Flame wars singe Politico
No one online is safe from the flame wars.
It's a problem facing every media outlet: you want a vigorous debate about your stories and postings, but you don't want to be overwhelmed by obscene and libelous attacks. And who has the time and resources to set up a commentary police?
Some have simply thrown up their hands and disallowed comments. And a handful of newspapers have taken the sensible step of requiring that commenters use their real names, as if they were submitting a letter to the editor.
There are certain writers, because of their ideological opinions or inflammatory style, who you'd expect to draw plenty of nasty criticism. It sort of comes with the territory.
But Ben Smith is not one of them. The Politico blogger is a mainstream guy who talks to both sides and isn't pushing a point of view. The Daily Beast says he's getting hammered just the same:
"My blog was at first given over to Obama-backers attacking me ... as a racist and a Clinton tool," Smith says. "Then to Clinton die-hards, attacking me and others as Obama minions; then mostly back to the Obama supporters attacking me as a neocon. And now that the energy is on the right, to conservatives attacking me as a pawn of the White House."
Smith has been called a "weasel," a "flaming liberal," a "Journolister," a "liberal hack," an "establishment politico" who will be eaten by Sarah Palin for lunch, a "first grader," "a basketball player with no jump shot," a "piece of snot," a "3 year old transexual, wanker," and a "commie."
When Smith recently published a bland, one-paragraph post, highlighting an ABC News report about GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, the first comment was "Shut the [expletive] up ben, and take your journOlist buddies to cuba."...
Longtime political blogger Andrew Sullivan has never incorporated a commenting section on The Daily Dish, a decision he says was originally a way to avoid getting sued for libel. Instead, comments are curated, a model Sullivan says he is "quite proud of." He never actually edits the contents of the contributions but instead serves up only those he and his co-editors deem worth sharing. ...
Last year, Gawker Media introduced a tiered system on Jezebel.com and other sites, in which trusted commenters would be given a gold star for their thoughtful contributions and, with it, free reign to post; unapproved commenters would see their comments hidden behind a "Show all comments on this post" link, effectively combining commenting software with the watchful eye of a human moderator wielding the banhammer against nastiness and thread-jacking.
What do you think? And hey, go easy on me.
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