GoComics turns off comments for Pibgorn

Universal Uclick has posted a notice to Pibgorn fans that it has turned off the comment section under the Pibgorn comic.

Without a doubt, Pibgorn is a comic strip that generates a lot of conversation. But given Pibgorn’s particular subject matter, and the themes depicted in many of Brooke’s breathtaking sketches and finished pieces, the nature of the conversation and atmosphere on the Pibgorn pages has often taken a turn for the…well, let’s lightly refer to it as ‘unrestrained.’

While we love a good conversation, the thing we cherish the most about GoComics is the openness of the community. Ours is a site where a vast group of individuals from all backgrounds and generations gathers daily to enjoy comics. As a place where the conversation often tipped in a direction we’d characterize as ‘mature’ in nature, the Pibgorn comments sections have long presented a prickly issue. The atmosphere was at odds with both Brooke’s intentions in creating and displaying his art, and with our goals for the GoComics community. It was a problem with no easy solution.

They also note that the move was done with Pibgorn creator Brooke McEldowney’s input and approval.

27 thoughts on “GoComics turns off comments for Pibgorn

  1. I think the only people not surprised at the comments on all of the high-traffic sites are those that work in a customer service job. Just think, in addition to the bad pay, the average cashier gets to hear the craziest stuff all day long.

    Those that take the time to comment are usually nuts. Take, for instance, me.

  2. I’m a subscriber (and frequent commenter) at GoComics, and it’s been a long time since I bothered to read any comments on the Pibgorn page. The commenters ceased to have much to do with the strip and the whole thing had devolved into a) a race to be one of the first each day to post a comment, even if the content was meaningless and b) a largely off-topic chat room.

    Pibgorn isn’t the only GoComics strip with this problem, but it was the most extreme, with daily comment totals numbering in the hundreds.

  3. Uclick removes a good 50 percent of the comments on my strips, which is a drag, since they’re great fun. The more vile, the better.

    But can you imagine being the poor underpaid slob that has to monitor comments, day after day? That’s an unfiltered look into the soul of our society that I don’t think most of us, myself included, could take.

  4. can you imagine being the poor underpaid slob that has to monitor comments, day after day?

    I can. 🙂

    I’m sure the comments over there are way worse than what I deal with here. At least here we’re a smaller community and we insist on non-anonymity which helps greatly.

    As an aside, I’ve taken longer to find a final solution for this blog’s comments than I anticipated. I appreciate everyone’s patience.

  5. And you do an excellent job as the school marm of Daily Cartoonist, Alan!

    The comments here, even when Ted and Krauss start lobbing bombs at each other, is NOTHING compared to the typical racist screeds by Uclick trolls, trust me. Commenters, with a few exceptions, here are both informed and intelligent.

    And, of course, that flies in the face of everything the internet stands for, so you can kiss any hope of web riches goodbye.

  6. @Derf, I’ve often wondered about the mental toll monitoring comments takes on whoever they’ve assigned the task.

    I imagine they’re a little jumpy (expecting an argument over anything) and have lost hope in humanity. They probably snap at people, eat alone in the break room, and eventually leave everything behind to go hiking across Europe.

  7. Stephan,
    Nah, I imagine them more like Steve Buscemi’s character in ‘Billy Madison’…sitting around making list of folks to kill while applying lipstick, deleting toll comments while imagining they just killed the commenter.

    “Pow! Got you!” “Pow! Got you, too!” “Dat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat! Killed that thread! Yeah!”

    Probably have a scoped rifle racked over the monitor, too…

  8. If you’ve ever read the comments that have been posted over the last two years, you might recognize my name. I am also the first name in the comments of the blog telling us why the comments were taken down. I have met Mr. McEldowney and corresponded with him many times. I do not speak for him, nor do I represent the other members who commented in regards to the comic. Brooke has stated that it has been his intention to isolate himself and the comics he creates from the daily comments and criticisms that have appeared. He prefers that he is not influenced by what he may read or what has been written about his comics.
    These wishes were only hinted at and never expressed to the point that any of us believed that the comments would go away as they had for 9 Chickweed Lane on the comics.com site. This sudden action resulting in our inability to access even past comments set off a firestorm that has yet to calm down.
    I don’t have to defend what no longer exists. These people do not deserve ridicule from those who never even knew we were there.

