Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Bittersweet World of Online Commenting

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 3:00 PM


The uprising of social media and the allure of anonymity have made it easier for people to voice their opinions. But, at times, these opinions can be a little farfetched, disrespectful, or completely off-topic.

When I wrote my article, “The Struggles of the Black Race,” I placed a portion of it on my Memphis Flyer blog. I received some backlash from certain Flyer commenters as a result.

Although I highlighted early in the article that I wasn’t seeking to defame any particular race but to simply express my thoughts on the black race and what it’s like to be part of it, several commenters still accused me of “stereotyping other races,” being “ignorant,” among other things.

Considering that race can be a touchy subject, I presumed that I would receive varied reactions for my views. Stating that, it isn’t acceptable for people to be blatantly disrespectful with their opinions. But who can control this?

Whether you’re a journalist, an artist, or just a person who posts videos on YouTube or images on Instagram, there’s a great possibility you will encounter commenters—maybe they’re friends, family, supporters, individuals expressing their opinion, or, even, “trolls” desiring to use your post to spew thoughts that are negative or off-topic altogether. That’s the gamble you take when you post something on a website with a comment section.

On one end, the comment section on social media outlets can be a good place for people to share insightful feedback regardless if they agree with what’s posted. However, it’s another thing to be undeniably negative or off-topic all together when you comment on a post.

Take YouTube, WorldStarHipHop, or for examples. The commenting sections on these sites are being used less and less for people to share their opinions on the content posted, but more for them to bash other commenters, promote certain things, or leave meaningless messages.

On the other hand, not every commenter is a person with boatloads of time on their hands just waiting to shoot loads of ammo from their keyboards at everything posted on the Internet. A lot of people actually pose thoughtful perspectives that spark conversation from others. But we all are aware this isn’t always the case.

Furthermore, the fact that a significant number of commenters remain anonymous or utilize pseudonyms as their monikers allows them to say whatever they please without repercussion. Across the country, numerous publications, social media outlets, and organizations are unhappy with the pool of commenters who choose to leave irresponsible, negative or irrelevant responses on their websites. And this is primarily because a large portion of them are unidentifiable.

The Huffington Post recently made the decision to ban all anonymous commenters on its website. The ban will require all new commenters accessing the site to identify themselves by name and verify their identity. This will hopefully increase more meaningful and civil discussions among commenters on their website.

To read more, click here

Check out my website:
Follow me on Twitter: @Lou4President
Friend me on Facebook: Louis Goggans

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