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February 9, 2015 1:24 PM   Subscribe

A Jewish magazine is testing an unusual solution for toxic internet comments. I think we can all agree that this proposal is ridiculous. Please leave your toxicity in the comments.
posted by pashdown (75 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wonder how the $2/day thing works. Do you get a 24 free pass to post comments that times out? Or do you get charged every day after?
posted by mathowie at 1:27 PM on February 9, 2015


$180 per year!?!?!?!? That's deranged.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:27 PM on February 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


"Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels" so despite their adoption of MeFi's pioneering sign-up charge, the inherent toxicity from those platforms will still be an option.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:28 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is there an article where someone's actually commented? I can't find one.
posted by michaelh at 1:28 PM on February 9, 2015


Why not just shut comments off?
posted by cjorgensen at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


$180 per year!?!?!?!? That's deranged.

Put your money where your mouth is, I guess...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just the effort involved in signing up to pay, let alone paying would put me off. Do people really care that much to comment?
posted by greenhornet at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


What the heck is going on at the Verge? That article was awful.
posted by gwint at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


$180 per year!?!?!?!? That's deranged.

Honestly, I think that it really depends on the nature of the site's user base, the number of moderators on staff, and other elements. The article really doesn't give enough of a feel for Tablet to explain why this does (or doesn't) make sense.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2015


Yeah, if MeFi was $180 I'd have to wonder at the willingness of other MeFites to pay that much. Anybody who's spending that kind of money probably has an axe or two to grind.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


I really hope that you pay $2 for each day your comment is up. So, like, if you pay for a year, that comment gets to be displayed for a year.

Kinda like buying space on a billboard.
posted by qcubed at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


It sounds like it's not just there to prevent toxicity and to ensure that people there are really authentic, but also to help the magazine keep publishing. Essentially like a subscription fee, only the only people paying it are the ones who really want to comment. I get the impression that for more than just reasons relating to Judaism, Tablet's audience probably skews upper-middle class. For the people they want to have commenting, this probably doesn't represent a big chunk of change. For people just showing up to do antisemitic trolling or the like, this ensures they can keep up healthy moderation.

The Economist appears to be $127/year, at least through Amazon, and evidently some people pay that. I wouldn't want Metafilter to be that much, but Metafilter isn't having to pay for content, just for mods. I'd rather see publications find ways to charge the readers what they really cost to produce than go out of business after an increasingly desperate escalation of intrusive advertising.
posted by Sequence at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


My local newspaper solved the toxic comments problem by 1) requiring a validated ID linked to a social media profile in order to comment, 2) instituting a strict "be polite and stay on topic" policy, and 3) enforcing that policy with moderators. I can't see any reason to charge for the ability to post comments when more generic solutions would work just as well and without alienating a huge proportion of their reader base.
posted by quiet earth at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


What the heck is going on at the Verge? That article was awful.

Coincidentally, the Verge is free.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:38 PM on February 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I can't find a single comment on the Tablet site. Not even on the most popular article. Maybe they are actually paying you $180 dollars for writing exceptional commentary?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:38 PM on February 9, 2015


When you say "validated ID", quiet earth, do you actually have to send them a copy of your driver's license or something? Or are you just talking "you have to give them your Facebook"? Because you can definitely sign up for Facebook accounts just for trolling purposes. I have a second account under a fake name that I don't use anymore that I used to use exclusively for Facebook games. I believe it's against Facebook's terms, but it's not well-enforced.
posted by Sequence at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2015


The concept of tying a subscription to commenting privileges might actually make sense, as a business model. I wonder why Tablet didn't just take that approach rather inventing a so-called commenting fee.
posted by Cash4Lead at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2015


I want Twitter to require you to register a credit card in order to have an account, and if you harass anyone you're pinged $1000.
posted by hellojed at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's a great method to eliminate comments from trolls.

And poor people.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:44 PM on February 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Interesting. I don't think the MeFi comparisons are super-apt, because here your user fee entitles you to become a full member of the community, including the ability to contribute content. I can see the pay-to-comment model working somewhere like The Toast, Languagehat, or Ask A Manager, with a particularly lively, witty, tight-knit, and/or informative commenter base, but even at one of those places, $2/day seems incredibly steep. I haven't really read Tablet before so I can't remark on how compelling its commenting scene is.
posted by threeants at 1:44 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Get Free Commenting Abilities at xrg1.akamai.net/?=jewzwrkfrmhome
posted by oceanjesse at 1:46 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


> I want Twitter to require you to register a credit card in order to have an account, and if you harass anyone you're pinged $1000.

