For the most part, "blogging" is an exercise in reaction; the majority of our posts are the result of news and feature stories we find online, in print magazines, and among friends we meet in the bars to which we retire at the end of a long day. The reactionary nature of blogging inspires some and angers others, which, of course, is echoed in the dozens of comments that accompany our posts. In fact, in the 10+ months since Jezebel "went live", our commenting community has ballooned in a way we could have never anticipated: Earlier this year, we became the most-commented site on the entire Gawker Media network, surpassing even geek/gadget blogs Gizmodo and Kotaku. (One of my enduring frustrations is that I rarely get to read the comments. With a schedule in which posts go up every fifteen minutes for 10 hours straight — it is virtually impossible for me to comprehensively survey the commentary accompanying our posts.)
This embrace by readers however, has also seen a change in the nature and tone of comments that has begun to seriously trouble me and the other Jezebel editors. Although we're thrilled that so many of our readers have something to say, there has been an increase in the stupidity, obnoxiousness, banality and purposeful provocation in our comments, an increase that has (rightly) upset both our most loyal readers and new recruits. So! We're going to start a spring-long cleaning of our commenters, meaning, we will ban anyone* we deem to be excessively self-promotional, obnoxious, immature, insulting, nasty, and yes, boring. Jezebel is not a free for all, nor is it a democracy; for those who want to say whatever they want, whenever they want, we suggest you start your own blog. For those who want to play by the rules, please see our guide to commenting on Jezebel below; we hope it will give readers — particularly new ones — some guidelines to follow.
*Note: Most bans will be preceded by a warning sent to a commenter's personal profile page, although we can and will ban anyone immediately and without warning. As always, banned commenters can re-audition at any time.
WHAT IS COVERED IN THIS GUIDE:
1. Commenter moderator
2. New commenting features
3. Blog/link pimping
4. Snap Judgments
5. Good vs. bad comments
1. COMMENTER MODERATOR
We are welcoming our new commenter moderator, longtime Jezebel reader "Hortense". Many of you are probably already familiar with her as she has been a prolific commenter on the site for many, many months. Hortense will not only comment on posts as a regular reader, she will carefully survey comment threads to make sure that they don't get out of hand, to warn or admonish obnoxious commenters, and, when needed, ban commenters who are not contributing anything informative or interesting to the discussion. Do not think of Hortense as a drill sergeant, but a den mother whose job it is to keep everyone playing fair. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via her profile page.
2. NEW COMMENTING FEATURES
Some of you have noticed the appearance of "stars" next to certain commenter names. Here's what's behind the star system: Across all Gawker Media sites, commenters who have 25 or more followers get a star next to their name. (The number of followers needed for a star will increase over time.) This is an automated function and can be rescinded by Jezebel editors and/or our commenter moderator without warning. In addition, commenters without stars can be given stars by Jezebel editors or commenter moderators as reward for one amazing comment or a legacy of great comments.
•COMMENTING VIA EMAIL
This is a way for Jezebel readers to comment through email without logging into the site. When logged out of comments, you will see an @ icon next to each comment, as well as a comment by email link inside of the comments login box. The first time someone comments via email they will be assigned a randomly generated username (note that these accounts remain anonymous and the email address does not appear on the site). Each comment must be verified before it goes live.
Some readers have already noticed this but you are now able to add video to your comments by posting video embed code from another site into your comment.
3. BLOG PIMPING, THREAD-HIJACKING & LINKS IN COMMENTS
There's been an increase in the pimping out of personal blogs/off-site chats lately, and it needs to stop. Our comment threads are not opportunities for readers to market their own blogs; if you want to direct readers to your personal websites, you can put these links on your personal profile page. Please refrain from hijacking threads; we realize that discussions naturally take twists and turns but we strongly frown upon those who begin commenting about their love of ice cream in a post about Hillary Clinton. In addition, if you want to add a link to a webpage that is relevant to the comment thread you are participating in — and it is a provocative and/or potentially-upsetting or NSFW — it is only fair to label these links with some sort of warning or NSFW tag.
4. SNAP JUDGMENTS
There seems to be some confusion over what is allowed and encouraged in the comments on our "Snap Judgment" pictures, particularly among the newer readers, who may have not seen our January post on girl-on-girl crimes.
To reiterate: "Snap Judgments" are not a place for readers to rail against the physical appearance of the subject(s) shown, be snarky just for the sake of snarkiness, and/or add nothing to the discussion. (See example here.) And despite what many of you think, Jezebel editors are not "setting up" or "baiting" readers to do just that. "Snap Judgments" should be fun, filler content showing a single moment in time; if you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all. The smartest and wittiest of our readers are able to open their minds and find fun things to say about a photograph as a whole, not the subject's thighs or face. Remember: be clever! (See example here.) As commenter BAngieB once put it: "Snap Judgment is supposed to be just that, a snap judgment. Back in the day, this was a really fun feature where we would try to out-snark and out-clever each other. It's the new people who have ruined by fixating on the person's flaws rather than the picture as whole. What's funny about the picture? What are they really thinking? Who is that dude in the background? In this case, I hate the playas, not the game."
5. GOOD VS. BAD COMMENTS
Read carefully before you comment — we can't tell you how many times people comment on posts they haven't read carefully, or read at all — and ask yourself, do I have something good or bad to add? Want to know what we define as "good" or "bad"? See below:
Characteristics of a good comment:
•Calm, courteous, reasoned disagreement, either with the opinions/facts presented in a post itself or with other commenters
•Sharing of relevant, personal anecdote (within reason)
Characteristics of a bad comment:
•Personal attacks on other commenters or Jezebel editors
•Creating/contributing to an echo chamber: ("So cute!" or "I hate...")
•Whining/Complaining: ("I don't want to read about this, can't we see pictures of puppies?")
•Irrelevance: "I don't know who this person is" or "First!"
Note: Although Jezebel editors have strong feelings on a whole host of issues — political and personal — we don't expect everyone to share them. Nor should you. Ganging up on commenters who don't share your point of view is not only unnecessary, itis tacky and contributes to a cliquish atmosphere that is not in the spirit of this blog. Differing viewpoints should not be shouted down; try to engage those with opinions opposite to yours with reasoned, polite disagreement. And if you find that difficult? Don't comment.