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Back in the day, Phil Donahue was the king of day-time talk shows. If I remember right his show, and competing shows, were topical and dealt with mostly social issues. I’m not sure which show first decided to introduce or change their format to “freak,” but for several years day-time talk shows all raced to the bottom to dredge up some of the most rank and foul topics and guests. It was bizarre. America couldn’t stop watching as individuals barfed up confessions, hurled insults (not to mention furniture) and generally displayed the most embarrassing behavior. Again, I’m writing this from memory, but it seems like the talk show sewer tide only shifted when Oprah Winfrey declared she was changing her format to focus on more positive issues. Eventually those shows hosted by Jenny Jones, Maury Povich, and Ricki Lake were cancelled. Oprah, as we all know, went on to the most successful day-time talk show of network history, make more money than god and influence presidential elections.

What does that have to do with cartooning? I’m feeling like the comment section is drifting downward and much of that is my fault. Not sure how many noticed, but over the last year or so, I relaxed enforcement of the rules. Threads I would have shut down early I left to burn themselves out. I figured if this is what my readers want, then fine, let them deal with the flame wars. Only it’s usually not the participants who have to deal with the fallout, it’s me. I get emails, direct messages and even phone calls. I get demands that comments be deleted, individuals banned, even full threads be removed. Another reason I’ve come to dislike the comments is The Daily Cartoonist brand has suffered. Without fail, when a thread bursts into flames, I will see several negative Twitter users tweet their disgust. Sometimes they acknowledge it’s the participants that are behaving badly, but more often than not it is “The Daily Cartoonist” in general that is mentioned in bad light. Lastly, I’ve found myself avoiding certain stories – stories that are worthy topics for the blog – but I don’t have the energy or time to deal with the assured flame war.

So, like the wise Oprah, I’m making some changes in hopes of creating a higher level of dialog. You’ve no doubt seen the “like” and “dislike” feature. Truthfully, I’m not a fan of this particular implementation and it won’t be here long. I installed Disqus last weekend with the intent to use that as the new comment system, but pulled back because it lacked the ability to put a “recent comments” feature on the homepage (which is HIGHLY popular). The general aim with any system I adopted is to discourage comment trolls from participating. If we can manage the trolls, meaningful dialog will result.

So here is the road map going forward. A new comment system will be put in place that allows you, the community who use the comments, to help keep the dialog civil. I’m not asking for everyone to agree or be quiet if you disagree – I’m simply asking for you to be respectful of other participants. The future ability to flag bad behavior will hopefully show trolls they’re not welcome and they leave. If they won’t abide by the rules, I’ll permanently block their participation. Currently there are about 30 individuals blacklisted, I suspect in the next few months that list will grow.

Should that fail, my next line of defense will be to move to a moderated system. I’m thinking of a “Letters to the editor” type feature where only comments that are interesting, coherent and/or free of troll bait will be approved.

The last option is to close the comments completely. It’s the nuclear option that I hope I never have to use.

So that’s a very long explanation to the new “like”, “dislike” feature. Thanks for your patience and thanks for your participation. I recognize the comment section is a highly popular feature and I only want to improve it.

Alan

Community Comments

#1 Dave Stephens
September/22/2010
@ 3:07 am

“Don’t you rate me baby! Don’t you rate me, oh oooooh oh!”

VS

“RATE ME! go ahead and give it to me
RATE ME! honey take me through the night
RATE ME! now I’m standing here can’t you see
RATE ME! it’s all right
It’s all right
It’s all right”

#2 DJ Coffman
September/22/2010
@ 4:18 am

I think that’s a wise move on your part. I love checking TDC every day but I know if comments are suddenly in the 50s or up it’s a drama thread filled with the usual trolls that I avoid.

#3 Ben Carlsen
September/22/2010
@ 5:18 am

On the 100th episode of Comics Coast to Coast, there was a segment with Carlos Castellanos (of Baldo) where he brought up the Daily Cartoonist comments and how extremely negative they are. He said he doesn’t want to participate because of it. Alan is saying that he is not posting particular stories because of not wanting to deal with the inevitable flame wars.

Wow. We have dialogue that isn’t happening and stories that are not being discussed because of this? In a time when the industry needs to pull together as much as it can and be positive about the future, this is very sad.

