Tuesday, March 23, 2010

#1160 A quick note on commenting

I started this website a little over two years ago with one purpose - to be a positive voice in what I saw as being a sea of negativity on the internet. Time went by, and things changed. I wanted to break stories, to critique shows, collections, labels and events, and to speak honestly about the things I saw around me. To speak honestly, but never to be unconstructively negative or begrudging or unnecessarily nasty. As the website has grown, the comments section has been something that I've enjoyed the most. I love the conversation. I love how I can write something and anybody can give their opinion. They can agree, disagree or critique. But recently it seems like anytime I write about something or someone, the majority of the comments are unconstructively negative or begrudging or unnecessarily nasty.

And the worst ones always come from 'Anonymous'. I don't know who 'Anonymous' is. I don't know if 'Anonymous' has a vested interest in making the subject look bad, or if 'Anonymous' is a disgruntled former employee or creditor or competitor or just somebody with a wry sense of humour.

So I find myself in a catch 22 situation. I want people to be able to freely give their opinions, but I don't want to be the instigator of this culture of negativity. It's not who I am, it doesn't represent me, and it's not what I'm about.

What do I do?

I LIKE YOU!

25 comments:

PonsonbyRed said...

I totally hear what you are saying.
I read an article recently - and it would seem that negativity is an internet blog phenomenon. It's so easy for people to hide behind their computers and be 'anonymous'.

I also think it's a bit of a Kiwi trait - to cut people down to size.

It's the way it goes... unfortunately. It can definitely make you feel disheartened.

Keep smiling :)

Craig said...

Simple Isaac - disable anonymous commenters!

NZers love to complain, and to to aim at the sucessful - the old NZ Tall Poppy Syndrome!

Craig

Gen said...

Don’t allow the comments you don’t agree with or respect. That said, I’m usually more compelled to comment when I react negatively to a story. Human nature I suppose.

The problem I have with many of the comments here is the shriek of TALL POPPY SYNDROME when there is ever the merest suggestion that any given designer/model/stylist/macramé weaver is a bit average.

There’s a place for decent critique and there isn’t much of it in the NZ fashion media.

Gen said...

oh lord.

would you believe I actually wrote my comment before I read the first two?!

Katherine said...

"I hate online bullying. Those little comment boxes can brim with the most vicious, acidic and pointless remarks." - Alexa Chung.

Re: Craig (above). I agree - everyone loves to complain. But at the same time, I think disabling anonymous comments will discourage some people from commenting at all.

Serah said...

What a conundrum! I like how you are asking your audience for suggestions.

I agree with Gen,with readers to feeling more compelled to comment with a negative reaction, however if the negative comments form an overwhelming part of the blog then it may be time to redirect the focus towards what you originally had in mind Isaac.

You can do this by disabling bloggers or screening 'anonymous' comments more strictly.

Its at your discretion, but it is sad to see that all over the world blogs of similar nature thrive on readers positivity, yet here we seem to be stifled by antagonism.

Good luck!

Emma said...

I hate this Anonymous commentators.
I do think it's important to critique and have an opinion - but that you need to be informed and educated on the topic atleast somewhat to do this validly. Simply saying "this sucks" does not. I think a lot of it stems from jealous, Tall Poppy, and cowardness.

How easy is it to cut someone down to size and slam their work and person from the safety of a computer compared with creating something yourself and putting it out there in the world to be judged and critiqued. The latter takes a lot of courage and guts.

While I don't love everything I see and read I do have respect for anyone with integrity and values and success.

unfortunately I think their is also a catch 22 in that negative comments on blogs almost become voyeuristic on the part of other readers, I'm not going to lie and say i dont keep checking some of your post's comment threads to read the bitchiness and gossip and say to myself "oh my gosh i cant believe someone just wrote that!! scaandaaal"

Jennie said...

Oh darling, Spare a thought for those poor negative people, you would only be receiving a crumb of their all consuming "hate". Imagine what their lives must be like, waking up daily with their own negativity or even what the poor people around them must suffer! You do a fantastic job, and remember it is only their unconsciousness that spurs the comments and when they do find themselves and wake up, the world (wide web and real) will be a much, much better place. Keep up the good work and brush off the haters X

Leonie said...

Disabling the comments that are disrespectful rather than negative could be an option. Does free speech entitle you to drop your manners?

Tim said...

Its a bad look on you Isaac. People hold you responsible for the comments that appear. Especially since you are the one who can veto it.

Get rid of Anonymous and make your site positive and you will reap the rewards :)

Anonymous said...

I've gotten the impression that you really enjoy the mud slinging, slandering and dirty dealing. I think this poor-positive-me posturing is just PR spin.

Craig said...

Ooh look Isaac, one of the anonymous posters have reared their ugly heads! Hey, if you don't have the balls to leave your name - go hide behind that rock you crawled out of!

Louise C said...

If you don't feel that the negative people are representative of your blog, don't let them through your comments screening!

I enjoy reading the comments almost as much as reading your posts, because your posts generate some great debates in your comments. However, having a comment that says "that suckz" is really a waste of internet space and a waste of your time letting it through your comments screen. If you get a comment that says "that's not fantastic, because...." and have a good point with their thought, then let 'em at it!