Define 'harass'.
posted by davelog at 1:47 PM on February 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


davelog: "> I want Twitter to require you to register a credit card in order to have an account, and if you harass anyone you're pinged $1000.

Define 'harass'.
"

Behaving like this?
posted by scrump at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


I bet they're going to get a lot of $2 fees from people who feel compelled to comment on a particular article. If so, I hope Tablet doesn't move to a rage-baity model just to attract those commentators.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:50 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


$2 a day, $18 a month, or $180 a year.

Nope.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:51 PM on February 9, 2015


> Behaving like this?

And thus, my point. Harassment is such a nebulous term, I don't see such a policy going all of 5 minutes before it gets misused, and maybe a week before someone gets sued over it.
posted by davelog at 1:53 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I want Twitter to require you to register a credit card in order to have an account, and if you harass anyone you're pinged $1000.

What could possibly go wrong?
posted by acb at 1:53 PM on February 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'd pay a few bucks to have a lengthy comment inspected/touched up by an editor, though. If Tablet is actually interested in getting comments, making commenting a "premium" service is probably going to be more successful than just charging for regular ol' comments.

Though once comments reach a certain length, the commenters would rather be paid than pay.
posted by michaelh at 1:57 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure for $1000 fines, you'd need a robust reporting and appeals system. Youd also need some very strict guidelines on what is and isn't allowed. But I think it could work in the short term. Maybe the fine goes down the longer the account is active.
posted by hellojed at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2015


The Economist appears to be $127/year, at least through Amazon, and evidently some people pay that.

Given that you effectively need to be a subscriber to comment on their articles, I can safely say that this doesn't in the slightest act as a quality bar.
posted by ambrosen at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hmm. I like this idea. A dime ($0.10) for each comment. You have your cc/paypal charged $10.00 to activate commenting. For each one, ten cents are subtracted. Comments deactivate until $10.00 more is deposited. Really would improve the signal:noise ratio. Downside: people asking for refunds if comments are deleted.
posted by dios at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just the effort involved in signing up to pay, let alone paying would put me off. Do people really care that much to comment?

Well, you paid $5 to post this comment.

But you're right about "just the effort involved". That's what makes it work—not the amount of money being charged. MeFi's one-time $5 fee shows that even a nominal sum is sufficient to keep most of the asshats at bay. MeFi also has very active and unusually good moderation, of course—but I suspect that the $5 obstacle is enough to deter most of the would-be trolls. People who are interested in sincere conversation often won't mind parting with a couple of bucks. People who just see an opportunity to stir up shit generally won't—they'll just go find another well to poison.

So, yeah. Make it a much lower, one-time fee, and it'll probably work. For $180 a year, though, I suspect they might as well get rid of their comments section altogether.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hope Slate doesn't find out about this...
posted by Artful Codger at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2015


Sure for $1000 fines, you'd need a robust reporting and appeals system. Youd also need some very strict guidelines on what is and isn't allowed. But I think it could work in the short term. Maybe the fine goes down the longer the account is active.

I thought you were joking. That is an absurd system because *nobody* would ever comment, and if they did, they'd use a burner card with a low limit and probably cancel/use it up right after validating.
posted by michaelh at 2:00 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want Twitter to require you to register a credit card in order to have an account, and if you harass anyone you're pinged $1000.

What could possibly go wrong?
Twitter could stand to make billions off of IS and related militants. But that money would come from stolen credit cards. Also, conducting financial transactions with known terror groups would probably land Twitter's upper management in jail.

But other than edge cases like that, this seems like a way to create a certain kind of community. Whether this kind of community is what the magazine actually wants is something they will find out after a few months of operation.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:01 PM on February 9, 2015


What could possibly go wrong?

I hear Matt's going to start a program where the mods get to keep half of the membership fee for every banned user. They also get that user's car....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:01 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


my comments are essentially worthless.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 2:07 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


It sounds like they were going to shut off comments completely but decided to do this instead, not that they're expecting their entire commenting userbase to start paying.

I wonder about the idea of paying per comment thread, like, "You want to participate in this conversation? $2 for unlimited commenting on this one article."
posted by jaguar at 2:09 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


You all are totally worth $180 a year. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:10 PM on February 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Considering that one imagines that anti-Semitic trolls are likely to be a moderation issue for an explicitly Jewish site, and that anything relating to the I/P issue is going to involve a fair amount of rancour in comments, I can see why they'd feel this might be an appropriate model for their particular niche. However it seems wrong-headed to have a paywall for reading the comments as well as commenting--since comment threads are as much a conversation as a response, how can you tell if it's something worth engaging with?
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 2:11 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think they should charge $2 a day, or whatever, for somebody to write a smart comment in your name on their latest article. Who wouldn't like to build up a reputation for being erudite and learned and whatnot on the internet? Heck, for $18 you can pay the author to insert a small error you get to correct with your vast fund (ha!) of knowledge.

