Comments Vitriol

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I’ve gotten a few emails now from people concerned about the level of vitriol in the comments section.

I’ve noticed it too, though I think it’s in part because passions tend to flare up during election season.

Nevertheless, try to be civil, and engage in debate and discussion without personal attacks and nastiness. Pretend your boss or parents or grandparents will be reading your comment. Or for some of you, pretend that you’re actually writing under your own name.

I’ve been pretty hands-off with the comments, though I have banned about a half-dozen people now. I really don’t want to have to bother with more aggressive monitoring.

None of this is unique to this blog. Comment sections in general tend to be pretty nasty. I’ve just noticed a turn for the worse on this page in recent months. Let’s correct, and move on.

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53 Responses to “Comments Vitriol”

  1. #1 |  whiskey | 

    no, you shut the fuck up dad

  2. #2 |  thomasblair | 

    I’m curious to know what kind of person takes the time to write about people yelling at each other and cussing on the internet.

    Probably the same kind of person that works for a federal regulatory agency and really, really enjoys his job, so much so that he takes it home with him (or is complaining from his office).

  3. #3 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    What’s the name for that? Regular person + anonymity + audience= d-bag?

  4. #4 |  Eric | 

    Hear hear. It doesn’t offend me or hurt my feelings or anything, it’s just distracting and annoying.

    I like to read this site because it makes me feel like the community of readers is a thoughtful, articulate bunch. Knee-jerk or drive-by comments take away from that.

  5. #5 |  David | 

    #3: That would be the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, as postulated by the noted fuckwadologist Mike Krahulik.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    Since this is Radley’s blog, I’ll respect his request. I know I’ve been a few shouting matches before in various threads. I guess when you are amongst like company, you tend to attack the commentator rather than debate the comment.

  7. #7 |  KBCraig | 

    Blog Comment Theory 101: comments longer than the original post are prima facie evidence of Greater Internet Fuckwadery. Cutting and pasting something written by someone else, as one’s sole means of argument, is conclusive evidence that the violator is amongst the Greatest of Internet Fuckwads.

    Blog Comment Theory 201: commenters arguing with others in the comment section should learn the difference between blogs and discussion forums, and then move their discussion accordingly.

  8. #8 |  SJE | 

    Mea culpa, too.

    Of course, part of the problem is that Radley is writing about things that, you know, MATTER. Like innocent people being jailed and executed, violation of constitutional rights, out of control SWAT forces etc. If he stuck to discussing, say, bacon-flavored bourbon, then the comments would be less vitriolic, and more mellow and smokey.

  9. #9 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    Thanks David

  10. #10 |  Phelps | 

    I haven’t written, but I’ve complained here in the threads. I’ve complained because I don’t want some dink in Washington regulating it. I except common decency to make regulation redundant.

    As the majority of the readers here lurched left in response to Bush (and the tone here certainly has lurched left) it got nasty, because the left is nasty, and when you think that way, you get nasty too. Maybe now that we have a certifiable leftist in the Oval Office, the aggin’er nature of all of us will cause the comments here will lurch to the right, putting them in the middle, and become reasonably civil.

  11. #11 |  John Jenkins | 

    Well, everyone does love bacon. Except for vegetarians. And vegans. Oh, and practicing Jews and Muslims. Damn it.

    Surely there is SOME subject we can all agree on.

  12. #12 |  Jozef | 

    Surely there is SOME subject we can all agree on.

    Kittens are cute.

  13. #13 |  John Jenkins | 

    I hate kittens.

  14. #14 |  Angie | 

    I would hate to see this site go back to “no comments” again. Even tho I don’t post here as I did back before those days.

  15. #15 |  thomasblair | 

    I second the kitten hating.

    When it’s bacon, who really cares about vegetarians and vegans and Muslims and Jews? I mean…it’s bacon!

  16. #16 |  claude | 

    How could anyone hate kittens?

  17. #17 |  Rick Caldwell | 

    At least bacon hatery brings Jews and Muslims together.

  18. #18 |  Ganja Blue | 

    I’ll count to 100 before commenting next time. I’ve been running a little hot lately.

  19. #19 |  Rick Caldwell | 

    “How could anyone hate kittens?”

    The only cat I’ve ever owned + bird nesting in chimney = broken chimney flue.

    Visibility in that den was less than two feet when the flue broke. $6000+ damage.

    I come by my kitten hatred honestly.

