Those of us who are wordpressers go around the wordpress world and like and like and like. It’s very easy and very likeable. And I’m happy to see many people who come and visit and take a moment to like what I have written. And in this very very fast-paced world of ours, ADHD-driven (driven by and to), Facebookmarked-world, it is not unreasonable for people to just click and go “LIKE.”
And that’s good. Up to a point.
As I have written before, I have been moved by what I read in comments in stories in general. You learn a lot about people, the world, and you know, stuff, by reading people’s reactions to things. The difference is that on WordPress, as far as I’ve seen, people are really kind. Polite. Expressive. Caring. Thoughtful. Supportive.
This is in distinct contrast to many, if not most, regular web articles. So it’s not surprising to see that there is now a term for these nasties. They’re called trolls. This is from The Week (a few weeks ago, actually)
Trolling gives its anonymous practitioners the catharsis of venting forbidden feelings and ideas without suffering any consequences. On the internet, you can cuss out a stranger with even more vigor and impunity than you can a bad driver from the safety of your own car. “The enjoyment comes from finding a context in which you can let go, take a moral vacation,” says psychologist Tom Postmes of Exeter University in the U.K. “Trolls aspire to violence, to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment.” That prospect is particularly appealing to disaffected men in their late teens and 20s, but they are hardly alone: CNN tracked down a troll putting anti-Islamic screeds online and found that he was a 39-year-old father in Belgium. Rider University psychologist John Suler says an “online disinhibition effect” allows people who might never utter a hateful word in person to unleash withering vitriol on comment boards. Politics, race, gender, and religion all serve as lightning rods for troll rage, provoking such witty banter as “you n—er lover” and “you racist scumbag.” But almost any topic can lead to outpourings of bile. When author Paul Carr recently wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal about quitting drinking without the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, he was greeted by an avalanche of furious commenters calling him a “narcissistic dry drunk” and predicting he would soon relapse and ruin his life.
So why allow them, if they’re noxious and actually cost money to have some sites hire people to moderate the comments?
“Commenting is the secret sauce of social media,” says Stanford social psychologist BJ Fogg. Creating a place for readers to debate issues makes them more likely to return, and that drives up website traffic and advertising revenue. Impassioned debate can be lucrative: The most engaged 1 percent of the audience on any given site can account for as much as 25 percent of its traffic. But editors who allow trolls to take over their comment sections risk undermining their sites in the long run. “Everyone is desperately chasing eyeballs as a way to increase advertising,” said Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review. “But rare is the advertiser who would want to be associated with the ugliness of many comment sections.”
Oh….marketing. Of course…
So for those of you who have written me (who actually know who I am) that you like what I’ve written, thanks for commenting and thanks for the support. I am grateful.
For those of you who have written comments, but asked me not to actually publish them, I listen. And I appreciate your need for silence.
For those of you who forget to make up a nickname to protect my anonymity, can you try again?
So do I
dare eat a peach? invite people to actually comment, here on the page?