At the end of the day, it's entirely up to you! perhaps disable comments on posts you don't feel that there is a need to comment on? Not allow "anonymous" to post? etc. Whatever you do about this though, don't stop posting what you post!

Di said...

Issac - just keep doing what you've been doing, because you do it so well.
Ignore jealousy, bad manners, tall poppy chopping.

Hannah said...

Hi Isaac
I think you and your blog are awesome, the people who have time to write mean comments obviously have nothing better to do so don't pay them any attention. Keep up the good work! Your blog is the best :)

Kate said...

make commenters register in some way?

some peeps aren't so keen on that, but it can also help foster a sort of community feel, as you get to know regulars etc...
hope that makes sense.
Love your work Isaac!

Anonymous said...

this is an interesting topic for someone who does comment anonymously, though usually positively, i think lack of anonymity is fine for people who are talking as a mouthpeice for their brand,i think there is a two way thing yes some comments are vicious, but for example in the Air NZ uniform debate, if people who worked for the airline couldnt be anonymous, i dont think they would have shared their thoughts,for me the company i work for might not want me sharing my personal thoughts but i like to discuss issues in the industry outside of work in my own time, i still have personal views, but try to be fair, i think that its good if Isaac just vets the comments he finds nasty maybe, personally, for example, i did think some of the negativity about remix was a bit much and no i dont work for them
On many other blogs there are anonymity functions,and i think a lot of the comments on fashion blogs right now about terry richardson, with people coming forward is enabled by anonymity, but to me its like dont believe everything you read, you still have the power to make judgements but i find peoples raw uncensored feelings quite interesting

Tina said...

Hey Isaac,

I say censor anyone who lowers the tone of the comments. A dissenting view is fine, but there are intelligent, constructive ways of expressing these rather than a good old whinge n bitch session.

This blog is your creation and as such, you are the editor and curator - feel free to cull comments at will!

Keep up the great work,
Tina

Anonymous said...

Don't you think it is a little pointless if you just cull the comments that you don't like. That defeats the whole point of encouraging discussion.

Admittedly there will be some drivel posts. Maybe just harden up.

Gen said...

Anon people sometimes raise good points, lots of people leave their names and write rubbish. Just exercise quality control. Leaving a name doesn’t mean that you’re any more identifiable.

There are times where I’ve written something critical of someone or something you’ve posted on, and had comments left speculating on tall poppy syndrome !!11! or how jealous I must be. Come on, that’s the Paris Hilton line of defence. And anyway, the correct term is envy.

Anonymous said...

issac i love positive blogs and am definitely getting sick of reading all the hate and silly crap in your comments area. love a fuelled discussion though, as long as it's interesting or informed and every so often there is a glimmer of that, i wonder how you could nurture that side of it?

Ally said...

Omg i fully agree with you its I love positive and happy blogs and I do like it when people disagree but say why its like your learning something from their comments instead of hearing "thats crap" questioning something and complete negativity are two different things I think its got a lot to do with negativity mayb u should just deleted stupid comments hahaha

http://thatshaute-09.blogspot.com

Matthew W. said...

Hi Issac, I think sometimes you perpetuate or illicit negative comments on posts that relate to or are not part of your "crew" or the people you find favor with (just our observation).
With the ones that you do curry favor with and they're the usual suspects like Murray Crane, Showroom22, Karen Walker, Department Store etc. (you seem to blog about them all the time) you always write a very favorable post making sure not to criticize them, or illicit negative comments.
I do read your blog once a month/ from time to time to see what is happening in hometown New Zealand being based overseas but I feel a lot of it is subjective. And if you are talking about brands, people etc. that you're not "in" with, then the posts are none, few or far-between, and the story is often critical/ negative. I'd like to hear about all the people, brands that are doing well.
I think for someone like you that has a lot of readers and followers, you should use that influence in a positive way. There are so many NZ people, brands etc. over here that are making headway, and causing a stir that hardly ever/ never get mentioned on your blog–mostly street wear and accessories; Huffer, Cassius, Paris House, and I hear also Lower, are all making noise. I saw the Federation post, good stuff. Granted those labels might not be targeted at your reader demographic and thus yours.
Anyways all I'm saying is readers/ commenters/ everyone should keep an open mind, and support New Zealand brands in general–there is so much competition out here, and mud-slinging/ bitchiness/ negativity, that NZ'ers should feel like they can at least count on their own for support. Doesn't feel like that happens now-what's changed, why the negative/ critical attitude?
There's enough of that celeb LA bitchiness with the likes of PerezHilton, reality tv etc. Kiwi's are not known for being bitchy so lets not perpetuate it.
Go NZ'ers.

SI.BORG said...

I do think that there is a difference to adding an opinion you believe in and own, irrespective of positive or negative. I do find some "anonymous" negative comments without any merit and or substance are sometimes, motivates me to comment instead of sitting on the sidelines.

Anonymous said...

The NZ fashion industry is very small and incestuous - everyone knows everyone. So being openly critical (even if the criticism is justified) can seriously jeopardise one's future career prospects.

Allowing anonymous posts is essential - otherwise those of us working in the industry can't make any kind of critical comment without the very real fear of being blacklisted.