Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?

Keep your comments to yourself

When I express my opinion I don't want you to then give me yours. Got that? Right.

What’s the point in crowdsourcing – inviting the public to contribute to a project or a piece of writing – if the crowd is made up of illiterates and arseholes?  The internet has been around, usefully, for a bit more than a decade and its only area of growth recently has been to let the general public air their opinion.  What engages my wick most of all is the informed and reasoned opinions people give at the end of an article published online.  I’ve listed a few examples below.

Now, the general public are in favour of capital punishment (so am I – but only for James Corden and Peter Drury) so clearly they don’t really understand complicated issues.  The general public elected a man with a balloon for a face to run the country.  The general public still don’t really think rape is a proper crime, so they shouldn’t be trusted with expressing their views to everyone with a computer.

Whenever I’ve written something here, or on other sites, I might get some praise, or some constructive criticism, neither of which I really care about because I’ve got lingering self-esteem problems.  However, there’s always going to be some cunt calling me a cunt.  The other day someone slagged me off for not knowing about Dalston, without realising I’ve lived in Hackney for two years.  Sometimes you get a moron arrogantly correcting a statement, even though they’re factually wrong.

For the most part, I tell them to fuck themselves.  It’s both functional and erudite.  But it still gets me down.  They don’t troll sites just to get at me.  No, it’s more than that:  go to any website with comments enabled, and you’ll get comments like this:

‘Methinks the author has only written this because he doesn’t understand what’s REALLY going on in Iran’

This is usually followed up by a link to the commenter’s blog.  It’s got one comment, and that’s from someone he’s friend with who also has a blog.  They’ll be called something like FreeThinker or TruthFinder.  They both leave friendly comments for one another, but would coldly execute the other if it meant a paid commission from The Times.  Or even Spiked Online.  Which is rubbish.

‘I can’t believe you got paid to write this.’

This is just jealousy.  It doesn’t really make sense, because if you have a smidgen of talent you can get writing work if you really want it.  The bloke who made this comment is at his desk, bitterly disappointed at the way his life turned out, wishing his history degree had got him further than halfway up a midsized company, telling anybody who’ll listen about the year he spent abroad seven years ago. He puts down his girlfriend at any opportunity because he has no feelings for her beyond an unjustifiable sense of superiority.

‘Ah Ms Hyde, you’re delightful as you are incisive.  I wish all articles had your byline!’

What do they actually expect is going to happen here?  They go to Marina Hyde’s fifteen millionth wry look at New Labour apparatchiks, and leave her a flirty comment.  Are they thinking, ‘Maybe Marina will read this, see how witty I am, and email me asking to meet up for a coffee?  Or maybe even a fuck.  She won’t mind the birthmark like my ex-wife did.’  Sadly, I know the answer to this. Beyond pornography, the internet has provided plenty of ways to show men up as absolute wankers.

‘I’ve no interest in this.  Yawn.’

Do I sit through Eastenders?  No.  Do I read Glamour?  No.  Do I eat okra? No.  Because I know I don’t like any of them so I’m not going to waste my time. For the same reason I’m not going to read the Guardian’s episode-by-episode blog on the Wire.  Because I know they’re going to get a smug sack to write it, displaying his self-satisfied Wire knowledge to an audience who a) read the Guardian b) want to show off their Wire knowledge and c) want to post a comment after each blog.  No thanks!  But I don’t read it, because I know I’m not interested.  I’ll leave it to the people who are.  Is that so weird?

‘Fundamentally, I’m unreasonable and stupid’

A quick example:

BertFromPhilly 15 Jun 2010, 4:47PM

“Back in the day we didn’t drink all that water and we never fainted. What’s up with all this water people are drikning. When I was a kid I’d sit and a class room with 53 ohter kids all day and you’d better not drink water orfaint or the nuns would smack you. Then I’d go home and work on the farm in the blazing sun all day with only a break for lunch. We never drank water. This guy is supposed to be a gerneral, for god’s sake. If anything he should be drinking wiskey! Do you think Churchill drank water? Enough of this water! Drag the guy back by the scruff of the neck and ask him why we are still in Afganastan! You think the Afgans drink water???”

There’s really not much you can do about this.

‘I hope your kids die.’

Fergus Henderson, by all accounts a lovely man and certainly a heroically good chef, got comments like this when he did a Q&A on the internet about meat.  It’s no accident that anytime you see a news story about a horrific crime comments are disabled.  But comments now even have to be moderated because some commenters can’t abide meat eating without threatening the lives of a chef’s children.  The reason that comments are disabled, despite the lip service paid to a paper’s or a site’s audience, is because they simply cannot be trusted to behave themselves.

What a depressing fiasco.  Please, tell me what you think.  I’d be delighted to hear your feedback.

