Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet News

Washington Post Shuts Down Blog 347

Posted by Zonk
from the sounds-familiar dept.
Billosaur writes "C|Net has an article by Katharine Q. Seelye of The New York Times, which indicates that the Washington Post is having to close one of its blogs, due to 'too many personal attacks, profanity and hate mail directed at the paper's ombudsman.' It seems that Deborah Howell, the newspaper's ombudsman, wrote an article on the Jack Abramoff scandal which elicited a storm of protest and led to readers using profanity and making unprintable comments, which the paper had to take extra care in removing. This was apparently more based on the issue at hand, as the Post's other blogs have not experienced similar problems." What kind of precedent does this set for other mainstream news sites? What we'd consider a normal day around here has to look fairly intimidating to the average newspaper editor. Will this dissuade news sites from blogging in the future?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Washington Post Shuts Down Blog

Comments Filter:
  • by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@yahooBLUE.com minus berry> on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:03PM (#14521965) Homepage Journal
    I find it interesting that this comes the day after NYT columnist David Pogue responded to a rash of personal attacks and other stupidity with his rules for internet hate mail [nytimes.com]. Pogue dealt with the idiots with humor. The Washington Post had to close down a blog.

    One of Pogue's observations, which is by no means original, was that this sort of thing is partially driven by anonymity. You can say the meanest, most unreasonable, stupid crap in an e-mail or blog comment, and there are no consequences. If you want, you don't even have to deal with the consequence of a reasoned reply or rebuttal.

    The Post could employ some automatic filters to weed out some of the worst offenders, and thus it seems hard to believe their claim that it was requiring two full-time moderators to keep out the blog comments that violated their standards. Either those were some pretty heavy standards that made context such an issue that automated filtering was ineffective, or their web guys are pretty inept.

    - Greg

    • by boldtbanan (905468) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:16PM (#14522086)

      Anonymity doesn't play nearly as much a role as most people think. This had to do with politics, and that inevitably leads to a flame war, on the internet and in real life. Just look at Congress. Besides, internet anonymity is a myth for the vast majority of people.

      • by tool462 (677306) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:40PM (#14522282)
        I would argue that perceived anonymity is more important than whether it really exists.

        People will do some crazy stuff when they think nobody is looking...
      • With public boards allowing people to go through other users' old posts, "anonymity" is fading, and you're composed of not just the thoughts in your current post, but of your past posts (should anyone take the time to check...and they do). If you have a tendency to exaggerate, people will take note. If you preach uncited "facts", people will always question you. So while you as a person remain message_board_user_045, message_board_user_045 does have a history, a personality, a fanbase (or detractors).
    • Obviously the initial ping in the Intel jingle doesn't count -- there are four notes, anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot, you're undoubtedly David Pogue posting under a fake name, and that moron Zonk just posted something that was on Digg over 20 minutes ago.
    • by ChrisGilliard (913445) <christopher,gilliard&gmail,com> on Friday January 20, 2006 @06:56PM (#14522919) Homepage
      Yep, it's a bunch of BS. The major newspapers see blogs as a threat because people read blogs. This is just an attack piece on blogs to say that the blogosphere is just filled with a bunch of idiots. What they don't know is that they do this to their own peril. Media outlets that allow participation will thrive and those that do not will go out of business. This is really inevitable.
      • the blogosphere is just filled with a bunch of idiots.

        "Blogosphere?" Guilty as charged. Case closed.

        A newspaper is defined by the quality and character of everything that makes it into print.
        That is why it has an editor. A strong editor will not allow op-ed debate to degenerate into unitelligible, libelous, mush.

  • They might have to do what I've done with some of my blogs where this has become a problem; turn off comments. Granted, this makes it less of a blog and more of a newspaper...

    Or, if they have the manpower review every comment before they go live. Commentors will live w/ a delay of their comment being posted.
    • by MikeFM (12491) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:10PM (#14522034) Homepage Journal
      Or implement Slashdot like karma so users can moderate each other's comments. Works fairly well. A lot better than trying to have a single moderator.
      • Works fairly well.

        No, it doesn't. The GNAA freaks, for example.