Good luck, Alan. Hope it all works out. I’ll be doing my best to keep it civil.

#4 Jerry Zee
September/22/2010
@ 6:02 am

I believe that an unwritten rule of free speech is that you shouldn’t use it to abuse others. So if you have a controversial opinion, express it. Fine. But don’t insult me if I don’t agree with you. Disagreements are bound to happen, especially between cartoonists, who have strong opinions. It’s just about being civilized in the discussion.

#5 Ted Rall
September/22/2010
@ 6:17 am

I assume this comment will be buried by your insane new Stalinist rating system, but whatever.

Speaking only for myself, I’d say that 90% of what makes TDC interesting is the comments section. Were it to be eliminated or significantly truncated, I would probably stop reading it. Yes, I need to find out what’s going on my industry. But 90% of what’s going on my industry is the reaction of my peers and colleagues.

Comments are an issue for me on my own blog, which, as you can imagine, can get pretty controversial and thus overheated. I’ve tried open comments, closed comments, and have settled upon partial moderation. Basically, once you’ve proven yourself to be generally a good citizen, your comments go up unmoderated. Comments by new users await my moderation. There was an adjustment period, but now I only have to spend 15 seconds a day dealing with comment moderation. For you it might be 2-3 minutes.

Things tend to get out of control here when non-cartoonists start to chime in. For the life of me, I don’t understand why “the source for news for the PROFESSIONAL cartoonist” allows non-cartoonists to post comments.

As for the heated threads that I play no small role in contributing to, well, it’s up to you to decide whether they should be quashed or not. Obviously namecalling and ad hominem attacks are a no-no, but most of us don’t do that. Maybe it’s because I’m used to the AAEC culture of high-spirited political debate and repartee, but I can’t see anything other than higher reader interest resulting from that back and forth.

You might not like seeing TDC getting slagged in a tweet, but there’s something worse: disinterest.

#6 Norm Feuti
September/22/2010
@ 7:55 am

Personally, I stopped participating in the comments here a while ago because of the trolls and general rudeness that pop up in just about every thread. I don’t find the conversations (if you can call them that) worth engaging in. Meaningful dialog consistently gets lost among the people who are only interested in playing a virtual version of the dozens.

But that’s every internet forum in a nutshell.

That hasn’t stopped me from reading the blog, or the comments for that matter. The Daily Cartoonist is a good source for news about the industry, and I find the flame wars mildly amusing … and useful for gauging who I should avoid in real life.

It’s disheartening to hear Alan is holding back stories because of the trolls. If moderating the comments makes him feel more comfortable posting the stories we’re all missing, then it works for me.

#7 Ed Power
September/22/2010
@ 8:29 am

One of my favorite stories about TDC is that there was this tread exploding with opinions about diversity in comics.

The next day their was a stroy Morrie Turner was doing a signing. It ended up being right above the story people were going nuts about diversity, and no one posted to it.

Like I said, it was right above it. So people actually scrolled down past the signing of the man who did more for diversity in comics than anyone, to agrue with their fellow cartoonists about diversity in comics.

I guess it’s just more fun to be negative or something.

#8 Bryan Senka
September/22/2010
@ 8:31 am

The comments are primary reason that I come here. I like them, especially when they get heated.

#9 Joe Engesser
September/22/2010
@ 9:32 am

The majority of “regulars” utilize TDC for all the noteworthy info and commentary offered. Sorry you have to waste time baby sitting instigators who use this forum as anger therapy…Their tireless goading adds nothing to the debate. Thanks, Alan!!

#10 Anne Hambrock
September/22/2010
@ 9:36 am

Well I’m glad to see that the ratings feature will not be around long because it seems designed to inflate the problem rather than quell it. It seems to me that hiding a comment creates an aura of mystery around it leading a person to click on it just to see what the fuss was all about. Which, in the long run, probably gives negative comments more attention than they would receive if they had simply been buried in the thread.

Plus, I’m not a fan of like and dislike buttons in general – they make me feel like I’m back in high school navigating the murky waters of popularity contests :-)

I am glad you are giving the matter such thought overall though, and hope you come up with a plan that seems to work better because I do come here as much for the comments as for the stories.

#11 Scott Kurtz
September/22/2010
@ 9:58 am

You’re looking at these comments wrong, Alan. It’s really the only thing your site has going right now. It’s the only thing that’s bringing people back and the only thing that’s diversifying your site from other news sites.

