Commenters Slaughtered

BANNED:

flag8 – Sorry, the RIAA is not a law-making body.

somnambulist – PR flack for United/Star Alliance trying to spread disinformation and sow unrest in any United-related post. There’s below the line marketing, and then there’s below the belt. Don’t you have some posterboard to feed into a composter?

Heymoe – If you hate Consumerist so much, leave.

The Tourist – Always takes retailer’s side. Insults consumers. Get back to the floor, young man, there’s VCRs to be sold. Take those hands out of your packet. We’re instituting a new policy where if any other employee or manager catches you with your hands in your pocket, you have to drop a quarter in this jar. At the end of the week, we’ll draw straws to see which manager gets to keep the jar.

scoobydoo – Responds to a post on a neat, consumer-positive, company policy, by half-joking that it will disappear because now thousands of people will abuse it. If that’s true, why don’t we just turn off the blog. Let’s skin fish on Alaskan fishing boats because obviously what we’re doing here isn’t working.

joeylopez, wholzem, bestbuy-staff – Retail trolls. Digg’s detritus.

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. infinitysnake says:

    I don’t get it- are you saying all those people are banned, becuse of the above comments? iof so, that’s harsh.

  2. homerjay says:

    Hey Ben, can you link their names to their comment threads? I’d like to see what put them in their place. :)

  3. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    I think you are overly harsh on commenters. And using an image of death (in which people presumably died) is surely not in good taste. I think on the whole you fight a good fight here, but please don’t ruin it.

  4. gwai lo says:

    Umm…I don’t get why you banned flag8. Yes he/she did say that the RIAA had laws about returning a CD, but maybe he/she really believed that. The rest of the commenters put him/her in their place and flag8 didn’t start aggravating anyone. I mean, flagh8 was nowhere near the headache of Ghost_Of_Awesomist.

    So, what I’m basically getting at here, is did flag8 get executed for being dumb?

  5. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Homerjay, just copy/paste their name. Their comments are still available to view..

    http://www.consumerist.com/commenter/NAME/

  6. infinitysnake says:

    Yeah, this is really bugging me…scotching people for abusive behavior or trolling is one thing, but just for having an opinion? That seems a tad hypocritical. Scooby, for example, often makes helpful posts, I don’t get why he’s got the boot for what seems to me to be a pretty obvious observation, and whacking him for it seems thin-skinned and petty- pretty poor service for a user-oriented blog.

    Most of these people seem to be getting the axe simply for criticizing and/or correcting you, not for any particularly bad behavior- I’m looking at jonro’s comments, and he’s been a prolific commenter on a lot of topics, yet you seem to dislike him for his apparent inside knowledge of airline policies, none of which seem all that PR oriented to me.

    Well you asked what you could be doing better, and this is what sticks the most- i think you need to step back a bit and be a little less sensitive to comments, because if you klill off every commenter who disagrees with you, the conversation is going to get pretty boring, because everyone will be afraid to speak up.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I know that I certainly don’t pass along stories and read comments to see cheerleaders going “Right on, Ben,” and I can’t imagine this kind of policy doing anything but alienating readers and potential readers.

    IOW, don’t hang yourself with your own success.

  7. infinitysnake says:

    Sorry, said jonro when I ment ‘somnambulist.’ But Jonro seemed pretty cool, too…I even passed on his turkey suggestion to my parents this year.

  8. MattyMatt says:

    I’m trying to figure out what’s trollish about Bestbuy-staff’s comment. Banning people just because they admit to working in retail seems like it might alienate useful sources.

  9. Chaoticfluffy says:

    I didn’t catch most of these guys’ comments, so i can’t opine on them, but I have to agree with the majority here that banning scooby for his HPShopping comment was…um…overreactive. What he said was one of the first things I thought after reading the post. What’s more, I also got the impression, from reading Ben’s actual HPShopping post, that he was having the same thought, too…although judging by Ben’s reaction now, I guess I was wrong on that one.

