On Cussin’ & Comments

Someone asked if profanity would be allowed here on Keyboard Krumbs. Good question!

I don’t think so, not because I find it offensive, but because it could cause this site to be blocked by software that stops you from reading curse words. Like at at the office. Hey, everybody knows that reading curse words will rot your brain.

That said, feel free to use the asterisk method of disguising your cursing. For example, sh*t, fu**, pi**, motherfu**er, co**sucker, and so on. You get the idea.

As for the C-word, please don’t use it unless it’s part of a direct quote, like in this line from the movie Kick Ass: “Alright you c****, let’s see what you can do now.”

You may also use the comic book symbol method, which is always more fun, as seen in this Porsche commercial.

As for a comment policy, post whatever you like, but if it’s rude, stupid, or off-topic it gets deleted.

This is a far cry from the Times Union’s interesting policy, which states that comments with profanity or personal attacks will be rejected. That’s actually only half right. They’ll allow personal attacks all day long — as long as there’s no profanity. For example, how about this comment regarding a recent news story involving yours truly:

“The home owner should have put a bullet through the kid.”

That’s the kind of sh*t that should never be published, and and I won’t work for a website that allows it. If you want to be associated with an organization which does, be my guest. I’m sure you’ll get lots of hits.

39 Responses to On Cussin’ & Comments

  1. “Well, darn-tootin’ they shoulda put a bullet threw dat kid! They wuz terrerizin’ that home! Ain’t like they wuz dealin’ mary-ju-wanna or sumthin’. Now that we don’t mind.”

    I’d rather live in Schenectady or even Amsterdam than Bethlehem. F**king morons.

  2. The TU commenters are more like an online lynch mob than anything else. The newspaper should look at the NY times policy: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/faq/comments.html
    Here’s the money graph:

    Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we have created a space where readers can exchange intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

    I don’t know how the people who approve those TU comments sleep at night.

    • Jerry: It’s my understanding that they sometimes allow interns to moderate comments, particulary on posts that are getting hundreds of responses. I’ll give an intern a pass on not knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not.

    • Albany Eye Has It

      Jerry,

      You mean that Michael Huber and his handler, Rexford Smith, should look at the policy employed by The New York Times.

      Trust me, Mr. Smith reads The Times. Were The Times a church, Mr. Smith would worship the rag. Were Pinch Sulzberger in need of a butler, Mr. Smith would change his name to the un-Jeeves.

      Eye,

      I am aware that you are friends with Mr. Huber. I respect your friendship. I do not respect Mr. Huber. We shall not even discuss Mr. Smith.

  3. Can I say the word “penis” once in a while?

  4. Hey, look! Here’s a picture of the TU signing up a new blogger:

    http://www.soulwinners.com.au/images/contract.jpg?942

  5. Rob: You can see from my email address that I’m also a Times Union blogger, but I’d rather not attach my name to this comment.

    Mike seems like a great guy, but don’t think for a moment he won’t throw you under the bus if it means more traffic. His freedom of speech rap on comments is a convenient excuse for publishing the most vile and repulsive things I’ve ever seen on a serious web site.

    Here’s one of his lofty statements: “We are not a city on a hill, where enlightened and thoughtful discourse flows from every keyboard.” Wow. That’s so heavy, dude.

    You’re right, I could never get the sort of traffic on my own as I do on the TU. I’d like to join you on your walkout, but instead I’ll just hold my nose and hope I don’t ever end up on their poop list.

  6. My daughter has done a couple stints as an intern at the TU…when screening blog posts they are told to follow the rules regarding profanity…personal attacks can be subjective based upon the outlook of the person doing the screening. So, Rob – I would agree with you that it’s sort of OK to give the interns a pass….but….Huber reads all of the comments! Should he as the editor not remove them when they are so incredibly hateful??? Of course he should but, that would reduce traffic and therefore reduce revenue from the advertisers. Shame.

