[MODERATOR ADAM] DAVIDSON: Jacquelyn Schlesier is a full-time moderator for Chowhound, a food discussion Web site. She says keeping things civil is a lot of work. She spends as many as 12 hours a day reading through posts and deleting anything offensive, abusive or off-topic. It's a food blog. How bad can things get? Really bad, Schlesier says, especially with some topics.Glenn adds:
Ms. SCHLESIER: Children in restaurants - children in restaurants is an issue that Chowhounds cannot discuss civilly.
DAVIDSON: People can generally say anything they want about food or restaurants, but they can't insult each other. She says she just about never gets the truly nasty kind of posts that Kathy Sierra faced. That's because long ago, Chowhound established a tone.
Ms. SCHLESIER: Kids learn what's acceptable and how to behave in the real world by how they see other people around them and how they see adults behave. People in communities learn the same way.
DAVIDSON: But keeping things civil on Chowhound takes three paid moderators and 12 volunteers. They spend hundreds of hours a week getting rid of all the mean comments. A lot of people who run Web sites don't have that kind of time.
Ira Glass hosts the public radio show "This American Life." The show hosted a Web discussion board for years until one week, his show featured a story about a troubled relationship between a woman and her two daughters.
IRA GLASS: The day after it aired, people started posting to the bulletin board, saying that the girls were sluts and that the mom was a terrible mom. And it continued, and finally, we killed it. We killed the discussion board.
DAVIDSON: Glass didn't want to feel responsible for hosting nasty comments about people who bared their souls on his radio show.
Mr. GLASS: We could actually, you know, devote staff time and look at the board and monitor it and all. But, I mean - and the truth is, you know, what we wanted to do is make a radio show.
DAVIDSON: There's surely many like Glass, people who just don't have the time or inclination to enforce civility on their Web sites. And without people enforcing it, the online code of ethics is unlikely to have much impact.
People just tend to get nasty on the Web; the subject at hand, whatever it happens to be, isn't so much a provocation as an opportunity.That all makes comments seem like a lost cause!
As for me and blog comments, I was against them before I was for them. Here's what I said on the subject at that blogging and politics panel I did here at Dartmouth College on Thursday:
(The video is straight off my MacBook laptop. I hope you enjoy the comical way my hand hogs the screen at the expense of my face.)