A good proportion of my time is spent commenting on articles. It’s the best way to thrash out an argument or continue a discussion.
Media convergence has made this possible.
Blogs are not dissimilar.
They encourage debate among users by leaving the question open to interpretation. Frequently radio presenters will refer to their Facebook page or their twitter followers. Q&A has introduced on-screen tweets during the show which encourages people to interact with the topic at hand. And after shows like Dateline (SBS) there is an online discussion between users. It’s a great way to flesh out a discussion.
This kind of media convergence has been modelled from the growth of blogs. Really, it’s more like necessity.
When researching what to write about for my niche, it was important to read the comments because they often criticise, which is what I want to do as an Axel Bruns-style ‘gate keeper’ blogger (instead of gate-watcher).
This technique worked especially well with my post on Catherine Deveny, which got heaps of reads and a few comments (also because of search engine optimisation).
I’ve found the stories with the most comments are the most contentious, divisive, or interesting. Typical subjects are religion, politics and people retiring.
Reading the comments section of Catherine Deveny’s article on The Drum, it was interesting to follow the massive influx of comments. There are about 1,250 at last count, and half of them are abusive and cruel, while the other half are supportive and kind. Typical. What was most interesting is that people started arguing with each other – this happens often on the Q&A site after each show.
Geert Lovink spoke about the quality of internet debates and blogs. His nihilist impulse theory on blogging is not as bad as it sounds. Lovink’s analysis, in my reading, is that blogs are always critical of ‘the establishment’ and thus futile or self-defeating. As such, they spiral into personal insults. But I have found that some can be sarcastic, witty, inspiring, educational and challenging.
Of course, it depends on the site – most YouTube users do not have much in common with Q&A users.
YouTube is perhaps the venue that brings out the worst in people. But it is interesting. The users’ anonymity gives them free reign for hatred, bile, abuse and lies. But there is also an anarchy to the comment threads. Nobody is going to read 14,000 comments about some dodgy video, but they respond to other users, creating new threads and tangents. Often it will turn into a slander match between two or three people, with little relevance to the thread. Lev Manovich agrees,
“The web is, in effect, millions of such conversations taking place at the same time.”
Manovich’ position on this is a bit tentative. I don’t see it as a problem.
The point of this blog is to foster debate about the media, so some would argue that getting into personal attacks and vitriol is a bad thing because it detracts from the original point. On the contrary, I often gauge the debate by the level of bile on the comment thread. There are always a few people who stand up and go head-to-head (this is usually me).
Tim from Climate Communications blog has one of the funniest exchanges I’ve ever seen (click here for the post) which shows how an insult can turn into a proper argument. The mere fact I’ve linked it here proves Bruns’ point; users shape their own internet by democratic optimistic means.
Insults get people engaged. It makes some people shy away, but other stand up and fight. This is a boon for bloggers because it means more visitors and more interest in your blog. You start to set the agenda.
More broadly, news outlets have all adopted online comment sections because they know users will spend time on their site which, coupled with effective advertising, equals dollars. I think this is the way news and current affairs is going.
Comments from the man on the street are now getting their run in the press.
Just for fun: (and a warning-this message contains so much crap that I had to include it for comic value. It was written to me by some eloquent YouTube probably in response to some comment I made. But I think it perfectly captures the mood of YouTube comment culture):
THERES ONLY ONEE GODD ONEE PEACEE theres only one god the vedas upanishads its in their brahman that is the almighty god has no enemys just like how spinoiza and sikhism says theres only one god that is brahman that is allah waheguru almighty god no one can make a picture of god lord shiva lord vishnu lord brahma all the pagan dietys the moon the sun egyptian dietys some or all of them
probaly by know became the same as god i dont know if they did they were all made by that one god brahman everything was made by that one god brahman allah any one can become the same as god
