Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quote of the Day

"A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to 'debate' on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science."  -Suzanne LaBarre, Popular Science, "Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments"

Here, I particularly like the image of comment sections being a "grotesque reflection" of the media culture. US media culture seems to particularly value angry, binary, and certain opinions while devaluing and even outright mocking civil, nuanced, and thoughtful discourse.  And that's certainly reflected in comment sections of, especially, large media outlets. 

I'm not sure if commenters take their cues from popular political commentators or whether political commentators take their cues from their viewers. Maybe it's both and cyclical.

Whatever the case, I'm once again reminded that comment moderation takes actual work. Actual resources have to be put into creating a forum in which thoughtful, civil conversation in which people are able to set, and must also respect, boundaries of the conversation. While some folks huff and puff about a so-called silencing effect of comment moderation, laud the purported virtues of Anything Goes Forums, and express annoyance at meta-conversations about civility, civil discourse does not actually just spontaneously happen on Internet without effort and mindfulness.

Also - as a related FYI, comment moderation is restored to its regular status here in Fannie's Room, meaning comments will appear without having to be pre-approved.

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