Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Blog comments: Courtesy of Steve Verdon comes this post by the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum.
Drum complains that the blogosphere isn't self-correcting -- at least on the right -- because most of the top conservative blogs do not have comments available -- singling out Hugh Hewitt, Glenn Reynolds and Michelle Malkin and National Review's "The Corner" for particular scrutiny.
Let me offer Drum a possible explanation for this situation that doesn't include "tight message control."
Let us suppose that people like Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin are religious Bible-thumper types who disdain four letter words and racist epithets. Let us further suppose that some on the left who would "correct" them in the comments are represented by this selection of hate mail. Is it any wonder why they don't have comments?
(For the record, when Malkin first started her blog, she did have comments enabled, and she ended up disabling them for this very reason. Nice, considerate lefties were making her spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up their potty-mouthed mess.)
For others (I'd include the Instapundit here) comments sections are really about having time to police them -- at least on many right-leaning sites. I've seen little evidence that Atrios and Daily Kos and their ilk really care if their commentors spew profanities, as long as they are directed rightward.
Not having comments available doesn't mean that corrections aren't made, and having a commenting system doesn't necessarily mean you're more open to corrections.
On related notes: I found this commentor at the Washington Monthly to be in an incredible state of denial:
One more thing I noticed: when a right-winger trolls a lefty blog, their idiotic rantings are usually beaten down by the regulars of the lefty forum. When lefties "troll" in a righty blog, their arguments are usually eloquent, straightforward, fact-based, and free of four-letter words. The rightwingers don't like rebuttals that rival their original posts for clarity and persuasiveness, that's why they have comments turned off.
Yeah, right. In an attempt to determine if I'd pegged lefties all wrong, I went over to Atrios' site and clicked on the comments to the very first post -- it's nothing more than a simple request to help a lefty blogger buy a new computer after his apparently blew up. In the comments, of which there were 55 at the time I checked, I found the F-word five times -- one out of every 11 posts. And I'm supposed to believe they're better behaved when they go to a site where they're likely to disagree with people?