    Basically, I second InfinitySnake’s point. I’d add that if you’re going to boot people for making a bad joke or displeasing the editors or things like that, you really, really, really need to lay down CLEAR guidelines about what constitutes a bannable offense in such situations. Yes, Ben, you’re the/an editor and we’re all not, but that doesn’t mean your expectations are obvious to, well, anyone but you when it comes to what’s bannable.

  10. Pheos says:

    Hmmm, I’m still reading through but it mostly seems like fair debate to me. Maybe a little heated at times but still debate.

    Just out of interest:
    From http://gawker.com/advertising/legal/
    Comments Terms of Use
    The comments sections on GM Sites are accessible to users by invitation only (such invitations coming either from Gawker Media editors directly or by referral from existing comment users). GM’s comment user registration system has been designed so that, if the user so chooses, they can remain completely anonymous, even to us.
    In order to make our comments useful and interesting, the following guidelines have been established for comment users:
    • Do not post threatening, harassing, defamatory, or libelous material.
    • Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements.
    • Do not offer to sell or buy any product or service.
    • Do not post material that infringes copyright.
    • Do not post information that you know to be confidential or sensitive or otherwise in breach of the law.
    • Keep all comments relevant to the particular GM Site where the comment is being posted.
    • Gawker Media will not accept responsibility for information posted in the Comments.
    If Gawker Media receives notice that a comment post is not in keeping with these terms and conditions or the intended use of the comments, we reserve the right to remove that comment posting. The removal of any comment shall be solely at the discretion of Gawker Media.

  11. Smashville says:

    So basically, if we disagree with Ben, make an incorrect assumption of fact or tell the other side to a story, we’ll get banned? Isn’t this the kind of behavior that this website is supposed to defend against, not participate in?

    I know The Consumerist is a blog dedicated to defending the consumer, but when you actually ban a commenter for posting the other side to a story…well, that’s just blatant media bias.

  12. Smashville:

    I don’t think it’s quite that clear cut– There are quite a few people who voice dissenting opinions, I think when it comes to the point when you disagree just for the sake of disagreeing is when you’re treading ban-territory.

  13. Kornkob says:

    Apparently the consumerist is dedicated to defending OTHER people’s consumers. Their own consumers however can have their ‘business relationship’ terminated at a whim.

  14. Dremagus says:

    Unless there is something I can’t see it appears that some of the bans were uncalled for. flag8 made an erroneous statement, scoobydoo was being pessimistic, and bestbuy-staff was telling his side of the story. Last I checked none of these were crimes.

  15. Deryn says:

    At least they put it out there where it can be debated … they could just do it without making it public. Other Gawker sites have pretty tight commenter requirements and don’t make an issue of it; it’s just the way it is. Still other Gawker sites could give a rat’s ass and their post comments are full of idiots. Since I enjoy the comments here as much and sometimes more than the original posts, I guess Consumerist must be doing something right.

    That said, it seems like there’s more “slow news day” teases and “this is a dumb post” comments than there used to be. Maybe B & M are just fed up. I’d be testy, too.

    Like the man said, if you hate Consumerist so much, leave.

  16. acambras says:

    • Do not post threatening, harassing, defamatory, or libelous material.

    So if that’s the case, most of us who commented on the weddingdepot.com story should probably be banned.

    It was funny as hell, though.

    Seriously, though — the behavior of these newly-banned posters doesn’t seem to be as egregious as Ghost of Awesomist, or that commenter that called the compulsive shopper a stupid bitch.

  17. major disaster says:

    Honest question – how is bestbuy-staff a troll? It was someone who specifically witnessed the incident who was providing a rebuttal. You guys have published rebuttals from companies in other cases when they were emailed to you, so why is there a problem with someone doing it directly via comment? I know this site is a consumer, not corporate, advocate, but aren’t objectivity and fairness still important? Just because someone sends you a story about some corporate misdeed, it doesn’t mean that story doesn’t deserve to be challenged and/or defended against.

