What do you love and hate about online commenting?

55% love it
45% hate it

I think that part of the internet is kaput, broken, and generally crappy. It's the part called "commenting" and you probably know what I'm talking about, especially if you have ever tried to debate a socio-political issue online.

7937 comments - screenshot from an actual political website discussion.

Long comment threads are just unproductive. The more comments there are, the less likely you are to read them, understand them, and make sense of them all. You could view just the "best" comments, but that won't help you make sense of the entire thread; it will just give you a snapshot of what a few early commenters posted. How can you construct value from 1000 comments?

Divisive comments - screenshot from an actual political website discussion.

Disagreements get worse, not better after an online discussion. People get entrenched in their views and the language gets more fiery. Ideological gaps widen, and the middle ground is lost. How can commenting help people disagree while reducing divisiveness?

Rude and offensive comments - screenshot from an actual political website discussion.

Trolls find it easy to ruin conversations, because moderators are never fast enough to stop them. Visitors and blog owners hate trolls. But they also hate over-zealous moderators who flag every post that does not share their world view. How can we stop the disrespect and make commenting more civil?

The internet had so much promise - interactive articles, participatory democracy, global conversations, wisdom of the crowds. All of this is still possible - but we have to fix commenting. I love some parts of commenting, but I hate other parts of it.

What do commenters, visitors, and website owners feel about commenting?


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