Your average newspaper these days has added a comment section to many of its articles. That’s basically an invitation for extremists, trolls, and jackasses. A Boston Globe story about taxes, transit, or the MBTA is generally followed by several comments insisting that bloated corrupt unions are the cause of all its problems and that only a repeal of the income tax will solve anything. In the New York Times, every article about the economy will draw approximately equal numbers of comments George W. Bush and Barack Obama for the parlous state of global finance, plus at least one blaming George Soros and one advocating a return to the Gold Standard and the abolition of fractional-reserve banking systems.
But the best whackadoo comments are to be found in the dedicated financial press. For example, check out this article about oil-price fluctuations. The entirely reasonable premise of the article – that oil prices are volatile and we should plan for such volatility – leads to six hundred comments in under a day. About half are totally dismissive of a possibility of oil returning to high prices, or insisting that only speculators (George Soros again playing the role of bogeyman) caused oil to cross $100/barrel mark last year. Others of course play the opposite role and insist that ammunition, not oil, is where you want to be investing right now, and at least one commenter pops up noting that he’s stockpiling diesel, ammunition, honey, and clean underwear for the coming apocalypse.
2 thoughts on “Comment Sections On Newspapers: Bring Out The Wacky”
It is worth noting that this is surely increasing traffic to those web pages. It is worth asking whether these are the readers advertisers want to reach.
Newspapers allowing readers to comment on every single article is a dreadful option for readers who do not make comments. There will never be a newspaper article that everyone who reads it will agree on. People who feel the need to comment on these articles could better spend their time arguing on a similar topic blog, rather than wasting our newspaper space. These “wacky” commenters are usually very opinionated and can make other readers frustrated. Speaking of wacky, I once wrote a letter to my college newspaper editor and was told it wouldn’t be printed because it was too strange of a thought. People need to leave their comments to their friends, or send letters to the editor, or argue with people on a blog.