  20. #20 |  Eric Cope | 

    There is vegetarian bacon for vegans, muslims, and jews. It looks like it is straight out of a cartoon, but it tastes pretty good.

  21. #21 |  Wayne | 

    How about kitten bacon? Would that work for y’all?

  22. #22 |  claude | 

    Its the birds fault. The cat was legally entitled to reside on the premises. The bird was a freeloader.

  23. #23 |  B | 

    Kittens wrapped in kosher-halal-vegan-substitute bacon?

    (See, if you try to please everyone, you generally please no one…)

  24. #24 |  Jozef | 

    Regardless whether you like kittens or not, this thread proves once again that any discussion to a blog article can be successfully diverted from discussing the article to discussing people’s feelings towards kittens. And bacon.

  25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Dammit! I’ve been so busy at work lately to keep up with all the postings. I hate it when I miss a good ol’ food fight.

    In any case, feel free to call me any names you wish. I promise to do my best to live up to them.

  26. #26 |  rjbrash | 

    The EVIL ATHEIST CONSPIRACY is setting up a partner to it’s Puppy-Grinding Division. The Kitten-Grinding Division will employ hundreds of EVIL ATHEISTS and will eventually take over the country. Cruel, but think of the jobs!

    Tip o the hat to Unscrewing the Inscrutable.

  27. #27 |  ClubMedSux | 

    If he stuck to discussing, say, bacon-flavored bourbon, then the comments would be less vitriolic, and more mellow and smokey.

    Don’t forget bacon-flavored vodka. You can make it yourself at home!

  28. #28 |  Phlinn | 

    I give you: Bacon taped to a cat, at, courtesy of John Scalzi.

    Also, Cats are assholes, courtesy of Rachel Lucas.

  29. #29 |  John Jenkins | 

    Personally, I think Radley was bored and wanted to use vitriol in a sentence.

  30. #30 |  Troy | 

    I love Kitten bacon. Of course, it is hard to get enough kittens together to get enough meat for the bacon. But you can if you try.

  31. #31 |  Rick Levandowski | 

    Then there’s the URL:

  32. #32 |  Tolly | 

    Seriously though, if you’re reading this site regularly, then it would follow that you’re intelligent enough to at least respect the tone and content of it when making comments. I wonder how many of these negative comments are people finding their way from other sites…

    It’s a fantastic site to read on an hourly basis, and it’s done a lot to develop my own rough libertarian opinions. Not to mention that it’s seriously doing good on important initiatives (Mississippi justice, SWAT Raids, Rack n Roll abuse, etc.). It’s also nice to see that Radley is just as good about criticizing people who pursue these stupid policies, not matter what side of the fence they’re on.

    Free speech can be pretty ugly, but a little civility never hurts any situation.

  33. #33 |  John Wilburn | 

    “Surely there is SOME subject we can all agree on.”

    The sun will rise, sometime tomorrow…



  34. #34 |  Les | 

    As the majority of the readers here lurched left in response to Bush (and the tone here certainly has lurched left) it got nasty, because the left is nasty, and when you think that way, you get nasty too.

    The idea that rejecting unnecessary wars and the erosion of Constitutional rights means that one has “lurched left” is simply nonsense. The idea that being on the left automatically makes one “nasty” is not just nonsense, but childish, as well.

  35. #35 |  John Jenkins | 


    If you’re not here to talk about bacon or kittens, get out!

  36. #36 |  Les | 

    John, the idea that adorable kittens can also be made to be delicious with bacon is just silly. But I will try it.

  37. #37 |  John Jenkins | 

    You will have to deep fry them together. Possibly bunnies also.

  38. #38 |  MP | 

    sigh…I don’t get why this bothers you so much. I was a commenter back in the old days when you first had this blog. Then you got all uptight about commenting and turned the feature off. When that happened, I mostly stopped reading your blog. What’s so wrong with self-policing? Why is an a$$hole commenter any more offensive than an uber-cop blogger?

    Of course, it would nice if every comments section had an Ignore feature. Or an Idiot filter like what’s available for H&R:

  39. #39 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    I haven’t e-mailed Radley about this, but like some of the others I have mentioned the intellectual downward spiral a couple of times on the blog. I also don’t check the site much anymore. It’s not so much because it offends me, it’s just a bit demoralizing. I’m a staunch civil libertarian and I also work in a field where putting up with abuse comes with the territory. I can take it.

