Internet

Journalism is Changing (And So are Your Underpants), And Commenters, Watch Out!

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The Atlantic wraps its April issue in another tedious chin-scratcher assessing the quality of journalism is this here constantly shifting digital age in which we live in. Any story on this topic that can even begin, as this regrettably does, with taking seriously Ted Koppel's objectively insane nostalgia for an era where Americans got most of their news in half-hour televised bursts from just three sources that were all trying for the same bullshit "objectivity" loses points to begin with.

The story by James Fallows then slaloms into a long semi-profile of Gawker chief Nick Denton that isn't super relevant to either its setup or its conclusion, and then after much fashionable and mostly baseless worrying about the gross and ugly media world of today finally gets to a specific example that proves that the rest of the piece was pretty pointless:

Let's remember something we saw early this year. Television networks have been closing bureaus all around the world. Only a handful of U.S. news organizations even pretend to operate a global network of correspondents. Americans are famous for their ineptness in foreign languages. Ten years of military engagement in the Middle East has done little to increase U.S. sophistication about Islam or the Middle East.

Yet with all these reasons why the media should have failed, in fact they succeeded. A major event in world history was covered more quickly, with more nuance, involving a greater range of voices and critical perspectives, than would have been conceivable even a few years ago. Within hours of the first protests in Egypt, American and world audiences read dispatches from professional correspondents—on Web sites, rather than waiting until the next day, as they had to during the fall of the Berlin Wall. They saw TV news footage—including Al Jazeera's, which was carried by few U.S. broadcasters but was available on computers or mobile apps. Then the Twitter feeds from and about Egypt, the amateur YouTube videos from the streets, the commentary of contending analysts—all of it available as the story took place. We take this for granted, yet there has been nothing like it before. Even a year ago it would have been hard to imagine how thoroughly, and with what combination of media, voices, and judgments, an event in an Arab capital could have been witnessed around the world.

Yes, Mr. Fallows. Full stop: more voices, more sources, more access, more perspectives in news is better, and that's what the Internet age has given us, and that's good for consumers of news even if it gives Ted "Oldest Living Confederate Newsman Tells All" Koppel a coughing fit. To huff and puff toward that conclusion, as this story eventually does after the long aside on Denton that fills the piece but doesn't really inform it in an interesting way, is a waste of everyone's time. I read it so you don't have to.

But I really write about it just to poke at our beloved Hit and Run commenters with this observation from Mr. Denton of Gawker:

In the first New York profile, in 2007, Denton had said that an active "commenter" community was an important way to build an audience for a site. Now, he told me, he has concluded that courting commenters is a dead end. A site has to keep attracting new users—the omnipresent screens were recording the "new uniques" each story brought to the Gawker world—and an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off. "People say it's all about 'engagement' and 'interaction,' but that's wrong," he said. "New visitors are a better indicator and predictor of future growth."

Matt Welch from 2002 on saving journalism from its would-be saviors.

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  1. This problem is easily solved. Randomly assign names to each commenter on an hourly basis.

    1. Actually, that would be interesting, as we’d be trying to recognize each other solely though writing style. I bet we could do it pretty well.

      1. Penis penis penis.

        1. JW, is that you?

          1. I’m down here you Bushpigchristfag!

          2. I’d have thought it was rectal.

      2. New people would be hopeless forever though. And it’d be more difficult to hunt down quotes of Tony being hypocritical.

        1. to hunt down quotes of Tony being hypocritical

          The other reason that the Anonotroll keeps changing its handle. No accountability.

          1. Yet it squeals when I call it anonymous.

            1. You mean edward?

              1. No, Naga. I mean anonypussy.

                1. I haven’t been around much lately. Remind of an example of his pussy/retarded behavior?

              2. I think they’re different people, too, but it’s hard to tell.

                I really don’t get the psychology of trolls very well, to be honest.

                1. Fucking trolls! How do they work?

                2. There is rather, who is what Epi also calls Anonopussy… the one-off snarky comments about him. She also does it to other people. Different handle, one or two lines. Reads like Edward without all the cocksucking. (Not to be confused with OhioOrrin, the most pathetic troll ever, who also changes names constantly to avoid incif-ing.)

                  –rather may or may not be the Randroid who freaks about on Epi every time she comes up—

                  Then there is Anonotroll, who is Edwin, The Truth, and a few others. And possibly Tony the last few months, who is unusually smart about being a retard lately.

                  Then there is The Spoofer, who is NoU$A and a few others. He is hard to spot because it is so good. So good that it just sounds like ever other avenging liberal trolltard that shows up.

                  1. There. . .is. . .a-nother. . .Troll. . .walker.

                3. I really don’t get the psychology of trolls very well, to be honest.

                  Quit trying to be Freud and simply take them on their word.

                  Tony said he wanted to discuss issues with poeple who would actually disagree with him rather then get into an echo chamber.

                  His explanation for himself is the most plausible.

                  1. Except that he’s a sockpuppet.

            2. I think it’s squealing cause it’s so excited that you noticed it.

  2. So does this mean you’re going to stop tolerating us? Every day that you continue to is astounding.

    1. The problem is that we need more voices, not fewer, in journalism. So I suggest empowering each commenter with all of the technological tools possible in the comments sections. Also, we should be paid.

