Running with the Angry Mob

Today’s angry mob does not show up with pitchforks, pikes, and torches. They arm themselves with keyboards and light their way with glowing monitors. You won’t see them storming through the streets, but doing their dirty work in the comment section of news websites.

Some media outlets are trying to get the e-mob under control. In June, the Buffalo News clamped down on anonymous comments on news stories, and just last week, Mormon owned Deseret News actually shut comments down completely.

It’s not an easy decison. On one hand you want lots of comments,  but on the other you’d like people to be civil and reasonable. Unfortunately, many of those who moderate comments say to hell with decorum. Decorum doesn’t sell advertising.

It takes some guts to insist on civility. Last week,  All Over Albany ran an item about an employee of a local supermarket chain who’d made a bad decision when dealing with a customer. Did she make a mistake? Sure — but did that mean she deserved to be ripped apart online?

To their credit, All Over Albany closed comments when things started getting ugly. Ugly sells, but they feel it’s more important to be decent and responsible.

It’s always nice to balance the heavy with some light — and this video perfectly captures the atmosphere in most comment sections:

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