  18. Smashville says:

    Seriously…these – particularly bestbuy-staff and flag8 – were definitely not “arguing for the sake of arguing”. flag8 was adding light to the situation with what he thought was a law…he didn’t know the RIAA couldn’t enforce things, so he got banned?

    I mean, I know this is a consumer advocate site, but in bestbuy-staff’s defense, are we just going to assume from here on out that every story ever posted is true and if someone offers a differing account, they get banned? Aren’t you leaving the door wide open for a libel suit by doing things like that?

  19. Smashville says:

    I will give you that somnambulist was a blatant PR flack, however.

  20. forgeten says:

    i would have to agree. Most the comments I looked over didn’t look that bad. And for Flag8 , really now thats just silly. He probably meant another word instead of law likc contract clause or something, when I worked a record store we could only send back CD’s if they were damaged. I like this website but if your gonna ban anyone who doesn’t take your side then you should stop allowing comments

  21. forgeten says:

    fixed html(hopefully)

  22. Mike_ says:

    I’m with those who feel Ben should reconsider his approach to culling the herd. There are some commenters who truly deserve the axe, and their removal would raise no eyebrows. However, when this power is exercised unreasonably or arbitrarily, the effects are overwhelmingly negative. It looks really, really bad.

  23. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    I agree with the above. What flag8 probably meant to say was, the RIAA bought a law making the return of CDs illegal… Maybe not true, but not worth killing them for…

  24. Chris says:

    The Tourist – Always takes retailer’s side. Insults consumers.

    This one amuses me, since Ben immediately followed that indictment with five lines insulting the guy for working retail. That said, he definitely needed to go – having a consistent point of view. Imagine the nerve!

  25. Mike: “… raise no eyebrows.”

    Don’t worry. Eyebrows can almost never be bothered to get up. ;)

  26. Smashville says:

    Can I also point out that the public post about the bannings is just bush league? It’s like “Hi, we have power, you don’t pay us any money, so you can’t do a damned thing about it…” It’s weird because it seems to be what all of the other posts I read on here are trying to prevent…

    So…is there a consumer advocate website that we can report The Consumerist to?

  27. Scazza says:

    I will admit, this post and the last “bannings” post has made me ALOT more cautious on posting here on consumerist. I post on other gawker sites and wish to keep those privileges, so now I don’t freely express in here as much.

    just my 2 cents…

  28. squidhat says:

    This is a blog, not a playground. I agree with Ben that if they make the community less interesting or welcoming, they should go! I come here because I am a picky consumer who likes to find deals, and doesn’t stand for poor service. Seriously, Ben keeps this place rolling. Have you ever read the comments on a consumer-oriented story on Digg.com? It is absolutely horrendous. Just because other sites are ruled by the lowest common denominator children with too much free time, doesn’t mean Consumerist has to be.

  29. squidhat says:

    @Smashville, I think you want to be offended. I have always taken these Banning posts as a fair and honest way to highlight the type of comments that do not belong on The Consumerist.

  30. Hoss says:

    The Consumerist’s attention brought to Walmart selling a reminder of Nazi-Germany (and their inability to remove it) is admirable. Why now use this picture of a mass grave so cavalierly?

  31. Haplo9000 says:

    I don’t mind people being banned, but I have to admit I don’t understand why bestbuy-staff, for example, was kicked. I mean, here’s a person who was a witness to a story you posted! Don’t you WANT that firsthand point of view, biased or not? Seriously, how many times have we seen a story get posted, and then The Consumerist calls up the store/manager/help line that the story is about and asks questions about what happened? Why is bestbuy-staff’s post any different than that?

    If you want to argue that bestbuy-staff works for Best Buy and can’t be trusted, well, OK, but then why should we trust anyone who submits a story, by that standard? Can’t we as a group of people get all the information and hear all sides of the story, and then make up our own minds about who was in the right, and who was in the wrong?

