Anonymous comments can be ‘a frothing, bubbling cauldron of insanity’

Adweek | Mental Floss
Ryan Broderick has a job I suspect would make me flee the grid after about two days: He’s BuzzFeed’s community manager, responsible for combing through about 22,000 comments a month, reports Adweek’s Charlie Warzel. Broderick says comments, even the worst ones, have a socio-biological explanation:

“There is a social realm where things are rationally sorted and then there’s the anonymous place that brings out a person’s base instincts. It can become a frothing, bubbling cauldron of insanity,” he said. “Yet, you need that animalistic part of yourself. I think of it almost like your sex drive.”

Both Broderick and Huffington Post community manager Justin Isaf defend anonymous commenting, however: “Anonymity can do amazing, extremely creative things if you believe in it,” Broderick says.

Mental Floss’ Chris Higgins spotlights a video from popular vlogger Ze Frank in which he tries to get inside the head of a troll: On a video about optical illusions, Ze Frank says, “Some young gentlemen said they wanted to punch me in the face because my voice was so annoying. I can easily see how someone could find my voice annoying, but an annoying voice doesn’t generally warrant a face-punching.”

Ze Frank looks at the number of views, “likes” and comments and makes a chart trying to explain why so few people react and even fewer react in a way that might seem, you know, sort of violent in real life.

Comments threatening violence, Ze Frank decides, occupy a weird space between thinking about doing something awful and saying something awful. He decides to ignore them.

Related: Columbia student publication works overnight to moderate comments about Obama at Barnard | People using pseudonyms post the highest-quality comments, Disqus says | Gawker plans a business model based on comments and conversation, not posts and ads | Why we’ll never stop struggling over comment sections

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  • Anonymous

    Actually, unless something has a “clear and immediate danger”, you can say whatever you want. That was ruled in the supreme court case  Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) where a member of the Klan said that if his fellow klansmen kept on being supressed, some “revengence” might happen. This was ruled as legal. So yeah, as long as it isn’t a clear and immediate danger, you can pretty much say anything.

  • Anonymous

    *sigh* there are rules known well to the youth of the internet. They are to be followed at all times as to prevent exactly this. Rule 14 of the internet clearly states to not feed the trolls or else they win. If you react in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, they win. They just won hard here.

    Sir or ma’am, think of this here: their goal was to make you mad and/or get a reaction, preferably both. Trust me. I know. I’ve grown up on the internet. They won because you reacted. And seriously, would a potential pedophile post this? No. Pedophiles most likely don’t like attracting attention because they’d be caught immediately. Also, the people you reported it to know this as well, and they wouldn’t waste their time putting this person on the list because of a stupid internet comment.

    In all of my time on the internet, I’ve learned one thing: if you take anything seriously, you’ll end up angry with no way to rectify it other than simply waiting it out until it doesn’t faze you any more. All you’re doing is encouraging them. If you seriously just ignore and if possible delete their comment, then the troll loses. Eventually they’ll get bored and find someone else to screw with.

    Last, (and I’m sorry for typing so much here) I’d like to inform you that there are way worse things people can say. That is very tame for what the internet really has to offer. I know you hold this issue dearly in your heart, but just know that if there’s a glass window between the person who’s making fun of it, throwing an e-tantrum won’t help things. He got 4 paragraphs out of you for attention and I bet he loved every word. Just let it go and he looks stupid. If nobody reacts, they feel worthless because they can’t even piss someone off and get attention.

    Sorry that was so long. I could have trolled you hard and used a proxy, but you seem like a rational being. If this helped at all, I’m glad. If it didn’t, well I hope it helps someone else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Egg-Man/681171228 Egg Man

    but TU, now we want to know WHO coined the term SCARE QUOTES and why the scare word there? and when? any ideas?

  • http://www.facebook.com/thrivers.unite Thrivers Unite

    Here is an example of anonymous in action. A comment posted on an article about my childhood rapes.
    Reply to the troll This is in my comments box on sex abuse of a child. Pathetic!

    I came buckets.
    By Anonymous on Growing Up In a Sex Ring at 12:21 PM

    I seriously doubt you actually read what happens to children in this situation and you are a pedophile. As I have said before, they are typically smooth, well educated, commanding people. They are not as immature as the person who wrote this.

    Let me remind you that on the net you are known by your IP address, which is now in the missing and exploited children database. I have reported you for internet harassment and a potential threat to children. Enjoy that attention you were seeking!

    To my readers, this exemplifies the fear of harassment we former victims face daily. It and the troll are of no significance to me, as I am safe. However, it is another example of those who think child abuse is a laughing matter!The article had recent victims and set off many triggers for several of them.Posted 5th April 2011 by RMarie QuartermaneHere is another example of anon. at workhttp://mamaduck123456.blogspot.com/2011/09/why-do-people-harass-abuse-advocates.html Anonymous where as a needed function to allow people to feel free to speak is also a weapon in the hands of others. Writers most find a way to deal with scum and keep doing what we are called to write in hopes of informing and aided those around us. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/thrivers.unite Thrivers Unite

    In the future I will remember the proper placement of quotes so dully noted

  • http://www.facebook.com/thrivers.unite Thrivers Unite

    freedom of speech is fine but to threaten, intimate or abuse others with your speech is and always has been assault.  So intent to threaten has to weigh in heavy as to whether a comment is appropriate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749911534 Anonymous

    i wonder what the comment mavens would think about scare quotes and the use thereof: re — ”SCARE QUOTES” ”SCARE” THE ”HELL” OUT OF ”ME” !!!

    On the origins of the term “scare quote” as newsroom term:DOES ”ANYONE” HAVE ANY ”IDEA” WHO ”COINED” THE TERM ……”SCARE QUOTES”….. AND WHY AND WHEN?A LANGUAGE ”EXPERT” AT STANFORD, [privacy for now but initials are AZ],  TELLS ME:Dear SirThe OED2 draft addition Sept. 2004 has it from 1956; the first two citesare both from philosophers:1956   Mind 65 3   The ‘scare-quotes’ are mine; Aristotle is notovertly discussing the expression ‘whichever happens’.1960   P. T. Geach in M. Brand Nature of Human Action (1970) 119Someone..might use ‘happy’, in scare-quotes so to say, to mean ‘whatmost people count happy, that is rich’.(but that doesn’t tell us who ”coined” it — and it could have been atranslation from another language, like ”German”, my ”friend” at Stanford adds)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IUVEQWT3C65Z67M2AR53GWIMLI Sir

    The United States would not exist without anonymous free speech. Just ask Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin.

    Add to that the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld that to be rule multiple times over the last 200 years.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IUVEQWT3C65Z67M2AR53GWIMLI Sir

    The United States would not exist without anonymous free speech. Just ask Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin.

    Add to that the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld that to be rule multiple times over the last 200 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thrivers.unite Thrivers Unite

    I maintain a blog on abuse and have had threats arguments and so forth all of which are sent VIA Anon. If you can not stand behind a statement why make it? My heart goes out to those having to determine which to keep on such as large scale. You want to allow free speech but safety and integrity have to be accounted for as well. That being said Thank you you all work hard to keep us informed and I appreciate all the contributors hear and other news sources.
     http://mamaduck123456.blogspot.com/2011/08/thank-you-people-behind-print.html

  • Brian Penny