The Culture of Harmful Comments

Categories #Posiel

Process Post #11 |

Popular Science announced they would banish comments from being allowed on their side. The editors argued that the “internet comments, particularly anonymous ones, undermine the integrity of science and lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse.” Sometimes, these comments can have enough power to skew a readers perception of a story.

Anonymous comments are posted everywhere, it is a disconnection between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying. Known as the “online disinhibition effect,” termed by psychologist John Suler, it is a phenomenon which factors in things like anonymity, invisibility and a lack of authority.  It is when people convince themselves that their behaviour online “isn’t them” because it lacks a name, their name. Whatever they say or do can’t be directly linked to the rest of their lives. This can create online shaming, the darker side of comments on the internet. They are sometimes known as trolls, a term that morphed into the meaning that refers to the monsters who hide in the darkness to harass and threaten people online. They do it “for fun,” which includes pranks, harassment and violent threats.

But how can we limit these harmful comments and violations? The Guardian news site has blocked over 1.4 million comments because they violate the Guardian’s community guidelines. Most of the comments are abusive, which include insulting words or may even contain attacks, and some are so off-topic that they derail the conversation, which can also skew the reader’s perception of the story. Creating community guidelines can help control the platform’s community and create a safe environment.

I never thought about creating community guidelines, as it seems also like common sense. But by stating these goals and guidelines, it can help us be reminded of how to create a safe space for everyone. I want to ensure that everyones opinions are respected and none are ridiculed, that everyone has personal preferences and we should be open minded and communicate with respect. I will make sure there are no harmful comments on my website, by keeping monitor what is posted and shared online. I want these guidelines to be implemented in my blog because I not everyone shares the same likes and dislikes, it is about creating diversity and finding connection through differences and similarities. My platform is a space that is available for all to share their opinions, likes, dislikes and recommendations without judgement or fear of it.

Konnikova, Maria. 2013. “The Psychology of Online Comments.”

Becky Gardiner, Mahana Mansfield, Ian Anderson, Josh Holder, Daan Louter and Monica Ulmanu. 2016. “The Dark Side of Guardian Comments.”

Joel Stein, “How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet.” 

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