  9. It is my understanding that Brooke awoke one fine day in 2008 to discover that Gocomics had installed a comments sector, willy-nilly, directly appended to his cartoon, even as all cartoonists at that site must have done. It was not so much that he wished not to be influenced by the comments– he has said that he had an assistant to read the comments and to point out to him any which he needed to address–but that he felt a seemingly-sanctioned string of statements about his work distracted his public from appreciating *Pibgorn* and *Chickweed* for their own sakes.

    Comments were removed last year from the hosting site of *Chickweed* because of vile and salarming troll attacks, slander and copyright infringement.

    That he did not warn the *Pib* commenters that their site would be terminated was probably related to contractual matters–I’d reckon that he was legally restrained from any statement about the possibility of this action until it was agreed upon by the hosting site.

  10. Mr. Williams,
    Brooke was not restrained from letting it be known that the comments would be removed. He was preparing a statement when he got word that his request that the comments be taken down would be followed through. It was the briefness of period between the notice that his request would be granted and the actual removal of the comments that caught him and his contact at GoComics by suprise. Even if he had time to post his notice before hand, chances are that the comments, including his notice, would have been wiped out when the deed was done.
    There may also be a question of who owns the comments. While Brooke retains copyright of the strip, he does not own the comments. One social network site tried to claim that anything posted to their site became a part of that site and assigned copyright ownership to themselves. Following public outcry, the site changed its policy and agreed that it was original copyright owners and posters of original content that retained copyright. For Mr. McEldowney and Gocomics to remove access to this original content is a violation of our rights to determin what happens to that content.

  11. Joe- I doubt legally that will be found to be accurate. If I private property owner puts up a basketball court in his yard and invites the neighborhood kids to play ball in it for a few weeks, he still has the right to decide that the kids are no longer welcome to play in it. Websites are not public property. They are written, designed and hosted by a private party, and that private party has as much right to decide what content is displayed there as they decide who gets to play basketball in their back yard. They allowed comments for a while, then they decided not to allow them. If the GoComics subscribers don’t like it, they can go elsewhere to play basketball write comments. GoComics isn’t infringing on the copyrights of their created ‘content’, the creators still own that content, they simply have decided not to continue to publish it on their private website.

  12. Tom,
    Would you agree then that if an author used an online set of office tools to write and store his works and depended on these tools to be the sole depository of his works, he would have no recourse if the online site, where these works are hosted, had removed access to them based on the complaint of a single person?

  13. Joe:

    In the situation you suggest, it seems to me the author in question should have his own backup of any and all intellectual property he might want to access — if for no other reason than that internet connections can fail from time to time.

  14. Josh,
    So, what if the work was a collaboration between individuals and only the online site had all of the source material and edits? A backup is only as good as a place to restart.
    I was encouraged by the other posters from the beginning to start my own blog. Most, but not all of the original material that I posted at the GoComics site began by composing on my own computer. Many of my earliest contributions can be found at the blog, but I am in the process of changing ISPs and the blog will be taken down soon. I do have backups, but many of us relied on the presence of the comments to allow us to coordinate off-site projects as well as using it as a social network. While none of us were being paid for our comments, nor do we expect compensation for their loss, we still hope that we may be granted access so that any desired original material can be recovered and saved somewhere else. If we had advance notice of this shutdown, that is what we would have done and no one would have even bothered to complain.

  15. Joe- No, because in your example the author in question is either paying for host space or using the host space for free under an agreement with the host. That is the equivalent of renting office space. In that case the host can refuse to continue to rent him space after whatever agreement they have together expires, but the author should have the right to be able to retrieve all of his files before they get erased. GoogleDocs can’t just erase their server when the service they provide is content creation/storage.