        • The GNAA freaks, posts of goatse and other habitual trolls quickly get modded into oblivian. Most of them either post as AC, or at -1 because their karma is so bad. No problem, if you read at 0 instead of -1.
        • by MikeURL (890801)
          No, it doesn't. The GNAA freaks, for example.

          As a long time user of Usenet I know what happens in online forums. When you mention the GNAA you're talking about a mentally/emotionally disturbed person who will, given any possible avenue, keep posting what he does. Slashcode is NOT intended to make such a person go away or even to silence him/her. What slashcode does do is make it easy to avoid every seeing that person's posts.

          If you read /. at +1 you are just about guaranteed to never see the GNAA o
    • Hell, they can replace half of the workload with some regex script that checks for a few inflamatory comments and common misspellings/l33tsp33k... Of course it's the whole content providor dilemma, if you screen at all, you're responsible for content.
    • If you had RTFA, or just taken a look at the blog in question, you would have seen that is exactly what they did.
  • by aborchers (471342) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#14521995) Homepage Journal
    I've always been a little skeptical of "traditional" media blogging anyway. The whole thing smacks of embrace-and-extend co-opting of the otherwise independent spirit of the phenomenon.
    • Agreed. They adopt the fad as another paddle to save their sinking ship. Then when they realize it takes work and thought and care and you have to put up with a bunch of crap from the feedback channels, they pack up and go inside with their toys.

      It's like this with anyone in a position of authority, fabricated or otherwise. The loudmouth in the crowd obviously has nothing good to say because I'm the one with the mic' - attitude. Nevermind that people desperately feel the need to feed back because these soap
  • Get the facts... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Caste11an (898046) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:07PM (#14522006)
    The "highly inflammatory personal attacks" included virtually NO foul language, and the responses were based on the fact that Ms. Howell perpetuated a Republican talking point (i.e. lie) that Democrats were just as guilty of taking tainted Abramoff money as Republicans. Most of the folks responding were suggesting what can only be the best course of action: Howell should resign, or the Washington Post should can her.
    • Here's what I love most about the so-called new media. It criticizes the establishment on one hand, while selectively using it for validation on the other. Roughly one out of every three articles is some diatribe against established journalism (NYT, WaPo, etc), posting a story and complaining that the blogger's pet cause is being ignored. This is generally followed by some rant about the death of the old media, and how reporters are just as corrupt as politicians, ad nauseum. The other two out of three
    • Agreed. Here is her lame explanation that fails to address [washingtonpost.com] any of the points written in the blog.

    • by jim_v2000 (818799)
      I understand that Abramoff gave money to Republicans, and some of his clients gave money to Democrats. Now what I don't understand is what the big deal is. Why are his contributions any different than any other lobbyist? I thought this stuff went on all the time with all kinds of lobbyists...?

      Not that I'm saying that something wrong wasn't done...but I just don't understand what was wrong, or why this particular case is such a big deal. Could someone explain?
      • Because there is specific evidence that he committed fraud and played one of his clients against the other (the Coushatta Indians of Louisiana against a tribe in Texas). He is persona non grata and is tied in with a TON of Republicans in Congress as well as Bush, Rove, and the rest of the White House. Some of the more egregious abuses of power are coming to light and this embarrasses the party that wrote the Contract With America to no end.
      • but I just don't understand what was wrong, or why this particular case is such a big deal. Could someone explain?

        I will give it a shot:

        There are rules which govern giving money to politicians (yea, I know, funny but true). What Abramoff did is to violate those rules, i.e. ask for very specific favours in exchange for the contributions. There are also allegations that some of his "political contributions" were of a personal nature, i.e. not to the re-election fund or something like it, but to the personal

    • A reporter uncovers some corruption, with ties to the government, and all people can do is whine that one party got more attention than the other. As long as the information in her reporting was factual and pertinent, people should be thankful that the press is doing its job. The people who are complaining come across like a bunch of five-year-olds.

      If you happen to be a Republican whose ass is all chapped because more attention wasn't paid to democrats, consider hiring your own damn reporter.
      • Although I am happy that they shined the light on this, it seems the story is no longer about the Abramoff bribes, but about if Republicans or Democrats took more. The press, IMHO has shown that it has abandoned its watchdog duties since before the Rather scandal. The best thing to do would be to push for some kind of either reform (which won't work because there's too much benefit to the ones making the reform) or some kind of independent prosecutor to take a look at where money is coming from.

