Thursday, May 19, 2011

No More Comments

As regular readers will have noticed, I have not been posting additional comments here at NO Comment. I have other obligations and, frankly, the daily task of reading the comments is both depressing and redundant. Suffice to say, I think that this media criticism experiment has successfully highlighted the fact that there are numerous and largely unchecked comments that appear daily on, and many other media websites, that are racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive in a manner that degrades the possibility of civil discourse on the important issues that our city, state, and country faces.

I very much believe in free speech and encouraging a diversity of view points, especially those that confront majority view points, but I believe that a review of the comments on this blog as well as those that appear on stories on reveal that the Utopian ideal of open dialogue that the internet promised has devolved into a hellish, bullying fora that most sensible and thoughtful people avoid.

I would encourage to either eliminate comments altogether or to make a aggressive effort to create accountability among its users and to minimize the likelihood of exposing its readers to needlessly offensive comments. Possible steps would include eliminating anonymity for commenters (by, at the very least, requiring a Facebook profile or a user account associated with a Times Picayune subscription), eliminating comments on certain news stories (like crime reports) likely to generate offensive comments in the way that comments have been barred from society stories, enabling comments on society stories and offering the same level of scrutiny for comments on stories about the city's poor as with the city's elites, moving comments from the bottom of articles to a separately linked page so that people are not confronted with the comments if they do not choose to read them and so that the comments do not get equal footing with the article, barring users at IP addresses that routinely make offensive comments and creating other means of accountability for users who violate the posted policies, premoderating comments from users before they post or creating constant, 24 hour a day moderation of comments as they post, and, in general, creating policies that recognize the centrality of the Times Picayune and to public discourse in this city and taking seriously its role in protecting this important dialogue and its readers from thoughtless, offensive, and degrading comments.

If you have other thoughts and ideas, please post them.


Billy Sothern

Monday, March 28, 2011

Darwinism At Work

A comment about the disappearance of Jim Dugan, an alumnus, like me, of St. John's College, who hasn't been seen since he and a companion fell into the Mississippi River last week after the dock they were on collapsed:

smeyers02 March 27, 2011 at 5:51AM
Uh, if I fall into a river, I'm not going to just climb out, hug and go home. It's the Mississippi! I'm gonna go to the hospital to make sure I don't have a disease.
My theory? Kelly pushed him in (maybe as a joke?) or he committed suicide and she freaked out. Kelly's story is awfully fishy (pun intended). Mark my words, she did something to this dude. I bet she pushed him in as a "joke" or something because they were both drunk. Either way it was Darwinism at work.
Seriously, who drinks on a pier on the river at 4am? Buh bye. Fish food.
No, but this Kelly girl is gonna be arrested for homicide when all is said and done. She did him in.
 So, in order of appearance, though not necessarily in offensiveness, speculation that Jim killed himself, his companion perjured herself, a pun about the woman's story about a likely dead man, a suggestion that she murdered him, a suggestion that the man's death was "Darwinism at work," and a joke that the man is now "fish food." All in a comment section that is being closely monitored by Jim's friends and family for news about whether he is still alive or will ever be found.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Star Chamber

A comment on an article about an ongoing death penalty trial in Jefferson Parish:

toocynical March 21, 2011 at 3:23PM

That's his defense - I'm stoned and scared....the defense attorney should be on trial too.
I think its dangerous to suggest that an attorney should be punished for representing his client. However, its also the position taken by a number of prominent conservatives so it probably doesn't rank as high on the offensiveness chart as the usual racist and sexist invective we see on Unless you are, like me, a criminal defense attorney. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Michael Anderson's Prison Monkey Family