    In the case of the comment section of a blog or some other website like GoComics, the authors of comments have no right to demand their comments continue to be published on someone else’s private website. They are not renting space nor have any agreement that space is theirs for their use.

    The fact that you and others “relied on the presence of the comments to allow us to coordinate off-site projects as well as using it as a social network” just means you were using the comment section of a comic strip for purposes nobody intended it to be used for and for which is was not meant. If you used the wall in the hallway of a shopping center to write a novel with a sharpie and one day you walked in to find they had painted over it, is that the shopping center treading on your copyrights? Would they have needed to call you up and warn you they intended to paint that hallway so make sure you take pictures of the stuff you were doing on it they didn’t ask you to do and that is was not supposed to be used for?

  16. Thank-you Gentlemen for responding to my concerns with more decorum than had been shown when this thread was started. It might surprise you to know just how diverse and well educated our group was. We averaged more than 300 comments a day. While we enjoy Mr. McEldowny’s strips, we do have lives of our own and like to share our experiences and opinions with a great deal of openness. I can count on one hand the number of sites that I visit that generate more than 200. I shudder to think of the responses that would appear on various comment sites to the subjects that were raise and discussed with respect and considerable thought.
    Again, I thank-you.

  17. Joe, you’re not alone. I ran into a similar situation. I had quite a few poems written in a local establishment’s bathroom stall – and then the $%^& owner went and cleaned them before I could compile them into my own limerick book! I guess Tom’s right and I should withdraw my lawsuit.

  18. My limited understanding of copyright law is that each unique artifact ought to bear 1) a copyright symbol 2)The name of the owner/creator of said artifact and 3) the location or address of the copyright holder. Don’t recall ever seeing that info on any of the posts which remained on site. All of my artifacts which I create and deem unique enough to be so protected bear this information.

    Strict interpretation of copyright law does not require such information but it is much harder to prove ownership without it.

    How is ownership of postings handled on Wikipedia? How did the comments section differ from that? Don’t recall specifics of the Gocomics contract/release to which I assented when I signed up but I’d bet that it requires relinquishment of all rights to posted messages created by us peons. They effaced comments at their will anyway irrespective of how racy/controversial they might be to an objective observer.

    Mr Backderf said:
    @ 1:06 pm

    “Uclick removes a good 50 percent of the comments on my strips, which is a drag, since they?re great fun. The more vile, the better.”

    I really love THE CITY by the way, ever since it used to appear in a local independent weekly–glad I found it again.

    I lost a lot of comments at the Pib site as well–spent a lot of time & research on them. Shoulda saved some stuff.

  19. Why thanks, Thomas.

    Do frequent commenters really save their posts? I never even considered that. I suppose, if it’s a hobby, you’d want some evidence of your activity.

  20. Derf,
    If you search for my name in quotes: “Joe Minotaur”, you will find my blog. While I have been removing content in preparation of moving to a new ISP, I have decided to leave what is there for now. My blog is over two years old and contains many stories and jokes that were first posted at the GoComics/Pibgorn site. The items at the beginning of the archives are the Detective Joe Minotaur stories based on a character that I created and based loosly on events taking place in the Pibgorn strip. I asked and received permission from Mr. McEldowney to use the names of his characters and I was very careful not to abuse that permission. Whenever the question of copyright infringement arose, I informed Brooke and defered to him. These agreements are contained within emails that we exchanged.
    When the comments went down, I emailed him and he informed me of his intentions to have the comments for his comic and sketch pages to be removed. He had hoped to make a statement in advance but things moved faster than anticipated. I then advised Brooke to be prepared for the verbal canonfire that would follow when news of this got around.


  22. GOCOMICS is a horribly run site. It’s hardly updated, expects both comic drawer and user to pay for the site. ONLY far-left comments are tolerated and anyone who is center or right is removed. It’s a joke site.

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