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The washingtonpost.com comments section is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of innocents, fools, and idiots.

You have those who spend two hours writing "clever" limericks which might be at home in a weekly limerick competition. Intelligent people, but intelligence flushed down a black hole.

You have those who think logical discourse will work, and that people will remember what they type five minutes after they type it. Logical, well-informed people, whose arguments are largely gone forever, yet who somehow think they influenced the world. Ugh, this is as painful as anything.

And you have those who are there to defecate on the living room floor of their host's free party. This is why communities need light moderation - to prevent the trolls from taking control, or intimidate their best writers.

It's pathetic.

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Commenting on the web is an amazing phenomena of the 21st century.  Stake holders ie newspapers, forums, social websites, politics, etc are all still trying to deal with it.   

On the one hand it enables people to make incredibly incendiary comments that they would never make in person.   I fell into that trap.  I regret the excesses.  

I have a friend from years ago whom I met on the web, worked on items together, and ultimately met.  He is similarly seasoned in age.  We probably disagree in politics on about 90% of issues.   We both have been “web outspoken”. 

We still follow one another on twitter where we both have expressed our divergent views.

Independently we have never attacked one another on twitter.  I was surprised he still followed me.  When I asked him why he hadn’t attacked or unfollowed me he referenced the old friendship.  We both acknowledged that the vileness of web interaction would never occur to the extent it does in real life.  He posited it would dramatically increase homocides;  I suggested a huge increase in punches to the face.

Occasionally I read comments on newspaper stories;  but only on a few select articles.   More occasionally I throw in a comment.   These days they are nowhere’s as vile as the comments I once made.

Frankly I consider it an interesting way to gauge the public’s reactions:  even a tiny subset of the public.

As to Arlnow—that is a whole different thing.  It’s a vehicle for witticisms.  It’s entertaining.

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I just wrote this letter to comments@washpost.com:


My account was just suspended for two hours - why?!

The only thing I can think of is that, about fifteen minutes ago, I accidentally put a comment in the wrong location, wanted to delete it, and rewrite it in the correct place - the ONLY way I'm able to do that is to erase the text, write the F-Bomb, and type submit. It's automatically deleted because it's a profanity - easy, right? 
Could it be possible that you're monitoring these types of comments? If so, you'll find a *whole lot* of them written by me.
Don Rockwell
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35 minutes ago, MsDiPesto said:

I like the NYT's moderated comments sections, people are more inclined to think before shooting from the hip. The WaPo comments is not so much moderated as subject to the whim of the day, and it's mostly short bursts of fire. 

Interesting. I guess any rational person would call my writing the F-bomb (innocent as it may be) "shooting from the hip," but I figured it was just auto-deleted, and not tabulated in any cumulative, your-account-is-suspended sort-of way.

I do agree the NYTimes' comments section is much more ... readable? Tolerable?


PS - The response I got was infuriatingly lame:

The Washington Post (Washington Post Customer Care)

Jan 19, 2021, 9:54 PM EST

Yes, profanity leads to suspension.
PPS - If anyone writes a comment in the Post's comments section, and wants it deleted (not edited, but deleted) within the first five minutes ... erase your text and type "fuck." It will be removed by their editor-bot; just don't do it too many times or you'll be suspended for two hours.
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