    • Jerry (by the way, this is a different Jerry than the one who left the first Jerry comment), I agree that some responsible party should review all the comments. All I can figure is that either there are too many comments to be reviewed or the TU doesn’t care if people make personal attacks, suggest violence, and threaten retribution.

      The truth is that comments enhance traffic, and traffic enhances revenue.

      Those who comment come back again and again, both to see if their hideous remarks were actually published and to read the responses. Others keep visiting the post to keep up with the conversation — or in this case, read the hate speak. A post without comments would get only one hit. One with comments? It’s a bottomless well of traffic.

      What say you, Michael Huber? Care to explain why it’s OK for people to say we should kill teenagers? I’m really interested in reading your answer. The floor is yours.

  7. Rob. I smell smoke… ;-)

  8. In re: TU Blog Traffic . . .

    I have no idea how much of it I get. I do know that I still pull over 60,000 hits/month on my old website, which I update about twice a year, when I travel. When that was my sole outlet, it was in the six figure range each month. (Most of the current traffic goes to the Worst Rock Band Ever page, which has generated for me the sorts of comments that Rob alludes to above . . . I’ve had my life and the lives of my family threatened for declaring Motley Crue to be the worst rock band ever, and anytime they roll out of their caskets to tour, my hate mail volume increases exponentially).

    As a volunteer blogger, I don’t have any ability to judge my traffic at the TU site. They feature me regularly on the front page of the newspaper site, and when I post something new, it usually ends up in the “Most Active” slots for some period of time, so I assume I must be doing decent trade . . . but I honestly don’t know if my readership increased or decreased when I went into their portal.

    I think people ASSUME we’re getting mad traffic there at Hearst Manor, but I’m not so sure . . . I have a hunch that there’s actually a fairly small cohort of fervent/obsessed TU blog readers who drive the hit counts up by hitting “refresh” from their office cubicles all day long . . . . this may explain why the number of bloggers hosted there seems to expand in an exponential fashion, as you can satisfy advertisers by having a lot of pages getting a small number of hits, or a small number of pages getting a lot of hits . . .

    (Note: I’m using “hits” in the vernacular sense, and fully understand that impressions, and unique visits, and the like are more important, so blog stat analysis lecture not required, please and thanks).

    Also, in re screening comments . . . I’m not quite sure why people blame the TU staff for this. I screen my own comments. Is that not the case for the other reader blogs???

    • JES, I actually think the unpaid bloggers do a better job of screening comments than the TU staff.

      The comment I cited was left under an item Mike Huber posted, and I think it’s safe to say that the TU’s house blogs — like Crime Confidential and Read and React — consistently have the worst, most inappropriate feedback. If they are supposed to be setting the standard, they’re doing a lousy job.

      As for traffic, you’re right, it’s probably a bad metric. The real value that the TU bloggers get is exposure to a larger audience. My little corner of the blogosphere will never have many readers. I can live with that.

  9. Don’t overlook Capitol Confidential either, Rob. It’s open season on State workers there. Mostly caters to State worker haters. Put on a token State Worker blog ran by a woman who temped one summer part-time a thousand years ago as if that really represents State workers.

    Funny, haven’t got to the TU blogs as much since I retired…

    Frankly, that is their draw back. Their very biased in who they let post personal attacks while they basically screen out even constructive criticism of those @sshats. No wonder I tend to narrow to the independent bloggers who do their own screening. I say if you are going to screen, screen fairly. But as you say that doesn’t drive up the numbers.

    I can’t say as I blame you for leaving. Your kid screwed up. Embarrassing us let’s us know we’re parents from time to time. Not sure what I’d do in your shoes but that comment was way out of line and should not have been allowed. Does your kid deserve to be punished? Yes, and I understand you are, and I understand the dude was freaked out by the kids and protecting his family, but the death penalty for ding dong ditch? A bit extreme, I’d say. And that comment definitely should not have been allowed.

