June 18, 2012

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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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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