      1. I want my payment in hookers. And no fucking trannies, neither.

        1. So, diseased rentboys are okay, then?

        2. Let’s strike like those geniuses at Hufalpo or whatever it’s called now

          1. I think it’s “Huffalo,” which is similar to, but different from, a “hison.”

      2. Oh, just give Pro L his blink tags already.

        1. The people have spoken!

          1. But first kill threaded comments!

              1. Are you still on about defending threaded comments? What are you, some sort of communist?

                1. Threaded comments have their downsides, but it has almost eliminated all the “you guys won’t stay on-topic” whining. And I don’t have to quote everyone all the damn time to indicate who I’m responding to.

                  1. I get lost in the clutter.

                    1. Sounds like a personal problem. Besides, there are worse threaded comments – the ones that continue indenting until every word is vertical.

                    2. I don’t think they necessarily have to get ride of threads, but if they’re going to keep them we need the ability to see the new posts.

                      And they need a better way to work with these indented sections. Once the indenting stops it makes no sense.

                      Giving them credit where it is due, it is pretty nice to be able to easily scroll past the MNG/John threads.

                    3. But
                      that
                      is
                      what
                      makes
                      thread-
                      ed
                      comment-
                      ing
                      so fuck-
                      ing
                      awesome

                    4. That spells btiwmtecisia. What does that mean? It doesn’t look like English.

                2. The HnR elites thought it would get popular once it threaded. Now they’re convinced they just need to explain it better. Then we’ll get it.

                  1. Nice.

                    Actually, I’d be better with more features, especially something that would let me see new posts better.

                    1. Yeah, a new post feature is the biggest complaint. I also get annoyed at deciphering how the sections where its fully indented and comments are just showing up wherever the hell they want.

                    2. You purists make me sick. Threaded commments are awesome, plus they got me referenced in a Hit and Run blog post, which is every fanboy’s dream.

                    3. I can’t believe you sold out for one mention in a fundraising post. Max got one there too. What happened to you man? You used to be cool.

                    4. You used to be cool.

                      I think you have me confused with somebody else.

                    5. Quisling!

    2. Just don’t talk about sheep.

  3. Problem solved here.

  4. Doesn’t anyone else find it unbelievably ironic that these old school JOURNALISTS can’t see the forest through the trees about the advances and improvements in FUCKING JOURNALISM?

    It’s like if Michael Jordan came out and said “you know, I don’t know why these kids today want to play basketball so much”.

    1. It’s more like if people starting watching and paying as much attention to highschool basketball games as to pro games, leaving Michael Jordan complaining “But… but… I’M a PROFESSIONAL!”

      1. This.

        See Buzz Bissenger vs Deadspin as Exhibit A.

        1. Yeah, that Bissenger spat completely encapsulated everything that is wrong with old journalism in a nice neat package.

          Pack your bags grandpa, we found a nice place for you.

      2. Only, the guys in the NBA are really good at what they do. Modern journalists, not so much.

        1. This. If most journos were better than 90% of commenters, this wouldn’t be an issue. Journos take note, and consider a new career.

  5. I don’t like new commenters; they are not welcome and should be driven away with a combination of active shunning, pervasive group-think and in-jokes.

    For the record, new commenters = any commenters who started after me.

    1. Who has seniority around here, anyway?

      1. Everyone who was here during Postrel’s tenure.

        1. I’m in. Heck, I’ve even met her.

        2. Reason was better under Zupan.

        3. Damn. I’m out. I think. I was hear for a couple of years of whoever was before Matt, but don’t remember who that was.

          1. Nick?

            1. Yup. I don’t pay a ton of attention to it. I did know that Nick is in charge of reasontv and reason.com…

    2. Jesus, you just made me realize I’ve been commenting here for over 7 years.

      And to think, I could have done something with all these wasted moments.

      1. I don’t recall exactly when I started commenting here (or even all of my names), but it may have been seven years ago or more.

        I love the commenters, even the ones I disagree with. Well, not love exactly, but I do get a kick out of most of them, and the best are sublimely funny.

    3. I don’t like new commenters; they are not welcome and should be driven away with a combination of active shunning, pervasive group-think and in-jokes.

      For the record, new commenters = any commenters who started after me.

      You just described exactly the LGF commenter community. I got into there a few years ago (by accident; I dropped by there randomly and registration was open, so what the hell?), and anyone new was eaten alive. I left after two visits.

      I don’t care about being shunned or ignored- I think most real commenters here are pretty reasonable, smart, and nice anyway- but I swear before Paimon that I have never seen a more vile cesspool of an echochamber than the LGF comments. At least they were some years ago. The CNN or Kostard commenters might be worse these days.

      1. LGF ? (lesbian gay fag ?)

  6. Journalism = Gawker.

    Does
    Not
    Compute

  7. an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off.

    Or, it might not.

    And why would commenters scare off anyone who just wanted to read the frickin’ articles? Or even just wanted to read the comments?

    A nasty and abusive in-group might deter someone from commenting, but not from giving precious, precious unique screenviews, or whatever Denton’s metric for success is these days.

    1. It’s possible, too, that commenters might attract new readers. Which, again, means we should get paid.

      1. I guarantee you that the comment threads here have drawn in a shit-ton of new commenters and readers. It did for me. Anybody else?

