Monday, August 10, 2009

Feedback, the tragedy

What is it with feedback?
Why does it bring out the worst in so many people?
Not all, I hasten to add. Not all.

But a whole new breed as been unleashed.

It is as if the anonymity of the Internet gives permission for behaviour your parents would never sanction. It is an excuse for releasing all the bile one has never dared expel, for fear of the terrible consequences.

So many people seem to have this inner anger.
All it takes is a blog or even an online newspaper report to fire up the demons of feedback, the instinct to tell the writer where to get off.

I recall when the LA Times tried the grand Internet experiment of opening up its editorials for the people to have their say. True equality. Absolute respect for the views of the readership.

But what did the paper get?
It got a deluge of vitriol. Such tirades of unspeakable spite and hatred that it gave up on the grand idea of the people's editorials and went back to the old ways.

People online are not content to disagree. They have to bellow personal insults.
As if they, themselves, are paragons of some sort, that they stand all-knowing in judgement, talented and wise. Well, the sort of paragons that can't frame a sentence let alone spell one.

Literacy and feedback do not go hand-in-hand.
And the worse the literacy, the more adamant the feedback sender is that they can tell the thinking writer that he or she is not worth the time of day.
Is it jealousy? Is it the tall poppy syndrome? The classic hostility of the under-achiever?

Whatever it is, it is bloody sad.
The feedback writers show a lot of cowardice. They think they can't be identified although, especially when it comes to newspaper feedback posts, guess what? They can.

The odd thing is that these people who have so much anger and such paucity of articulation also are out there actually reading.


876 said...

There are a few categories of commenters online, most of which are not overtly negative (or at least speak with good reason). Then there are others who add little value by expressing unjustly negative opinions, and trolls who post to bait other readers.

Independent contributors and community web sites gain the trust of their user base by providing relevant material of consistent quality. Successful online communities which then allow totally unmoderated egalitarian contribution have the effect of giving everyone a megaphone: massive noise will smother any actual content.

I'm intrigued by the "people's editorials" concept, and am curious to know how it was implemented. How was the merit of the content assessed? How were quality posts identified and promoted to other LA Times readers?

The LA Times would do well to examine the way user contributions are managed on web sites such as Reddit [] and BoingBoing []; in particular, to compare and contrast the readership these sites attract, the content they generate, and the way their feedback is managed.

It's good to invoke transparency and facilitate communication at all levels; but opening the floodgates with a lacking approach to content management isn't facilitation, and its failure should be not be blamed on readers at large.

I'm encouraged to know that the LA Times made the initial effort, and would like to see them (and other mainstream news publications) restore interest in journalistic integrity through new efforts to connect with the community.

Antonio said...

Encourage other
Give the encouragement that you would like to receive and you will receive back double the encouragement you gave.
W hen you need to offer your encouragement encouragement to another person. There is nothing more that can raise you - with all certainty - than the disciplined effort to lift others.

When you focus only on their own problems and challenges, this puts him in a state of mind and not frustrating. But when you turn your attention to assist other amidst the challenges they face, you become more positive and efficient.

When you realize that you are feeling sorry for yourself, it's time to immediately redirect their energy. Turn it into compassion for others. There will always be something you can do to raise others that are around them, and in so doing you will increase its reserve of encouragement.


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