Commenters: Pity the Poor Moderators and Please Keep Your Comments to 100 Words

Craft your comments carefully. Photograph by Petar Milošević.

A noted psychoanalyst said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: nice nuts and nasty nuts.” Both varieties make their appearance — or try to — in West Side Rag’s world-famous comments section.

Nasty is getting through less these days. So, if you’re wondering why your comments are being trashed, consider the nastiness factor first. Next, check for name calling (that includes the currently popular pejorative, “Karen.”) Someone need not be an “idiot” for you to disagree with their ideas. Consider the following reply, which questioned a comment without attacking or labeling the commenter.

Wow…that’s a clear winner! Yours is the most racist comment on here so far. Not an easy accomplishment. Just oozing with distain.

It also uses humor, which we love. Another point: please proofread. We’re not asking for perfection, but if your comment’s a complete mess, it’s not getting posted. (Can you find the error above?)

As for length, we’re asking people to keep comments to 100 words or fewer. Please please keep your comments relatively short, so the moderators can review them in less time than it takes to read Ulysses. Here’s an example of a civil though controversial comment, on a highly charged topic, that is exactly 100 words long.

Why are you presuming they are all black and we are racist? Who is being the racist? The homeless guy in front of Victoria’s Secret at 85 and Broadway is white. The woman who sat at 79 and Broadway whose dog attacked the kid was white. At least some of the guys who hang out around 73 and Broadway are white.

As we have unfortunately been reminded recently, there is way, way too much racism in the world today. But stop trying to apply it to every situation out there or it will become like the boy who cried wolf.

Will we delete every 101-word comment? Probably not. But if your comment is well over the limit, it’s likely to be tossed into the scrap heap. If you really have something important and lengthy to tell the neighborhood, you can always email it as a tip to westsiderag at gmail.

What do you think? Join the conversation! The more voices, the better — and the more representative the comments will be of the opinions of the neighborhood.

We look forward to hearing from you.


And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter here.

COLUMNS | 59 comments | permalink
    1. UWSHebrew says:

      disdain. I win nothing.

    2. MAD says:

      OK — is that one word?

    3. ben says:

      Just day dreaming here, an upvote/downvote system a la reddit would be nice…

    4. Jay says:

      Your moderators are biased. There. I said it.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        how did you get this posted?! are you a double-agent…

        • Jay says:

          I figured they would censor it as well…

          This blog doesn’t have any rules, so we all know they censor selectively.

          • poc-uwsider says:

            I have been censored a few times, sometimes under other names that I tried to get my point across.

      • Mark says:

        +1 ^^^

      • Honest Abe says:

        I’m thankful that they are. Trumpist commenters would take over the comments, otherwise.

        • Mark says:

          I’m definitely no Trump supporter, but it sure sounds to me like you want to limit the opinions of others and keep anyone who doesn’t share your same group-think POV from being heard. You know what that sounds like don’t you?

        • ga says:

          Typical…UWS commenters call people with conservative opinions. This is one proud “Trumpist” who won’t be threatened!

    5. MB/UWSer says:

      Thank you Moderators!

      Lest we don’t lose sight of our right to freedom of speech, thoughtfulness and respect of this space, and what others contribute is vital.

      Everyone has the right to be heard, and we don’t have to cause damage and harm to one another in the process.

      • Boris says:

        Being able to post on a blog is not what the Framers meant by the concept of freedom of speech.

        • Suzie E says:

          Thanks, Boris. (This is what comes of cutting education budgets and forcing schools to drop civics classes.)

    6. nycityny says:

      The fact that readers can’t even agree on new rules of civility shows the usefulness of these new rules of civility.

    7. Natali says:

      Some people may sometimes have trouble being concise and I don’t think their comments should be scrapped because of that. A lengthy comment can be valuable as long as it’s not a run on sentence and paragraphs are used.

    8. AC57 says:

      So… keeping comments under 100? Oh boy, that’s a tall task :/

    9. UWSer says:

      Suggestion: limit comments to registered Users only? That will cut down your monitoring tasks and certainly the online vitriol.
      Oh wait…it will probably also cut down your clicks.

