Friday, March 28, 2014

Thoughts on Comments

One of the reasons, maybe the main reason, why I started this blog was that I found it increasingly unpleasant to participate in the comments sections of many other established Giants and sports oriented websites.  Most websites have official commenting policies, but apparently find them difficult to enforce.  As a result, comments on many sites are dominated by bullies, people with agendas, tangential comments, "insider" jokes, group thought and generally anti-social discourse.

At their best, I find comments sections to be a lot of fun and educational to read.  Many times, I learn more from reading the comments than I did from the original post.  I believe one of the biggest reasons for the success of When The Giants Come To Town is the excellent insightful comments from our readers.  I am determined to keep it that way!

I spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to maintain the comments sections.  The host site provides a screen for obvious spam and automatically filters it out.  "Banning" does not work.  Other sites "ban" problem commenters, but the most problematic commenters seem to easily get around the "bans" and come back even more disruptive than before they were "banned."  Also, "banning" may unfairly punish someone who just had a bad day or a bad week or just got fed up with somebody else on the board.  Asking people to ignore "trolls" never works either.  Many people are just not able to ignore and end up getting into arguments, which is what the "troll" is looking for in the first place, negative attention.

I settled on a simple plan that is easy to implement.  It might not work so well on other sites, where multiple posts in multiple locations draw many simultaneously ongoing comments.  This format is small enough and focused enough that I can easily and quickly monitor the comments and delete offending ones without comment.  It is effective because most people who post disruptive comments are looking for attention.  Simple removal of the offending comments deprives them of that attention and they lose interest in pursuing it.  This, and the great readers of the site have kept the need for policing the comments section to a minimum.

So, what are my rules for deciding on which comments to delete?  I really have just one simple rule, the  Jim Rome rule:  Have a take, don't $&#@!  The only difference is pretty much all of Romey's regular commenters $&#@ and he doesn't seem to know it!  I have one other secondary rule:  Nobody gets banned!  Deletion of an individual comment is only a judgment on the comment, not on the person or on other comments they have made or will make.  Each individual comment is judged on its merits, not on the source of the comment.

I will admit that my decisions to delete comments are largely subjective.  I do not claim to strictly follow any rigid set of criteria enshrined in a policy.  Occasionally, I have deleted comments for no other reason than they just annoyed the heck out of me!  At the same time, I do have some general thoughts of what types of comments get me to thinking of deleting them which I will now share with you.  Hopefully this will shed some light on my thought processes(I think you will find that most of them follow very closely the policies of other sites:

1.  Comments containing socially unacceptable or abusive language.

2.  Personal attacks.

3.  Tangential posts that get too far off topic.

4.  Repeated comments hammering at the same point over and over without consideration of alternative points of view.

5.  Dogmatic statements without evidence to back them up, especially if they are made repeatedly.

6.  Comments that appear to be part of an agenda.  An example of this would be repeated criticisms of failed decision-making by Giants management without any significant acknowledgement of their successes.  BTW, that also goes for repeated and excessive praising of Giants management decisions without any acknowledgement of their failures or weaknesses.

7.  Excessively lengthy, rambling comments containing contradictory, cherry picked and irrelevant information presented under the guise of evidence based analysis which by their nature discourage any type of coherent response.  In short, throwing dust in the air!

8.  Repeated ranting on the same subject.  An occasional rant is OK, even therapeutic.  They can be quite humorous to read.  Repeated ranting on the same subject gets tiresome, boring and can become abusive.  If I see that happening, I will hit the button to re-direct you into more constructive future comments.

You are all a great audience.  I appreciate my readers and commenters to no end.  I apologize for even bringing the subject up.  With the exception of one particular troll who comes around every once in awhile, I would estimate that I have deleted fewer than 20 comments in the entire 4+ year history of the blog, so I believe I have used the power of deletion judiciously.  I just want to keep the comments sections something that people want to come here, read and enjoy.  Comments that distract from that goal will get the button!

Thanks to everyone for their patience!!

Dr B

PS:  If I do delete a comment, the system automatically deletes all sub-comments under that comment.


  1. Excellent point - focus on the comment and not the person.

    Another excellent point - you are a great host and I have learned and learned much from all the commenters here.

  2. Thank you, Dr. B, for running this blog with utmost professionalism. I was once a regular visitor of The Site Which Shall Not Be Named, but it became an irritating waste of time. You have attracted a following of true Giants fans who are knowledgeable about the team and the sport and also know how to conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner, and I truly believe the host sets the tone for the site and the followers mirror the host.