What Gawker Media Is Doing About Our Rape Gif Problem

Illustration for article titled What Gawker Media Is Doing About Our Rape Gif Problem

On Monday, we posted an open letter to the management of Gawker Media, our parent company, regarding an ongoing problem that we here at Jezebel could no longer tolerate: horribly violent rape gifs that were consistently appearing in our comments. For months, we asked Gawker Media HQ for help with the trolling — but despite recurring discussions, Joel Johnson, the company's editorial director, didn't fast track a solution.

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Now, however, we have Gawker HQ's attention; we're finally at the top of to-do list.

The trolling — which, in the wake of our post, spread to other sites in our network (to our colleagues: oof, really sorry about that) — has been nothing short of a nightmare. The mouth-breathing asshole or assholes behind this deserve a reluctant congrats: A+ trolling job, many headaches induced, ruined a lot of peoples' days, etc. You've given us a stunning example of just how unfathomably ugly the internet can be.

But you, Troll, also did this company a favor: you have forced Gawker Media to give the problem — the state of our commenting system and specifically its failures — the attention it deserves. You've actually done some good around here, Troll!

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Gawker Media's leadership from both tech and editorial has been working around the clock to get both a short-term solution in place as well as making larger systematic changes necessary to improve the commenting environment across all of our sites.

The short-term solution is what you saw yesterday: We disabled media uploads (images, gifs, videos) across all the comments on all of our sites. We've also scrubbed all the offending media from previous troll posts; that filth no longer lives on our server.

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As for the long-term fix, we're reintroducing the pending comment system.

For those readers who have been around awhile, you may remember what this looked like, but here's a quick and dirty explainer: Only comments from approved commenters — those who are followed by Jezebel — will automatically be visible. There will also be a pending comment queue; comments in the pending queue are visible to readers, but only if they choose to see them. Users will have to proactively click "see all" to know what lies beyond; there will be a clear warning that a reader is wading into wild west territory and doing so at their own risk. Approved commenters will have the ability to promote comments out of the pending queue but, again, only if they choose to wade in there. As for replies to readers' comments, you be notified if something has pending status — but you won't automatically see that comment in your threads unless you choose to reveal it.

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We hope to have this system solidly in place within the next 24 hours. And Gawker Media is not walking away from this problem with the launch of the pending queue; it's just one of many continuing improvements that we hope to see sooner rather than later.

A sincere thank you to the tech team for working around the clock (from Budapest, in the midst of our company retreat, no less) to address the problem. And an equally sincere apology to our readers for ever having to deal with such garbage.

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This ordeal has been unpleasant, but we're lucky to work at a company where raising hell gets you results instead of getting you canned.

Image via Shutterstock.

DISCUSSION

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labeled: crazy aunt kanye

Jessica, I am so proud of you for standing up for your site, your authors and your commenting community.

I would like to remind everyone that this version isn't bad, really. But we all have certain responsibilities.

  • 1) I'd beg the authors to remember that the ONLY way we get quality commenters and quality comments (and therefore quality traffic) is if the authors actively seek out people to follow on behalf of Jezebel. In the past the mainpage has lost a lot of good commentary because people felt "stuck in the grays."
  • 2) Commenters who are followed by Jezebel: if you can without fear of being triggered, please wade in and promote good comments out of the gray. Even if they're similar to standing comments, it's better to have more of a good thing than a total echo chamber of what are always ultimately viewed as "popular" commenters.
  • 3) Gawker, you have GOT to give your sites dedicated moderators. The main sites are popular enough to justify it, and you don't lose good comments with moderation, you gain good ones.
  • 4)ETA: "Pending" commenters - WORK on those comments! Make them good, be proud of them.

I know many people will be unhappy to have the "grays" back again, but I believe it was one of the most workable commenting iterations, as long as everyone does their part.