    10. Juan says:

      Yeah – that’s my comment they referenced! Gold star for me! Does that give me a hall pass to get a few extra comments through that have been shot down in the past?

      I really appreciate the mods work here – I know it is not easy. But I have had perfectly clean posts not get published, and others that in hindsight I was not proud of get published. I appreciate your being transparent here and giving us a bit more color, but even more consistency would be appreciated.

      And I know this isn’t your full time job, but the faster you can review things and get them up, the better. There will be a lot less redundancy and better dialogue.

      Thank you again for hosting.

    11. Leon says:

      Thank you for this post and for all of your hard work.

      One request I would like to make is to prevent people from completely dominating a conversation. Dannyboy used to do it all the time. Bruce Bernstein also does it a lot. Some posters on the far extreme from them also do it, though less often. They are entitled to state their opinion and defend themselves (as much as I might disagree with them). But they often go through a thread and respond to every single post, saying the exact same thing. And much of the time, their opinions are clearly outliers yet they stubbornly stick with them, railroading the conversation. It really takes away from the reading experience.

      • lynn says:

        I remember a lot of short comments from dannyboy and also funny one-liners from ‘Sean,’ but I never thought they dominated the conversation. I always wondered why they disappeared from this forum.

        • Kmdude says:

          “dannyboy” did not disappear.

          Several commentators have noted he now posts under “stevieboy”.

          • Jay says:

            He has always posted under multiple names. He’s definitely still around.

            • Leon says:

              Agreed on the stevieboy comment. It doesn’t take a phd in English to recognize the writing style (though I really need a hobby rather than focusing on this!)

              Whoever it is, he does come and go – he will be non-stop for a few weeks then go pretty quiet for a while. Must be off saving the world somewhere. Whoever it is, he really takes away from the reading experience. He is entitled to make his point once. And to some extent he is entitled to defend his point. But he goes way overboard.

          • stevieboy says:

            I don’t know how many times we are gonna have to go through this but I am NOT Dannyboy.:)

            If you were really familiar with the original DannyBoy you would know that he wasn’t/isn’t the type to hide or lurk around.

            Say what you will about his politics but he was a very outspoken type of person. He was also a few decades older than me and was a former city employee with a nice pension and a rent controlled apartment, if memory serves. Things I wish I had.:)

    12. Chris says:

      I am a nice nut and most of my conservative comments never get posted because they are usually the other side of the narrative even when less then 100 words. I agree with Jay moderators are biased.

    13. C says:

      Why did someone telling someone to “Get Bent!” get through?

      I say 25 words is more than enough, if not crass or nasty.

    14. James Brummel says:

      I’M OUTRAGED!!!!

    15. Kaye says:

      Moderation is censorship

      • nycityny says:

        Yes it is. And this is a privately-run website so they can do as they please. In this case they will curate the comments as the NY Times does and the Washington Post does not. To each his own.

    16. charles hazelcorn says:

      Why don’t the police or our city counsel person do something about bikers going the wrong way and/or speeding on the UWS blocks that have been closed off to traffic. Children are playing in the streets and parents are enjoying being out and being able to social distance. They should not have to worry about bikers speeding on those blocks when they can go t Riverside Park. Besides the fact that many do not even where masks.

      • Lily says:

        That would be a good idea but with the current “defund police” environment this would probably be at the very bottom of the list. We should probably ask the local politicians that signed the resolution demanding the police to enforce traffic rules by cyclists where they think the funding for the additional police enforcement will come from.

    17. Naomi says:

      Please get a more diverse team. The fact that you’re calling out “Karen” while being okay with all the racist comments that you chose to publish under the Amy Cooper article is very disappointing. You should really read them again.

    18. Sam G says:

      Thank you, moderator!

    19. JerryV says:

      I respectfully disagree. This should be an intelligent conversation and not a series of innate tweets.

    20. Pico mom says:

      The error above is “distain.” The correct word is “disdain.”

