Are Comments Sections Always Stupid

Are comments sections for news stories and so on generally dominated by ideologues who repeat talking points?

Using as an example the NYT article on the One Child Policy:

And I’ve picked the most recommanded quotes

These quotes generally don’t dwell on the evil of forced abortions or even the pluses or minuses of a one child policy but on outdated “Population Bomb” theories from the '70s according to which India should be starving to death right now and even we should have food rationed. Also ignorant is the fact that people applaud the Chinese while attacking the “West” for not doing anything even though Europe and America (except for Hispanics who probably will follow suit soon enough) are rapidly not having children. The irony is that these comments are moderated, yet my comments pointing out the inaccuracies in many of these comments have not been posted.


In fact, the ones you quoted are practically genius-level compared to the some I’ve read on, the Wall Street Journal website, and (weary sigh) Scientific American.

Basically, any popular website with a comments section that is open for anyone to post to is going to be full of complete morons. (There will be non-morons as well, but you have to sift a lot of chaff to find the wheat.)

Yeah, pretty much.

I mostly only read comment sections to get a laugh at how dumb people are. They’re not useful for much else.

As always, “I disagree with you” is NOT the same as “you are stupid”.

Yahoo! comments have to be near the worst. Any mo-ron can post there. I try not to read them because I start to question my faith in humanity.

I tend to agree.

I agree, and awhile back I posted a thread that suggested that commenting, even on intelligent blogs, might be passé for that very reason - and for others. I think it’s very possible that people today would rather just talk online with a pre-selected circle of friends than risk encountering divergent views or taking part in a conversation that might really challenge or enlighten.

Perhaps inevitably, the thread I started got very few comments. :dubious:

I didn’t even know SA had a comments board…but, doggone, I would have imagined that it would be a model of sense, literacy, and moderation. Damn shame; who can you trust these days?

The NYT comments section is a bastion of knowledge compared to the comments sections on local newspaper’s websites. I’m not saying that because I like the NYT (I do, but that’s beside the point), the comments are indeed dumb, narrow-minded, and alarmist. But local news sites are just awful, downright shameful places that will make you weep for humanity.

There are a few places where comments pages are OK, mostly ones that are heavily moderated. John Scalzi’s and Fred Clark’s blogs come to mind. Still, I don’t think that you can expect people who are not writing more-or-less professionally to write very well on throwaway comments.

And for the love of God, don’t look at Youtube comments. That’s the bottom of the barrel.

Believe it or not, I post on an entertainment app that has a comment section and, although there’s the occasional troll and troglodyte opinion, it’s mostly either harmless fluff or a couple of people who are intelligent, well-reasoned and logical. I was happily surprised and I now consider it to be my second home away from the Dope. Amazingly, very fulfilling discussions break out on there almost every day. I like it and would highly recommend it to others. It’s certainly worth any small disturbances to keep up the good fight.

Unless they’re moderated, comments sections are always stupid.


Radical Moslems are getting their tentacles into our Comments Sections.

The BBC’s Have Your Say website was so known for idiotic and incoherent contributions that someone actually invented a BBC HYS Twat-o-Tron which produces posts largely indistinguishable from the real thing, as I can attest. In fact, some of the ToT responses people have posted on the BBC site have been designated “Most Popular”. It’s like Poe’s Law meets a Turing test.

Here are two computer-generated quotes and two actual HYS submissions from real people, for your amusement. Which are which is left as an exercise for the reader.

Yahoo is a breath of fresh air compared to Free Republic. Reading those comments makes me feel like I’m in a mental straightjacket and trying to wiggle my way free. Here are some fun random examples:

New York trans fat ban has cut consumption, study finds

Gay Nebraska woman tied up, mutilated in hate-crime assault, police say

The sad thing is, I didn’t even read the comments before linking that article because I knew it was going full-on stupid.

…and then there are the comments on YouTube…

I still notice people agreeing with me in profoundly stupid ways, though. I’m left-wing in general, but I can still tell the difference between, “I feel that the social safety net is essential to ensure the country’s poor are not abandoned and give them the opportunity for social mobility,” and, “CAMERON IS SELLING OUR POOR FOR MEAT - KILL THE RICH!!1!”

Guess which end of the spectrum is better represented.

I always think when I find myself reading a comments section that it is God’s way of telling you to take a break from the internet. And what is it with nutty posters and their love of really bad puns? Like “EUSSR” (meaning the European Union), “New Lie-bore” (Labour), and “Tony Bliar”?

In my experience, yes. Especially Yahoo. My theory is those people don’t know how to visit other websites and spew garbage there.