"What a school boy error" - audience responses to professional World Cup blogging

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 28 June 2006

Earlier in the week I was looking at David Bond's Telegraph article about the way blogging has changed the coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

If print journalists are taking time to adjust to this apparently new type of coverage of a major sporting event, then so are the audience. The comments on some of the posts of The Guardian's World Cup blog have degenerated into the kind of trolling slang matches you'd only expect to see on poorly hosted message boards. There also seems to be a new breed of newspaper/broadcaster commenter whose express purpose is to repeatedly post comments saying 'this article is rubbish and would never have been published in the paper/broadcast on the news'.

Take these examples from one throwaway jokey post about ways of dropping David Beckham from the England team on the Guardian's blog:

does anyone else agree that the standard of journalism's taking a serious dive here? I know you boys are keen to fill up your blogs and get a sense of momentum going, but isn't this all a bit lame, a bit lazy?

or

I'd suggest 50 ways to sack a football blogger. Most of the comments in response are better than this verbage. Do the Guardian actually pay people for this stuff ?

or

The standard of journalism on the Guardian site has declined rapidly since the beginning of the World Cup. To be honest these blogs are getting right on my tits - some people can carry it off, providing insight and amusing one-liners along the way.

On the basis of this "article", you can't. You've got too much space to fill and not enough opinion.

If you want to be a comedian then f*ck off and try stand up.

Blogs from the professional media that are not getting sub-edited as rigorously as you'd expect from the print equivalent also seem to attract pedants in droves.

lot's is how we spelt it when we were twelve before we were told better and forgot

Thankfully my grammar and spelling on currybetdotnet and A lemon tree of our own don't come under the same microscope. My favourite example is this beauty of a comment on the BBC's World Cup blog:

Just one comment about the incorrect use of the term El Mexicanan, first of all I dont understand in what scence it is used, and in spanish it is missed spelt. It should be Los Mexicanos as in ther mexicans. If you are going to use a work in another launguage please check it up before you use it (what a school boy error)

3 Comments

...which, to me, is the big problem with allowing comments to be published unchecked.

There's nothing worse than going to The Guardian's Comment is Free, for example, reading an amusing and well-written article by Maureen Lipman, only to see a drove of unpleasant "God this woman's shit. Who cares about her crappy life?" underneath.

I don't approve comments on my blog; but in my opinion unchecked spears of vitriol add little to a user's experience of your website or brand. When Virgin Radio's new website launches later in the year, we're planning some soft pre-moderation of certain comments: just to avoid this kind of unpleasantness.

PS:

"Your comment has been received, but to avoid malicious or spam comments on the site it won't be published until I have approved it."

So says this website. Hurrah. Though you ought to know, by now, that my comments aren't ever going to be either of those things, so that's just more work for you now, innit? ;)

>> in my opinion unchecked spears of vitriol add little to a user's experience of your website or brand. When Virgin Radio's new website launches later in the year, we're planning some soft pre-moderation of certain comments: just to avoid this kind of unpleasantness.

I agree, but it is a tough line to draw. From my experience working next-door to the communities team at the Beeb, the kind of people who troll message boards and blogs with this kind of stuff, are also *exactly* the same kind of people who start mailing in lengthy complaints when their comments are removed/not published - and are also not averse to waving around threats like DPA and FOI to make a nuisance of themselves. What *did* these people do before they could be nuisances on the web? Wrote to their local council a lot I guess.

>> Though you ought to know, by now, that my comments aren't ever going to be either of those things, so that's just more work for you now, innit? ;)

I think one of your email addresses is white-listed to publish instantly and save me the hassle - but you keep using different addresses ;-)

Actually I think the comment set-up is a bit squonky on here at the moment anyway - the cookies don't work for a start, do they? I need to have a poke around in the templates, but I'm still not online at home so it will just have to wait.

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