    21. Brandon Becker says:

      Like the old prison joke; could you just use a # system. E.g., walker (1); jogger (2); biker (3); birder (4); dog lover (5); preservationist (6); cute, innocent child (7) & etc. This would save time for the moderators & space in the comment section.

    22. Polonius on Broadway says:

      Thank you and I agree! “Brevity is the soul of wit,” as Shakespeare says. We can do without all the boring, tedious rants, which I basically skip anyway. These people can do their PhD thesis somewhere else.

    23. gs says:

      The WSR needs to stop censoring conservative opinions.

    24. Lily says:

      Why do we need censorship on this site? If you don’t want to see comments from people who don’t share your opinion on a particular topic, just turn off the ability to post comments if that makes you happy.

    25. 1. Nice pen! (picture) Being a lefty however, everything I wrote with it would be smudge central as I pushed my palm across the paper. Beautiful tool, though.

      2. Writing in a tiny box fosters grammatical and spelling mistakes, & there’s no way to edit after the fact, when you notice them later, unlike my comments in the Washington Post, where I have 5 minutes to reconsider what I’ve just written; I love WaPo.

      3.100 words is very short.

      4. I would like to judge the comments I read, so all would know how popular (or unpopular) various comments are, so we would all, in effect, get a sense of the neighborhood & the article under discussion (thumbs up or down); Voting is good.

    26. Albert says:

      Thanks. Many of us are waaay tired of reading rambling rants!

    27. Jason says:

      I agree with Ben, upvoting would be nice

    28. Zee says:

      People, people, people, I’ve read up to Comment #28 and fully support #nycityny in his very insightful observation: “The fact that readers can’t even agree on new rules of civility shows the usefulness of these new rules of civility.”

    29. QL says:

      Sometinmes the comments are better than the articles.

    30. Cj berk says:

      Hi WSR: I like your humor and good info on our (now crumbling!) Neighborhood. Truth is necessary, “nasty” is somewhat subjective. What we could do without is personal debates between UWS Hebrew and everyone -as well as all the “boy” suffix people dannyboy, stevieboy etc. Also, you should indicate comment received so we don’t think it hasn’t been and we keep submitting. Good luck trying to tame this audience and btw no Trumpy fans allowed…oh well, just my opinion.But they really are detrimental to our having a happy day.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “and btw no Trumpy fans allowed…oh well, just my opinion.” — yeah, and my opinion is not to shut out those of use who (sometimes) support the President of the United States. WSR should not be an echo chamber, as much you would love it to be.

      • Dissident says:

        indicate comment received so we don’t think it hasn’t been

        Incredible that this bug persists– now years after manifesting. Previously, upon submitting a comment, the page would refresh and display the message, Your comment is awaiting moderation. Since then, one has no way of knowing whether it went through or was caught in a spam filter.

    31. Parker says:

      Would it be possible to roll up the comment section so it’s only visible when clicked?

      I value the news on WSR, but the comment section is a dumpster fire I could do without.

      • lynn says:

        It’s very simple, if you don’t want to read the comments then don’t scroll down past the story. Sorry but I don’t know how to add an eye-roll emoji.

        • Parker says:

          Lynn, it’s a common practice across media sites to do so. Media companies know that they lose traffic and reader affinity when their comment sections become a liability to their bottomline.

          • lynn says:

            I understand how media companies work. I enjoy reading the WSR for neighborhood updates, as well as the suggestions and opinions of others who live on the UWS. I highly doubt the comments section is a liability to their bottom line.

    32. Ethan says:

      I’m saddened (people are never ‘sad’ online, they are ‘saddened’ instead, for some reason) that this article needs to be published. Comments should never be nasty or directed ad hominem. Now, that’s not to say they oughtn’t to be impassioned or even combative, but about the issues, not the people who write or comment about those issues. Finally . . . is this fewer than 100 words?

      • Sarah Campbell says:

        I had actually written recently to WSR about the issue of folks name calling. I really like the way you have stated it, Ethan.

    33. Suzie E says:

      I suppose it would be a technical nightmare to achieve, but if y’all added thumbs-up/thumbs down capability to the comments sections, I’m guessing it would raise participation while lowering the number of posts.