Andrew Brown asks why people are such jerks online? Although he suggests it’s because they are trying too hard to be journalists, his wittiest answer is unquestionably that: “we can type much faster than we can think.” TGA weighs in as well, with frustration:
To find these buried nuggets you have to take an exhausting five-mile trek through a seemingly endless swamp of views – some intelligent, others stupid, some well-informed, others ignorant, some polite, others abusive. How could the trek be made easier and more rewarding?
For what its worth, he concludes that user ranking systems are good and that real names should be strongly encouraged. I think that comment ranking can be useful on the bigger sites, although it is still limited by linearity, and am willing to accept anonymity as part of the medium.
Of course, the questioning of anonymous comments and the journalistic role of bloggers are both age old battles. As wiser ones than I have said:
Arguing with anonymous people on the internet is like wrestling a pig in the mud. You both get dirty, but only the pig enjoys it.
We’ve said it a hundred times, and we’ll say it again: Until we brush our teeth, change out of our pajamas, and leave the goddamned apartment for the sake of a story, blogs aren’t going to replace journalists. We’re just going to tease them.