I see limitless possibilities, vast plains of messageboards stalked by stipendiary avatars battling it out to raise the esteem of their paymasters.
posted by Thing at 2:13 PM on February 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hmm. I like this idea. A dime ($0.10) for each comment. You have your cc/paypal charged $10.00 to activate commenting. For each one, ten cents are subtracted. Comments deactivate until $10.00 more is deposited. Really would improve the signal:noise ratio. Downside: people asking for refunds if comments are deleted.

Why not just charge a single cent as a nominal register-and-hand-over-bank-details hurdle? You could call the system "Comment Cents", and require each person to verify that they had Comment Cents before posting.
posted by Thing at 2:17 PM on February 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think they should charge $2 a day, or whatever, for somebody to write a smart comment in your name on their latest article. Who wouldn't like to build up a reputation for being erudite and learned and whatnot on the internet? Heck, for $18 you can pay the author to insert a small error you get to correct with your vast fund (ha!) or knowledge.

And if you let your membership lapse, your entire reputation, and the entire body of witty, apposite comments you've built up, disappear until you pay up. Think of it as the iOS App Store business model.
posted by acb at 2:22 PM on February 9, 2015


$180 sounds like a lot but an unmoderated comments section of a "daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture" would quickly become a cesspool of the most disgusting antisemitic filth imaginable. I imagine you'd have to pay someone extremely well to put up with moderating garbage like that.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:25 PM on February 9, 2015


Please leave your toxicity in the comments.

0.10 BAC
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:34 PM on February 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


         I like kitties
I think we should pay $5 for each comment
         favorite this if you like kitties too!
but get refunded, say 10¢ each time it gets favorited.
         what that kid said was cute, but also meaningful
Nobody would be silenced,
         stand up against oppression
the best commentators would be rewarded,
         I now feel like I understand science-thing, thanks!
and any excess would pay for the rest of the site's expenses.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:35 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


They could link comment payments as a contribution to the Anti-Defamation League. The price could be very modest, but such a link might deter some, or make money for the remedy.
posted by Oyéah at 2:37 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


You could call the system "Comment Cents"

You are terrible.

Also, you're right, and this should happen.
posted by aramaic at 2:37 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


How much do you think you would have to pay them, double block and bleed? The range for community manager in the US is $15-30 an hour, usually closer to $20.
posted by michaelh at 2:38 PM on February 9, 2015


Define 'harass'."

Behaving like this?


There's no need to raise your voice; I'm right here.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:46 PM on February 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


If, heaven forfend, I have to run a community, I will require users to sign in with a good MeFi account.
posted by Monochrome at 2:52 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


It looks like one can't even see comments on articles unless they pony up. The counter at the top of each article shows how many comments it has accumulated. But there's nothing displayed at the bottom.

I wonder if an inability to see a conversation in progress is counterproductive. I bet at least some people would pay the fee to respond to other commenters, not just the article.
posted by zarq at 2:55 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would be okay with a MetaFilter login API getting popular.

Also, I can definitely see MetaFilter being worth someone's $180 per year, but only because there's so many wonderful commenters here who are not required to pay that much.

...how much have I spent on unused sock-puppets, anyways?
posted by halifix at 3:01 PM on February 9, 2015


I'm trying to parse what's accomplished by allowing endless Facebook and Twitter accounts but charging $180/year for anyone else. They're certainly not avoiding racist garbage, if Twitter and Facebook in general are indications. This comment policy seems incoherent at best.
posted by mediareport at 3:20 PM on February 9, 2015


I would be okay with a MetaFilter login API getting popular.

I'm guessing it'd be some variant of OAuth (of which there exist out-of-the-box implementations).

Couple that with a MeFi REST API, giving access to posts, comments, activity, MeFiMail and such in JSON form, and now you're talking...
posted by acb at 3:24 PM on February 9, 2015


my comments are essentially worthless.
Let's see... 8162 comments on all subsites to date (not including this one) comes to .061 cents per comment, but wait... I also have made 292 posts, which should be counted something like the equivalent of five comments... do the math... a total equivalent to 9622 comments (where have I heard that number before?) is .052 cents each or about 19 comments for one cent. Sounds like a fair price.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:28 PM on February 9, 2015


Heavens, why do such an outlandishly amusing thing? What good have vain gestures and symbolic measures ever done anyone (the poor in particular)? I wish they'd made a more sensible choice here.
posted by otio at 3:29 PM on February 9, 2015


9622 comments (where have I heard that number before?)

