Hello again, everybody. As you may or may not be aware, one of the sites that pretty much directly contributed to us staking out our own little homestead on the internet has decided to alter the way they do business. Deadspin has decided to bring forth the full fury of, as their commenters call it, the banhammer, seemingly at random. It seems that now, in what was once the most enjoyable comment section in all the wide wide world of web, the commenting populace will be joined by a secret police of sorts, which A.J. Daulerio referred to as “an elite squad of unidentified ninjas”, which will serve as judge, jury, and executioner for any and all commenters that may cross the line. In all fairness to the folks at Gawker, and as noted here, there could be, and probably are, legitimate business reasons behind this change in policy. Be that as it may, we certainly can’t agree with the manner in which this new policy has been announced, and furthermore, how it hasn’t even been spelled out to commenters.
We can certainly agree that commenting on any blog, newspaper website, online periodical, or any such item that permits commenting is indeed a privelege. With that privelege comes a responsibility. You have probably been reminded of as much, any time you decided to leave your thoughts behind, with a cursory warning about adhering to that site’s commenting policy. Deadspin themselves set forth such a policy in their Commentist Manifesto. Another favorite site of ours, The Big Lead, has their Commenters’ Bill of Rights. On occasion, a commenter or two may get out of control, and the editors over there do a pretty good job of scrubbing offensive material from the site, and, given the disappearance of some of the most egregious offenders, likely administer their own version of the banhammer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and, it is, in fact, to be applauded. Nobody wants to be a part of, or hang out on, a blog’s comment section rife with meanspirited personal attacks, or any racially/gender/sexual orientation related comments that are blatantly offensive. We certainly wouldn’t permit that here, and completely understand why other blogs would hold their commenters to their own standard. However, the somewhat haphazard way in which these “ninjas” have seen fit to slash and burn their way through the Deadspin commentariat leaves us not only perplexed, but somewhat saddened. To wit: on a post titled Pretty Girls Make Easy Targets, featuring pictures of softball injuries, one time commenter Her? (this individual has since been banned), left a seemingly innocuous comment poking some fun at the new commenting standards, while making a joke about the attractiveness of the girls whose pictures were featured in the post. Here is the content of the comment that resulted in the banning: With all the cracking down that’s going on, you would think it would include falsely using the word “pretty.” Seems pretty harmless to us, although you may not find it funny, or may disagree with the commenter’s assessment, it’s not overtly offensive, and the commenter made no specific critique of either female’s appearance. (We do find it appropriate to mention here that Deadspin is the first place we saw someone suggest that another individual “Get off your high Melissa Rivers”, a statement and mental image that still makes us laugh to this day.) So, if you happen to be keeping score, the Deadspin comment ninjas consider it ok to refer to Melissa Rivers or Sara Jessica Parker as being horsefaced, but it is clearly out of bounds to suggest that the poster tossed around the adjective “pretty” a tad too freely. Color us befuddled.
We first heard of this covert ninja activity while reading The Big Lead. We then proceeded to read the post on Deadspin that created fear and consternation across the Deadspin commenting universe. We checked back later, and found this post, which informed the commenting populace of an email address where commenters could ask questions, and, presumably, petition for a redress of grievances. That post in turn lead us here, where The Rookies had posted a list of all banned commenters, and those who had been “destarred”. The list of banned commenters left us stunned. To fully understand, we should probably preface this with some background on how we came to read and enjoy various blogs, including Deadspin and The Big Lead.
A shade under three years ago, as ESPN’s vaunted Page 2 effort was beginning to crumble, we ran across Dan Shanoff’s blog. From there, we were exposed to a whole new side of the sports themed internet, namely, Deadspin, and The Big Lead. From then on, all three of those sites were daily stops for us on our ever expanding tour of the internet. Shanoff, while at times funny and enjoyable, managed to work his way out of our rotation for one reason or another. Deadspin, however, became our first stop, and we read with increasing loyalty, and enjoyment. The thing we enjoyed most, apart from Will Leitch’s excellent editorship, was the comment section. It was there that we were introduced to a fascinating cast of characters, including Lady Andrea, Yostal, all of the guys who ended up starting Kissing Suzy Kolber, FiddlingWhileJimRomeBurns, ClintonPortishead, SEC Speed Kills, among others. The daily comments were a joy to read, and read we did. Almost every comment, every day. Let us now fastforward a tad.
As all good things must come to an end, so too did Leitch’s stint as editor at Deadspin. Around the same time, and probably a bit before, we found ourselves increasingly spending our internet time over at The Big Lead. It seemed that Deadspin, sans Leitch, just didn’t quite suit what we were looking for in reading material, except for the always enjoyable comment section. Even as we devoted more and more of our time to perusing other outlets, we always made a point to dial on over to Deadspin, if for nothing more than to check out the comments, as, in our opinion, that part of the site was more enjoyable anyway. Imagine our shock this morning as we read the aforementioned post on TBL. We were legitimately saddened. Furthermore, once we found our way to the post by The Rookies, and read the list of dearly departed, we had just about decided that Deadspin was soon to go the way of Dan Shanoff in our reading habits. All of the commenters we listed in the paragraph above, save for the KSK guys and Yostal, have been banned. Sure, we never really knew these people, and had no real connection to them, in as much as we were not commenters, but suddenly Deadspin didn’t seem like the same place we had previously enjoyed.
Perhaps this new commenting policy won’t ruin Deadspin, and it might even make it more enjoyable. We don’t know just yet. However, we can’t help but feel that something that we truly enjoyed on a daily basis for over two years is gone forever, and it makes us a bit sad. Here’s hoping that things work out for the best over there, and, maybe one day, we’ll be back to our old habits of daily perusal. Unfortunately, today is not that day. Until next time, so long everybody.
Here are the links we referenced above:
Only the Snarkiest Deadspin Commenters Will Survive (The Big Lead)
A Brief, Shady Announcement About Your Commenting Privileges… (Deadspin)
Your Profanity-Laced Tirades Will Now Be Taken Under Advisement (Deadspin)
The Deadspin Death Toll (The Rookies)