    My problem is that the level of discussion is not what it was when I first found the site. I think #32 Tolly may be correct that new commenters/trolls may be part of the problem. Then there is the ever present problem of people using stereotypes (of the Left, of the police, of politicians and anyone that doesn’t drink the uber-libertarian kool-aid) as a shortcut to critical thinking. If you are only willing to listen to Rothbardians, then Lew Rockwell might be more your cup of tea. Unfortunately, some of this nonsense seems to be an unavoidable problem when people correspond in cyberspace.

    Radley Balko’s work is important. As a public safety worker, I find his work dealing with the criminal justice system to be invaluable. Out of respect for Radley, I just wish people would be a bit more mature, more open-minded and more willing to propose solutions, rather than bitch and moan incessantly. I think those of us who contribute to this blog are better than this. Also keep in mind that Balko’s detractors would just love to use some of the garbage that appears in comments against him. Let’s not provide them with ammunition.

  40. #40 |  Balloon Maker | 

    Helmut, I agree completely. But I respond by not reading the comments.

    Radley does amazing work (as you said). Don’t let a couple idiots spoil that for you.

  41. #41 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #40 Balloon Maker: Well put. Thanks. Sometimes you have to take a utilitarian approach to these things (also not popular among some libertarians): Does the knowledge I acquire from reading The Agitator make up for the disappointment I fell when I try to make discussion in the comments portion? On balance, I would respond with a resounding yes.

  42. #42 |  bk | 

    Everybody likes The Office, right?

  43. #43 |  jwk | 

    Let’s go with the bunnies… how can anyone dislike the floppy ears and a cotton tail?

  44. #44 |  SJE | 

    BK: its 1045pm, and I’m still at the office. Guess I might not be so keen on getting any more “office” in my downtime.

  45. #45 |  old | 

    I think the comments are fine, and most comments are written way above the mail that was posted that ensued from the Why the GOP Must Lose editorial. Unless the comments to which you refer I missed because the comments were deleted. Idiocy has never bothered me as after one of those comments there is usually a nice -15 rating, or for example #10 | Phelps | November 6th, 2008 at 2:46 pm -10. Oops now it is -11.

    Constructively, I would say check out how the handle their comments. They have a one to five star system, and users can see who awarded what star ranking to what comment. That is if you really want to regulate things that much.

  46. #46 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I’m just glad he ain’t talking about me. I save my vitriol for icanhascheezburger comments. THOSE people deserve it.

    Is there a place specifically dedicated to people who want to post “vitriol” and be trolls? Don’t be smart-aleky and say “Fox news desk”.

  47. #47 |  Colin | 

    I’m all for civility & maturity in the commentary, so I do endorse Radley’s post here.

    But does anyone see the irony here in a libertarian blog needing administrative involvement & oversight over the individual???

  48. #48 |  John Jenkins | 

    There is no irony. This is Radley’s site and private property. He can govern it as he sees fit. No libertarian would argue otherwise.

  49. #49 |  MP | 


    I don’t think libertarians care much for paternalism, whether in the public or the private sphere. It’s particularly offensive in the public sphere, since there’s a component of force involved. In the private sphere however, I suspect that libertarians in general skirt paternalistic environments.

    So yes, there is a bit of irony in play here.

  50. #50 |  John Jenkins | 

    Libertarianism is a philosophy regarding the proper scope of government. Whether an individual libertarian doesn’t like it when I tell him not to piss on my lawn has nothing to do with libertarianism qua libertarianism.

    By extension, when a libertarian tells the readers and commenters at his website no to be a bunch of dicks to one another, it has nothing to do with libertarianism qua libertarianism.

    Is it likely to make some people angry? Sure, just like a two-year old gets angry when his mom tells him to stop hitting his sister, but it has nothing to do with libertarianism as such. It has to do with a lack of manners and consideration for others.

    It shouldn’t be a point of pride to go through life with the box marked “does not play well with others” checked in your lifetime report card. I know of no libertarian line of thought that says “go forth and be a dick.”

    Or, the short version: Individualist != asshole. You get to earn asshole entirely separately.

  51. #51 |  jwh | 

    Hey, Radley

    I’ve got a “friend” who’d like to help you find your G-spot…….,2933,448265,00.html

  52. #52 |  Frank N | 

    It’s all because Radley cut the fish wielding monkey butlers from the budget…things were always in control back then…

  53. #53 |  just wondering | 

    i see i’m a little late, but i was wondered what kinda stuff you’ve had to ban people for, if u care to let us know

    (my guess is that it was somebody celebrating the death of an leo during a swat raid)