comments sections on this particular blog combined with the rules of moderation, is that, in theory anyway, people are forced to deal with the comments themselves and no one can be disqualified out of hand. That doesn't mean attempts to disqualify don't happen, but it does mean a lot more meaningful (and often very entertaining) discussion takes place here than a lot of other places. How can one possibly say the same in places where comments are deliberately shut down due to the type of hand-wringing expressed in the OP?

Anonymous Jack Amok February 15, 2015 11:55 AM  

Philippi, Clay. Philippi.

Blogger Fred February 15, 2015 12:00 PM  

I for one am glad that the world renowned Skidmore College Psychology department is taking the lead on analyzing blog comments. We wouldn't want some middle of nowhere state school doing such a thing. Just look the negativity they come up with in the article:
"Dominique Brossard, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied commenting, cautioned against drawing too many conclusions about sexism from Dr. Moss-Racusin’s study. She noted that the authors looked at comments from only three sources ..."

Anonymous Orville February 15, 2015 12:00 PM  

You are all science deniers killing the planet with CO2 and your children by withholding vaccines, and Keynes is a genius. It's true cause I have credentials. So shut up and take your shots you damned dirty apes.

Signed,

Right Reverend Doctor Orville, MD, PHD, JD, winner of the 2014 FUBAR award, and joint recipient of HACK of the Year 2009.

Anonymous Randy M February 15, 2015 12:01 PM  

The obvious counter-point to the implied elitism in the linked article is that most of the reporters also have zero expertise in any given subject, not to mention biases and agendas.

Anonymous kfg February 15, 2015 12:04 PM  

" . . . life sciences communication . . ."

Translation: Flack

Anonymous Clay February 15, 2015 12:11 PM  

Hey Jack, Funny , mebbe that's why my mother's people were Philiberts?

Blogger David February 15, 2015 12:16 PM  

Are any current institutions not corrupt?

Blogger David February 15, 2015 12:24 PM  

A billion meaningless "studies" published (publish-or-perish) each year and which ones make the Institutionalized News?

The best way to get noticed these days is to take a page out of the Mainstream Narrative and simply echo it. Add a P-value or two and you all but guarantee some rag will put you BS in a headline.

Blogger JDC February 15, 2015 12:30 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous tiredofitall February 15, 2015 12:32 PM  

"My guess is they really didn't like the dissenting voices, and because more of a persons real identity is available to Facebook, they could subtly exert more control of comments via the easier identification of FB users." - Rolf

Which is when you set up a fake Facebook with a throwaway email account. Screw them and their data-mining, just install NoScript and enable "do not track" in Chrome.

If enough people do this, what the hell can they do?

Blogger JDC February 15, 2015 12:33 PM  

Be Quiet!

Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses.

I order you to be quiet! Bloody peasants!

Anonymous Rolf February 15, 2015 12:43 PM  

tiredofitall - true, I could. But the overhead in time and inconvenience is annoying. And one of the main reasons I like the news site was a fairly clean an high-density layout, but their FB news site is one I really don't like the formatting and "features" of. So, I'll sort through the remaining local news sites, see which is the second best to my tastes.

Blogger kurt9 February 15, 2015 12:50 PM  

What will happen is that people will read articles from the MSM and make their comments about them elsewhere. The MSM people will have no idea how their content is being received due to lack of feedback as comments. The MSM will find itself becoming even less relevant over time.

Anonymous REG February 15, 2015 1:00 PM  

Also, you want to remember that it is a favorite tactic of the left to hijack the comments section for social justice purposes. The right also does it. If you monitor the comments section and verify that the comments stay on track, you can manage it. This site has numerous monitors and ask for links if the comments appear to get off track. Also, if a commenter states that he or she is being judged unfairly, the monitor will double check. Most of the other sites are not willing to put forth the effort to manage their blogs or demand to micromanage them. Kinda why I visit here, I normally learn from site and comments. Whether I agree with the consensus or not I know it's honestly presented.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2015 1:01 PM  

Nobody who is smarter or better educated than me should be allowed to comment.

