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Guardian has deleted almost 500 comments from pro-Russia trolls

The Guardian

On Sunday, The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott wrote about a growing problem in the comments section of stories about Ukraine — pro-Russian trolling, which one moderator told him appears to be “an orchestrated campaign.”

Trolling covers a multitude of sins but a particularly nasty strain has emerged in the midst of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which infests comment threads on the Guardian and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of moderators. Readers and reporters alike are concerned that these are from those paid to troll, and to denigrate in abusive terms anyone criticising Russia or President Vladimir Putin.

One complaint came to the readers’ editor’s office on 6 March. “In the past weeks [I] have become incredibly frustrated and disillusioned by your inability to effectively police the waves of Nashibot trolls who’ve been relentlessly posting pro-Putin propaganda in the comments on Ukraine v Russia coverage.

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Judge acknowledges racist, sexist Web comments, withdraws from race

Arkansas Times | Blue Hog Report

Judge Mike Maggio withdrew from a race for the Arkansas Court of Appeals after acknowledging he’d posted sexist, racist and homophobic comments on a website, Max Brantley reported Wednesday.

Maggio posted under the name “geauxjudge” on a message board called TigerDroppings.com, sharing musings on topics like “rodeo sex,” someone who was “black by injection” and “Why do two men get their weiners cut off to them date each other.”

Matt Campbell compiled a dossier of Maggio’s postings, triangulating personal information he mentioned in his comments with facts about Maggio. In his statement acknowledging the postings, Maggio decried “the politics of personal destruction.” Read more

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Is the Internet a workplace? Lawyers debate whether online comments merit ethics probe

Feminist Law Professors | Above the Law | myShingle.com | Pacific Standard

Nancy Leong, a visiting law professor at UCLA, wrote in late December she had filed an ethics complaint with the bars that licensed a public defender who “commented about me approximately 70 times on at least five different websites, frequently remarking on my physical appearance.”

The commenter used the alias “Dybbuk.”

I don’t see how it’s workable to sanction lawyers who say disgusting things online,” Elie Mystal writes. “Lawyers say racist, sexist things all time. Are only the ones who say it online in ethical violation?” Read more

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Poynter experiments with ReadrBoard reader comments

Poynter is experimenting with a new commenting and annotation tool, ReadrBoard, which allows users to chart their reactions by paragraph and leave comments inside a story.

You can tell which Poynter stories we’re testing with ReadrBoard by finding the Reactions button; under the headline of some stories, there is a button with an icon that looks like bubbles with the word “Reactions” and a caret (the arrow pointing downwards):

When you hover your mouse over the button, ReadrBoard will show you how other readers have responded to the article. Click on the reactions to read comments other readers have left.

To leave your own responses, click on “What do you think?” and a series of rectangles will appear. You can click on the rectangles which best encapsulates your reaction to the story: Hilarious. Read more

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FILE This July 16, 2013 FILE photo, shows a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States, the company said Tuesday. The social-networking giant is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers. Microsoft and Google have done the same. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Want to comment on HuffPost? Just give Facebook your phone number first

Huffington Post

Grab your pitchforks and text art tanks: Huffington Post is doubling down on its anonymity crackdown.

The site’s new commenting system, explained by Tim McDonald, HuffPost’s director of community, requires users to have a Facebook account:

Here’s how to get started under this new system. When you log in to your account and go to make a comment, you will be prompted to link your commenting account to your verified Facebook account. Then, choose how you’d like your name to be displayed. You can either display your first and last names, or your first name and last initial. This is the only information that will be viewable to the community at large, and you will have control over your private information via Facebook’s privacy settings.

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Newrooms can co-exist with online comments with moderation and a strategy. (Depositphotos)

Can reporters help repair online comment sections?

Several years ago during a seminar at Poynter, we were talking about engaging our audiences.

“We ask our readers and viewers to comment on our stories,” one participant said, “but unless we respond to them, how will they know we’re listening?

“Their assumption,” he said, “is that we’re not.”

In the years since, I’ve heard from a lot of journalists who confirm that, indeed, they’re not listening. They don’t read users’ comments for a variety of reasons: no time, no interest, no stomach for the cesspools they often find there.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard other journalists and newsroom leaders say that journalism’s future requires a different, more interactive relationship with the audience, one in which people outside the newsroom share their expertise and engage in productive debate. Read more

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Despite complaints, comments broadly allowed on many news sites

With the recent focus on online reader comments — see The New Yorker on “The Psychology of Online Comments” and The New York Times Magazine on “Four Ways to Improve the Culture of Commenting” — it’s a good time to survey the field and see how news organizations allow comments. (We’ll save the subject of moderation for another day.)

Starting with Alexa’s list of the top 500 sites in the U.S., I took the first 50 that could loosely be defined as news sites, removing sites such as Drudge Report and AOL that primarily linked out to other news sources. I also removed sites with strategies that would be redundant to include (such as Businessweek because Bloomberg was already on the list, and Lifehacker because it’s part of the Gawker network). Read more

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NPR says the sources it gets through Facebook are worth the heated comments

Thursday morning NPR posted a query on Facebook: “Do you know of an innovative African American start-up or technologist active in Silicon Valley or in your community? Share your thoughts here or email tellmemore@npr.org #NPRBlacksinTech.” The NPR show “Tell Me More” often features the stories and voices of minorities.

Here’s a smattering of what followed, organized into some themes that emerged.
The outraged and confused:
“Why does their race matter? Racists!!!” Read more

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Splitsider, too, ends Web comments

Splitsider | On the Media

The comedy site Splitsider is turning off comments on most of its stories, Editor Adam Frucci writes. “For one, we’ve never had much of a commenting community to begin with,” he explains, continuing:

Unlike sites about politics or social matters, people don’t seem to have much to say about comedy news. And when we do get comments, much of the time they’re either offensive or just without any real substance. We put a lot of work into the content on this site, and it’s frustrating to have folks finish reading an article only to be confronted with mean-spirited garbage at the bottom of the page. Furthermore, we’re a small team without the time and energy to dedicate to policing and cleaning up comments.

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Climate-change deniers can still leave comments at L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Times will not publish letters from climate-change deniers, but it does allow online comments that express that point of view, as long as they’re not too mean.

The Times can remove “inappropriate” comments, Hillary Manning, director of communications for the Times, told Poynter in an e-mail yesterday. Otherwise, its policy is similar to those at many other sites: Comments must be “germane to the article,” and they can’t be “abusive, off-topic or foul.” They can’t be “racist, sexist or homophobic.” They can’t advertise or spam, and they can’t “celebrate the death, injury or illness of any person, public figure or otherwise.”

At the bottom of each comments section, Manning notes, is a sentence saying, “The Times makes no guarantee of comments’ factual accuracy.”

Related: L.A. Read more

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