Comments online

This week we were assigned readings from our fellow student, who is looking at comments found online (news articles and social media).

On the one hand, Suler (The Online Disinhibition Effect) focuses on the luxury of the anonymity that is offered online and engages individuals to share their opinion in a comment format. On the other hand, Reagle  (Reading the Comments) puts up with the toxicity in comments sections. Bringing these views together, this video approaches the comments discussion from a design/interface perspective.

As an everyday life observer, I would like to point out the qualitative difference of comments posted on social media or on news articles. In both cases, I can see the intention behind the comments made, this is why categorizing the comments had been a brilliant idea!

However, is it the perception of anonymity that encourages participation through comments, or the diverse nature of commitment that commenting implies?

In other words, when submitting a comment on an article, one has to be a member/register a username; if there are replies to comments, the authors get notified. This also happens in social media, with the main difference that notifications refer to replies or other comments/tags made by familiar persons (friend list). So, when commenting on a news article, the main intention would be to be heard, share an opinion or even direct the audience towards relevant discussions that are interest-driven in some cases.

How easy and appealing is it to comment online?

I recently noticed that while reading an article on Facebook, the cursor flashes in the comment field, engaging the reader to comment. Personally, I see bigger potential in comment fields content, evolving mimics of the post field content or even of search engines content and databases. Lately, I discovered this interesting tool useful to researchers who would like to explore the FAQ. I could not help myself but try it with the “comments on” search and here’s what I got:

It seems that people are very interested to read through comments on various topics for their own reasons.

After having completed the readings and watched the video, my personal conclusion about online comments consists of the following attitudes and phenomena:

  • Serial commentators
  • Hushing toxicity
  • Silent majority

All in all, I wonder, is this an identical replica of democracy represented in online participatory cultures? To be honest, it is not very progressive. Is this happening in the real world too? Reminds me of my childhood…

I graduated from a very strict high school (catholic) where students had specific dress code restrictions. Apart from being encouraged to wear decent and clean clothes at all times, we were not allowed to wear T-shirts or sweaters with stamps representing textual statements, music bands, football clubs etc. It is obvious that the school authorities wanted to avoid conflicts and debates among students and limiting youth fan cultures had been their respectful way to do so. Certainly, freedom of speech was highly encouraged, so we could talk about the  football team we support or our favorite band. Does this mean that our comments were invisible?

By the way, you guys let me down, I wore my “JUSTIN FOREVER” T-shirt in class today and there was no comment from any of you 🙁

Would you comment if I made this statement online?

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