The reason people are so polarized about “The Daily Cartoonist” is because there are heated passionate discussions going on here with highly opinionated people. So yeah, you are going to see the odd tweet when people get frustrated or fed up. But honestly, I think you should be paying more attention to your analytics than negative twitters.

If you remove the comments, and thus, all the positive and negative discussion, all you’ll have is a blog reminding everyone of news they don’t care about.

Wow. It was a banner year for new features. Who cares until people start discussing the merits of that statistic or the quality of the strips that were added.

Blondie turns 80. Who gives a crap? Nobody until the discussion starts about whether or not that’s actually a good thing.

You remove the comments and you remove any reason people come to this site. ever. And if you moderate the comments and restrict them to just the back patters and people pretending that everything is okay in this industry you’ll have a boring site as well.

#12 Tom Wood
September/22/2010
@ 10:03 am

AG: Lastly, I?ve found myself avoiding certain stories ? stories that are worthy topics for the blog ? but I don?t have the energy or time to deal with the assured flame war.

Or, you have developed a nose for stories that will generate a lot of user interest. Put that talent to good use!

#13 John Auchter
September/22/2010
@ 10:15 am

Perhaps, Alan, if you had all those intending to comment sign a pledge. Something like:
“I understand that a comments forum is a really, really lousy place to attempt to convince another person of anything. I will be happy to make my point and won’t take the bait when others disagree in rude ways.”

How’s that?

BTW, I don’t think it was Stalin who did the thumbs up/down rating system thing. I believe that was the Roman emperors. (Of course I’m basing this statement of fact entirely on Bugs Bunny cartoons I’ve seen.)

#14 Zach Weiner
September/22/2010
@ 10:40 am

Yeah, ditto to Scott and Ted. I come to dailycartoonist to get a read on other people in cartooning. Half the time I don’t know why I should care about a post until there’s a heated discussion.

#15 Steve Skelton
September/22/2010
@ 10:59 am

We just need an annual event where we can jello wrestle each other. I find that jello wrestling relieves tension and stress. Works for the wife and me.

#16 Brian Fies
September/22/2010
@ 11:26 am

I . . . sort of agree with Scott. The comments, even the flame wars, are part of the site’s draw. When a good one’s ablaze, I’ll visit two or three times a day just to see the latest. That might not make me a particularly elevated human being, but it does make me a repeat customer.

Less bread-and-circusy, I appreciate passionate discussion on comics. It’s so much better than indifference. However, I am often dismayed when a perfectly pleasant, innocent post veers into the famiilar ditch of “the Katzenjammer Kids should get out of my way and dead-tree publishing is as obsolete as the idea of being paid actual money to make comics, grandpa.” In that case, I think a blunt reminder to stay on topic might help, followed by deleting replies that aren’t. So I guess I’m suggesting light moderation, with enough free-rein to keep things interesting.

Keep in mind that you have this problem because a lot of people visit your site and care enough to argue about what you post. That’s a “problem” many web czars would kill for.

And this “like-dislike-disappear” thing is terrible.

#17 Mike Lester
September/22/2010
@ 11:39 am

An accident in the south bound lane, slows traffic in the north bound lane for the same reason people read a comments section.

#18 Steve Skelton
September/22/2010
@ 11:45 am

How can someone possibly cast a dislike vote for jello wrestling?

#19 Rich Diesslin
September/22/2010
@ 11:56 am

Alan, I guess my opinion (worth what you pay for it) would be to follow your gut instincts on the forum moderation since TDC is already very successful.

My observations are:
1) even with an occasional flame-war most folks are fairly civil on this site (especially compared to others).
2) comments are often the more interesting aspects of any given story
3) non-professional cartoonists should be welcome here since this is a public forum (vs. memberships, etc) and builds interest in the product cartoonists have to offer.
4) it often seems like those most easily offended are the snarkiest and first to resort to personal attacks
5) there is an odd sense of community about this site
6) I particularly appreciate those who keep their comments light and humorous.
7) not sure what to make of the agree/disagree buttons. You’d think it would cut down on comments, but it hasn’t seemed to yet.
8) there should be 10 items in any given list.