In case not a rhetorical question: thread #9622
posted by nobody at 3:44 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


2 thoughts on this:

1. This is just inviting, "Leave it to the Jews" type of criticisms. Which is genius, if people are incensed enough to pay to make those comments.

2. If the login you're buying commenting ability for works across multiple sites (think disqus), this would be totally worth it for trolls.
posted by habeebtc at 3:56 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this is a very interesting pay-per-use vs. subscription pricing experiment. I've had to moderate online communities subject to disgusting trolling, and I would have loved this option! Also, paying doesn't guarantee posts stay up if they violate the TOS - don't post trolly, defaming or commercial messages, etc..

The multiples of $18 (i.e. Hebrew numerology"chai" = "life") should have a stop at $36 and $72, though.
posted by Dreidl at 3:57 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I bet they're going to get a lot of $2 fees from people who feel compelled to comment on a particular article. If so, I hope Tablet doesn't move to a rage-baity model just to attract those commentators."

"Was Lubavitch Wrong?"
posted by klangklangston at 4:35 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


The concept of tying a subscription to commenting privileges might actually make sense, as a business model. I wonder why Tablet didn't just take that approach rather inventing a so-called commenting fee.

You don't want to hide content, because more readers increases the value of your articles and your website. And more readers doesn't cost the website a significant amount of money, so you aren't saving much money by requiring a subscription to read articles.

But hosting comments costs money for moderators, and the cost scales significantly with the number of commenters. And it's more of a crapshoot whether more commenters is going to add any value to your site. So charging for comments makes more sense to me than charging a subscription fee for content.
posted by straight at 4:47 PM on February 9, 2015


halifix: "I would be okay with a MetaFilter login API getting popular."

I wouldn't. You would end up with people buying accounts in order to comment on foo.bar and bar.baz who have no interest in Metafilter and then end up commenting on Metafilter because they have an account.
posted by Mitheral at 5:00 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is no substitute for good governance. And that takes a vast amount of careful effort.

That's the Metafilter lesson, but it's a hard one.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:33 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Simple money barrier of entry works wonders. SomethingAwful's forums have always been really good because of weird moderation + registering fees.
posted by GoblinHoney at 5:37 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


My local newspaper solved the toxic comments problem by 1) requiring a validated ID linked to a social media profile in order to comment

My local paper solved the intelligent comment problem exactly that way.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know, people used to comment on articles in magazines by writing or typing their comment onto paper, stuffing the paper inside a wrapper, paying a small fee and attaching the receipt to the wrapper, then pushing the whole crazy contraption through a slot. After doing so they had to wait until the comment was delivered, moderated, re-typed, and published in a subsequent edition of the magazine.

Today's youth don't know when they've got it good!
posted by Autumn Leaf at 5:41 PM on February 9, 2015


Who would pay to leave comments on a web site?! Oh, wait....
posted by photoslob at 6:15 PM on February 9, 2015


Oy vey.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 6:21 PM on February 9, 2015


I can see the motivation. The Tablet's comment sections were infested with really hateful Jew-baiting.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:28 PM on February 9, 2015


If monetizing toxic comments were possible, you could send a kid to college just using a Kanye thread.
posted by 4ster at 7:22 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


The danger of a high fee is that it becomes a "paid placement" section, but really $180/year might be underpriced. I see as much Israel-related promoted content on my Facebook/Twitter feeds as I do for Pizza Hut and Bud Light, so I'm guessing there a lot of money floating around to promote certain points of view.

C'mon, everybody does it.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:50 PM on February 9, 2015


It looks like one can't even see comments on articles unless they pony up.
The Correction has 32 comments and you can see them without paying. e.g.
Genghis Cohen · Alma-Ata, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Halberbrain, you are a Stockholm Syndromatic programmed Democrat-omatic parrot. Boring.
Reply · Like · February 7 at 9:37pm

Mitchell Halberstadt · Top Commenter
Genghis Cohen Unlike you, I don't need to stoop to name-calling. You've named yourself quite appropriately, thank you. ;-)

...and I suppose Abe Foxman (or anyone to the left of Genghis) suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, too?

Just the facts, please!
Reply · Like · Edited · February 7 at 9:48pm
posted by unliteral at 9:14 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


But nothing more recent (since the policy announcement,) as far as I can tell.
posted by zarq at 9:18 AM on February 10, 2015


Metafilter : they're basically making you pay to be an asshole
posted by fullerine at 1:10 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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