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Anonymous BrooklynVegan Comments, Rest in Peace

Meh

Love them or hate them, anonymous comments were a trademark feature of BrooklynVegan’s unchanged design for over 12 years. And it wasn’t all bad, though sadly it’s the bad stuff that has come to occasionally define us. I’m nostalgic for the old days when I read every comment. They were funny, useful, creative, random, sometimes offensive and even sometimes mean, but rarely SO MEAN. Many were “anonymous”, but many also were accompanied by a “name”. Many of those names showed up again and again. Negativity was often expressed with a “meh”, and things were overall good, maybe a bit edgy. The good is far from gone, but unfortunately it became overshadowed by the very bad.

Let’s reminisce… Who remembers when Aziz Ansari was a BrooklynVegan commenter? What about “Gopster” who ended up being Chris La Putt who became a BrooklynVegan photographer and then photo editor, may he rest in peace. Stories have broken in BrooklynVegan comments. Rumors have been started (and they used to mostly be true). The comments have always been a great place for people to offer BV writers corrections, grammar lessons and useful tips. People use BV comments to post and find presale passwords and set times. They’re a place for music criticism, friendly arguments, show criticism, venue criticism, festival criticism, hipster criticism and even criticism of the post they appear on. Epic threads sometimes happen, sometimes very randomly. Ozzfest anyone? Booking agents gone wild. Memes come and go. What time does Daft Punk go on? YAPS. Poor Bao. Taco Time. Meh. Even hummus; there’s nothing wrong with a little hummus (especially on a bagel).

We’re not in denial though. There has been a lot of bad stuff, a lot of bad people, a lot of very mean and sick and twisted people, and you don’t even know the half of it. For every deranged and offensive comment you’ve seen, there are ten more we caught before they went live, or that we caught and removed very shortly after they went live. It was never our intent for the BrooklynVegan comments to become a place associated with racism, misogyny, homophobia and everything else vile and offensive. That is not who we are. That is not what we write about. We tried to battle it on an almost daily basis, but ultimately we couldn’t keep up. We especially can’t keep up with the professional trolls whose life goals seem to be one upping up us, and saying the most offensive things possible. So, say goodbye to Mr. Anonymous (unless someone’s registered name is “Mr. Anonymous”). It’s time for us to finally be able to go to sleep without wondering if Dannyboy D. Linsanity will hop on to spew hate in cryptic unblockable formats from his “mom’s basement”, for the zillionth time.

People probably don’t realize that, especially in recent years, we deleted tons of comments every day and banned literally thousands of IPs — and hundreds of horrible words — in the fight to make BrooklynVegan a better place. In the old days I sometimes kept nasty stuff live in the name of free speech. That was stupid. More recently it was more about us being a very small company with a very small staff that can’t keep up. It always helped when people emailed and pointed out specific comments that needed to be deleted. We went and did it, but we missed a lot. We’re all maxed out every day, doing a million things at once, always behind but focused on everything that goes into creating the posts on this site and producing our events. Moderating all the comments on top of everything else in work and life was too much to handle, and not fun, and so we were bad at it. It didn’t help that over time I’ve developed negative comment-related stress disorder symptoms on top of already being a horrible procrastinator.

MORE AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, people have been truly hurt by things people have written in the BrooklynVegan comments. We know it. We’re not proud of that. WE’RE TRULY SORRY. I AM TRULY SORRY.

To make matters more complicated, our blog was still running with horribly out of date software that made updating the comment technology difficult, but like “Anonymous”, after over seven months of redesign and migration work, our Movable Type platform is finally gone (!)…

So, please help us welcome WordPress and please welcome DISQUS comments to BrooklynVegan! You may already be familiar. DISQUS is a commenting platform used by tons of sites (including Invisible Oranges which successfully went live with a similar design and comments a few months ago). You may already have a DISQUS username. If not, all you have to do to comment is log in with Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, or quickly create a Disqus account with an email address. It’s really easy.

Please help us usher in an era of positive and useful comments, or at least less anonymity. To help encourage better comments, we’ll also start offering free show tickets and other prizes to random constructive commenters each week. Keep an eye out for that, and meanwhile please leave a comment, below….

-Dave

PS comments on the mobile site are kind of hidden. The green arrow in this image will guide you:

comments on mobile

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