Good luck figuring it all out. ;)

#20 David Jones
September/22/2010
@ 12:22 pm

I just want to add that this forum is awesome. I love hearing what everyone has to say here. I have learned so much about this industry just in the few months I have been reading. I get most of the more valuable info from the comments section.

There are always a few bad apples in the bunch, but together you can still make some AWESOME apple wine…

#21 Joe Engesser
September/22/2010
@ 12:36 pm

Ditto, David. I prefer sweet wine to bitter. Keep the balanced tone you’ve set for TDC, Alan. If people want heated blathering there’s always talk radio!

#22 David Reddick
September/22/2010
@ 12:47 pm

I say “Cry HAVOC and let SLIP the dogs of war !!” It makes it fun. Even if it eggs me on to say sh** I”ll probably regret later!

#23 Jason Hackett
September/22/2010
@ 1:05 pm

I, for one, would appreciate it if Mr. Gardner had more time to cover all comics more thoroughly rather than having to play traffic cop. I come to the site every day hoping for a new story about comics I may or may not have heard of. Usually there’s one or two, sometimes none. I have been sucked into reading the sniping and name-calling on occasion, but usually I stay away because there really is nothing new offered there.
The site is called The Daily Cartoonist, modeled, I assume, after naming conventions of newspapers. It’s an online *news source,* and I’d like it to be more of one rather than an online version of the neighborhood dive where the same guys gather daily to gripe at and with each other.
Surely, Mr. Rall will say my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m not a “professional” cartoonist (I’ll have you know Google AdSense has $25.62 waiting for me to get to $100 so I can actually get that cash!), and Mr. Kurtz will say I’m wrong because I don’t agree with him (see above), but I must ask: If the changes are something those two curmudgeons agree are bad, doesn’t that automatically make them good changes?

#24 Pete Murphey
September/22/2010
@ 1:12 pm

Just a little history, Toontalk, which got rid of it’s political section not too long ago, for many of the same reasons Alan is listing here, used to be a thriving forum. Yes it had a lot of political arguments, which sometimes got very uncivil, tedious and predictable, but it also had robust discussion about cartoons, films and animation. Now, if you go over there you’ll see tumbleweeds rolling over your browser. It’s a ghost town. Barely a peep about anything.

#25 Mike Cope
September/22/2010
@ 1:26 pm

I read the headlines and articles here to check the day’s news. I read the comments section to check the day’s pulse.

Citizen Kane: Declaration of Principles

#26 Dave Stephens
September/22/2010
@ 1:27 pm

Proving that it’s ALL political, like it or dislike it. The baby drank the dishwater and you can’t throw either out…

#27 mike witmer
September/22/2010
@ 1:45 pm

Kurtz: Alan. It?s really the only thing your site has going right now.

The ONLY thing? I wouldn’t go that far, Scott.

I come here for a bit of one-stop comic news shopping. I tend to get sucked into the drama threads. It’s like driving past a car accident. I can’t help but slow down and rubberneck.

#28 B. Root
September/22/2010
@ 1:46 pm

I don’t read the articles; whenever I visit TDC I just skim down the frontpage and click on whatever’s got the most comments on it so I can read the discussion.

#29 Tom Racine
September/22/2010
@ 2:03 pm

I’m on the side that’s FOR the comments. They can get out of control sometimes, but spirited discussion is always a good thing when done right. I’d say for every thread that gets out of whack, there are 10 that are…well, “in whack?” I guess?

I don’t think it’s the only thing that keeps people coming back, but it is a very vibrant and community-building thing, and worth the trouble to weed out the occasional troll.

#30 Scott Metzger
September/22/2010
@ 2:15 pm

I like this site because it?s frequented by a wide variety of cartoonists, from novices to pros. There?s a sense of community here.

It would be great if we all addressed people the way we would if we were talking to them in person. There wouldn?t be nearly as many cheap shots and mean-spirited remarks. But it?s the internet and that?s not going to happen. Still….can’t people disagree and debate without being total pricks to each other?

I have to admit, the flame wars are often fun to read. They can be annoying but they can be entertaining. I have mixed feelings about it.

Overall I hope the comments section stays the same. Minus the like/dislike thing.

#31 Stephen Beals
September/22/2010
@ 2:36 pm

Personally, I miss a “Letters To The Editor” type format, but I don’t think that’s coming back.

