Changes to The New York Times Comment System Brings Out The Crazies

Yesterday The New York Times announced an overhaul of its online commenting system, and just like any news of this magnitude, people have been completely incapable of dealing with it rationally. The three biggest changes — Facebook is required to log in become a “trusted commenter,” people can reply to comments and one must click “read more” to see all of a lengthy comment — naturally brought about the biggest opposition.

One person, a “trusted commenter,” said being forced to use Facebook was “unacceptable,” and said he would stop reading the site because of the changes. “I will stay around for a week or less, and should you insist on persisting with pursuing this down market, mass market experiment, I will, and suspect be accompanied by many more of your former fans, say ta ta, bye bye, so long,” wrote the angry reader.

First of all, relax with the punctuation Captain Comma. Secondly, the reader is bluffing. Whenever a site changes things (remember Gawker’s big revamp?) commenters yell from the rooftops that they’ll stop reading, and they never do.

A lot of commenters seem extremely upset about the ability to reply to each other too. These complaints can be summed up as “This will give the dumb people a voice,” which is funny, because that line of thinking is stupid in and of itself.

Then there’s the need to click “read more” to see all of a long comment. People hated this. It was called “annoying,” “extremely inconvenient,” “revolting,” and “klutzy.” Some readers even got cute and started writing a comment, then added an all caps “read more,” to illustrate the travesty of having to click a mouse one more time than before.

With this much backlash the Times will probably revise the system, but we’re hoping it won’t. The paper should stick to their guns, because while the reactions are angry and borderline insane, the reality is that commenters represent a small, trigger shy group.