MLive to close their comments section… Should I keep mine?

MLive is reporting today that, as of this Thursday, they’ll no longer allow for readers of their site to leave comments. There was a time in my life when I would have given them shit for the decision, just as I’d given them shit for their decision, back at the beginning, to “aggressively moderate” the comments left by their readers, but I can sympathize with their predicament. As they said in their announcement today, it’s a relatively small percentage of readers who leave comments, and those that do leave “an out-sized impression,” often dragging conversations off-topic in uncivil ways, and requiring the intervention of MLive employees. It had gotten so bad, they said, that their moderators, and the employees of a firm they brought on to oversee the comments section, were “stay(ing) busy around the clock policing the conversations, addressing flagged comments, and even going so far as to ban some users.”

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably more about cutting overhead in this case, than it is about growing incivility, but I can certainly see why someone operating a website these days would choose to pull the plug. I mean, if you go to the comments section here on any given day, you’ll find all kinds of insanity. But, at the same time, you’ll find some really good, thoughtful stuff. And that’s why I keep it going. I like the possibility that an open comments section represents. I like thinking that, at any time, someone could come forward with a piece of trivia that I wasn’t aware of, or make a connection that I hadn’t seen. But, with that said, those instances seem to come less frequently these days, as the comments section here has been disproportionately utilized of late by anti-vaxxers, Trumpists, self-proclaimed Christian patriots, and followers of Qanon. And, I imagine, with the shutting down of the MLive comments section, and the approach of the 2020 election, that it’s only going to become more challenging to keep my doors open to anyone who wants to weigh in. [Unlike MLive, I’ve never attempted aggressive moderation. For the most part, I’ve been happy to let people have their say, with the understanding and hope that the community would regulate itself. In fact, I’ve only cut three comments over the past 15 years. And I’ve never banned anyone from this site.]

At any rate, I’m curious as to what you think. Should I continue to allow comments here? Do you find value in it? I’ve love to know your thoughts.

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29 Comments

  1. stupid hick
    Posted February 18, 2020 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I think you should edit selected comments to make them funnier. Or just post your admin password here and I’ll do it for you.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 18, 2020 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I think the “community” has already self policed by largely abandoning this comment section except for a few regular posters who would be better off emailing each other directly. You could have a letter to the editor section for responses and only consider posting those contributions that you find valuable, with the writers first name after verification, a la the Atlantic. It’ll save you some bandwidth and maybe people will actually write in without the endless drivel that currently passes for discourse.

  3. Hyperian Warlock
    Posted February 18, 2020 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I am actually very insightful and witty, but for years George Soros has been paying Mark to edit my comments to make me seem like a delusional conspiracy theorist.

  4. iRobert
    Posted February 18, 2020 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    What would a person have to say here to get banned?

    I’m asking for a friend.

  5. Sad
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Shut it down!

    Shut it down!

    Shut it down!

  6. EOS
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I think you should seriously consider shutting down the whole blog and spending more time with your kids. You only have a short window of opportunity left to impact the rest of their lives. The only two supporters left disbelieve in logic and reasoning and spew a continuous stream of ad hominem attacks. Few would visit your blog without the comments section. Probably good timing to end prior to the mass indictments and the desolation of all your political idols.

  7. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    There is no shame in tapping out. Hey, at least you looked like you were in the fight for quite a while.

  8. John Brown
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Implement a quota. One comment per post per IP address. Try to make people actually comment to you, on your substance. Not provide them a forum to see their delusional words in “print”, which then only serves to reinforce their craziness.

  9. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The reason he wants out is he gets destroyed every time now just like the rest of you in the comments. Limiting user comments to one per blog post would only hurt someone like you who can never respond with a good argument, only chimping out all the time.

  10. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    “[M]ake people actually comment to you, on your substance.”

    This is a great idea! I think Mark should hand all of his tough decision-making over to Johnny B owned, his spirit animal.

  11. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Seriously though, the only reason I even started commenting here is because I witnessed Peter, over the course of a long period, using disgusting tactics, in his attempt to cyber-bully EOS off the blog. What Peter really was doing was he was trying to silence a minority opinion, relative to the MM community, which EOS was expressing/ representing.

    Where’s Pete at?

    Britanica online has a nice and short entry under “dissent”.

  12. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/dissent-political

  13. ElsieGal
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I read every single post, and have since I first discovered the site a few years ago. Though I comment infrequently , I very much appreciate the ability to do so. I read comments, too, but admit that I sometimes stop when they stray off-topic and become more of a free-for-all exchange between and about individual commenters and their perspectives. Nevertheless, I often learn something, and appreciate that as well. So my preference is to keep the comment option available. Either way, I will continue to be a loyal reader.

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    As a regular commenter I can only say, Fuck yes!

    Doesn’t it just create misery and a platform for nutcases?

    I’m the special kind of idiot that feels a need to respond. Even you feel compelled to sometimes.

    I used to love this comment section as it seemed like actual discourse plus a fair amount of humor happened here. I used to point to it as a representation of functional social media. That’s no longer the case. Sane people left long ago. It’s a clown car now. And yes, I know that makes me a clown too.

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Ps the Final straw MLive comments is rumored to be a bunch of anti-Semitic comments posted re the regular synagogue protests in A2 that was reported to the AntiDefamation League.

  16. Lynne
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I would miss it but would be understanding of such a decision.

