On the deterioration of commenting quality…

I had a conversation with a major player in one of Northern Ireland’s main political parties recently. He mentioned that he thought Slugger had gone downhill in recent times. I perhaps dismissed it too offhandedly, arguing that the viewer stats have gone up and stayed up through the summer (a season when they usually tail off). But considering the proportion of posts to comments, and the general drop in quality in the latter, I’m beginning to think this may have been at the back of his mind. Although Slugger is not unique in having this problem.I’ll try to make this brief.

One thing that keeps (good) bloggers in check is the thought that if you get things wrong your credibility will go south. With commenters, there is no such disincentive for gilding the lily or being economical with the truth. The speed with which people disown or ignore their own illogical inconsistencies is, at times, embarrassing.

As a blogger you know people won’t return if your writing is not concise, useful and even entertaining. You cannot overestimate your own incisive off-the-cuff genius. The core value is journalistic. You make your point, and then you get off the pot. All too often, these values are missing from the comments we get.

In a liberal environment like Slugger’s comment zone, there are endless opportunities to veer off the point; especially when your opponent puts a case you’d rather not deal with. However, such evasion makes for dull, disjunctured reading.

Despite our brave attempts to get people to address the substance of an argument with some degree of civility, too many succumb to the temptation to slap their opponents up a bit. Unfortunately what gets sacrificed in the fracas that follows is their own contribution’s intended point!

Judicious editing by an moderator can demonstrate the benefit of keeping posts light and to the point. When I’ve done this in the past, the results have been revelatory for individual commenters.

I’m not berating people, nor am I singling individuals out. Indeed I wish I could offer an editing/moderation service as a matter of course. But my rates aren’t cheap! 😉

Multiple (and contending) viewpoints arise from the best threads. It usually indicates that people are actually thinking about what their opponents are saying and are allowing their own arguments to be tested in the process.

We’ve got some quality people here who have some challenging and thought provoking views. But the bottom line is, I’ve had enough of the vituperative faction fighting. So, if don’t want to find youself clipped (or worse), then just play the game!