It only takes one or two people to turn things hostile. If the comments are decently moderated I think we can read about something like Dennis The Menace’s anniversary without fearing any gunfire.

#32 Mike Peterson
September/22/2010
@ 2:48 pm

I’ve complained a few times recently that TDC is going the way of r.a.c.s. and ToonTalk. What I mean is that there is a difference between batting a difference of opinion back and forth and simply finding out who can scream the loudest.

We’re all used to the antipathy between web purists and print purists, and, since most observers know the answer lies somewhere between, it’s amusing to watch them smack each other over the head, trying to prove that one extreme or the other is The Absolute Truth.

What I find off-putting is when the discussion of art becomes secondary to scoring socio-political points. Hypothetical

Example: Let’s say the topic was “Were the latter years of Li’l Abner a disaster?” The conversation should center on how much a cartoonist not-on-the-editorial-page should invest his cartoon with his own political opinions. I would expect to hear people cite Harold Grey as an example of someone with strong political opinions who, nonetheless, created a viable “soap opera” strip, and Walt Kelly as someone who blended his progressive views into some very funny comics, and I would expect some back-and-forth as to whether Garry Trudeau was more effective slagging Nixon or Carter or Reagan.

What I don’t want is for the discussion of the later years of L’il Abner to degenerate immediately into an argument over the politics of Joan Baez, feminism and the anti-war movement.

Ted talks about “professional cartoonists.” I’m not a cartoonist, amateur or pro. I simply comment on them, have hired them, have interviewed them, have booked their strips, etc. But I do know that cartooning is not about individual people’s politics — it’s about how you express yourself within the medium.

I am particularly frustrated when I see that the voting so far seems to be more along the line of cliques and political correctness than whether or not the comment is advancing the discussion.

I would say the long-time solution is to simply shut down topics when comments are getting off-topic and non-constructive. When people stop talking about cartooning and start talking personal political views, shut off the comments.

#33 Drezz Rodriguez
September/22/2010
@ 2:56 pm

It really is too bad that you feel the need to police the comments section so strictly, Alan.

I can sympathize with you on having to deal with the onslaught of complaints and concerns regarding a few bad apples – but that is part of discussion over the Internet. Trying to regulate that only opens up a can of worms with a whole new set of problems.

Sure the flame wars could get intense around here, but it’s really nothing more than idle threats and snide remarks. If your underwear is in that much of a bind after reading Kurtz and Rall and others ranting and rallying and name calling, perhaps you just need to grow some thicker skin.

I’m sure you’ve all been called worse. Frankly, the discussions that turn into flame wars are tame compared to other sites. Don’t let words on a screen dictate how you should run the site.

#34 Ben McCormick
September/22/2010
@ 3:34 pm

I probably don’t count as a “professional” cartoonist in the eyes of Ted Rall and calling myself a “web cartoonist” is likely an insult or embarrassment to someone like Scott Kurtz. I do, however, find many of the posts on TDC informative and I enjoy reading the comments and opinions of others also interested in the goings on in the world of cartooning.

I think this new comment system is interesting, if for no other reason than to see how the community reacts and votes on the various comments. It may even cut down on the number of drive-by rude comments since if you don’t like something you can down vote it and move on about your day.

As for the negative tweets or feedback, I remember being told in the world of retail that a happy customer might possibly tell one or two people about your store or product but an unhappy customer would likely tell twenty or more. I’m sure it’s a similar situation for news sites and newspapers. The happy readers usually keep quiet and the angry or upset ones fire off angry comments, e-mails and tweets.

With or without the comments I’ll probably keep reading. It just won’t be as interesting without them.

#35 David Cohen
September/22/2010
@ 4:27 pm

As has been pointed out before, by both Alan, and any number of the cartoonists who comment here, this is Alan’s site. He can do whatever he wants to do with it. He can set it up any way he wants, and if he wants to he can shut it down any time he wants. The same way that any of us who have sites can do the same, and fully expect that we would be able to, without anybody telling us what to do with our site.
Whatever you choose to do, Alan, thanks for the energy that you devote to TDC—it is always a pleasure to read and to catch up on news in the industry.
Best of luck.

#36 Matt Bors
September/22/2010
@ 5:37 pm

I hate Oprah.

#37 Shane Davis
September/22/2010
@ 7:32 pm

I skimmed through these comments really, really fast and all I got was something about Stalin jello wrestling Oprah.