        1. Ditto. It’s the longest-running trainwreck I’ve ever witnessed. It’s better than Cats!

          1. “It’s better than Cats! Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark!

            Don’t mind me, just updating your pop-culture references.

            1. When Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark actually gets out of the ‘preview’ mode, I’ll be impressed.

              1. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark! is the Daikatana of musical theatre.

          2. I come back to read it again and again.

        2. I confess to reading the magazine before the blog. But I think I read the magazine before it had a blog. But I was making comments even then, trust me.

          1. Yeah, I used to buy it off the newstand occasionally and then spent years reading it at the library when I worked in periodicals. I lurked for a few years here (I used to hate comment board and avoided them like ball cancer) and started commenting at the dawn of The Urkobold Epoch.

            1. April 2007. That’s around the time some of the old commenters left, as the trolling had gotten pretty heavy around here. Which was the whole point of the Urkobold initially.

              1. What are the ages of Hit & Run?

                It certainly was never the same after “Your Tears Are So Yummy and Sweet.”

                And the passing of joe is a clear turning point.

                1. The trolling got worse when the magazine and the blog got more popular. It had to happen. You can’t attract more eyes without attracting more eyes.

                2. “Do you remember where you were when you found out joe left?”

                  1. “Do you remember where you were when you found out joe left?”

                    Across the street from him with the cross-hairs on the base of his skull.

                    No but seriously I was commenting on some stupid cartoon of an ape being shot by a cop….Joe was having a self induced conniption fit about racism…and then he left.

                    1. I think I remember that comic, actually.

                3. Stone Age — Postrel
                  Silver Age — Post Postrel, until about 2007
                  Golden Age — 2007 until threaded comments
                  Troll Age — threaded comments until present

                  1. Cause, meet Effect!

                    Adnotatiunculae Bilicis Delenda Est.

                  2. Yeah, threaded comments are a big one. But joe was pretty huge too…

                    1. I say this as someone who was reasonably friendly with joe on nonpolitical topics, but he has a level of partisanship that I could never comprehend.

                    2. Yeah, that was baffling.

                  3. I miss gaius marius…I think that makes me both Stone Age and stoner.

                    1. He still posts on his old website.

                  4. Episiarch|3.24.11 @ 4:18PM|#
                    Stone Age — Postrel
                    Silver Age — Post Postrel, until about 2007
                    Golden Age — 2007 until threaded comments
                    Troll Age — threaded comments until present

                    There should be a few sub-eras noted

                    e.g., “The Lonewacko Reign of ToughQuestions Which Felt Like an Epoch But Was Actually Kinda Funny In Retrospect But Fuck Are We Still Really Glad He’s Gone”

                    I still, at least in my mind, insert “STFULW” the way Muslims say, “PBUH” whenever his name is uttered.

                    1. I swear he started off relatively sane. Maybe I’m confused, but that’s how I remember it.

                    2. Troll Age — threaded comments until present

                      I have stopped being afraid and learned to love the threaded comments.

                      Also i think this is a misnomer. yes Trolls increased after threads were introduced but it is not as if we did not have trolls before….joe actually left before the threads I think. But also the post thread period and just before the thread period reason gained a ship pot of new commenters. I think the increased troll population was simply due to the increase in population and the fact it was at about the same time we got threads is simply coincidental not causal.

                    3. I’ll believe you do that when you videotape it and put it on YouTube.

                  5. I remember when one of the writers (maybe Cavanaugh) outed Cesar as some long-running troll- some actually pretty good Michael Medved-ish parody that went on forever. I don’t know if Cesar ever came back under that name, but it was actually pretty damn funny. It might have been one of the first meta-trolls around here.

                    1. It was Jesse who outed Cesar as being “Neil”, the greatest sockpuppet ever to have graced H&R.

                      I still miss Neil.

                    2. I still miss Neil.

                      Ooh. He scored huge troll points. He suckered me a dozen times…

            2. I started reading the blog first, then finally splurged on the magazine so I could have something to read while waiting for my daughter to finish her “worshy-back” riding lessons and other such random stuff where you need hardcopy reading material.

              1. I read it back when they had centerfolds.

                1. I read it back when they had centerfolds.

                  Back then I read it for the articles.

              2. I am still just a free loader. I may get a subscription if I end up in Mass, living with my libertarian college roommate again.

          2. Unfortunately, I start a job in July that will likely take my daytime commenting opportunities down to next-to-nothing. That actually makes me a bit sad thinking about it.

            1. Finally going back to being a vampire hooker?

              1. You wish.

                No, seriously, I know that’s one of your wishes.

              2. That’s a night job.

                1. Which is why he’s asleep all day and not commenting.

            2. Some of us get by with three or four comments in the evening. Sure, you’re not in the starting line-up, but you get to hit the field for a few late innings.

          3. I comment on NPR’s newshour while I’m driving in my car. Well, I twitter vocalize them to my non-existent passengers.

        3. I’ve subscribed since the mid-80’s, but the blog is a bit more fun.

        4. I originally came for the articles and to learn more about libertarian views, but the comments are what hooked me in.

          1. Ditto for me. I must also add that you guys have increased my curse word vocabulary immensely. Thanks! 🙂

            1. I would like to say your welcome, but I’m pretty profanity free around here. Instead I’ll go with the libertarian standard: Oh look, a girl!