        It would h
        • Although I am happy that they shined the light on this, it seems the story is no longer about the Abramoff bribes, but about if Republicans or Democrats took more. There's one reason and one reason only that the focus has shifted away from the actual problem here ... the Republicans. By attempting to deflect the scandal by falsely accusing it at Democrats they have actually shifted the discourse. And it doesn't help that there are various pundits repeating the lie over and over (Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, B
  • They wouldn't last 2 minutes posting and editing at Slashot! GNAA, Goatse... They'd flip! :-)
    • They wouldn't last 2 minutes posting and editing at Slashot! GNAA, Goatse... They'd flip! :-)

      Yeah, but then unlike the Post, Slashdot is primarily a big biased blog and a few editors who pick stories at random without checking them. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's entertaining enough, but it's no journalism.

  • The actual comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by xochipili (160669) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:10PM (#14522024)
    Looks to me like the comments, archived at the URL below, while biting and harsh, were not "hate speech" and had almost zero profanity:
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/archive/2006/ wapo/ [democratic...ground.com]

    • There must have been one on the same subject to compare to.

      Obviously, yes, there are different standards as last I checked the Washington Post does not print a "Boobies" or "Weiners" section, not that there's anything wrong with that...
    • by crmartin (98227) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:27PM (#14522192)
      They talk about that at WaPo. What you're seeing is the outcome AFTER they spent hours trying to delete the worst stuff as fast as it ws coming in.
      • Understand that the Post blogs are set to post "live" without moderator approval. When you hit submit it goes live on the site. This is unlike their live chats, in which all comments/questions must be approved by a moderator to appear on the site.

        As a result, once it becomes clear a blog is being targetted with nasty language, comments, etc, someone at Washington Post has to sit there reloading the page in admin mode, looking for comments to hide. When every refresh brings up 10 new nasty comments, it becom
    • It was good seeing Democrats growing some stones for a change. I thought for a long time they were taking the right wing hate speech and slander way too lightly. One party has to be the adult but there's a difference between taking the high road and being a doormat. Nobody likes a puss, even if they're right. So it's nice to see the Dems showing some indignation over something.

      Maybe this Abramoff deal will light a fire under people finally.

  • First - ever think that the primary job of the ombudsman is to find somebody a Bud when things get bad?

    Second - it seems that most of the anger was from a comment that tied Abramoff to both democrats and republicans. Republicans, of course, want to say it's a problem for both sides - the old "Well, don't get mad at us - we were both bad!"

    Democrats get mad at that because Abramoff evidently never *directly* gave money to any Democrats. Note the use of the word "directly", since Abramoff's firm *did* give money to some Dems, but nobody's found a Dem that got money right from Abramoff unlike some Repubs.

    So now you get one side pissed off because of a percieved inaccuracy (and literally, they are right), and the other side feeling like they have to defend themselves (which they should), and then it's a flame war and OMG! LIKE THE END of the WORLD or something! Oh noes! Teh internets are on FIRE!

    Either way, it seems like the Post just didn't handle their filter system. Slashdot and Digg and Kero5hin and a few others have the "self modifying system" - things like "anonymous users get lower views than registered users", "users can label people flamers/spammers/etc". The Post should have put that in first, or just put comments in a separate area so regular readers wouldn't be plagued by Dem and Repub fankids on either side mucking up the issue. Now, they have to throw away the baby with the bathwater (which is too bad, because babies don't like getting thrown into the dumpster. Or so I've heard.)

    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    • by orthogonal (588627) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:32PM (#14522221) Journal
      Democrats get mad at that because Abramoff evidently never *directly* gave money to any Democrats. Note the use of the word "directly", since Abramoff's firm *did* give money to some Dems, but nobody's found a Dem that got money right from Abramoff unlike some Repubs.


      Close but not quite.

      Abramoff didn't give to democrats, and neither did his firm.