For more from Alex Netherton click here.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Lawrence Aggleton 8:42 am, 19-Jun-2010

A not unfair point, although spEak You're bRanes has been doing it for much longer: But yes, commentators on the internet are morons. And the only thing more ironic than me saying that while commenting on the internet is that I only got to this site via a link from the Guardian's OBO, which is itself a 'crowdsourced' bit of journalism. Which you used to do.

indigo Zero 10:29 am, 19-Jun-2010

I read the whole page you get a gold star!

Alexander 11:07 am, 19-Jun-2010

Nah, never did an OBO

Naste Magazine 3:55 am, 7-Feb-2011

Nobody likes a critic them " I cant believe you get paid comments" really annoy me.

stanbowles 9:20 am, 7-Feb-2011

There aren't half some self satisfied pricks on the Guardian Football site.

griff 11:12 am, 7-Feb-2011

alex, don't you think that a lot of people who write articles on the internet write in a provocative fashion that begs for response? many site owners & editors actually encourage this sort of content because it generates lots of page views, lots of repeat visitors, online PR and this enables them to monetise their site. as an online writer isn't feedback part of the deal, isn't this why you do it? i wrote an article on here a while ago and the thing i was concerned about most wasn't bad comments, it was *no* comments. surely indifference is even worse. i'm not disagreeing with you really and i often see that the comments left for you are overly harsh from complete tossers who can barely string a sentence together. i sometimes disagree with what you say but i'm enternained by the way you write it and i always read your articles. i must also admit to enjoy reading the bunfight that always follows your pieces. i think your punchy confrontational writing style almost demands that sort of response you get which is why you keep getting published.

Denzil 2:00 pm, 7-Feb-2011

"OMG - First! Mega lolz..." Isn't the usual, and most useless type of comment.

Hayes 11:51 am, 8-Feb-2011

Man, what sites are you reading? There are plenty with properly intelligent comments in the er, comments. Having said that, they're far boring to talk about. My last favourite ones were the comments after Vice magazine's 'reporter' in Cairo latest ramblings (File under: I can't believe you got paid for this) and a whole website dedicated to comments on a 'how to spot a sociopath' article (File under: WTF)

Hayes 11:52 am, 8-Feb-2011

Oops, missed out the word 'too' in line two. Sorry, wasn't getting paid for that comment. Nor this one. But no typos. I'm getting bettah!

Kevn 5:24 pm, 8-Feb-2011

Life's too short - I've read your ramblings and good luck with your life full of prejudices and hatred. It's a path that's worked well enough for many others, but don't you ever get just a little weary of it? I can imagine your response to this - I'll not lose sleep over it but I will, despite it all, hope you find whatever it is that is missing in your life.

Hayes 6:20 pm, 8-Feb-2011


Dootser 3:32 pm, 9-Feb-2011

Boring, smelly banter.

Rick 1:00 pm, 10-Feb-2011

This article would be great if the author was funny

Tom 12:28 am, 14-Feb-2011

You sound like a right arrogant twat. No wonder you get so many comments hating your work.

Tom 4:22 pm, 15-Feb-2011

I'm changing my nick on here. Someone is sullying my good name with abusive posts.

ustuntman 7:50 am, 16-Feb-2011

I like your silly picture. Sorry, what were you saying?

Barry 8:25 am, 22-Apr-2011

Your right! I hate people who leave comments!

mike oxlong 12:36 pm, 22-Apr-2011

this just isn't funny

Mike 3:42 am, 23-Apr-2011

Good article.

Pete 1:21 pm, 27-Apr-2011

You can always disregard comments that use the words "methinks", "tis", "t'interweb", "pedant", and all the initially things. Particularly "imho". We know it is in your humble opinion, that's why it's bollocks. In fact, you can always disregard all comments. Especially this one.

Cheap Ipod Nano 9:39 am, 16-May-2011

I like this website. ----------- fancy

Leytonrocks 8:33 am, 30-Aug-2012

On websites where you actually get paid to write the driver from the publications point of view is to attract as many eyes as possible so they can tell advertisers lots of eyes will see you advert so pay us more to be there. The great proof a publication has is when the comments left after an opinion piece ascend to be the news itself. Matthew Parris famously write a hated filled attack on cyclists where he joked [sic] about garrotting them by stringing wire across the road. The rage and wider comment this attracted made the news and Parris was subsequently wrote a apology column (a la Top Gear where he simply ended it by saying I was only joking). This all proved his column was popular and caused great debate ... neither him nor his publication cared about the quality or otherwise of the comments - just so long as they kept coming.

Rooneyfan 4:55 pm, 23-Dec-2013

What a cunt, fuck this bastard

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