        5. It did for me. I think the commenter community here is awesome. I’ll leave a nickle for y’all at the corner of Broad and High as compensation.

        6. Me too.

        7. I occasionally came by to read an article, but once I started to read the comment section, I came by almost daily. You incorrigible fuckers are addicting.

        8. Same here. It’s a daily read because of the comments. Otherwise it would be something I would check out every once in a while.

        9. Yes, I spend way too much time reading the comments on H&R.

      2. I would never have read Balloon Juice if it weren’t for joe from Lowell’s comments there.

        1. Me neither. So reading a blog because of the commenters has a real downside.

      3. Pro Libertate isn’t getting paid. I told you guys he’d figure it out sooner or later and want a check like the rest of us get.

        I kid, I kid. I’ve never gotten more for my work here than the minimum wage I was paid when I worked for MickeyD around 1970, when I figure it up by the hour. On the other hand, I don’t have to wear a paper hat and don’t go home smelling like deep-fat fryers either.

    2. I refuse to believe that any company as pretentiously un-self-aware as Gawker is, is worth taking advice from.

      1. You might as well include the entire generation currently in their 20s.

    3. The number of new commenters says nothing about the churn rate of old commenters. Not that we should be anything less than ecstatic that Joe and lonewacko have been churned off.

  8. I end up skimming most of the stories here and then focusing on the brilliant commentary. It’s priceless and a hell of a lot funnier then Glee.

    1. A lot of the time the commenters give more insight than the original post.

      Yeah, there are annoying trolls, but no one is forcing you to NOT have your eyes glaze over and skip past their comments.

      1. A lot of the time the commenters give more insight than the original post.

        I usually just try to say something snarky or go OT with scifi.

        1. I usually just try to say something snarky or go OT with scifi.

          My name is Butts Wagner.

  9. an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off

    We scares them, precioussss…. We scares them!

    1. No one scared me off… but they have made me hang my head in shame for the human race.

    2. Haven’t you only been here a year or so?

      (this is not a bad thing)

      1. a little less than that. I used to just read the print version.

  10. I read over the blog posts and then return several times for the comment threads.

    1. I often skip directly to the comments, without even bothering to read the whole blog post.

      1. Ya, I don’t read half the blog posts. Most of the time I just go to the threads that have the most comments on them. Usually around 200-300. You guys can be quite entertaining.

  11. Maybe if you didn’t label anyone who disagrees with the libertarian groupthink as a troll, you wouldn’t have this problem.

    Lucky for you, I’m not scared off by this kind of childish behavior, with my experience working as a party clown during college. I don’t fear you, I pity you.

    1. We don’t call MNG or John trolls. And we didn’t call joe a troll.

      We do occasionally insult their intelligence though.

      1. I have repeatedly defended MNG against “troll” charges.

        He/She/It spouts nonsense, but argues that same nonsense consistently, argues in good faith, and concedes points when he/she/it sees his/her/its errors. This cannot be said about Chony Hanson from Chicago.

        1. MNG is one of those people who is so close to caving in and becoming a libertarian that I do try to be nice to him. I just wish I could find the issue that would give him that final push.

          Maybe if the Israeli’s started imposing food safety regulations on Palestinian olives. That might do it.

          1. Hah! Nice one. 🙂

          2. I will say that MNG, Tony, Chad and John make this place more interesting.

            1. I agree, except for Tony and Chad.

    2. Yeah bit you are a troll Hobie. You argue irrelevant topics and in bad faith constantly.

    3. “Captain!” Hanngush had made his way over to the front Bulard panel. “The vorostratus scope indicates that we are under attack by a Henuliort Juy-Ast ship using twin golluck sprayers!”

      Smith ran over to take a look for himself. Sure enough, readouts indicated an Irru class Tarmo fighter, carrying the markings of the Booklumghum Federation of Mo-Yu-Tyheng. The very same warship that was responsible for multiple harynings at the battle of Darnsforz. Only the Yeeefu’s anti-xos cannons could possibly stop them.

      Smith knew that the Nonix was in serious trouble.

    4. Another blast. This time, the impact ruptured a govee tube above the ship’s secondary retty, causing thick poinnooas mist to fill the bridge.

      “Faavrogg!” Smith cried out, “See if you can stabilize that asternatium by vogalizing the tyricnal klinbirators!”

      “Negative, captain! The third ulogginaucht basin has snapped and I can’t grott the poletination spheres without some sort of virrulaumo retractor!” Faavrogg was in a near panic, a large chunk of sharp yuloplasm embedded in his lower tranjular region.

  12. an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off.

    If the commenters are mostly dickish people you hate, then perhaps that should tell you something about the slant of the site.

    If you think the commenters are mostly cool and interesting, OTOH, that would be a draw for new visitors to visit again.

    1. What if the commenters are dickish, but entertainingly so?

      1. Watch it, buster.

        1. What if some commenters are anonymous pussies with passive aggressive bipolar disorders and stalking tendencies, yet aren’t even entertainingly so?

          1. Joe was everything you mentioned except anonymous.

      2. That’s clearly a veiled insult against the entire irish race

    1. We here at the Commenters Guild have been on strike against Reason for well over a year now. Every time you make a comment on this site, you are showing yourself to be nothing but a picket line crossing scab.

