Go to any mainstream news or entertainment website, and you will notice that the comments section has either been removed outright, or it’s a wasteland. I first noticed this with the DigitalSpy redesign in early 2015 or even late 2014 – the comment section was removed and now all commenting was on the social media platform plugins. People said they hated it, then they got used to it.
NPR, a platform known for its robust community of thoughtful commenters, recently announced that they’re doing away with their comments section.to be replaced with social media interactions via Facebook and Twitter. Along with many other internet sites the comment section is leaving us in favour of the more recognised social media commenting section via plugin or simply commenting on the article social media post.
NPR‘s reasoning for this move is along the same lines as most other mainstream sites who’ve already gone down this road. Their in-article engagement only shows a small fraction of how many people read their content, in short its easier to comment with a pre logged in social media then needed a dedicated login per website.
Because its well know that all comments of Facebook and Twitter are well thought out and are based on the commenter reading the article (not just a title).
Its about popularity and getting that holy grail of going ‘viral’ as more and more ‘news sites’ compete with each other to get their 2 cents to the masses, or to be the first to break a story. Because more commenters = more readers = more times adverts are seen on the site = more money you make. Advertising has held up the world of news and media for decades, the formats have changed but that basic fact is still the same, and fundamentally thats ok.
The more social interaction the higher you go on the algorithms, it feels dirty its modern news prostitution. The difference is now its not just the creators of the medias that are selling themselves, now we the readers are doing it to – without a second thought as we jab at out little touchscreen devices; tagging people to read it, commenting on the poor nature of the facts, spewing garbage self gratifying opinions that you expect others to read and adore, then getting expectedly irate when someone dares to think differently from you.
But why not give the people what they want? Its good business sense right? I mean most people read their media linked from a social site, on a mobile device where there they are already logged in with apps. Where is the harm?
Because you shouldn’t reward people for choosing not to read an article before throwing up their opinion on it, just so they can give their two cents on a headline that’s either taken out of context or is simple clickbait. A trend that is becoming more and more common even in once well respected national institutions online publications.
Because not everyone wants to create a Facebook or Twitter account.
Because Facebook and Twitter comments are a proven cesspool of negativity, bickering, and intentional ignorance. Because not everyone wants to have their name, picture, work history, and friends list displayed to thousands of strangers on a daily basis (me included). You may not want to have your whole Facebook or twitter collective see your opinions on an article, there is still part of you that might want to read something online and even offer comment without the rest of the world knowing its you.