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Opinion | The Life of a Comment Moderator for a Right-Wing Website

By The New York Times

Six years in the trenches on troll patrol

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  • Circular approval networks were always bound to become antisocial, decrease dialogue, and radicalize both the left and right. I call myself liberal, but I am cognizant of the fact that even I am unwilling to engage the more ridiculous radicals - and that’s how they get so far away from regular social behavior, on both sides of the line.

  • Sumeet Shah
    Sumeet ShahBacking brands at Swiftarc Ventures

    The fact that more stories are coming out from comment moderators show how mentally destructive people, when they don't recognize the consequences of letting all emotions go, can be. I remember talking it over with Max (Lockie) last year.

    We can do better as humans. Especially for the sake of others around us.

  • John Toomey
    John ToomeyDirector of Revenue Operations at Quartz

    This is largely unsurprising. If you look through Facebook comments on any news post you’ll see what things people are willing to say with their name attached to the comment. Add in a cloak of anonymity and all kinds of madness is going to break loose.

    That being said, being a comment section moderator seems like a tough way to pay the bills!

  • Technology provides a buffer in human interaction. Among the many consequences is the elimination of the stigma associated with antisocial behavior, which explains why comments sections and Twitter are so barbaric, and why relationships conducted via text are so brutal.

    At internet scale, content moderation is bound to fail. If we a wholesome internet, we must insist on economic incentives that will produce one.

  • Nick Shippers
    Nick ShippersForbes

    At least the Quartz app comments are quality :)

  • Tobin Smith
    Tobin SmithFounder CEO at Transformity Research

    Adam is dead right. While working on my new book The American FOXOCRACY--i read thousands of right and left wing comments--if this is a glimpse into the souls of committed conservatives--we are in a very dark place. I was on-air pundit for Fox News for 14 years—their brand of tribal identity activation and amplification porn has never been called out. I do my best to explain the extremely powerful psychological dynamics that we manipulated for profit. Fox News is predatory emotional manipulation

    Adam is dead right. While working on my new book The American FOXOCRACY--i read thousands of right and left wing comments--if this is a glimpse into the souls of committed conservatives--we are in a very dark place. I was on-air pundit for Fox News for 14 years—their brand of tribal identity activation and amplification porn has never been called out. I do my best to explain the extremely powerful psychological dynamics that we manipulated for profit. Fox News is predatory emotional manipulation of the most vulnerable in America—and it begat the gateway to this tribalized partisan intensity. Because just like sex porn—the mild stuff gets old after a while . Just like any neurophysiological drug—you develop a tolerance. SK you need more hate, more resentment , more righteous tribal Fox hole camaraderie to get the same jolt. And then this tribal emotion activation and intensity amplification porn went viral via social media. Now over 100+ million 6 minute plus engagements per month—it’s like nuclear emotional fallout that went viral.

  • Giving everyone a soapbox to stand on really isn't a great idea and then giving them anonymity makes it that much worse.

  • This is a fascinating perspective on the rise of Trump, and on humanity in general.

  • Trump was placed in office, in part, to put social elements like this into exponential overdrive. No one else could possibly take the socio-political polarization of America any further than it already was.

  • Kyle Yancey
    Kyle Yancey

    "You take down comments and people get angry. You ban certain slurs and then people create new ones. The resilience they show is heartbreaking. They get angry at the fact that they’re not allowed to say certain things. They never seemed to ask themselves why they thought they needed to say them in the first place."

  • Tessa Jackson
    Tessa JacksonFaubourg Advisers

    A hit dog will holler, and a hurt dog will bite.

    There are a lot of people who are angry about their lives, and they need someone to blame and somewhere to direct that anger before it eats them up. In steps social media and online comment sections, offering free range opportunities to be as vile and mean as they want, but it is never enough because nothing has changed for them and hate is addictive.

  • Che Hammond
    Che Hammond

    Depressing end to the story. But the point about folks being unmoored by ideology/policy and stuck on “winning” is an astute point. As long as the right people are being antagonized and hurt ... everything else is excused.

  • Michael Erisman
    Michael Erisman

    Seems like it’s the same on every single online article. No matter what the subject it devolves into trolling immediately. There are no sides anymore, just non-stop trolling. In my opinion the worst are from the Left, but maybe it’s just because I don’t read much from the Right I guess.

  • Shinji Ichi
    Shinji Ichiproject mgmt manager

    I know the existence of comment moderator, but it is a quite tough job.

  • Sarah  Anderson
    Sarah Anderson

    This highlights the fascinating point in history we are at. For so long, the educated elite were the only ones who had a say and were able to shape events. And then, rightfully so, over the last few hundred years we’ve been steadily moving to give more and more people a voice. No doubt, it’s been a fantastic development, but now we are seeing one of its drawbacks. Now anyone can go on the internet and speak just as powerfully as anyone else, even if they have zero evidence or expertise to back what

    This highlights the fascinating point in history we are at. For so long, the educated elite were the only ones who had a say and were able to shape events. And then, rightfully so, over the last few hundred years we’ve been steadily moving to give more and more people a voice. No doubt, it’s been a fantastic development, but now we are seeing one of its drawbacks. Now anyone can go on the internet and speak just as powerfully as anyone else, even if they have zero evidence or expertise to back what they say. Just write a comment or tweet it and your opinion might just be treated like fact no matter how ignorant or cruel or damaging it might be. Unfortunately, I think we’re just going to have to live with it.

  • Randy Myers
    Randy Myers

    After doing the job for a while, I wasn’t liberal anymore. I certainly wasn’t conservative. I just resented everyone with opinions and an internet connection.

    That job sounds truly awful. All day in the cesspool of the internet.

  • Jack Cross
    Jack CrossStudent

    This really gives new insight into people which is somewhat difficult to describe. My overall impression was: considering the content online already, how bad must stuff be to get deleted?!

  • Conviently, the conservative site is not named. 😉

    Bahaha!

  • Gloria Ehrlich
    Gloria Ehrlich

    Sad to think it is the internet that is ruining humanity, at any given moment at any place seemingly in the world or on the outer realms, no place seems to be safe from internet trolls, as well as specific groups such, haters, and others like the writter mentions continue to utilize their intellect to disintegrate any abstract, in thought, reference, any way to desimate any proper thought or protocol especially regarding controversial subjects. In this day and age controversial subjects seem to be

    Sad to think it is the internet that is ruining humanity, at any given moment at any place seemingly in the world or on the outer realms, no place seems to be safe from internet trolls, as well as specific groups such, haters, and others like the writter mentions continue to utilize their intellect to disintegrate any abstract, in thought, reference, any way to desimate any proper thought or protocol especially regarding controversial subjects. In this day and age controversial subjects seem to be all the rage, the internet continues to be one of the largest reserves indefinte and infinite places that at a moment the moderator defines a difference between intelect and indifference, which is a language that languishes much disdain on any attempt to modify or help to character navigate, especially after character fall out or worse character assignation

  • sara kluz
    sara kluz

    'After six years, the comment section won" jeeez

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