      1. Fraud! Do not be deceived by the nebbish nabob of alluvial allusions – that so-called guild is guilty of graft and gratuitous guffawing. No self respecting creature would allow herself to be represented by the like of them!

  13. A site has to keep attracting new users?the omnipresent screens were recording the “new uniques” each story brought to the Gawker world?and an in-group of commenters might scare new visitors off. “People say it’s all about ‘engagement’ and ‘interaction,’ but that’s wrong,” he said. “New visitors are a better indicator and predictor of future growth.”

    So, it seems to me, the disdain toward “commenters” is a bit of a red herring — the actual implication here is “regular readers/visitors are a bad thing; only new, first-time visitors matter.”

    It appears to me — and I’m speaking as both “a casual, amateur blogger” and “a professional (in the sense that other people pay me) journalist” — that this attitude is completely fucking insane.

    Like anyone who’s been a journalist or blogger for any length of time, I’ve had certain articles and/or posts that got more readers than usual because they were picked up and passed around certain online communities — for example, at an alt-weekly I wrote a story about an argument between a dog owner and the city animal control that got linked on several dog-breeder forums and the like. But the majority of those were one-shot readers: they read that one article I wrote on their particular topic of interest, but probably didn’t go on to become regular readers of either the alt-weekly in general or me in particular.

    But a few of them did. And so … only those one-shot readers were a good thing, whereas those who thought “This alt-weekly, or this particular journalist, is worth reading even when they write about non-canine topics” … those readers don’t count because they are no longer “unique” views?

    Wrong, jackass. Repeat readers — whether they comment or not — are what you need for your publication to make it, and new readers only help you if they decide to become regular readers.

    1. Did you get a lot on the hair-washing thing?

      1. I ask, because that was one I saw outside of the normal “See what Jennifer wrote!” channels.

      2. Yeah, and it’s a perfect example of what I was talking about: a one-shot article on a topic quite different from what I usually write, resulting in a lot of one-shot visitors with zero interest in becoming regular readers of my usual output.

        1. We’ve seen plenty of that here over the years. Come by for some one-off and vanish into the haze when they realize that there are libertarians around these parts.

    2. Ah the “more eyeballs” web business model. I can’t believe anyone would tout that PoS these days. Who owns Gawker – I want to go short on ’em.

    3. Another thought: I think this guy is confusing “successful journalism” with “SEO optimization.”

      On my own blog, there is one particular post which (on average) generates more unique views each day than any other single one: a snarky post I wrote on the theme “My job sucks so bad, even Japanese tentacle porn actresses have it better than me.” And now, every day, plenty of no-doubt-disappointed people visit my blog and leave almost immediately upon discovering “Hey! This does not contain photo or video examples of octopus sex or squid-on-schoolgirl action or any of the other immensely perverted search terms which brought me here; it’s an essay poking fun at the bad grammar in vanity novel manuscripts!”

      So I take it my best hope of success now is to make my blog more appealing to the tentacle fetish aficionados who provide me with so very many unique views, and so very little repeat business. Uh-huh. Right.

      1. A few years ago I wrote a post about how a work-mandatory even was a circle jerk. From that day forward I get (and still do occasionally) people referring to me looking for some variation of Army guys masturbating.

        I shudder to think of the content Nick Denton would direct me to produce with those sorts of page views.

      2. So I take it my best hope of success now is to make my blog more appealing to the tentacle fetish aficionados

        Yes, yes. You’re catching on.

        Keep us posted, if you don’t mind?

        1. Depends on whether your efforts are aimed at readers or income…

          Why not do both? Start a second website with tentacle porn, with a redirect message on the primary site. ;^)

      3. “octopus sex or squid-on-schoolgirl action”

        /masturbates furiously…

  14. I find the Reason commenter community cliquish insular and intimidating. But sometimes pretty funny.

    1. Shut up and tow the lion.

      1. I am laughing out loud EXCLAMATION POINT

    2. cliquish

      If by cliquish you mean the same people who generally agree with one another yet are constantly at each other’s throats over obscure minor issues that occurred months if not years ago then yes I agree the commentors here are very cliquish.

      1. obscure minor issues

        Like the proper thickness of a pizza crust?

        [exits stage left with a blur and a cloud of dust]

    3. I’ve been here for years, and I still don’t understand the Steve Smith thing.

      1. citation=

        Warty|11.18.09 @ 10:35AM|#
        A liberal troll named Steve Smith came around a few times and posted stupid gibberish. He had a link to his stupid blog (http://smythesworld.blogspot.com/) , which includes photo evidence that he is a shaved sasquatch, and everyone knows sasquatches love rape.

        I think I was the first to call him a shaved ape, but I don’t remember who gets credit for the rapist thing. Is this one yours, Xeo..?

      2. Same here.

      3. It’s best not to think about STEVE SMITH or the non-Euclidean geometry of his penis. STEVE SMITH FLAGAN

      4. It’s not really that old. It must have still been pretty fresh when they were picking out the new round of interns.

      5. STEVE SMITH is the best fucking meme ever even if it only exists in our little corner of the intertubes (hmm, gonna have to rethink that on since there are no corners in tubes)

        1. There is a Steve Smith used car dealership in northwest Arkansas. No one understands why I start laughing every time I see a Steve Smith commercial.