      Some of Abramoff's clients gave to Democrats. and after Abramoff began representing those clients, they generally gave less than the previously had to democrats, and more to Republicans (no doubt on the advice of Jack Abramoff).

      Now, I'm not claiming the democrats are pure as the driven snow, just that Abramoff was -- from his days in the College Republicans -- someone who benefited from Republicans and in turn benefited Republicans.

      Abramoff is about pervasive corruption in the Republican Party.


      The sad thing is this: I believe many (not all, but many) of the Republicans who made up Newt Gingrinch's "revolution" in 1994, who put together the "Contract With America -- I believe many of them started out as idealistic, honest men who genuinely wanted to reform Washington DC.

      But they got captured by the system. They had to become perpetual fundraisers to keep their seats, so they ended up spending nearly every day (really, ask any politician of staffer) begging rich people and rich corporations for money. After a while, that has to get to someone, even if -- especially if -- he's an honest guy who is living in a tiny DC apartment because he still has a mortgage back in his home district.

      Everyday the congressman begs for money, and everyday he votes for millions and billions of dollars in appropriations. Eventually, these guys crack, and decide they want a piece of the pie too.

      We have to change the system. We have too -- as the real conservatives tell us -- shrink government. and we have to provide for public funding of campaigns, so politicians don't have to beg for money and become beholden.

      • Try again, and try to be less partisan. Abramoff's client's donations are the primary issue in both the RNC and the DNC. While about 2/3rds have gone to republicans, the remaining one third contains almost half a million dollar to the Democratic parts, and more then 50,000 to Senate Minority Leader Reid (which puts him the in the top 10).

        • Abramoff's client's donations are the primary issue

          So let me get this straight. If some guy gives money to the red cross and the boy scouts, and it later turns out that the red cross was bribing penguins, (by your logic) the boy scouts are somehow guilty of bribing penguins too, because they got money from the same donor?

          The problem is not that Indian tribes donated money to politicians or to lobbyists. The problem is that some of the lobbyists paid elected officials to vote they way they wanted, and

      • Jeez. Are you my long lost twin brother [slashdot.org] or something? ;)

        (You actually posted first, but I was still writing my response when you hit submit. ;) )
      • As for the rest of your agument, I agree completly. Watch the Republican elections, I think you will see the "true" conservitives take more back in terms of bushing for smaller, more acountable government. But until we have real strong and restricted term limits, it won't happen.

        Now, given this story, I am sure I will get modded down by people who don't want to hear that the Democrats and Republicans are corrupt. The difference will be that /.'s moderation system will be used to supress the comment rather t
    • by sammy baby (14909) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:47PM (#14522346) Journal
      So now you get one side pissed off because of a percieved inaccuracy (and literally, they are right), and the other side feeling like they have to defend themselves (which they should), and then it's a flame war and OMG! LIKE THE END of the WORLD or something!

      For disclosure: I tend to lean leftwards, and most of the time will side with Ds over Rs. With that in mind, this is an example of how trying to go the middle route can leave you with the wrong idea.

      Yes, it's true that some of Abramoff's clients (specifically, I'm referring to the Indian tribes involved in the Casino scandal) donated money to Democrats. However, that's neither surprising nor even suspect, although many find it distateful. After all, the tribes are one of the parties which apparently got bilked by Abramaoff.

      The issue is that Abramoff seems to have been involved in money-laundering and outright vote-buying schemes. These activities seem to have included Republicans, and only Republicans. And before I'm accused of partisan Republican bashing, reflect for a second on why the dirty parties might all happen to be Republicans in this case:

      1. Jack Abramoff is a die-hard, lifelong Republican. Why would he be funneling money to the other side?
      2. The Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House. Why would you funnel money to someone who can't deliver what you need?

      The sad truth of the matter is that the current state of affairs can be traced back to the Congressional ascendency of the Republican Party back in 94. Tom DeLay (you may have heard of him [google.com]?) then started the "K Street Project," in which lobbyists were pressured to hire Republicans (and only Republicans) if they wanted access to party leaders, and to give money to Republicans (and only Republicans). Since that sort of political patronage is the lifesblood of Washington, it wasn't too long before the Democrats were more or less frozen out of the process.