become one with brahman by doing medatation doing rightousness we are so dirty and nasty inside god is a 100 percent clean when we get clean when we start seeing god in every human being creature animal thats why eating meats bad vegetables were given by GOD for us to eat god gave us vegetables when we stop talkin trash about people when we stop hearing trash about people when ever someones talkin trash about someoneelse we dont hear it when a person reaches at that point and more stuff the person just changes when the person reaches the highest stage which is becoming the same as god that stage cant be described the person becomes THE SAME AS god no difference in the person and god theres only one one god for evey relgion theres only one god for every body animals human beings everything everyone no one can make a picture of god no one can make a image of god god never comes in human form god god is limitless brahman in the vedas upanishads is god alone who is un describle guru nanak the first guru of sikhism says the universe keeps on expanding that universe everything exists because of allah waheguru god that one who is the creator of everything is limitless is un describle
when someone is talkin trash about someone that person never hears it about someone that happens when a person gets clean he or she dosent hear it when the person gets clean gods name makes our mind clean doing rightousness makes it clean and when we do more stuff we just change then a person reaches that stage were he or she becomes the same as god no difference anyone can become like god doesnt matter whats your relgion god bless amen and amen peace some people mis read holy books god bless amen and amen some people say islam is the only way i dont believe it some say christanity is the only way i dont believe it i believe in that one god who has no relgion all guru nanak the first GURU OF sikhism he teached that in every human being god lives in every creature
if there was only one relgion that was the way this world wouldnt be that interesting there all connected so is science god bless peace
PREACH THIS YOU WILL TRULY BE BLESSED second hand smoke look how many people walk outside you can be killing someone without knowing it second hand smoke the government needs to stop this look at the innocent people walking on the streets i understand if a person wants to harm there self but harming others is a mega mega sin SECOND HAND SMOKE MURDER SECOND HAND SMOKE people need to start thinking peace please preach this to people this is what god wants god will be so happy and you will be blessed not even one person should be effected god lives in every human being creature animal helping one person is helping all of hummanity hurting one person is doing evil to all of hummanity just think my brothers and sisters about second hand smoke you can be killing someone without knowing it remember not even 1 person should be effected THINK? god bless peace amen and amen amen and amen a woman and man are equal its just that people have made the man bigger than woman a person should only marry one woman and man should only marry one who love each other so much and thats marriage so both should only be married with one WOMAN AND MAN there both equal THEY ARE BOTH EQUAL SOME PEOPLE MIGHT THINK ONE GENDER IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER BUT THERE EQUAL PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN RULES god bless peace amen and amen we are nasty drty sexual desire and WE HAVE TO see god in everyone every creature animal gods every were thats why eating meat is bad next anger BEING ANGRY ANGER we have to get rid of that loving material stuff have to get rid off greedyness have to get rid off we have to become clean god bless peace amen and amen
SEXUAL DESIRE iS good only if its two people husband and wife that is love that is god other than that sexual desire is sin thinking about other woman IS A SIN proud thinking no one can mess with mei can do bad stuff to people if i want but really a person shouldnt be scared of anyone or anything but god and thats only if thinking about doing something evil other than that no gods kindness is limitless and just be peaceful i by mistakely scrambled all of this up god bless amen and amen peace SEE IF WE WERE THE MASTERS OF THIS UNIVERSE WE WOULD NEVER WANT ANYONE TO BECOME LIKE US BECAUSE WE ARE SELFISH BUT GOD IS A 100 PERCENT CLEAN AND WANTS EVERYONE TO BECOME LIKE SELF SO YEA A PERSON CAN BECOME LIKE GOD BY GODS GRACE GOD BLESS PEACE AMEN AND AMEN AND WE SHOULDNT WASTE ELCETRICITY AND WATER WE EVERYONE NEEDS WATER AND ELCETRICITY SOME PEOPLE GET DIRTY WATER WE HAVE TO STOP WASTING THIS ELEVATORS TAKE A LOT OF ELECTRICITY ALOT WHEN IM DOWNSTAIRS AT NIGHT I TURN THE LIGHTS OFF I TRY MY BEST NOT TO WASTE WATER AND ELECTRICITY EVEN WHEN YOU TAKE A BATH OR SHOWER MAKE IT REALLY LESS AND YOU WILL BE BLESSED PREACH THIS AND YOU WILL BE BLESSED GOD BLESS PEACE AMEN AND AMEN WE SHOULD TRY OUR BEST TO REDUCE THIS GREEN HOUSE GASES THIS PEOPLE THAT ARE USING THEM IN FACTORIES ETC AND TRY NOT USING THE CAR THAT MUCH GOD BLESS AMEN AND AMEN PEACE N everyone has there own belifs and they have the freedom to think what they want to belif think but dont talk nastyness trash about others relgion GOD BLESS PEACE AMEN AND AMEN GOD HAS SHOWN ME THE TRUTH GOD IS ONE GOD HAS SHOWN ME THE TRUTH GOD IS ONE TRULY I SAY TO YOU MY MESSEAGE IS THE TRUTH BELIEVE ME OR NOT PEACE MOSIEEEE read this read this read this truly i say to you this is the truth believe me or not i am i am telling the truth peaceeee MOSIEEEEE GOD BLESS GOD BLESS YOU MY FRIENDDD REMEMBER MY FRIEND REMEMBER WHAT I SAIDDDDD REMEMBERR PEACEE MOSIEEFOOL