I am a long time reader of Hack A Day. It’s a great website, and often details projects that I find interesting well before they are picked up on other sites. It also tends to drive significant amounts of traffic to sites mentioned, so it’s good publicity for many interesting objects.
But lately, their comment section has become a complete and utter cesspool. I’ve read hundreds of comments over the last few months which fall into predictable categories…
- You’re stupid.
- Your project is stupid.
- Why didn’t you do X?
- That isn’t a hack.
- Your grammar/spelling is wrong.
- That video is fake, nobody could do X.
- Any of a number of racist, sexist, and idiotic comments which decorum prevents me from reproducing.
I don’t see any of these kinds of comments as helpful, useful, informative, or inspiring.
To their credit, it appears that the Hack A Day crew are beginning to realize that this kind of stuff does nothing to enhance their brand and are taking steps to correct this.
My own blog policy is simple (and given the relatively low number of non-spam comments, pretty easy to implement): be nice. If your postings aren’t nice, then they aren’t going to stay. I can handle disagreements and dissent, but if you can’t do it in a civil way, you can post your comments on your own blog and link back to me. I won’t mind. My blog is like my virtual living room. I wouldn’t allow anyone to come in and act like a complete buffoon in my house, and I’m not going to pay for the web services that lets them do so in my virtual living room either.
And arguing that some kind of “free speech” should be the rule is not going to fly either. You are entitled to your own free speech, but I don’t have to pay for it or promote it. You are free to pursue your own free speech using your own resources, but you don’t get to volunteer mine.
Some people have asked that come kind of comment voting system (like that employed on Slashdot) could be employed. I’ll merely say that I don’t read Slashdot anymore precisely because gaming of their comment system has reduced its utility considerably. It’s never been clear to me that such systems can be engineered to even reduce, much less eliminate, the kinds of negative comment trolling that I’ve been seeing.
Here’s my advice: if you think that a particular project on Hack A Day (or brainwagon or any other site) is deficient in some way, then get off your duff, make a better project, and publish it. Lend your own expertise to the discussion, and help elevate everyone’s game. That’s what the web should be about.
Oh, and keep up the good work, Hack A Day.