Sunday, August 7

Why more newspapers and networks are eliminating the ability of readers to post comments on their sites

The Internet is a very dangerous critter.  The biggest reason is that it's made it possible for "regular people" to get information from sources outside of a couple of wire services and 3 alphabet TV networks.  This makes it far harder for governments to control what regular citizens see or read.

For people who run corrupt, lawless governments--like ours--it's easy to see how allowing citizens to get information from uncontrolled sources is dangerous (to the politicians).  People might start to put two and two together.

But a second, more subtle factor is just as dangerous:  The Net vastly increases the ability of readers to comment on controversial events or government actions or decrees.  On many blogs a big event will trigger a thousand comments, many of which are more insightful than the original article.

The ability of readers to comment on an event also gives everyone an instant sense of how that blog's readers feel about whatever just happened.  Finally, comments also let readers who may have thought almost no one agreed with their viewpoint--because all the polls published by the Mainstream Media claimed no one agreed with them, for example--discover that a lot of Americans actually agree with them. 

The elites hate this because one of the ways the elites kill ideas or theories they don't like is to make people who believe those things believe no one else agrees with 'em.  Thus if you run a social media giant and can down-vote ideas Democrats don't like, those ideas will have a far harder time getting traction.  Thus the idea of TV shows featuring strong, smart, capable men; the crucial importance of traditional families, and the importance of personal responsibility (individuals making good choices) are "uncool."

Conversely, both the Mainstream Media and social media relentlessly push the ideas they like, which moves people to think those ideas are trendy.  Thus gay characters on sitcoms, notions that illegal immigrants haven't really broken any laws, and shows that stress how "99 percent of all scientists agree" that human actions cause the majority of global warming, are cool.  

You may have heard that Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other social media have been removing from their "trending now" lists any stories or tweets favorable to conservatives or damaging to Democrats.  (And despite their admissions and promises to stop doing that, if you think they're not still doing it you're too stupid to breathe.)

Those social media sites are also quick to ban conservative commenters.  If you can keep a message you don't like from being read/heard, liberals see that as a win, right?  Regular blogs, like HuffPo, are also quick to ban even civil commenters if they post comments critical of the liberal/Democrat party line.

Before the internet, the only easily-accessible way for readers to push back at the liberal media was Letters to the Editor.  Thus it was easy for the Democrat-run media to control public perceptions by printing far more pro-Democrat letters than conservative ones, or by printing letters from crazy conservatives.  Easy. 

But when the internet started giving every reader the chance to post a visible comment without editorial filtering, a huge tool for Democrat control of public opinion vanished.  Suddenly the playing field was a lot more level.  While on-line comments could be (and often are) "moderated" (i.e. only appear after being approved by an editor) this has often fueled lots of negative publicity:  a commenter whose comment wasn't approved would post the exact same comment on another site and say "Here's a comment I tried to post at X site.  It wasn't offensive, yet they deleted it.  The fix is in!"

This still happens at many sites, but increasingly on-line newspapers have simply decided not to allow *any* comments on their sites.  The "official reason" for the policy change was usually that some comments were hurting the delicate feee-wings of certain special snowflakes.  Makin' 'em feel as unsafe as college students at an Ann Coulter lecture.  But there's a lot of skepticism about the truth of that excuse.

In any case, the people who want to shape public opinion see eliminating comments as a cheap, easy victory.

As many people have noticed, most humans are herd animals:  Most of us--even if we don't recognize it--tend to go with whatever the majority is doing or buying or saying or believing, because most of us want to Belong. 

Since every "social media" organ, and virtually every alphabet network and newspaper in the U.S, supports Democrats, the solution (for Democrats) is obvious: Shape public opinion by controlling what the public can see and hear.

So let me say: Go for it, Democrats.  Stamp out those ideas (comments) that skewer your party!  Hell, why not get the IRS to make it impossible for conservative organizations to get tax-exempt status?  Exercise that total control over ideas and speech that you so want to wield.  Because ensuring that only Democrat ideas reach the public will hurt your opponents and thus win your party more elections, and more power.

And in the short run that will almost certainly work as Democrats intend--which is why they'll keep doing it.  In fact they'll keep doing it long after everyone else realizes it's a road that leads to destruction of the nation--at least the nation most of have known and (generally) loved.

So for major papers, eliminating comments controls the discussion, and thus shapes public opinion.  But two phenomena suggest there may be a different result in the long run:  First, I suspect a lot of people find it irritating when some doofus on a TV network--making six figures--makes an obviously false statement.  If the site allows comments, it's fun to see some commenter demolish doofus in four sentences, with examples.  David versus Goliath.  Most people love that.

Second: If you happen to detect some hole in a story that no one else seems to have noticed, or a missed conclusion, or something similar, and you dash off a comment that gets people to say "Whoa!  How did we all miss that?", it's really easy to get hooked.  That kind of feedback, while rare, is addicting. 

Either way, when sites stop allowing comments, a lot of people simply stop going there.  Eventually readers see--correctly--that that site only allows one point of view.  So they vote with their feet.

So allow me to propose a behavioral law:  The closer a country gets to collapse, the more mainstream media on-line sites will end the policy of publishing reader comments.


Anonymous Deserttrek said...

excellent piece

7:21 PM  

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