  17. Lynne
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I stopped commenting on MLIVE after they “moderated” a comment I made about an article on hoarding written by Paula Gardner that was very insensitive to people with mental illnesses. I didn’t use bad language or anything but I did say that Paula Gardner and MLIVE should be ashamed of themselves. Seems she was a bit sensitive. I pretty much stopped reading MLIVE after that but for the occasional stray article here and there if someone I knew posted a link on Facebook or Twitter

    One such link was to an article about the mentally ill daughter of a friend. She was caught breaking & entering houses in Ann Arbor and they failed to mention in their story that she had recently had a severe closed head injury or even what she was stealing from these houses. It was stuff like hair ties and paper clips! Instead, they portrayed her like some evil criminal mastermind cleaning people out of their valuables! Luckily the courts were more sympathetic and sent her for some in-patient treatment instead of prison.

    They are not a responsible news organization and I have wondered if that might be why they seem to attract the kind of people they do to their comments section? They need clicks and sometimes those users who are engaged in their comments section drive clicks.

  18. John Brown
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    JH,
    I never climb in the Clown Car without putting on my makeup and red nose first. Which is an obvious problem for civil discourse.

    But I think it’s actually more like the Day Room from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. But with a disproportionate number of Nurse Ratchets….on drugs.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    The comment section would be better if you chose to write about things other than national politics, I think. I’m sorry, really not trying to be rude but you don’t offer any sort of insight into those things that can’t be found elsewhere in the MSM (I’m dont think I’m the first person to point this out). You often just summarize and parrot talking points from NYT, MSNBC, HuffPo etc. In addition, the tone you set is hysteric and incoherent on these topics. How many times has a post ended with something ridiculous like “This is the beginning of the end folks,” “we need to take to the streets” or some such. It doesn’t seem like you know much about organizing, movement building or protesting and when you say these things it sounds silly.

    IMO, this blog used to be good because of the local news and local politics coverage, the history of zines, the ypsi entrance/exit interviews etc. That sort of stuff is helpful, interesting and actually useful to weirdos into that stuff or people who live in and around ypsi. That was where I saw the best discussions on here. Those days seem to be long gone as you’ve become more and more obsessed with whatever the latest controversy is surrounding trump. I get it he fuckin sucks, and I hate his ass but damn dude, give it a rest :/

    I still check this site regularly with the faintest glimmer of hope that something relevant to our lives in and around ypsilanti will pop up but it’s been a pretty consistent disappointment. I understand what happens on a national level impacts us all, of course, but like I said up top all that info is out there on every other news site and it’s pointless to have it parroted back here.

    Just my two cents.

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Nice post Anonymous. It is funny to think that the thing that might make Mark lose faith in free speech and dissent is people protesting against his parroted narratives that were given to him from main-stream-establishment-corporate news media.

    You really can’t get less punk rock than this. I am just waiting for Mark to have a mid life crisis so he can start rejecting everything he currently represents.

  21. fact check
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    You don’t think the creeping fascism of the Trump administration effects us, Anonymous? You’d rather have discussions about local bake sales and the like.

  22. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    As long as the blog stays up the whole world will be able to see how bad you got your ass kicked by a “Qanon conspiracy theorist” every single day. So to use Q as a pejorative doesn’t work. You don’t understand Q and you fear what you don’t understand. You make no effort to find out what it is but still try to put it down.

    The President of the USA has tweeted seconds after Q made a post numerous times; within a minute. What would that tend to suggest? It’s always Trump tweeting after Q, never the other way around.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvwhbYZmnuU

  23. Lynne
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I love discussions of local bake sales and the like but you know, not enough to take the time and energy to write about them on my own blog or anything like that.

    HW, huh? When did that happen? I think what you meant to say is that as long as this blog stays up, people will get to see a person with grandiose delusions declare himself some kind of ass-kicker when it is plain for most people to see that is not the case.

  24. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    But you have never said one factual thing I didn’t answer. It’s childish rants only when it comes to Lynne. It boils down to hating white men. I am the one with the steak and potatoes factual arguments. When was the last time you got me on some factual thing? Never that I can think of. Baby Lynne!

  25. Posted February 19, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for your thoughts. I appreciate it…. I’m not seriously thinking about killing the comments section, but it does cross my mind from time to time… As for my not writing enough about local happenings, I don’t deny it. A lot of my attention of late has been drawn toward the national crisis we’re facing. And, for what it’s worth, I think that’s justified. It’s not as though I’ve just gone off on a tangent about cats, or something. I think the issue that we’re facing is deadly important. But I do still write about local stuff on occasion. I’m actually working on an interview tonight about a new film festival. So stay tuned.

  26. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2020 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Yes, fact check I’m glad you understood the substance of my comment. Very cool

  27. Sad
    Posted February 20, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Maybe you could just limit the number of words people are allowed to use to vpcut down on the rambling.

  28. iRobert
    Posted February 23, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    As much as we here all complain about each other and say terrible things about each other, I’m still surprised at how generally thoughtful the regular commenters here can be. I don’t see a lot of the sort of extreme bullshit which AnnArbor.com had to delete from their comment section on a regular basis.

    I do miss the better humor we used to see here regularly in the comments. It was really shitty of me to drive all those people off. I can admit now that it was wrong.

  29. Doug
    Posted March 4, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I found this site purely by accident – as an out of state Lions fan, I followed MLive solely for their Lions section and the comments section was the main draw since I could interact with fellow fans. Ever since the comments went away, I find there are better places to get straight sports coverage. I had been with them since a couple years before Killer died.

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