PROCESS POST: Moderating Your Commentariat and Navigating the Social Waters

Week 12: November 28 - December 3

Why I Had My Comment Section Turned Off Before

 Previously I decided to turn off the comment section on my website. The main reason was that I was not too fond of the design of the comment section in WordPress. However, it is also partially because I was scared that someone would not like one of my posts and leave a scathing comment on it at some point. As Margaret Atwood says

“You can’t exist as a writer for very long without learning that something you write is going to upset someone, sometime, somewhere.” Also, people can be extraordinarily aggressive and mean with their comments, and I do not have very thick skin. 


Online Disinhibition Effect

Konnikova (2013) discusses how one of the reasons for that is that people don’t think their comments will be traced back to them or have any real repercussions on their life. As she states, “One of the most common critiques of online comments cites a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying,” which is called the “online disinhibition effect” (Konnikova, 2013). She also says that “research has found that ‘a full fifty-three per cent of anonymous commenters were uncivil, as opposed to twenty-nine per cent of registered, non-anonymous commenters'” (Konnikova, 2013). 


However, I still see tons of uncivil comments on posts where the commentator uses their real name, especially on Facebook. I think many people still post hateful things even with their real names displayed because they believe nobody will take the time to do something like find their work and send an email to their bosses. I will also admit that I have never gone to the extent of emailing someone’s boss over a comment they made. However, I have seen some people get fired from their jobs or lose scholarships, so I still think that is a risky bet to make.

For example by simply doing a quick search in Youtube for  ‘people getting fired from job because of facebook comments’ you will get tons of results like the video below

Positives of Allowing Comments

Konnikova (2013) also makes the case that allowing people to post comments anonymously is good because people can be more likely to dive deeper into a subject matter and be more vulnerable about their experiences. She also states that banning comments altogether might not be a good idea because people can go to Twitter and Facebook and insult you there instead. Gardener et al. (2016) also argues that comments can be very valuable in some case because they can “allow readers to respond to an article instantly, asking questions, pointing out errors, giving new leads.”


My Opinion Going Forward

Therefore after completing all these weeks’ readings and hearing multiple perspectives, I guess I will turn on the comments for my posts and create community guidelines. Since my website is not very popular right now, I do not think that anyone, at least not a lot of people will leave mean comments on my website. Additionally as Konnikova (2013) says it can be good for building community and I can’t think of any famous  blogger or content creator that gain a following with their comments completely turn off.  However, as a whole, this debate is a bigger issue than any moderation policy can fix. I think lots of people in society are angry and broken, and they sometimes take their anger out on others in comments sections. Therefore I think that we as a society need to advocate for free accessible mental healthcare as well as teach children how to let their anger out in a healthier way. 



Atwood, M. (2022, April 1). Your Feelings Are No Excuse. The Atlantic.

The Psychology of Online Comments. The New Yorker. 


Gardiner, B.,  Mansfield, M., Anderson, I., Holder, J.,  Louter, D., and Ulmanu, M. (2016).The Dark Side of Guardian Comments. The Guardian. 



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