    I thought being completely informed was one of the overriding tenents of being a good consumer.

  32. squidhat says:

    Hossofcourse, if you caught your impressionable child viewing this website, and you were offended by the content, maybe you should watch his or her viewing habits more closely?

    But if your sister buys your son a shirt emblazoned with a symbol of Nazi Germany, unwittingly, at the biggest retail chain in the world.. Who is at fault?

  33. KevMa says:

    The problem (the way I see it) is that they cannot confirm any of the comments they give and by allowing it the remain posted, they could get into hot water. Just a guess.

    I am guessing Flag8 got banned for more then comments, possibly his name?

  34. squidhat says:

    @Haplo9000,
    If BestBuy wants to tell their side of the story, they should contact tips@consumerist.com. They can then provide proof of their identity to Ben, and I’m sure if it was appropriate material related to the original posting, he would consider adding it to the site. This site has an editor, check the little line after every posting. I, for one, think it is rude and shameful of Best Buy staff to try and abuse the comments to deride the original posting, instead of going through the proper channels.

  35. forgeten says:

    squidhat what does that have to do with anything? Bad taste is bad taste. If this was a website of mass graves around the world I would expect to see a mass grave but its a consumer website.

  36. squidhat says:

    @forgeten

    I don’t see what bad taste has to do with the Walmart Nazi gear. I’m sure there are many outlets to purchase this type of filth, the problem as I see it, is that Walmart had no idea that they had delved into Nazi paraphernalia dealing, and neither did their customers.

  37. major disaster says:

    squidhat, how is Best Buy supposed to know what the “proper channels” are? I don’t see anything on the site that says “If you are a company that wishes to defend itself against accusations made against it, do it by email, not commenting.” Why should they assume commenting is the wrong way?

  38. timmus says:

    Well, I can say one thing… being a commenter certainly feels like a privilege. Frankly I feel that Ben has every right to experiment with the board to improve its quality, even if I might not agree.

    My only concern is that booting people out tends to antagonize them and invites revenge and vandalism. I run a vbulletin board with over a thousand users, and we have a bag of tricks for dealing with troublemakers. Mainly we’re careful to prevent it from even happening to begin with, but when it’s time to part ways we make a clean break. The account silently disappears and we route their IP blocks to cryptic error pages so that it looks like the site is having problems. It always works. We get rid of them but are careful not to make it look like anyone’s out to get them.

  39. forgeten says:

    squidhat:
    I was responding to your response to Hossofcourse . They are both in the same the nazi shirt and the mass grave picture. I am aware I could go buy nazi stuff but I would most likely have to go looking for it (not taking into account the walmart nazi shirt) Just like I could go find pictures of mass graves. Granted ofcourse one would have to ask which is worse knowlying using something that would be considered bad taste (mass grave pictures) or unwillingly using them

  40. AcilletaM says:

    bestbuy-staff was some anonymous (keyword: anonymous) person saying he/she saw the incident. No proof. In fact his statement is very general and doesn’t give any specifics or even specifically address what RJH said, s/he just gave a general story about a beligerent customer. I still think s/he is an intern from MN. If joeylopez isn’t a Best Buy employee, then he’s the creepy guy at work who is always wearing a blue polo and khakis and sleeps in a room wallpapered with Best Buy ads.

    And I think a lot of commenters need to remember, even if this site is for the betterment of us all, it’s still a Gawker Media blog. So expect fun or weird pictures, seemingly random bannings, and round-up posts to meet the quota. Oh, and I guess snark, it will have plenty of snark. (I always thought snarks were the other little creatures the Smurfs went and visited to kick-off the snarks getting their own cartoon but seeing none around here, I guess I was wrong.)

  41. LintMan says:

    Smashville: I think a public post is the best way for them to do this. In this way, the Consumerist commenter banning policies 1) become known so people known where the line is drawn, and 2) we have some opportunity to provide feedback on those policies here. That’s far, far better than those people quietly disappearing.