    D@mn, editing software.

    • Donna, I’d bet that they would have liked having a current state worker write that blog — but unless it were done anonymously, it would never happen. It’s blog about state employees, not by them. Can you imagine what that would look like?

      There are dozens of comments like the one I pointed out. I don’t mind people criticizing me, but when it degrades to violence and hatred, that’s when I’m out. No biggie. I won’t be missed — I hope people can understand this isn’t just about me and my family, but about an online community that’s completely out of control.

      I’m not saying have people use their real name, but I think registration with a verifiable email address would cut down on the abuse.

      • Not to mention that State workers are kind of prohibited from really speaking freely about what goes on at their agencies. But there is actually one that a regular state worker commenter (Maverick) started because he got fed up with the State worker hatred at the TU. If anyone’s interested, it’s: http://nystateworkerblogs.proboards.com/

        I understand they couldn’t really get a legitimate State worker but the point is the viterol in the comments is really out of this world. They say the most vile things about State workers.

        Exactly, Rob. The comment your objecting to is extreme. You aren’t ragging on the people who disagreed with you on the situation, just those who got so viral in their responses.

        Overall, I think the TU really needs to start enforcing its rules about posting. Of course, I’m out of there if it does because I use a fake e-mail there. Only because I’ve seen other people’s e-mails posted when I’ve gone to put in mine in the blank where I’m supposed to. So I put in a fake. I don’t really care too much if they do because I’m souring on the TU too.

        I like Teri’s, Eric’s and Kevin’s blog and Roger’s. But Roger has an outside blog. Eric does but apparently doesn’t update it much. And I’m friends with all on FB if it comes down to it.

    • Hey, I’m right here! Please, in the immortal words of Sarah Palin, “quit makin’ stuff up.” I was a part-time (full-time in the summer) intern at SED for three years, and a full-time temp for six months. This is but a blink of an eye in state time, of course, but three years is still more than three months.

      I think a retired or current (and anonymous) state worker would have made for a very interesting blog. But that didn’t work out, and instead I was asked to do it, even though no one at the TU knew that I had spent time anywhere near the state workforce. I was asked because of my previous work experience in news and blogging, including at the TU. Sports writers generally aren’t former professional athletes, politics writers generally aren’t former politicians, and reporters who write about crime generally aren’t former criminals.

      Most of the really interesting things that happen in the state workforce–or anywhere in life, really–never see newsprint or even the light of day.

  10. so…how ’bout them Mets…

  11. Haven’t seen any response from the blog boss. Did Huber ever answer your question?

  12. Rob -

    There is no question that whatever happened this summer between all parties involved should never have been turned into blog fodder. There is also no question that posts advocating everything from frontier justice to vigilantism should have been more appropriately monitored.

    That being said, I say this not as a TU blogger, but as a friend – I hope that we see you at future blogging get-togethers, whether they’re sponsored by the TU or All Over Albany or by the South Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.

    Oh, and just to test out this website’s blog filter… can we curse in Klingon or in Battlestar Galactica speak?

    • Thanks, Chuck. Feel free to swear in any sci-fi language you like; those should be OK! I’m sure I’ll pop in at future events; who can possibly resist a room full of bloggers?

      As for the comment issue, what gets approved and what gets trashed seems extremely subjective, but getting back to the original example, I’d still like to know how is it ever OK to approve a comment that suggests someone should be murdered?

  13. Albany Eye Has It

    Eye,

    The TU blogs most apt to censor dissenting viewpoints:

    1. Tom King gun owner’s rights – Far and away the blogger who censors the opposition and any meaningful viewpoints to the contrary.

    2. Kristi Gustafson – It’s a clique.

    3. John Faso – Conservative who ignores serious policy debates.

    4. Lydia Kulbida – Quick to silence those who question her.

    5. Mark McGuire – Serial polemicist with little patience for views contrary to his own.

    Honorable mention (alphabetical order): Susan Arbetter, Rosemary Armao, Robert Lee, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, Marcia White -SPAC.

