On the whole, comments on The Stranger's website are thoughtful, funny, and smart; there are always a dozen good conversations running on the front page of Slog alone, every single day. That said, sometimes commenters say dumb things. Their wrongitudes remain online forever, uncorrected and forgotten in the dusty corners of articles and blog posts, and nobody ever regrets having said these dumb, dumb things because no one ever holds commenters—who don't have to put their real names on the things they write—accountable. Until now. The worst commenters usually fall into one of these categories:
In olden days, you'd need to at least fake a seizure to try to predict the future. Now, every Tom, Dick, and Douchenozzle is trying to use the space afforded to them by the internet to tell you the future. Elections in particular are a breeding ground for bad predictions. For instance, commenters loudly and persistently insisted on electoral victory for Joe Mallahan, Susan Hutchison, and Tim Eyman this year. One example: In an October 19 Slog post written by Garrett McCulloch covering then–mayoral candidate Mike McGinn's announcement that he would no longer fight a tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, commenter Reality Check wrote the following comment:
hahahahahahahahahahahaha. ROFLMFAO. You hipsters are the most gullible segment of voters eva! This justttttttt about should put an end to anyone's support of McGullible's run for mayor. Enough of the stupid fucking credulous hackery support for this fool! Mallahan For The landslide Win!
Comments like that, in retrospect, make us roll on the floor laughing our motherfucking asses off.
• Hair-Trigger Spewers of Unbridled Rage
Bad blognostications are not restrained to politics. In an April 26 post by me wondering if swine flu was "some sort of cosmic retribution for the blogosphere's relentless fetishization of bacon"—intended as a moment of levity in a week in which people everywhere were fearfully buying gas masks and Purell by the truckload—ordinarily levelheaded commenter Big Sven flew into a rage:
Laugh now. Shit's not gonna seem so funny in a couple of days. Nobody's died yet in the US? Big fucking deal. This disease is likely to kill a lot of people. Perhaps you should hold off on the jokes for a little while? Or how about in deference to the people of Mexico, who have lost 80 already and are scared out of their minds? Or perhaps you have some hilarious AIDS jokes you're like to share with us?
Likewise, anonymous commenter Boycott Elliott Bay, responding to a recent post about the beloved independent bookstore's move from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, made it sound like this relocation and Elliott Bay's future parking lot behind the Wildrose building (a parking lot that's been there forever) would be tantamount to another Holocaust:
Pedestrians and bicyclists will be hit and some will likely die because of Elliott Bay's selfish decision to change the landscape of Pike/Pine to a suburban mallscape. br> Join me in boycotting Elliott Bay books until they remove their giant parking lot in the middle of Seattle's densest neighborhood, or they go out of business.
Of course, some of the most hilarious Hair-Trigger Spewers of Unbridled Rage are people who seem to have only read as far as the headline, or who don't care about the subject of a piece at all. Stranger staff writer Dave Segal seems to be a magnet for people who only partially read his work. Commenter RA KHAN noted on September 23 in a comment on Segal's Data Breaker column:
You suck. Your article sucks... This years Decibel Festival is focused primarily on Dubstep. Dubstep is the "soup de' jour" in Seattle and I don't think your article reflected that relevant fact at all. You're totally out of touch and your writing about OUR scene is garbage. I hope you get canned soon. You need to move on. Take a moment to reflect on what I've said. It's the truth.
Mr. KHAN neglected to look at a link posted next to Segal's column, which led to a long feature about Decibel Festival and dubstep... written by Segal. Segal has also been accused by commenter jen of hating "all kinds of singers except folk or grunge or blues"—clearly she is not familiar with Segal's musical tastes—and on the same article, commenter Jack wrote this stirring call to action:
Just wondering what, if any, coverage you guys have done on "the chosen people" bombing women and children in Gaza? Saw some great footage on NBC Nightly of UN workers discovering a group of children who were klinging to their dead mothers for 4 DAYS while Israeli troops kept UN Aid Workers at bay. Even the International Red Cross is saying Israel is fucking shit up bad. Your thoughts? Oh, wait. You're writing an article about singers.
The Stranger regrets that Jack can't tell the difference between local music writing and international news reportage.
• Masters of Typerbole
Hyperbole happens all the time in the comments. Even steadfast commenter Fnarf (not to be confused with adorable, sniveling Thundercats sidekick Snarf) occasionally says something so grand and sweeping that it turns out to be petty and dumb, as in his March 5 comment on "The 25 Greatest Works of Art Ever Made in Seattle" by Jen Graves: "There has never been a great work of art produced in Seattle," he wrote. "And it's impossible now."
But more often, the hyperbolic comments are just smash-your-face-through-a-wall-in- agony stupid. Someone calling himself HootersFan took great exception to Lindy West's piece about how the degradation of women at Hooters might be similar to the way African Americans have been degraded in popular culture in years past. The comment, a very long, very serious, very half-witted description of the history of slavery in America, ends hilariously:
Now, the women who work at Hooters were not captured from their homes and brought there to work with no pay and under brutal conditions. They get paid well, earn reasonable tips, do not have to perform any acts that would degrade or debase them, and do not have to live with their managers. Those are the primary differences between Hooters Girls and slaves. The black slaves worked against their own will and were not even paid for their contributions. Slavery was a system into which they were born, until the great Abraham Lincoln finally emancipated them. The struggle for freedom didn't end there, but it was a major step. Hooters waitresses are not born into working there and are perfectly capable of making their own choices.
God bless America! Then again, being a little slow on the uptake isn't as bad as being weirdly mean for no reason. Brendan Kiley has done a variety of long-form investigative projects this year, including a piece exposing the Catholic Church for sending known pedophile priests into Alaskan villages ravaged by poverty, a piece about the environmental and health implications of a businessman's venture to build luxury condos on top of a Superfund site near Tacoma, and an essay about the scientific mysteries surrounding a species of octopus in Puget Sound. Nevertheless, he gets the same boring flavor of bile piled on just about every piece—with comments like, "Your lack of knowledge or insight and your pomposity is an insult to anyone who respects the art of journalism" and "Your writing indicates strongly to me that you are possibly a pretentious, self-important know-it-all" and "I hope your mother gets brain cancer on Christmas Day." As it happens, Kiley's mother was diagnosed with cancer three years ago.
• Worst Commenter of 2009
A good negative comment—a smart, witty argument that knocks the self-important shit out of a reporter chasing a bad idea—is a beautiful thing, and we get plenty of them online. But idiotic, poorly written comments are there just to ugly up the place, like vomit on a sidewalk, and some commenters write nothing but. Even calling these comments trolling is an insult to the right-wing trolls who spend so much time crafting their inane arguments. This year's Worst Commenter of the Year Award has to go to one such bile machine, a woman named NG53. One wonders why Ms. 53 even bothers to read The Stranger, let alone take the time to log in and comment.
Here is the vast majority of NG53s tremendous body of work. June 9: "snore"; July 21: "Charles, you are just grasping at straws trying to find stuff to write about. snore," "you are a douche"; Sept 3: "stick to your day job"; Oct 1: "you are a dumbass," "you are even dumber. move far far away. please"; Oct 5: "for the record, i think pretty much everything you write is stupid. and this is no exception...wow. so stupid"; Oct 13: "i hate you all"; Nov 30 "douche." Congratulations to Ms. 53. Your award, a greasy paper sack of broken glass and shit set aflame, has been hidden somewhere under the viaduct. Go find it!