The Thorny World of Online Comments

The Thorny World of Online Comments - On The Media

Image: Marc Wathieu/flickr


We’re only about 15 years into this whole comment ecosystem. It strikes me that it hasn’t changed a whole lot.


That’s right. I think this has been one of the neglected problems of the Internet for two reasons. One is that having a wide- ranging conversation among large groups of people is not an easy thing to do. I haven’t really seen it work well off the Internet, and I’ve only seen it work well on the Internet in a few instances.

And the second thing is I think that for a lot of places creating good comment sections has just not been a priority for their developers. Building better content and promoting that content have really been the priorities of magazines, newspapers, other websites.


Steven Johnson on the Web as a city

“When you talk about emergent behavior…when you talk about collective intelligence, the best way for people to wrap their heads around that is to ask ‘Who builds a neighborhood?’ ‘Who decides that SoHo should have this personality and the Latin Quarter should have this personality?’ Well, there are some kinds of executive decisions, but mostly the answer is everybody and nobody.  Everybody contributes a little bit. No single person is really the ultimate actor behind the personality of a neighborhood.”