    • I’m not privy to what gets approved and what gets deleted, but I’m sure comments that disagree, even when not written in a disagreeable way, sometimes get trashed. The amateur bloggers have the say on what they allow through the gates, so it’s random as hell.

      As for the house blogs, there seems to be absolutely no coherent policy — at least not one that anyone is willing to explain. I guess based on the horrendous sh*t I’ve read there lately, like the comments advocating violence and retribution, I assume that everything gets approved, no matter how evil or vile.

  14. Albany Eye Has It

    Eye,

    The aforementioned observation was based on personal experience and not scientific study.

    I have noticed that these sites, in particular Tom King, Gustafson, and Faso, have fielded the most complaints – both in the comment thread and in the comment threads of other blogs – about the respective bloggers’ unwillingness to field or post viewpoints counter to their own.

    I have little use for foul language and mindless, banal commentary. Satire, if done well and with a certain verve, is another story. King and Faso seem to focus rigidly on those comments that bolster their respective political positions and/or blind polemics.

    Gustafson’s guidelines for posting are, I must admit, well outside my area of comprehension. I neither read nor speak Orthodox Yuppie nor do I see adult life as an endless extension of the high school “in crowd”. I’m using to writers aspiring to something.

    Gustafson, I respectfully submit, aspires to nothing – and, worse yet, there’s plenty more from whatever Shopping Mall and/or High School Hallway of Narcissuses and No Ideas Gustafson and her cadre of “gum-snappers”, “like-likes”, and “tons (sic) too muchs/littles” hail.

    • I spent some time defending Kristi’s blog at the office today.

      One of my co-workers was making some of the same points you are, as well as suggesting that her writing tarnishes the fine Hearst brand. I pointed out that Hearst also publishes Cosmopolitan and Seventeen — which have both been criticized for their influence on style and culture — and like magazines, blogs have a niche audience. I also reminded him that every time he opens her blog, he does his little part to support what she’s doing.

      I guess the ultimate question we capitalists must ask is this: does it make money for the company?

  15. Albany Eye Has It

    Eye,

    I guess the ultimate question we mature, responsible Americans must ask is this: Does Kristi Gustafson’s work (ahem) at the Times Union, WFLY, and WTEN in any way serve the public interest?

    Also, how does Ms. Gustafson benefit the public airwaves at WTEN and WFLY?

    Oh, how do Ms. Gustafson’s efforts (ahem) at a NEWSpaper – not a niche magazine – educate the reader seeking NEWS at the Times Union?

    And, does the belief of the Times Union’s publisher that Ms. Gustafson is one of his best journalists – not best writers, not best capitalists, not best generator of site hits….but one of his best journalists – reflect on the Times Union, the Hearst Corporation, and journalism as a whole?

    • Finally, a softball!

      It has value because it’s entertaining. It has value to the reader because they enjoy it, and value to the publisher because it can be sold. Does it serve the public interest? Probably not, but even the best newspapers have their life, leisure, and “ladies” sections. Who would have foreseen the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition?

      And anyway, isn’t it quaint that in 2010 there are still people who read to be entertained?

  16. Albany Eye Has It

    “It has value because it’s entertaining.”

    Sure, Ms. Kristi is entertaining – if you’re reading Cosmo or some women’s magazine or watching Entertainment Tonight or MTV. But a newspaper?

    Anecdotal Warning: Had coffee with a friend recently. The topics of the TU and Ms. Kristi came up. By the friend, who’s not exactly a newshound or policy wonk.

    Her observation: There’s no news in the TU. And why in the heck is Gustafson featured so prominently? And why does the TU run all of these “Seen Here” photo spread shticks every day?

    My friend has dumped the TU. She said the newspaper no longer gives her the news about her community anymore. And she’s in the very female-oriented business of weddings, parties, and the like. (No, Eye, my friend does not dance at stag parties. Calm down.)