    That said, I don’t think many of the banned people listed above deserved banning. I would reserve banning for serious repeat-offender trolls, off-topic/spammers, heavy flamers, and undisclosed PR-flacks.

    In particular:
    flag8 – a clueless post, but probably intended along the lines of what segfault said (ie: the RIAA pushed for a law). He doesn’t seem to be a troll.

    Heymoe – he made two snarky comments about Consumerist’s dogged following of the Walmart Nazi T-shirt story, amongst a number of useful, valid posts. I’d hardly call that hating Consumerist. I think Consumerist is a strong enough site to be able to tolerate some level of negativity (but certainly more than what Heymoe wrote) directed its way, without feeling the need to stamp it out.

    scoobydoo – I didn’t post it, but I admit I thought the same thing when I read that article. It’s a great policy and deserves commendation, but my cynical side can’t imagine it lasting long when it’s so vulnerable to exploitation. But I don’t see how that makes the Consumerist’s goals invalid or whatever.

    bestbuy-staff/wholezem – yeah, they have pro-retail viewpoints. And bestbuy-staff at least is up front about his affiliation. As long as the commentary is pertinent and not just blindly argumentative or trolling, it’s acceptable, IMHO.

    One of the things I’ve really liked about Consumerist was the fact that the commenters aren’t generally just blindly pro-consumer or anti-corporation or whatever. There is often intelligent discussion of the points of detail and the merits of each side’s (ie: consumer vs provider) actions. There have been times when the theoretical protagonist of the article (the consumer who wrote in with the complaint) ends up getting the lion’s share of the criticism from the commenters because that’s what seems fair/reasonable to them.

    I really respect that while the site is pro-consumer, it isn’t blindly so. I think a lot of anti-consumer store policies evolved in part in reaction to bad consumer behaviors, and it’s OK for the Consumerist and its commenters to sometimes acknowledge that (such as by allowing pro-retail commenters to participate if they aren’t flaming or trolling).

    Anyway, Ben can certainly ban whoever he wishes to. It’d be nice, though, if the banning policy was spelled out more definitively somewhere. What amount of pro-retail support is too much? I’d also like to know where the line is for getting banned for Consumerist criticism. Seriously, I made a somewhat-critical post in the Walmart mea-culpa thread, and this post can be seen as semi-critical; am I close to the edge? I almost didn’t post this because I don’t want to get banned; I like this site and like being able to comment.

  42. elisa says:

    like everyone else, I don’t think some of those people deserve to be banned.
    a question: does this mean just the username is banned, or that their IP is also blocked? could they get another commenter account?

    and a comment on timmus’s comment:

    “I run a vbulletin board with over a thousand users, and we have a bag of tricks for dealing with troublemakers. Mainly we’re careful to prevent it from even happening to begin with, but when it’s time to part ways we make a clean break. The account silently disappears and we route their IP blocks to cryptic error pages so that it looks like the site is having problems. It always works. We get rid of them but are careful not to make it look like anyone’s out to get them.”

    wow…I’d rather be told that I was banned from someplace than get no explanation, just an error page. That just seems like a wrong way to deal with your users. Ok, I would never vandalize a site (and I’ve never been banned anywhere) but, just, wow.

  43. Smashville says:

    “This is a blog, not a playground. I agree with Ben that if they make the community less interesting or welcoming, they should go! I come here because I am a picky consumer who likes to find deals, and doesn’t stand for poor service. Seriously, Ben keeps this place rolling. Have you ever read the comments on a consumer-oriented story on Digg.com? It is absolutely horrendous. Just because other sites are ruled by the lowest common denominator children with too much free time, doesn’t mean Consumerist has to be.”

    So basically, telling your side of the story makes you the lowest common denominator? Or pointing out the obvious – too many people taking advantage of a loophole in the system will probably close the loophole? Or making the mistake of not realizing that the RIAA is not a government organization?