Am I missing something here?

#38 Matt Bors
September/22/2010
@ 10:48 pm

I think it creates an atmosphere of mistrust, paranoia and fear.

For instance, I’ve been stewing over who disliked my comment above. For three hours. Who the f*&#) was it? I’ve talked smack to people here before–now they can anonymously down rate me.

Could be Steven Cloud. I just went to Afghanistan with him. Thought we were friends. Would he stab me in the back like that? I can’t prove he didn’t do it and it’s troublesome. Show me the logs, Alan! Or maybe it was Alan Gardner himself. Does he hate me? Or Oprah. I hope it was Oprah.

#39 Ted Rall
September/23/2010
@ 6:00 am

It wasn’t Cloud. It was me.

I’m still pissed about that time you and the Talib across the hall stayed up late, making fun of my beard. You thought I was sleeping. Well, I wasn’t. I wasn’t!

#40 Stephanie McMillan
September/23/2010
@ 6:48 am

I love reading the comments. The “recent comments” list is the first thing I look at, before the main topics. For those who are easily offended by arguments, it’s easy to skip over them or not read them.

#41 Torsten Adair
September/23/2010
@ 8:36 am

If a thread gets heated, why not just issue everyone a Time Out and close comments?

Allow the trusted reader to post without moderation (although you retain the right to withdraw that privilege), review the newbies, and ban the offensive.

Perhaps you could even add a gold star or some other icon to designate posters who are the trustees, so to speak.

#42 David Reddick
September/23/2010
@ 8:39 am

I confess, I often look at how many comments have been generated for a given story before I click the story. I’m not sure why I do this, but I do. It’s obvious when something has become a flame war. I then decide if I wanna get angry by reading on, or wanna avoid and go on to the non-comment thread. Truth be told, it can get one down to see a bunch of people who are supposed to do something fun they always dreamed of doing turn into sniping, pissy peeps, however, we’re all artists, I do it too, and get quite passionate about things we believe in. And if I’ve noted anything, we’d all still share a beer at a bar together after raising a ruckus against each others’ oinions.
I’m with Mike Witmer, that I also visit this site daily to get a scoop on the headlines of what is going on in the field. I think Alan mostly hits a broad scope of print, web (would love to see more web coverage), animation, etc. that really is a one-stop place. But hot dizzle I enjoy the comments some things generate. Now THAT’s the entertainment side of TDC. Think about it, this site has no pictures, lol. Only words. And here we all are. News and Entertainment for a bunch of people who make their living (or working towards it) making funny pictures.
lol.
TDC is wrestling with it’s inner Two-Face (from Batman): 1 side of the coin is news and information, the other is the murky and unpredictable waters of opinion, in all their scarry good or bad. Key word to me: unpredictable. That’s a fun thing sometimes.
I still stand by my credo: Forget the censoring. Let slip the dogs of OPINION!

#43 David Reddick
September/23/2010
@ 8:44 am

Alan: Thought (I have no idea bout the logistics of such a thing): You create a double-sided coin of a site: TDC: News & Opinion. One side is straight news. There is then another side reserved for OPINION on said headlines. One can choose their path. This is probably a stupid idea, but what the heck, just brainstorming. Let the peeps choose their path: TDC Jedi or TDC Sith. Booyah!
Then again, um, a lot easier to just let people rant in comments, which is the opinion side.

#44 Stephen Beals
September/23/2010
@ 9:08 am

It is different here, because it’s a niche audience. Most newspapers, magazines like Entertainment Weekly, and sites like CNN have comments that are a complete turn off, at least for me.

I hate to suggest it, because free is so nice, but what could differentiate Daily Cartoonist from other forums in the past would be if it became a subscription site.

A nominal fee would weed out trolls with obvious pseudonyms who swoop in out of nowhere and help derail a thread. It could encourage people to post because they’re paying members just like everyone else, and it would send a little well-deserved cash Alan’s way.

20 years ago, I would’ve subscribed to a cartoonist magazine without question. Maybe it’s just me and people would abandon ship if this became a subscription site, but I would definitely pay.

#45 Ted Rall
September/23/2010
@ 9:25 am

@Stephen: The AAEC tried putting its discussion board behind a wall. Result: no one posts there anymore. It’s free to members, but the pain in the ass factor of logging in is too much trouble.