      Anyhoo: The Washington Post actually does have a quick primer [washingtonpost.com] on the project up. But for consistantly good reporting on the subject from an honest to god journalist who knows how to keep a good blog, you should check out Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo [talkingpointsmemo.com]. (Warning: Marshall is pretty obivously anti-Republican, but he's also pretty obviously completely fair in his reporting. Once you get around the sarcasm.)
      • So the $500,000 To democrats, and the $50,000 to Harry Reid were just business as usual? For that matter, the entire rise of K street under the Clinton Administration was accidental?

        There is no doubt that the Republicans need to clean ship, before the next election, or the voters will do it for them. But for Democrats to act like they arn't also affect by this, didn't go to the Signature resturant, or didn't stop by the sky boxes is pushing truth past the spin zone.
        • All money going to dems came from Indian tribes, not from Abramhoff, Scanlon, or their business. It is SOP for tribes buy the congressmen on committees that affect gaming. It does not mean that the Indians were laundering Abramhoff's tainted money (almost certainly not, since he was robbing them blind).

          As far as blaming Clinton for the K-Street project, don't be ridiculous--K-street was about controlling access to ("lobbying") Congress, not the White House.
        • by sammy baby (14909) on Friday January 20, 2006 @06:40PM (#14522813) Journal
          So the $500,000 To democrats, and the $50,000 to Harry Reid were just business as usual?

          As I said in my post: they were donations from the tribes to the Democrats. Distasteful maybe, but that's lobbying in Washington these days. Illegal? Definitely not. And this isn't just an ethics issue, this is a straight-up pay for play indictment issue.

          Or put differently: Republicans and Democrats both got paid. But Republicans got paid more, and the money they got was gotten illegally. To quote Marshall, whom I referenced above, "to the best of my knowledge no credible claim has been made that any Democrat is even under investigation in the Abramoff scandal, let alone facing potential indictment. At least half a dozen Republicans have been so named in press reports, with varying degrees of specificity."

          For that matter, the entire rise of K street under the Clinton Administration was accidental?

          Are you suggesting that the GOP's largely successful plan to lock in lobbyist jobs and lobbyist dollars to the Republican party is Clinton's fault?

          That's a new one.

          There is no doubt that the Republicans need to clean ship, before the next election, or the voters will do it for them. But for Democrats to act like they arn't also affect by this, didn't go to the Signature resturant, or didn't stop by the sky boxes is pushing truth past the spin zone.

          So far, it doesn't look like there's anything to accuse them off except impropriety. And that's just sleazy, not breaking the law.

          Like I said: the Democrats don't have clean hands on this. In fact, near as I can make out, nobody in Washington does. But so far, it looks like no Democrat broke the law with regards to the Abramoff issue, and unless that changes, the insistence that this is a "bipartisan scandal" is best confined to obviously partisan talking heads...

          But wait, what am I thinking? You just used the phrase "spin zone."
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:12PM (#14522051) Homepage
    We can only hope.
  • Really, this issue has come up before and handled in a myrid of ways. From having the content scanned for profanity before posting (easy to get around I know, but still), or a simple moderator setup. Post is added, email goes to moderator who reviews it and publishes it or not. Then close comments for a story a few days/week later so the moderator can focus on a new story.

    Why is it that professioal corps can't deal with things like this, but geeks running their own websites have been handling things like
  • by ToxikFetus (925966) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:14PM (#14522069)
    Don't worry, some other random Washington Post blog was hijacked by this thread. I think the spirit of the original discussion remained intact.

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/annapolis/2006/01/d uncans_dough_1.html [washingtonpost.com]

  • Most of these journalists probably used to recieve a handful of actual letters detailing how stupid their article was back in the pre-web days. Really the only difference here is the volume and the anonymity (boy that doesn't look spelled right). Even if they were particularly nasty before, I doubt the editors or the powers that be ever decided to yank the articles. Don't see why it should be any different now. That being said, I know when someone posts mean things about me on a message board I curl into a
    • Pshh. You don't know much about it. If people don't like a reporters articles, they get threats, nasty phone calls, nasty emails, nasty phone calls to their house, lawsuits, political strongarming, the works. People take it out on your fricking kids. The only reason I bother to own a gun is because my wife's a reporter...It's a hell of a lot more likely that someone comes gunning for her because of something she wrote, than any other home defense scenario.