          STEVE SMITH RAPE FOR FREE WITH TEST DRIVE

          1. I think one of the best moves ever was Reason hiring Stephen Smith as an intern.

            1. the reasonable chrome extension automatically changes his articles from Stephen Smith to STEVE SMITH. Much hilarity ensues.

  15. In retrospect, I think people will realize that “professional” journalism was never really that professional.

    Personally, I’d love to see a truly professional journalism, but I think, of all things, that Wikipedia comes closer to acheiving that ideal than any newspaper, magazine, or television channel in the last 100 years, or ever.

    The days of 1950s “professional” journalism were really just days when the journalism industry had the greatest control over it’s own image, because there were so few channels of information and everyone involved was part of the same intellectual club.

    These days, the “news” sources are all opinion dominated, and the only places people regard as objective are raw data and sites like (as mentioned) Wikipedia, where multiple sides can duke it out under a rigorously enforced ethos that requires citations, use of neutral language, and public notification of any failing to live up to standards.

    1. I’d like journalists to be a cadre of professionals committed to a code of honor to such an extent that they engaged in dueling.

      1. It’d be a hell of a lot more entertaining than blog wars.

        1. Seconded.

      2. where’s the line to slap Ezra Klein with a glove?

        1. The mistake is thinking Klein is a journalist. He’s a fluffer.

          1. He’s a fluffer.

            If only he sucked that much.

            1. He might, rabbit, he might.

      3. I’d like journalists to be a cadre of professionals committed to a code of honor to such an extent that they engaged in dueling.

        Mark Twain got invited to leave Nevada because he (sort of) fought a duel with another reporter. We can’t expect any Clemenses at the Huffington post.

        1. We could use a few gross of him right about now.

        2. Actually, he left Nevada under his own steam, in the process of avoiding that duel altogether.

  16. Anyway, isn’t it interesting that journalists never mention Wikipedia as an example of online news media?

    1. They are sworn to protect their sources!

  17. I cam here because Charles Johnson banned me. Motherfucker.

    1. Ah, an enemy of our enemy. Welcome, friend!

    2. What’s a Charles Johnson?

      1. Nothing of consequence.

      2. Little Green Footballs, which is basically shrike as a blog.

        1. Didn’t it used to be Greg Smith as a blog?

          1. Yes, but it had a sex change.

            1. It was bizarre.

        2. shrike as a blog

          :::shudders:::

        3. That’s terrifying.

      3. Not to be confused with a Carl Johnson, who could pedal a bike faster than a ’64 Impala, or a Carl Gustav, which could just blow all that shit up.

      4. What’s a Charles Johnson?

        Something that an inconsiderate dog-owner failed to scrape up from the sidewalk.

    3. That guy lost his effin’ mind, and it happened live on the intertubes. Epic.

      1. Epic WINNING!!

  18. Speaking of commentators one of the funnier rumours on the Internet is that the CCP is paying people in China to post favourable comments about them. Apparently they get paid 50 cents per comment.

    1. That can’t be true, otherwise everyone with a computer in China would be rich.

      1. It would go a long way to explaining Tom Friedman.

        1. And “The Truth”

    2. Cha-ching!

      (also my only child’s name, btw)

    3. [counts small pile of money]

  19. Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots! Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots!

  20. We shouldn’t just look at this from an American perspective–we should look at what opening journalism up to everyday people has done for the rest of the world…

    If there was any impetus for changes we’ve seen in North Africa lately, it was people being able to talk about the news with each other and organize themselves online.

    Back when there were just a few news outlets in those developing countries, all a vicious dictator had to do was intimidate a handful of news outlets–and he had a ton of influence on almost everything his people knew about.

    When the ability of those dictatorships to influence that flow of information disappeared, the dictators disappeared with it!

    …and to sit around and bemoan the good ol’ days, when the journalist-gatekeepers were mighty–amid all of the changes we’ve seen in North Africa now that the mighty have fallen?

    That’s disgraceful.

    1. So what you’re saying is that it’s within the realm of possibility that my comments here may have started all of the revolts going on in the Middle East? Really? Which comment?

      1. It was the lot.

        They gave off a happy glow.

        Other people read your comments, and they wanted to put their screenames to similar comments that were likewise witty and profound…

        That Six Degrees of Separation was from before the computers started coming with the interwebs preinstalled. Now it’s like two degrees–max!

        Your lolz brought down the walls of Jericho in Tunisia and Egypt.

        Reallyz

        1. I feel like a little butterfly, destroying civilizations with a wing flap.

          Some day, a commenter really will change the world. Then, at last, we will have respect!

          1. PL as a little butterfly.

            1. Cool.

  21. I’ve been reading for quite awhile, but only started posting recently. I have never in my life seen a more eclectic group of assholes, jerkoffs, and sons of bitches (or in the case of rather, just plain bitches) in my life…and I’ve loved every second of it. God help me, I’d even miss Tony if I had to stop reading the comments on here.

    1. NutraSweet isn’t really a jerkoff or an asshole. He’s more of a shithead, or a fucking mook, or possibly a giabrone.

      1. I like to think of myself as a depraved fuckwad.

        1. That is also acceptable. But now we have to come up with something different for Warty, such as microcephalic coprophilic defiler.