    Have to admit that I was shocked that my friend, whose business interests I would have thought adhered to the very sort of tripe offered by Ms. Kristi and her loyal cadre of “gum-snappers”, “like-likes”, and “tons (sic) too muchs/littles”, would have been an ardent reader and supporter of Mr. Kristi and her ilk. Not so. Quite the contrary, actually.

    My friend explained that she reads the newspaper for news – not for the social, club, and fashionista material cranked out by Ms. Kristi. If she wants that material, she goes to the networks, publications, and/or websites aforementioned.

    And, yes, you and Ms. Kristi’s blind loyalists can easily argue that the comic strips, wedding announcements, and cooking tips have been in our newspapers since the days of Ben Franklin. Quite true.

    Of course, I would respond that this material had its place well inside the newspaper and not, I repeat not, as or among its featured front-page material. The front page once belonged to news. The front page of each section once belonged to news. Not to Ms. Kristi and bikini waxing. Not until recently.

    The TU headed down the toilet years ago. For me, the TU died when during the first year of the Survivor television series, I recall getting a coffee, bagel, and a TU one Thursday morning, I believe, at that old coffee shop (since leveled) on Route 7 across from Keeler’s House of Luxury Cars. Top front page story, right underneath the masthead:

    Survivor Winner to Be Announced Tonight

    Yup, that’s right. The top news story that day, according Mr. Smith Begs to Go to The New York Times Editorial Board and his brood, was the pending champion of a fictional, yes fictional, television series.

    Ms. Kristi, now backed by the TU’s handlers and the fellow abettors at WTEN and, to a lesser degree, WFLY (morning drive FM radio never was very news-oriented), only further represents the sickening erosion of a once-proud newspaper that informed the public about state, county, and local government, business and the economy, and the issues affecting our daily lives.

    Don’t believe me? OK, but my friend stopped doing business with the TU due to its absence of news coverage – NOT its and Ms. Kristi’s failure to tell her all she needed to know about the latest about dating, fashion, giveaway gimmicks, manicures, and the like.

    The TU lost money, and a reader/subscriber, due to Ms. Kristi – not a 40-inch story on reform of state lobbyists. Does Ms. Kristi bring Net traffic? No doubt. But Ms. Kristi and her abettors at the end of Wolf Road also cost the TU readers and subscribers in content and in cash.

    Anecdotal, sure, but surprising nonetheless.

    • Well, when it’s lunchtime and I want some good old fashioned wood pulp and ink to keep me company, I’ll reach for The Times, Post, Daily News, or Wall Street Journal. A local paper? Never.

  17. We still have a home subscription to the TU, but most days it just ends up going to the recycling bin, or I spend five minutes or so scanning it while I’m cooking or otherwise occupied in the kitchen. It’s inertia more than anything else that keeps it coming to our door.

    When I eat out for breakfast or lunch by myself, though, I always have to have a print newspaper, and it’s almost always The (Schenectady) Gazette, which I consider to be the best our market has to offer, primarily because they’ve decided to focus on their print product, not their web product, which is awful. If I only have a two-top table to myself, though, I will get The (Troy) Record instead, since it’s easier to read in a small space, and can be quite entertaining.

    Dunno who you are, Eye Has It, or if you’ve read other stuff of mine, but I waxed more lengthy on this topic a couple of times on my blog, if you’re interested . . . .

    http://blog.timesunion.com/jericsmith/the-newspaper-junkie-speaks-again/1688/

    http://blog.timesunion.com/jericsmith/the-newspaper-junkie-speaks/699/

  18. what about the N word?

    • Depends on the context.

      If it’s being used in the pejorative, no. No name calling.

      On the other hand, I think it’s OK to talk about that word by using the word. I think it’s a little nutty when you hear discussions about this that use the phrase “n-word.”

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