Saturday, September 01, 2007

take out the papers and the trash

so a couple weeks ago, indy star editor-in-chief dennis ryerson admitted in a column that the star's talkback forums had deteriorated into a humiliating cesspool of ignorance and hate. he announced that the star was implementing new rules to try to get things under control there.

then, yesterday i noticed an article on about this week's islamic society convention in plainfield, and immediately felt that sinking in my stomach that means "oh boy, the talkback commenters really hate muslims". then, remembering ryerson's column, i decided to check the comments to see if things had calmed down any. to my surprise, the talkback link was dead! hmmm... i wondered, did someone at the star kill the talkback thread because of too much anti-muslim hate speech? i smiled, thinking that maybe things are improving over there.

then i woke up. today, the star has a new story on the islamic society convention. so far, it has 109 comments and ranks an 11 on the raghead scale (i.e., you only have to read 11 comments before you find a comment that uses the word "ragheads" as a slur). also, a quick search turns up this star story from thursday, with its own rambunctious comments. (to be fair, while there's plenty of racist anti-muslim stuff at that thursday thread, it doesn't rank on the raghead scale. whether that's because there were no such posts, or because any such posts have since been deleted, i can't say.)

i don't know the solution to the talkback problem, other than much heavier moderation. but posting a short list of rules doesn't seem to be cutting it.

update: someone at the star has been deleting talkback threads! the thread that contained the R-word is gone... the whole thread has vanished. similarly, today's feature on the islamic society convention has no talkback thread whatsoever. thursday's thread is still up, though. it's not as audaciously racist as some of the others, but it's still full of lovely quotes like this: "The only problem that I have with Muslims is that so many of them breathe."

1 comment:

arratik said...

i think all gannett papers use topix as their message boards, not just the indy star or our own local fishwrap (the asheville citizen-times).

for a while there i thought that the ac-t switched to topix because they were tired of babysitting it, and now that there's a little bit of a disconnect between the paper and the boards, they can't be held responsible for anything that occurred as a result of one of those hate posts. that may not be the case, but that's certainly a commonly-held perception among many people i know - even those who work for the paper.

hey, at least the indy star is acknowledging that there's a problem. i don't think that the ac-t even gives a rat's ass about what goes on in the comment threads.

interesting bit of trivia - the guy who founded topix was the same person who invented the computer virus.