          1. Fuck you, my head is abnormally large.

            Cephalic Carnage

      2. I thought he was a ta-ra-ra-goondiay?

        1. No, that’s you.

        2. Maybe a grumbletonian? Or a bumfodder?

        3. What a bunch of jerkoffs.

  22. “New visitors are a better indicator and predictor of future growth.”
    Future growth is dependent upon new customers. Who, but a journalist, would consider that to be a ground breaking theory.

    1. These are the same people who, by and large, claim that the Bush years were an example of pure, unbridled capitalism.

  23. I got about a third of the way through the comments and realized I was witnessing the biggest circle jerk in comment section history.

    1. You get the cookie now

    2. And before the end of the day, this comment won’t even be halfway down.

      1. Neither will his cookie

  24. Just hasn’t been the same around here without Stevo Darkly.

    And what ever happened to the likes of Gary Gunnels (or Hakluyt), thoreau, joe (well I know he stormed out with his panties in a wad, but still…) Gaius Marius, Gimmie Back My Dog, The Wine Commonsewer, Eric the .5b, Thomas Paine’s Goiter, NoStar, Ruthless, Akira MacKenzie (who for the longest time I thought was a girl), peachy, Rick Barton (well, OK, nobody really misses him), Mr. Nice Guy (wait, he’s still around? never mind) … I was gonna say Jennifer but is that really her above?…

    And speaking of female commenters one can’t help but miss smacky.

    Then there were the likes of Chad, Dave W (and his tinfoil hat), Dan T, and perhaps the all-time best of the worst of them all: Lonewacko (or Orange Line Special or whatever he was going by).

    Ah, those were the days…

    1. Just hasn’t been the same around here without Stevo Darkly.

      Consistently the most funny commentor on hit and run.

      I wish those guys you listed were still around as well…They are the only ones who could call me on all the shit i said back in the day.

      Those names remind me not so much of how much reason has changed but how much I have changed.

      On a side note didn’t a large portion of those people leave in protest of the threaded comments?

    2. OLS! That’s it. I was trying to remember LW’s other ‘Hard Questions’ name and just remembered it involved orange.

    3. I miss many of them as well. I hear about a few, now and again. For instance, linguist got married not all that long ago. And smacky posted at Urkobold for a while.

      Stevo was great. He’d go down as deep into Dune-based irrelevancies as one could go without turning into a sandworm. Among his other talents.

  25. My POV on this whole ‘commenters’ issue (whoa..this is getting so *meta*, man):

    Its not so much having comments/not having comments/having shitty, useless, semi-moderated, time-limited or post limited comments like @ the NYT) as much as it is the nature of the relationship between the content of a given media and the types of people who represent the ‘core users’ (as opposed to infrequent, but ‘new’ users)…

    What I mean by this = think about it… Most comment boards *suck*. It is only a fairly small # of papers/blogs that have developed and maintained a rich and productive commenter community. It is extremely rare to find a comments thread that is both very very active (regularly 100+ per story?), as well as populated by a majority of sane (relatively speaking) adults, that isn’t regularly hijacked or made useless by the constant influx of retards, ideologues, trolls, etc,

    I mean, H&R is one of the ONLY places you can read threads top to bottom and actually see people carrying on something of a consistent discussion (with sidebars of sometimes-relevant vulgarity… but always *thoughtful* vulgarity)…. I mean, people actually read what other people say, and reply semi-cogently.

    I mean… try YouTube, for example.

    The purpose they mostly serve is to let videos get scored by pure volume of views and comments, etc. But the actual contents themselves?

    [I shudder in horror…]

    http://stupid-youtube-comments.blogspot.com/

    But its not just millions of pottymouthed teenagers that can’t seem to make it work… it’s everything from the NYT to Foreign Policy mag… comment threads are *retard magnets*, and retards scare away regular people.

    FP is actually not so bad – but I’ve seen a few of the ‘channels’ there get absolutely firebombed by a few ideologues that drove any sane commentary/dialogue away. (see: Marty Martel @ the AfPak Channel for the India agitprop, or… great rebuttals like this from the Pakistan side of the equation:

    Top-secret CIA documents show that Raymond Allen Davis (born 02 Oct 1974) was providing nuclear fissile material and biological agents to groups of terrorists, killers and bombers hired by the USA government officials as part of the 915 year old Christian crusade, or the NWO-PNAC mission to destabilise and disarm Pakistan …

    Go to the mideast channel, you get the same thing from the Arabs and the Joos. My point is, you’d think that the place would be the ideal comments-board for like, grad students to converge and discuss serious foreign policy issues/events… but no: it’s often like youtube with slightly better spelling and more fundamental ethnic/cultural/regional hatred.

    I think what i’m trying to get at here is that the whole, “comments as a key component of the quality of the media experience” is extremely relative and varied, and in some cases provides extraordinary value (as it does here, I think), and in other places simply serves as a statistic for webmasters to collect, and for most of the actual valuable readership to ignore.