That's pretty much everyone.

Anonymous Ain February 15, 2015 1:06 PM  

"Dr. Kareklas and his team were inspired by Popular Science’s decision to get rid of the comments sections on its website; other publications, like Pacific Standard, have done the same.

And their perceived credibility just soared after that.

Anonymous tiredofitall February 15, 2015 1:16 PM  

@ Rolf

It's kinda sad that either option is preferable to just being able to comment on an actual site like a grown up. And all because the site owners either fear the "feelbads", or can't be arsed to do their jobs as admins.

Anonymous Ain February 15, 2015 1:26 PM  

"Rabbi B: Hey, if it wasn't for the AD Council and PSA's how would I be able to function as a viable part of society?

Philistines!"


An episode in South Park about gluten and the FDA nailed this one. One employee said with a total lack of irony, "We're the f*ing FDA! If it wasn't for us, Americans would be eating dirt!"

Anonymous BigGaySteve February 15, 2015 1:27 PM  

".... a wide variety of opinion/thought can illuminate potential discrepancies in your own thoughts or argument ..."

One thing I have noticed it that certain concepts ring true, & become undeniable. Some of the comments on this blog are worth copying. When I was in college I was going to do a report on Allen Turning ,but instead of just copy/paste the gay victim fairy tale I wanted to get the official version and beat it like a dead horse. When I saw the official version it rang true & I knew people like him. When he dumped his 2 year under the age of consent ex boyfriend that he was over twice the age of, he framed him for theft, probably to keep him from blackmailing him. He took a wine glass down to the police station and said his house was robbed, he said he thinks it was a guy he just meet, and the burglar drank from this glass so they should fingerprint it and compare to his ex.

Cops showed up at his place and realized no burglary happened there as things more valuable than stolen were out in the open including expensive bottles of wine. To top it off he did the stereotypical gay abusing waiter thing with his boyfriend months before hand and the wait staff was willing to testify against his claim he just meet his ex. The ex boyfriend despite proof of being gay had no punishment.

I have copied and used both the black knight pro life argument from here where you say you convinced a republican pro choice is better because right women wont have abortions, & the left will depopulate themselves. Also the phrase "have you ever meet a black in real life as smart as seen on TV", how to deal with narcissists, & good arguments against 3rd world immigration.

Blogger bob k. mando February 15, 2015 1:37 PM  

bob k. mando February 15, 2015 1:01 PM
Nobody who is smarter or better educated than me should be allowed to comment.
That's pretty much everyone.



oh?

then it should be effortless for you to best me in debate.

while posting under your regular handle, instead of spoofing mine.

Blogger Rabbi B February 15, 2015 2:02 PM  

" ...while posting under your regular handle, instead of spoofing mine."

Amusing . . . they can't even insult you with their own anonymous handle . . . what a brave troll.

Blogger bob k. mando February 15, 2015 2:41 PM  

if Vox ever adopts a forum arrangement, i would tag my sig with "Have never attended any college classes for any reason, ever. Not even to audit."

for the lulz.

then all of the Ilk could just point trolls at me, and tell them that they have to kick my ass before anyone higher up the ladder is going to bother with them.

Anonymous Siriusly, You Lose February 15, 2015 4:55 PM  

And Tauriq Moosa memorably wrote at The Guardian

Lies that slither around in the dark despise the light of open debate and science and history and nature. They hate curiosity and discovery and remembering.
Such must be eliminated at all cost. Truth must be shut down and shut up at all costs.
You totalitarians have had and are afforded every advantage.
And you are still going to lose. All of History will mock your phony, fantastical beliefs and your desperate need to tell someone else what to do and believe.

Anonymous Leonidas February 15, 2015 5:23 PM  

if Vox ever adopts a forum arrangement, i would tag my sig with "Have never attended any college classes for any reason, ever. Not even to audit."

I have a BA in Philosophy, an MS in Computer Science and a +3 standard deviation IQ. I think you just proved that you're the smarter one of the two of us.

