There are few things worse as a reader than coming across the comments section on a website. With very few exceptions its a depressing experience which adds little or nothing to any reasoned debate around the topic being discussed. The petty bickering and point-scoring, one-upmanship, grammar corrections and sniping make me despair that ‘adults’ behave in such a way.
So it was interesting to read this morning about the way some Guardian journalists deal with trolling and abuse: The dark side of Guardian comments. Of course, women and minorities come in for the worst of it:
“We focused on gender in this research partly because we wanted to test the theory that women experience more abuse than men. But both writers and moderators observe that ethnic and religious minorities, and LGBT people also appear to experience a disproportionate amount of abuse.”
So it was heartening to hear Nesrine Malik’s attitude, where she dismisses the behaviour for what it is, but also defends the notion of commenting as something worthwhile.
Personally, I reckon that there’s enough uninformed opinion out there without giving people the chance to air more on the websites of national newspapers. Luckily there are technical ways to make sure that you don’t have to read them.