      Reporters are generally pretty thick-skinned about s
  • by max born (739948) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:16PM (#14522090)
    Brady wrote that he had expected criticism of The Post on the site but that the public had violated rules against personal attacks and profanity.

    Profanity? Wow, that's fucking serious.

    What did he expect? Rather than shutting down why not set up a rating system like slashdot's so that trolls can be modded out of sight?
  • Temporary Closing (Score:3, Informative)

    by finelinebob (635638) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:17PM (#14522093) Homepage

    What TFA says and the summary misses is that closing the blog is in all likelihood a temporary closing. Jim Brady (the Post's website executive editor) is cited as saying that the barrage of tirades started eating up the time of two people just to keep deleting offensive posts, and that the blog will likely be reopened in the future.

    So, what looks like it might be a case of self-censorship due to e-hooliganism is more of a sensible decision to cut the idiots off from their hate outlet and wait until they forget about the Post and focus on someone else instead.

  • Fundamental problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:19PM (#14522113)
    There may have been some profanity and unacceptable insults in those comments. It takes me 30-45 seconds each morning and afternoon to clear similar out of my inbox, so I am not sure what the big problem was for the WaPo.com site managers. Most of the original comments can be found here [blogspot.com] if you are interested.

    But there were also two fundamental problems: (1) The Washington Post has printed demontrable factually incorrect statements concerning Abramoff, a lifelong Republican and key friend/confident of Grover Norquist, giving money to Democrats - which he did not (2) both the WaPo and WaPo.com (note: two different entities) utterly refusing to engage this question any any level. The closest they have come is to admit that their articles were "inartful" - when they were in fact wrong.

    It is like the old problem with taking quality surveys: if you take a survey, and then don't do anything, your customers are left angrier than they were before. WaPo.com solicited feedback, received it, and then cold-shouldered its readers. Guess what the reaction was.

    sPh

  • by syrinx (106469) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:20PM (#14522127) Homepage
    Some people are posting "oh the comments weren't so bad" with a link to whatever used to be posted.

    That's because the comments you see being posted on other sites isn't really what they were concerned about. Of course, most people posting this apparently read DemocraticUnderground, so it's not really worth responding to them, but just in case anyone else falls for it.

    Here's a link to discussion with the executive editor of the Post website:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discu ssion/2006/01/20/DI2006012000566.html [washingtonpost.com]

    See in particular:

    Pensacola, Fla.: After reading the over 400 of the comments in question, which by the way, were saved by someone before they were removed, I saw no hate speech, one four letter word, and I can't imagine what you found so offensive as to remove them. Could you please explain exactly what problem you had with them?

    Jim Brady: You were reading the ones that were posted live. There were a few hundred others that were removed the site altogether, and those would not be on the page you're looking at.


    and:

    Jim Brady: As I said earlier, that screen shot is only what was live, not what we blocked. There's no way for you to see what we blocked, and you should be happy about that, believe me. I learned some new words this week.

    Of course, this is obviously spoken like someone who has never read Slashdot at -1. :)
  • What we need . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Council (514577) <rmunroeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:20PM (#14522131) Homepage
    It seems that the services shut down were user-comment driven. Presumably there's no problem with setting up a blog in the I-post-things-and-you-read-them sense. This was more of a wiki/message board. This is yet another argument for slashdot-style moderation. Why hasn't it caught on elsewhere?

    A while back I was calling for the creation of a service that would create a slashdot-style thread corresponding to any website, which would be viewable in a browser frame at the bottom as you browsed. The site itself would in no way support or give permission for this -- it would be entirely independent. You'd just click the button on the bottom of your browser and view the thread for the page. This would be an incredibly useful service, and I almost guarentee that it will exist before too long. Imagine being able to read slashdot-type threads on any news story, immediately see feedback on any website deal, online store, or interesting site you run into on. Wanna know if it's a scam? Check what people are saying about it.

    Basically, this is a wikipedia with an entry for every website, with the information in the form of moderated posts (which is much better if you want to avoid having information deleted; people can only respond and moderate, not edit.)

