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February 4th 2014 7:09 pm

Engadget comments: too far gone to be saved?

Engadget's comment section has devolved to "Yahoo Answers" levels of discourse. Trolls are abound, and regardless of the topic of the article, they usually break down into a barely coherent bicker-fest about Apple vs Google vs Microsoft vs ...... I remember a few years back, Engadget turned off comments after it got bad enough. www.engadget.com­/2010­/02­/02­/were­-turning­-comments­-...

After spending some time on sites like Anandtech and StackOverflow, I'm having a hard time understanding the value that Engadget's comments bring. I can't think of the last time they enhanced the article or offered new information. Or even correct information.

Example thread of awfulness:www.engadget.com­/2014­/02­/04­/apple­-and­-carriers­-sup...

Thoughts? I say pull the plug.

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We know the comment sections leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of civil discourse. I spend a lot of time reading and moderating them and still cringe at a lot of the things that people say.

That said, we're trying to change things. It'll definitely be a slow process. Not to mention, we get an incredible amount of discussion on our posts. But we know it's bad and we're working on it.

That said, the Engadget forums are a downright cheery place compared to our comment sections and it's something I hope people both use a lot more and act like civil, intelligent humans.
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I'd say the first step would be moving to a reddit-style comment system where the troll comments are downvoted past a threshold and hidden. That might not even work because honestly I wouldn't trust Engadget commenters to know when a comment was good or bad, and it sounds like you'd probably agree with that. But it might discourage some of the more inane commenters.

Beyond that, I think having more community moderators who agree with a set of guidelines about not just troll vs non-troll comments, but pertinent vs useless, on-topic vs off and flame-bait vs normal human. Give those moderators the ability to shape certain comment threads. The iPads for schools article I linked above? How many of those comments belong on a tech web site? Maybe 6 or 7? Once trolls and dum-dums start to get the message that their comments just disappear out from under them (and quickly), they'll start to find greener pastures like Yahoo, where they can feel good about what they write.
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They used to have that. Comment moderated into oblivion. I don't know why its gone.

And even though I never had that happen to my posts under the old system, I still get banned under the current one while the trolls continue to roam free.

Though I understand they may be short handed on moderators. I'd volunteer to help if they'd have me.
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