Could This Be the End of One of My Favorite Sources of Humor?

Over the weekend, Tribune Publishing, owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, started up a system at the San Diego Union-Tribune’s website that lets readers earn points by posting comments, making regular site visits – or coughing up cash, according to Bloomberg. Commenters lose points for violating rules about relevance, respect, honesty and discretion.

This decision follows in the footsteps of Recode, Reuters, The Week, Mic, Chicago Sun-Times, and Popular Science, which all deleted their comment sections in 2014.

I’m sure, like me, you’ve read some classic comments and thought – that person should be  a writer for one of the nightly talk shows, or even better, for The Onion.

Since I didn’t have a lot of time to find some classic comments, I decided to just find a current article that seemed likely to generate some crass comments, and so here is a sample of comments from an Opinion piece in yesterday’s Washington Post on an article, “This election is an unpopularity contest for the ages“.

Cruz is the creepy, middle-aged pervert who carefully stalks your daughter and stakes out your house over the course of several months looking for the best vantage point to see into her bedroom window.  Trump is the escaped mental patient who crashes his flaming, stolen Cadillac through your bay window, sets the house on fire, and rapes your dog. 

You and who else “know” this? The adorable, racist gerbil you keep… somewhere, perhaps?

Crawl back under your rock. You have nothing but drive by idiocy and add nothing at all to discourse. You might want to look that last word up.

It is a shame that their parents who are already getting snaps, welfare, etc. would rather buy beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets than spend the money on their kids breakfast. 

I see that you walk with white-tipped cane.

As Silicon Beat puts it, “soon, only wealthy trolls may be able to spread racism, misogyny and incomprehensible gobbledygook in news website comment sections.”

While that may be the result, one site that has had experience with such a policy is New York-based Jewish magazine Tablet. Editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse told Bloomberg she’d lost count of how many publishers contacted her about the magazine’s move to charge $2 per day, $18 per month or $180 per year to comment. Tablet now receives fewer comments, but it’s been worth it to purge the site of trolls “flailing and throwing spitballs at you because they’re trying to impress their Facebook friends.”

It could be another source of revenue for the news sites, many of which desperately need such revenue.

It would also likely lead to an even more skewed set of comments than we have now.

But if it’s true that only wealthy trolls will be posting to such news sites, I just hope that the wealthy trolls have a good sense of humor and a strong sense of sarcasm.

*photo is of The Troll is a mixed media colossal statue, located on N. 36th Street at Troll Avenue N., under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge (also known as the Aurora Bridge). It is clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle, as if it had just swiped it from the roadway above.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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