Because some comments ARE better than others
4. The Whole Shebang
So I let the reader down, and the reader wants to tell me about it. That’s where the comments section comes in. The very open nature of the comments section means that nobody can ‘shut down’ a debate – but arguing irrationally can make you sound very stupid.
Think back to the print era. Back in 1989, I was a 12 year-old subscriber to Number One magazine. I was incensed by a popular ditty called ‘I’d Rather Jack (Than Fleetwood Mac)’ by The Reynolds Girls. They were the latest offering from ‘hit factory’ Stock Aitken Waterman, who wrote songs for the likes of Kylie and Rick Astley. SAW wrote over 100 Top 40 hits that all sounded roughly alike and by 1989 I was thoroughly sick of them.
The line that bugged me was “Who needs Pink Floyd … ?”, and I was an obsessive Floyd fan at the time. So, I put pen to paper and wrote in to the magazine to point out that in 10 years’ time, people would still be listening to Pink Floyd, but everyone would have forgotten the Reynolds Girls. (They were, incidentally, remembered in 2003 when ‘I’d Rather Jack’ came 91st in Channel 4’s 100 Worst Pop Records poll.)
My letter was printed, and several more after that. Not all reader feedback is equal, and in traditional media there are gatekeepers who filter out the less valuable content. Had I written “you suck” or something equally unhelpful, the letter would just not have been printed.
Though there is some level of moderation on Collapse Board, only the most offensive comments are removed, leaving plenty that would not have been published in traditional magazines. Some because you wouldn’t get dozens of responses to a single article – but often your comment wouldn’t be printed because it’s just bollocks.
“I’m happy all you jaded hipster douchebag trolls have all found each other and can compete to be the most jaded hipster douchebaggy troll on the internet… or..and just throwing it out there.. you could channel your energies into creating something yourself and here’s the kicker – that people actually like, enjoy and relate to..I know, what sellouts, right? Easier to piss all over others (And trolling is fun, I can see why you all get off on it.) Doesn’t being such rabid cliches bother any of you at all in the slightest?”
I shouldn’t even need to be begin to point out what’s wrong with that. If you resort to personal insults when disagreeing then you have no valid argument to make. I certainly don’t agree that someone being so angry that they lose all sense of reason would make me more inclined to give the slighted artist another go. I even got death threats for a review once, and that really was the most awful racket it’s ever been my misfortune to hear.
The last point about Collapse Board is that at least half of the regular commenters are also contributors, because the contributors are passionate enough about the music to stick around and argue about it, and the commenters who make the most meaningful noise tend to be asked to write articles. So there is no Us-vs-Them distinction here – no real hierarchy between contributor and commenter. The validation, weight and worth of your opinion comes down to what you write.
There’s not much academic prose here – Jeez, we’re not The Wire! – but there’s plenty of sensible discussion. What persuaded me to listen more carefully, many years back, to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was someone telling me about those incredible nine layers of percussion, and inviting me to listen again and really focus on the drums.
If they’d just said “fuck you, hipster troll”, I’d have just dismissed them, and then I’d have missed out.