Anonymous kh123 February 15, 2015 5:59 PM  

"And Tauriq Moosa memorably wrote at The Guardian..."

Presumably the only ones who'll remember the name, article, and chutzpah therein are those with a memory long enough to recall Finsbury Mosque, Rotherham, Embassy sniping of cops, butchered soldiers in the street. Not to mention the good times had in Spain, the Netherlands, France...

Anyone with a Muslim or mideast name in Europe right now ought to at the least think about stepping off that sort of soap box right quick.

Anonymous Rhys February 15, 2015 6:20 PM  

Another reason the thought police had comments is that commenters realize they are not alone in their views. I browse reddit sometimes and one noticeable thing after the latest terrorist attack is the number of people fed up with multiculturalism, political correctness, islam and open borders.
While moderators try to censor these comments often the comments are too many and readers get to see view points they harbor, but consider extreme, to be more accepted than they thought.

Trying to control what people say in a forum dedicated to having a conversation is what destroyed 4chan. When moot tried to censor all opposition to the official gamergate narrative then people moved onto other places such as 8chan.

While the downside to anonymous comments is trolling the upside is people dare to voice opinions they might not otherwise voice. How many people would be openly critical of islam, multiculturalism, political correctness or open borders under their real names? Call it cowardice to hide behind anonymity but we all know people suffer for the real world opinion if it is not acceptable, whether through ostracisation, work related penalties, or government's anti-free speech approach. Communist Russia survived only through making people fear to have an unacceptable opinion after all.

An episode in South Park about gluten and the FDA nailed this one

Haven't seen that episode but the FDA has done more to make people fat then McDonalds.

Every armchair expert thinks they're an expert on gluten and there is a big push back against gluten free not because of any actual truth, but because there are so many dicks who are gluten free.

Blogger ray February 15, 2015 6:39 PM  

"Commenting on news stories is valuable, no doubt. moving it all to a crappy platform like FB or Twitter was the same as telling me to go away and stop contradicting their narrative."


Yep. Their latest silencing tactic. They know that many of the male commenters expressing disagreement with The Narrative dislike and reject Fakebook, Titter, and the rest of the social-media slop.

Agree also with rabbi b. at 11:44.

Scripture asserts this concerning the Kingdom of the Father that is coming, and its rejection of the liars that thrive in the current world. Note that the Holy Book equates lying and Obamanation, uh, abomination --

"... and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Rev. 21)

Anonymous no one of consequence February 15, 2015 8:41 PM  

Andrew, you are not welcome here. Commenting using another's name is doubly verboten.

Stop now.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2015 9:38 PM  

The first test for newcomers will be to beat me in a cheetos-eating contest. They will surely suffer the anguish of defeat!

Anonymous zen0 February 15, 2015 10:06 PM  

> The first test for newcomers will be to beat me in a cheetos-eating contest. They will surely suffer the anguish of defeat!

Cheetos plus Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia 2005 in the thick, tall double-shot shooter glasses with the little green glass cactus at the bottom with Negra Modelo chaser.

And that's dinner.

Blogger bob k. mando February 15, 2015 10:49 PM  

Leonidas February 15, 2015 5:23 PM
I think you just proved that you're the smarter one of the two of us.




shhhhhhh.


i like how McSpoofter Sparklypants Jazzhands can't figure out the most obviously defining characteristic of my posting.

Blogger AdognamedOp February 16, 2015 2:38 AM  

Talk about credentializing comments..The verification system here sucks.
Later

Blogger JP February 16, 2015 3:10 AM  

Comments are much more entertaining and informative than the article itself. Even here at VP, Vox often does his best work when he's tearing a dunderhead to shreds in a comment exchange.

Anonymous REG February 16, 2015 12:13 PM  

"Cheetos plus Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia 2005 in the thick, tall double-shot shooter glasses with the little green glass cactus at the bottom with Negra Modelo chaser.

And that's dinner."

Count me in, if we can get Fred to join us, it's a party worth remembering.

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