#46 Ben McCormick
September/23/2010
@ 9:30 am

I was okay with the “like or dislike” voting but I can’t say I’m too fond of “intelligent or inappropriate”.

#47 Josh McDonald
September/23/2010
@ 9:54 am

What about comments we like that are not particularly intelligent? We need a third option: “probably inappropriate but freakin’ hilarious”

#48 Stephen Beals
September/23/2010
@ 11:22 am

@Ted, That’s weird. It doesn’t seem to be affecting interaction at webcomics.com.

My other thought was that if comments were behind a wall, people could speak their minds without everybody (especially customers) being able to read what they had to say.

#49 Tom Richmond
September/23/2010
@ 12:26 pm

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the number, quality or content of open comments posted here have any bearing on the content or relevance of your articles and news releases, Alan. Comments are comments and only reflect upon those commenting. Having a comment feature will always attract that kind of discourse, so you either have it or you don’t.

I can understand your concern that the flame wars that get going here can get out of hand and you feel the need to moderate, and that you don’t like or want to have to spend time doing that. My feeling is let the comments flow and don’t worry about them bringing TDC down… they don’t. Even the bad arguments will flame themselves out eventually. Only truly grievous transgressions of civility should merit repercussions.

I guess what I’m saying is IMHO let the comments fall as they may and ban those who abuse your guidelines or other commentators as a permanent solution to inappropriate naughtiness.

#50 B.J. Dewey
September/23/2010
@ 1:10 pm

I think the only approach to maintaining the purpose and integrity of any forum is to set clear rules for all to see (based on the site’s purpose and goals and perhaps input from readers – the Democratic way) and then adequately moderate and enforce them. Not easy, not perfect, but it’s the way many successful forums are run.

I think readers, amateur and pro alike (the “sense of community” Scott Metzger talks about), want to read comments about cartooning, especially the art of cartooning. When I see comments that deteriorate into nothing more than a clash of egos (the ones who can, as Mike Peterson said, “scream the loudest,”), that’s when I ‘toon’ out.

#51 Cedric Atizado
September/23/2010
@ 1:16 pm

My RSS feed is subscribed to 6 different news sites about cartooning. This one is the only one I click on directly to read the comments.

I can see how Alan would not want his site to be known as the “Something Awful” of news sites for cartoonists.

I’m a tad ambivalent about the up/down buttons though. On the one hand, people who are able to directly do something about a comment they dislike is a lot less likely to pester Alan. On the other hand, it still leaves posts at the mercy of the community which can still lead to bad feelings.

Alan, if you truly wish to keep comments here to a particular tenor, then that could only really be achieved through active moderation. However, I think it’s a mistake for you to try to moderate the site by yourself. You would be much better served to keep comments open, but have volunteer moderators (of your choosing) guide discussions according to guidelines you can set up. They can help warn others when things are getting out of hand, email warnings to individuals, etc.

#52 B.J. Dewey
September/23/2010
@ 1:38 pm

I would add to my earlier comment (about setting forum rules and adequately moderating them), that some successful forums use several moderators trained and drawn from forum participants. It also needs to be clear to all how the moderators will enforce the rules, e.g., delete a comment that violates rules, contact the author personally with a warning, etc.

#53 Darrin Bell
September/24/2010
@ 4:11 pm

Pretty sure the ratings system is going to quickly degenerate from “intelligent or inappropriate” into “I agree or I disagree.”

#54 Tom Wood
September/24/2010
@ 4:28 pm

Pretty sure the ratings system is going to quickly degenerate from ?intelligent or inappropriate? into ?I agree or I disagree.?

It’s already there. Might as well label it as such and ditch the hiding/color coding of comments based on the votes.

#55 Donna B.
September/24/2010
@ 6:14 pm

I haven’t commented (or read) here in months because I never got an answer from Alan as to whether it’s okay just to use my last initial rather than last name. Some of us don’t want our name linked on Google to every comment we make everywhere.

The reason I don’t usually read here is a lot of Yeah! Great! Rock On! to items like Blondie, as someone above said. They’re not real comments, and they’re often people who just want their blog link to be there. They’re certainly not interesting.

I like real comments by real cartoonists, and I don’t care if they disagree with me! (but of course that makes them wrong.)

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