“Moderating comments at the Guardian must be the worst job in the world” one reader wrote. This spurred an excellent piece from Marc Burrows who’s previously job involved scouring and moderating the minefield that is The Guardian comment section. Dealing with the best and worst breed of the internet comment from bigotry to hilarity.
The piece pushes against the recent trend of abolishing comment sections and instead vies for a more intelligently moderated and hopeful community of commenters.
The internet gives users an unfortunate arsenal of half-baked knowledge and total anonymity meaning that what should be a platform for intelligent discussion inveitably falls into chaos.
It was Burrows’ job to assess each internet comment and deem it acceptable which sounds so much easier than it actually was. Here are five things we can learn from his documented experience.
1. Trolling has it’s place
“Trolling takes many forms. Some of it is actually brilliant, and if we are actually going to stop people winding each other up on forums, we may as well scrap this whole internet thing now”. Since sarcasm gets lost in translation on the internet, some jibing or trolling can actually provide much needed comic relief in darker moments.
2. We take away the dark stuff more than the good
“Someone telling you that you are wrong is always going to make a bigger impression than someone who agrees with you”. An internet comment represents the purest form of criticism because there is no agent to blame. Only words. This is just good observation about life.
3. Mob Mentality is as prevalent online
Good moderation on the internet (and in real life) comes down to not allowing an agenda to overrun the matter at hand. As shown with the nightmarish GamerGate, internet commenters are quick to swarm. In life and on the internet, regard the mob mentality as a sign of weakness and dismiss it as such.
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4. Never be afraid to share your point of view
The internet is still in it’s toddler stages where tantrums and CAPS LOCKED STATEMENTS are given the platform they don’t deserve. Don’t let the chaos of internet comment sections influence your ability to share your point of view.
5. Moderators will never be replaced by robots
The biggest issue of moderation is understanding the context and dealing with misdemeanours appropriately. As our fears of the Robot Revolution snowball, moderators recline knowing they’ll always have job security as long as bigotry is prevalent on the internet.