    Basically, H&R is the left-handed, red-headed, natural athlete, intellectual savant of Blog comments. Even our *trolls* are of a superior grade. We have no objectivity when it comes to this issue, and must simply accept the fact that maybe the guy from Gawker is right. His readers are fucking idiots and there’s no reason to ever care what they think. But guess what? “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” i think one reason the NYT sucks so bad at all their attempts to craft a semi-useful web version of their paper is that they both fear the reality of stupid people (moderators!), but also fear Alt-media making their ‘traditional’ content less core and relevant. There’s also probably another 25 reasons they suck, many involving the name “Friedman”, but as far as their attempts at ‘interactivity’ have gone… they are dinosaurs trying to make sinking into the muck seem comfortable and all part of some kind of ‘strategy’…

    that bloviated… for those who dwell in other regions of teh intertubes, name 3 other good comment-boards. IF YOU CAN

    1. Basically, H&R is the left-handed, red-headed, natural athlete, intellectual savant of Blog comments.

      Yes. There is no other comment community that I can tolerate. Think about what that makes you, you degenerate twat.

    2. Well said, GILMORE. Radley’s blog is also very good–though there is a lot of crossover with here, of course; and it’s moving to Huffington Post if you didn’t know–but there is no place you can find outside of H&R that has this level of discourse, humor, quality trolls, and just plain fun, and at this size (meaning hundreds of commenters). You just can’t beat it.

      We’re the best…around/
      no one’s ever gonna take us down

      1. Awesome.

        You made me look this up:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You‘re_the_Best

    3. The Volokh Conspiracy is pretty solid, with less annoying trolls, and the quality of the opposing viewpoints tends to be pretty high. There is also a pretty fair cross-over between here and there.

      1. Score 1 point for Volokh.

        2 more ideas out there?

        1. I like the comments in Transterrestrial Musings, sometimes. Much fewer than here, but occasionally an engineer will explain an entire propulsion system or something like that. In the comments.

        2. Baseball think factory ain’t so bad. Welch can be seen over there on occasion.

          1. Hmm. If it has anything to do with baseball, we might have a problem. Will look into it.

            1. Yeah… no. Baseball is purely something to be ashamed of. People intellectualizing it is pathetic to the extreme. For shame Matt Welch. Thank you for at least keeping your Baseball fetish out of this magazine. We will pretend we never learned your fantasy life involves men with big sticks running around in circles.

  26. FWIW, part of the reason I come here is for the comments.

  27. Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet. Let’s have some Vader first.

    1. I’m here because you are all easy to defeat in combat.

      1. I’m here to watch you, so I know the perfect time to strike.

        1. Better move fast. I’m training on the Kinect.

          I just had a great idea for a Kinect game. Dueling. Pistols, swords, whatever.

          1. I’m waiting for you to tire yourself out after a marathon gaming session.

            Also I’m going to distract you with a documentary on spaceflight.

            1. Damn your hide for your subtle machinations!

              Other Kinect options are chariot racing and gladiatorial combat. Er, no homo.

              1. Just accept your fate.

      2. That’s what I want you to think.

    2. Let’s have some Vader first.

      So gay.

      1. Um, heller? Did you watch?

      2. I meant the Duke game. Sorry.

  28. I never posted as much as the regulars, but I mostly stopped because I went back to law firm life and billing 2200+ hours annually after working 40 hours per week for the gubmint. I still lurk, but I just don’t have time to comment any more.

    1. I post during my many conference calls (which usually require 1/3 of my brain and only directly involve me 10% of the time) and to take an occasional break from all the legalese.

  29. Even though I often dissent, for me, having found Reason magazine confirmed a self-satisfaction that came from paying a decent amount of attention to current events and public policy — a sort of concentration in the soft liberal arts, from college and beyond. One smiled. I have found it! This is for me, this freedom and autonomy!

    The comments section confirms exactly why one would be completely, ass-outedly mistaken in that self-satisfaction.

    It’s hilarious. And a little bit Socratic. You more fully know what you don’t know. So yes, the comments drew me here every freakin’ day.

    A newbie grumble, but I think relevant: Have you all considered how incifing might provide incentive to anonypussyies and identity jackers? Wouldn’t you rather (ahem) she/he just stated it?

    Unintended consequences!

    1. My opinion is that if you incif, you lose out on part of the fun: beating up on trolls and idiots. You lose the complete H&R experience.

      1. Incentives! No, I saw both you and Tulpa say that. I’d thought it. First thing that snapped my neck a bit was the first I’d heard of incifing. I have a scroll button, like someone else said. Even the trolls have made good points at times. I’ll still wake up if I see I’ve been flamed.

        That said, fuck identity jacking and anonypussy comments. It’s a nuisance if you give a shit about this. Though upthread, you guys are toying with complete anonymity, which is interesting. Seems like the logical extension of handles and no e-mails.

    2. Incif is sorta like the death penalty. Just because I oppose it doesn’t mean there aren’t people that deserve it.

      1. HERC!

        1. Long live Herc.

          Sincerely,

          Rock Action

  30. Hello everybody long time lurker first time Commenter.

    I came for Drew Carey, Stayed for the Comments/Stories.

  31. I started commenting after I became single…libertarian blogs are a target-rich environment.

    /cougar

  32. Been here over two years, occasional commenter..but… Incif ? what’s incif ? how did i miss that ?

  33. I think I first posted in October or November 2001.

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