A comment concerning Michael Anderson's guilty plea in federal court for his role in a Central City street gang:

ceasarion March 19, 2011 at 11:31AM

So the case wasn't perfect..."WHO CARES"? This scumbag is out of society FOREVER!!!! Thank You Jim Letten...If NOT for Mr. Letten's continued bulldog tenacity, this POS would have been back on the streets killing and intimidating more citizens. Thank GOD for the feds, because if we relied on our local/state prosecutors and Judges, this type of trash would still be running the streets. Like Bill Jefferson...Lol... I loved the Anderson Momma and other neanderthal (barely standing erect) relatives in the bright (OPP jumpsuit orange) T-shirts with the logos stating that "mike-Mike be In-o-cent", this was a truly defining moment of television this mornings newscast, that made me nearly blow coffee out of my nose laughing. Anderson is trash, and will be murdered in prison hopefully for ratting out his other henchmen for their crimes as well. I love it!!! Hows that old say'in go??? Oh yeah..."Live by the sword" Yes. A little justice for those children killed by this murderer. 27 shots fired at 5 teenage kids of a weapon. My God, do they make a clip that big for a handgun? I guess so. Either that, or he had to stop and reload the pistol. Bye Bye Mike-Mike, HELL has a special place marked out for the likes of you. Dogpound indeed, Satan will use you like a lap dog I'm just sure. Only regret is that the state of Louisiana won't get a chance to inject your rotten viens with the juice, and post it on youtube as a lesson for future punks to see as a warning. HA
In case you missed it, he is saying that the African American activists present in court with their Safe Streets t-shirts looked like prison monkeys to him.  And I suppose its worth noting that those folks are not his family members, but are community activists concerned with his treatment in the criminal justice following the district attorney's suppression of exculpatory evidence at his death penalty trial, and that his mother wasn't present in court. But who cares about details when you have racist invective to take care of.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Voices of Compassion

A comment posted yesterday afternoon on an article about the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami:

digger111 March 13, 2011 at 5:55PM

From the people that brought you bayonetting babies in Nanking, enslaving women in Korea for sex, sneak attacking Pearl harbor, a walk in the park in Bataan, and killing 100,000 Phillipinos in Manilla on the eve of their rescue by brave Marines and Soldiers...payback is not that wonderful. Let bthem all fall in the water.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Slate on Anonymous Comments

Troll, Reveal Thyself

Why we need to get rid of anonymous comments.

Once or twice a week, I get a letter taking me to task for Slate's commenting policy. The reader wants to tell me that I suck, but he doesn't want to log in to Slate's comment system using his credentials for Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or Twitter. Obviously this requirement doesn't bother everyone; hundreds of people happily sign in every week to tell me I suck. Yet I imagine that there are lots more people who are itching to chime in but who are put out by the login process.
One common misperception is that Slate wants your social-networking account in order to steal your private information. In fact, when you comment by typing in your username and password for Facebook or Twitter, those sites are the ones that check your credentials—Slate never sees your login information. If you sign on with your Facebook account, we do see your name and other details you've made available for everyone, but we get nothing more private than that.
If Slate isn't looking to invade your privacy, why are we asking you to log in with your social-networking accounts? Why make it so hard for people to comment—don't we want every reader to participate, even if they're skittish about revealing their names?
I can't speak for my bosses, who might feel differently than I do. But as a writer, my answer is no—I don't want anonymous commenters. Everyone who works online knows that there's a direct correlation between the hurdles a site puts up in front of potential commenters and the number and quality of the comments it receives. The harder a site makes it for someone to post a comment, the fewer comments it gets, and those comments are generally better.

To read the rest, check it out at (In deference to Todd Price's superior judgment on such matters. See his constructive comments below.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

10 Year Old Charged with Stabbing His Brother with a Knife

Comments to a sad article about a ten year old boy charged with stabbing his brother:

pennyleboeuf March 06, 2011 at 5:05PM
LadyLilith March 06, 2011 at 5:20PM
I completely agree with you. I feel the same way about a teenager having 'consensual' sex with an adult. The teenager knows what they are doing at that age. The adult should never be punished for consensual sex.

84sunny84 March 06, 2011 at 7:49PM
of course it won't save him, he may be only 10 but is already a lost cause ...he doesn't have a soul. There is something inside everyone with a soul that tells them that they are doing wrong. He obviously doesn't have it and yes needs to be put away.