    There is absolutely no technical barrier to it, someone just has to make it. I've taken a few cracks at it but I'm not a programmer and don't really know how to do this. If one of you builds it, they will come.

    With moderation, the problems described in the Washington Post story could fade to the background, and suddenly every website and major news story would have blog comment threads attached. It would be valuable in the same way that Slashdot, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, and blogs on the whole are -- that is, it would show you what other people have to say about a topic, and it would fit perfectly around the structure of the web.

    Someone build this, then in time add paid services, and get rich. I just want to use it.
  • by Logic Bomb (122875) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:23PM (#14522157)

    The article quotes the executive editor of the paper's website:

    "Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture"

    I'm sorry, you must be new here. Reasoned debate?!?!

  • by NeuroManson (214835)
    It was done by Freepers, www.freerepublic.com? Sounds like the sort of thing they would (and have) done.
    • It was done by Freepers, www.freerepublic.com? Sounds like the sort of thing they would (and have) done.

      In our society, extremism is an equal opportunity disease that infects both sides of the bird.

    • Actually, much of it was probably done by paid political astro turfers, working for both parties.

      Record companies pay people to make fake play request to radio DJ's. Beverage companies pay people to drink in public places. Do you honestly think political parties don't pay people to make posts to political message boards?
  • ... DemocraticUnderground accusing the Washington Post (of all papers!) of having a pro-Republican bias smacks of the old adage that ``if you think everyone in the world is out to get you, you may be the one with the problem''.

    That, as has been repeatedly pointed out, DU posted the post-filtering comment log as evidence that no offensive comments had been posted just makes the whole thing sweeter, of course.

    • That, as has been repeatedly pointed out, DU posted the post-filtering comment log as evidence that no offensive comments had been posted just makes the whole thing sweeter, of course.

      Remember, the Washington Post didn't just block new comments - they deleted all the existing "inoffensive" already-filtered comments too. If DU didn't post them up, some interesting comments would've disappeared into the ether...
      • Note, however, that the Washington Post has no obligation to continue to maintain a forum which is burning hours of their time in filtering, just for the sake of the non-offensive posts therein.

        Those who posted calmly to this forum should indeed be angry at those who did not over the fact that their posts are now gone. Getting angry at the Washington Post over this fact, however, is no more useful than getting mad at the Lifeguard because somebody peed in the pool...

      • They hid them. They did not delete them.

        From the chat today [washingtonpost.com] (emphasis mine):

        "The reason was that shutting them all off together was just that it was the quickest way to remove the problematic ones that were starting to overwhelm our ability to get rid of them. But, you're right, there were lots of good posts, and over the next few days, we'll go back through them and restore the ones that did not violate our rules, though we're still going to leave comments off on that blog for the time being."
    • by MarkusQ (450076)

      accusing the Washington Post (of all papers!) of having a pro-Republican bias

      The key statement that seems to have started all this, that Democrats received money from Abramoff, or his firm, clearly is biased, in that:

      1. It is factually incorrect
      2. It paints one side in a bad light in exactly the fashion the other wants
      3. Little or no coverage has been given to this outright "perception management" attempt on the part of the white house

      Also, look up some of the statistics on their coverage of the topic of

      • I think it would be fair to summarize your post as saying that anyone who doesn't believe that:
        1. political corruption in Washington is a one-party issue
        2. Bush `lied us into war' (not, note that the war was a bad idea or badly handled -- both of these are ideas which I disagree with but which can certainly be argued for rationally. To the true devotee of the paranoid style, the war (or 9/11, or the election) must not just be bad, but must be the product of a vast conspiracy)

        has a `pro-Republican bias'. Th

  • If we can't hear our customers telling us how much our product sucks, our product must not suck.

    /head buried in sand

  • The full thread that was so "offensive" can be found here:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/archive/2006/ wapo/ [democratic...ground.com]
  • by randyjg2 (772752) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:43PM (#14522311) Homepage
    Personally, I find it even more interesting that it comes a few days after the passing of the e-annoynance act (section 113 of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act.) that says anonymous annoying e mail is a crime. (I wonder if that applies to campaign literature?)

