Rabies. It's the only explanation.

Rabies. It's the only explanation.

(mother to sobbing child) I'm sorry, honey, but Scraps was very sick and had started attacking people viciously for no reason. We had to put him down before he became a commenter on Digg.

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"In my day, we had to walk three miles uphill through the snow to post a comment."

Just complaining about online comments isn't enough

Fist smashing keyboard

Visit most news sites, and you'll find some of the web's most pointless, thoughtless and mean-spirited conversations unfolding in the comment threads. Angry, bitter, hateful people seem drawn to the comment form at the bottom of news stories like flies to a landfill.

That's been the case now for years, but the industry is finally waking up to it... in fits and starts.

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Problem children

David Eaves on coping with difficult comments

Shouting and spitting

Some blog comments are easy to deal with. They praise you to the heavens, share a related story or gently offer a different perspective... that is, they're a positive part of the conversation. You thank, you respond (or they're comment spam, in which case you report them to Mollom or Akismet and then delete) and the circle of life continues.

But other comments are hard. They get your back up. They seem to question not just your argument but your integrity. The more you read them, the clearer it becomes that they were written by evil, evil people. And with your fight-or-flight mechanism firmly in gear, you write a blistering reply...

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Blog ROI: Get into the feedback loop

10 ways to maximize your blog's ROI: Part 2, getting high-value feedback

Think for a moment about how much your organization spends to find out what its audience (a term we'll keep using until something better comes along, but it really isn't adequate in a social media age) is thinking.

Maybe you're doing opinion polling or focus groups. Maybe you have labs where your prospective customers are testing your newest products and services. Maybe you've hired consultants to mine your customer service logs for golden nuggest of insight.

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This week's vendetta: Comments on news stories

For news sites, "just add comments" is a recipe for disaster

Vendetta of the WeekIt's an axiom of Web 2.0 that you have to, have to allow users to comment on your content. Have to.

And there's no question it can lead to some interesting, provocative, productive conversations. The downside is that it can also lead to little more than splenetic venting.

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Selectively filtering comments? You may not get away with it for long.

You've just pruned the comments in your company's blog for comment spam, libel, hate speech, pornography and other abuse. But just as you're about to close the laptop, you spot one last comment.

It isn't abusive - but it's sharply critical of your organization, and touches a nerve. How easy it would be to just reeeeeeach over and click the "delete" link...

Bedtime with Rob and Alex ep. 14: the way-to-go! episode

A little encouragement goes a long way in keeping the Web 2.0 world turning. Alex and Rob talk about how to offer a few kind words to the folks who do everything from posting Creative Commons-licensed photos to creating fantastic YouTube videos.

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In appreciation of appreciation

Online communities thrive on low barriers to goodwill

One of the most powerful things about the social web is how it harnesses two human impulses to each other: the drive to connect to other people, and the drive to express ourselves.

The result is an explosion of content from people who would, a few years ago, have had few outlets of expression. Suddenly you can post your own photos, share videos, offer opinions, publish poetry and do much more.

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Can The Tyee save online commenting? Here's hoping.

Effective online commenting for media sites

Things are changing at The Tyee, a Vancouver-based news and commentary site. Home to some of the best alternative coverage of issues and ideas in Canada, The Tyee's discussion threads were also becoming home to something a lot less welcome: vicious grudge matches among a handful of participants.

Readers were growing used to seeing interminable bouts of tit-for-tat insults, and would-be commenters were losing their appetite for taking jumping into the fray. It wasn't affecting every thread, but politicial discussions in particular had become dominated by a few angry belligerents.

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