We get a lot of mail here at Gawker. Lately, a lot of it has contained some variant of the question, "Why was I blocked?" We have a vibrant and ornery culture of commenters—excuse me, Kinjateers—and we value their input. They give us stories, make funny jokes, and keep us on our toes. The thing is, not all of them are good. Some of them are not good at all. Those ones get blocked. Here is a quick explainer on the process.
What is blocking? When we block someone, we prevent a specific account from commenting on Gawker. The owner of that account can still write things, and those things will show up on their Kinja page. But their comments will not display at the bottom of our posts. Blocking is specific to a site, so people who are blocked on Gawker may still comment with abandon on Defamer or Valleywag or Gizmodo.
Why would you do such a thing? Because we have an interest in barring people from writing dumb, uninteresting, unhelpful things on Gawker. (That's our job!)
So why was I blocked? Because you wrote something that was dumb, uninteresting, or unhelpful.
No I didn't! Of course you wouldn't think that your comment was dumb, uninteresting, or unhelpful. You wrote it! I'm sure you are of the opinion that your comment along the lines of "Ugh this story is so annoying" or "why doesn't Hamilton Nolan get his head out of his ass" or "nice job buttface" was perfectly useful and entertaining. I don't think you would purposefully write a dumb, uninteresting, or unhelpful comment. But you wrote a dumb, uninteresting, or unhelpful comment nonetheless. One of our job duties is to identify such comments and, when we deem it appropriate, block the users responsible for them. It doesn't matter whether you think your comment was smart, interesting, or helpful. What matters is what we think of it.
Christ, that's arrogant. I guess. But this is our site, right? We work here. One of the prerogatives we have is to supervise the comments to try to push them in a direction we want them to go. The alternative is the commenting community on a Yahoo! site, or Deadspin or something. Is that what you want?
But which comment, specifically, was I blocked for? Don't know, really. There are a lot of comments. We see dumb ones, we block the users. It's hard to keep track.
Can't you give some examples? OK, here is a non-comprehensive sampling of red flags for commenter worthlessness:
- "TL;DR": You didn't actually read it, because it wasn't short enough for you, so you decided to make it longer by tacking on something at the end. No reading, no commenting.
- "cunt": Take it to Reddit or whatever, pig.
- "You suck. Caity should have written it instead": We do the assigning around here. And we'll do the fostering of invidious rivalries between staffers, if it seems motivationally useful. The writers pretty much all like each other more than they like you, so step off.
- "Brooklyn hipsters"/"skinny jeans": Stow it in your Mom's basement, where the old boxes of blogger-baiting cliches are.
- "Lanny Davis has decades of accomplishment to his credit": Go away, Lanny.
- off-topic hobbyhorses: Are you mad about our Rob Ford coverage? Save it for our Rob Ford posts.
There are so many worse commenters than me. This is all so arbitrary and capricious. Of course it is! Do you think we read and evaluate every comment? We can't. So we read what we can, when we can, and block the people who wrote the dumb ones.
You are censoring dissent. You are blocking people who disagree with you. No, we like people who disagree with us. We're blocking people who disagree emptily or unreasonably. If you take the time to formulate a good-faith argument, one that isn't disingenuous or doesn't deliberately take what we've written out of context, we will leave it be even if it viciously dismantles our arguments. Those are the sorts of comments we like. But if all you have to say is, "This is bullshit," you should go comment somewhere else. If you think we're systematically deleting or blocking comments that disagree with what we've written, you should read the comments more carefully. They are full of rage, dissent, and vicious personal attacks.
You can dish it out, but you can't take it. Again, read the comments that we let stand. People are pretty mean.
But I got a right! Of course you do. Write what you will. We have no way to prevent people from commenting on Gawker. All we can do is block accounts. If you want to try again, start a new account.
Can't you just unblock me, please? Maybe. Keep writing us those emails.