    I wonder what the odds are that the closing of that blog is going to show up as amicus curia briefs when challenges to the legality of section 113 are heard in court?

    I was brought up in a era when journalists were some of the most respected people around. I really miss those times.

    When I realize that the most respected journalist today by far is Jon Stewart, I wonder how we can sue the journalism schools for polluting the media. Not that I don't think Jon isn't a great comedian, and, actually, a pretty good journalist, but he and Amoss (whose a publisher, not a journalist) seem to be the only two ones who still believe in journalism.

    Journalism has occupied an important place in our society since prehistoric times, it is sad to see it dying so ignomious a death. I would have expected there would be at least a few reporters who still respected thier profession enough to at least go down fighting.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:44PM (#14522314) Homepage Journal
    comment moderation? Newspapers don't publish every single letter that gets sent to them so I'm not sure why ever comment posted needs to even be published. Oh yeah I know someone is going to say that's abridging someone's speech but fuck it...It's a blog, not a democracy.
  • Will this dissuade news sites from blogging in the future?

    Christ, I hope so!
  • I never read the growing blog sections of newspapers because it is so poor. There is no editorial filter on accuracy or quality of writing.
    The few blogs I read are almost always professional writers who comment on web pages as a sideline.
  • How much business did Jack Abramoff do on behalf of WPO?
  • Just in case anyone was wondering, it's the job of the ombudsman to deal with complaints. At a newspaper they are also meant to review the paper's reporting. So this lady makes an glaring inaccurate statement (which it is her job to guard against) and when met with the initial round of complaints she defends the statement, which causes further (more outraged) complaints. What does the lady do (remember it's her job to deal with reader complaints)? She freaks out and shuts down the comments. I can kind
  • As far as I'm concerned, the NYT and Washington Post are obsolete.
  • What kind of precedent does this set for other mainstream news sites? What we'd consider a normal day around here has to look fairly intimidating to the average newspaper editor

    It is about respect. You can voice your opinions without resorting to disrespectful attitudes (i.e. racism, slander, profanity, etc.). Compared to the rest of the net, /. is pretty tame - yea sometimes we act up, but nothing that major. It is their blog, and if they want to take it down because various bad apples are spreading
  • by flibuste (523578)

    I find it odd that people post hateful comments or other more moderated comments denying facts that have appeared in many other newspapers, including some overseas (that this Abramoff guy is known as an all-out lobbyist who gets and throws money at anything that can make him richer or bribe someone to that affect, like it's just eyecandies) and that a blog has to be turned off for saying what everyone knows since a while.

    Apparently, it's also easy for lobbyists and their friends to bark on a blog and have

    • Re:Odd (Score:2, Informative)

      by PapalMonkey (774698)
      Find me one single dollar that Jack Abrahmoff contributed to a Democrat.

      While you're at it, you can take a look at the actual numbers, and see that the contributions from the Indian tribes that worked with Abrahmoff to Democrats actually went down once Jack started working with them.

      The problem here isn't the commenters. It's people like Howell, and people like yourself, who watch Headline News for thirty seconds and then assume to understand the situation.

      While your loose grasp of the facts can be ex

    • "I find it odd that people post hateful comments or other more moderated comments denying facts that have appeared in many other newspapers"

      That's part of the problem. Just because it's been in other newspapers, doesn't mean that it is false. The anger so many of the posters felt had been building up because so many papers have reported the Republican talking points that were demonstrably false.

      That's how the spin machine works... get it in enough papers, and everyone assumes it's true.
  • If there is an oversupply of loud bullshit it will drive the truth off the front pages.
    At that point all you will see and hear is puff pieces and press releases. Its much easier
    to sell the public bullshit they want to hear and if you have politicians selling the bullshit
    the public wants , the media will eat it up.
  • Kind of a different point of view on it, though. It does sound like she has been parroting the RNC talking points, though. Y'all seen it? [dailykos.com]
  • Will this dissuade news sites from blogging in the future?
    Yes! It will! People, please. The Post is trying to do a good thing here, and other mainstream media are watching carefully. Is it really too much to ask that people behave in a civil manner? It's one thing to find it on /., but the Post is an entirely different manner.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

Working...