Daniel Hannan on judging blogs by their comment threads

People, okay mainly left wing tossers with their heads jammed up their fundament, claim that this website is rubbish or a sewer not by what is written on it but by what is in the comments. their site is better, smarter or more erudite because we have nicer commenters is the answer.

Of course it is petty jealousy fuelled with an unhealthy dose of intellectual snobbery. The market speaks and the market decides if you’re good enough not some pompous leftwing snob’s idea of what people should say or think.

Daniel Hannan explores this in his blogpost (again the Telegraph is a mainstream “news medium” that has bloggers).

The FT’s former correspondent at the European Parliament used to ask me the same question at every press conference. “So does this mean you voted the same way as Jean-Marie Le Pen?”

It’s amazing how many people want to judge a proposal, not by its merits, but by its incidental supporters. We need only state their implication openly – that you should drop an otherwise sensible idea because someone you don’t like agrees with you – to see how absurd it is.

Yet people carry on doing it. It’s the phenomenon that lies behind Godwin’s Law, the observation that all Internet discussions, if allowed to run long enough, end with comparisons to the Nazis. Hitler didn’t like trade unions! Hitler banned foxhunting! Hitler was a vegetarian! Hitler was an atheist! Hitler was a Catholic! Hitler was a pagan!

Now there’s a new variant of the phenomenon: judging a blog by its comment thread. Again, the absurdity should be obvious. Bloggers are not responsible for what happens after they have posted. Those who comment most aggressively are more often than not hostile to the writer. The word “troll” didn’t originally mean, as is often thought these days, someone who is rude and unpleasant; it meant someone who used an assumed identity to discredit someone else. 

Yes..I constantly am amazed by some of those intellectual snobs with airs and graces and ideas of wht is and what should be getting basic ideas about trolls ans sock puppets so bloody wrong (yes Peter I’m talking about you).

I didn’t think that any of this needed saying. But, in recent weeks, I’ve noticed several writers pointing at comment threads. The brilliant Ed West, formerly of this parish, Tweeted in a tone of resigned sorrow that, unfairly or not, a blog was bound to be judged by its comments. Robert Shrimsley, once a Telegraph correspondent, now at the FT, recently became very agitated because one of my comment threads had become infested by a handful of the anti-Semitic losers who trawl the web from their mother’s basements. If I didn’t respond, he suggested, it was because their opinions didn’t bother me.

Now I’ve always had a soft spot for Bob, and I enjoy his FT column. But think of the implication here. Two of my five last blogs attracted over a thousand comments each. Even if I was a full-time blogger, with no constituents to represent and no work to do in Brussels, there are simply not enough hours in the day to police every comment. Nor would I want to. Let people say whatever they like: if they make dicks of themselves, that’s their problem, not mine. Bob argued that we all have a responsibility to set the tone in our blogs but, as a matter of fact, this blog came to the attention of the BNP saddoes precisely because I had attacked their party.

Without intending to, Bob was using the same line that trolls habitually do: “Unless you explicitly say X, we can all assume Y”. Every blogger, every Tweeter, will recognise the tactic. Whenever I post anything from somewhere other than my home, for example, I can guarantee –guarantee – that there will be half a dozen comments along the lines of “Enjoying a taxpayer-funded jaunt, I see!” Whenever I comment on American politics, I can likewise guarantee a series of “Being paid by Fox News, then, are you?” I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect me to keep issuing patient and polite denials.

My word, his experiences are the same as mine…except generally it is other jealous bloggers making assumptions, politically motivated short men peddling lies for vested interests in mainstream media trying to prove the same. I mean even John Drinnan tried last week to smear by saying I don’t disclose my business plans…I mean WTF?…How about get f**ked Drinnan.

For what it’s worth, by far the nastiest, crudest and most hate-filled comment threads I’ve come across are on the Guardian. Have a look at the response to my latest column there as an example. Should we judge all Guardian-readers, or all Leftists, by those comments? No, of course not. In fact, I know that odium in their threads is a source of despair to the writers and section editors on that high-minded newspaper.

Yup, go look at The Standard comments threads, especially on any posts about me. God knows they need the traffic, but seriously the world’s most brilliant sysop thinks there is nothing wrong with the hate-filled comments threads.

Of all the people who read this blog – and I’m sure the same is true of the Guardian – no more than one per cent have ever posted a comment, and probably no more than 0.005 per cent comment with any frequency. Of those who do comment, most are polite, and a fair number carry out the invaluable role of drawing errors to my attention. But, of course, it’s not these that leap out at the observer. No more than eight or nine prolific posters can, in effect, set the tone below the line.

Other regular commenters here have no doubt learned, as I have, not to read these remarks. In a remarkably short time, you become so used to skipping over them that you no longer register their presence. I do, though, try to read other comments, even if I don’t often have time to reply. Interaction with readers has greatly improved the quality of journalism, punishing laziness, identifying inaccuracies, exposing poor arguments. Thank Heaven for that.

Yup, same here. Thanks to the vigilance of Pete and Travis we have a much more conducive forum for discussion, but haters gunna hate, and wreckers be wreckers. Ignore them like I do.

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