    You assumed that I was offended. I’m not. Which makes you wrong. Should you be banned? Based on your prior assumption – being wrong (as flag8 was) makes you the lowest common denominator and therefore marks you eligible for banning.

    Do you see how that doesn’t make sense?

    *Probably Cruising for a Banning for Arguing the Bannings – so I’ll just say that Meghann is hot*

  44. major disaster says:

    does this mean just the username is banned, or that their IP is also blocked? could they get another commenter account?

    According to Gawker, they can in fact rise from the dead:

    However, note also that this manner of death isn’t really permanent. Banned commenters may return through invitations or through future general amnesties.

    Or, I imagine, the thing where you just comment on a post even if you don’t have a commenting account, and it can get approved if it’s worthy, which then gives you a new account.

    I’m actually curious how bestbuy-staff got a commenting account in the first place. They registered the same day they made the comment, and only made that one comment. So they either requested an invite and got one (in which case, they presumably made a good enough case for getting the invite), or made that comment, which was approved at the time by the current editors. Seems strange to now be booted for it.

  45. AcilletaM says:

    Major Disaster, I belive the intern approves the comments now so it may be a lot quicker than it used to be.

  46. mojohealy says:

    I don’t care about the banned commenters too much, but I do think the image used is tasteless and offensive.

  47. Baz says:

    My only question is this: Why is this site bragging about the people it now excludes? Isn’t the whole point to grow this community? Just a thought…

  48. Baz says:

    from Micro Persuasion: http://www.micropersuasion.com

    “A Blogger Worth Modeling:

    If you want to learn how to be a good blogger (and so much more), read Lifehacker – by far my favorite weblog. The Wall Street Journal today covers why Lifehacker is such a draw. One key reason: tone. The three bloggers who write for the site are always nice and above board. Another? They add value to our lives. Contrast this with Valleywag which does little but throw snark. It’s so ironic they’re from the same company. To quote the bumper sticker, Mean People S&%k. That’s why for 2007 I have unsubscribed from dozens of mean-spirited blogs this year. I wish I could name them, but, um that would be mean!”

  49. Why is this site bragging about the people it now excludes?

    It’s not bragging: they’re telling us who they’ve banned and why. It’s way better than people simply disappearing and the rest of us not knowing why, like LintMan said. Plus, the rest of us get to give feedback on whether we think the bannings were fair.

    I have always found them fair before but I disagree with the following:

    flag8: I honestly think s/he meant to say The RIAA actually had a law passed instead of The RIAA actually has a law. It’s not unheard of for commentors to end up saying one thing instead of what they really meant (usually due to spelling and grammer mistakes). I don’t think that flag8 really believes that the RIAA is it’s own nation with it’s own laws.

    Heymoe: Because several people have complained about the Nazi t-shirt posts. I don’t think one complaint should get a ban. If Heymoe felt the need to fill every Wal-mart post with complaints about them, that would be different. I can only see one page of comments though…

    scoobydoo: If s/he was half joking can we cut them some slack? scoobydoo didn’t go on a rant about how most consumers are untrustworthy lawbreakers. He said alot of people would take advantage. Not quite the same thing.

    wholzem: Was on Best Buy’s side but not belligerant. Only made the one post so s/he didn’t have a pattern of behavior of always siding with the business.

    I DO agree with the banning of:

    The Tourist: Wanting to get a refund for a CD does not make someone an asshole.

    joeylopez: Again with the name calling. Don’t call someone an asshole because they said someone else is a fool.

    bestbuy-staff: I guess I’m the only one here who doesn’t believe this person actually works for Best Buy.

    somnambulist: Goes without saying.

    But seriously, am I the ONLY person who doesn’t believe bestbuy-staff is lying about being an employee?

  50. RandomHookup says:

    Hey, folks, this is just part of the floor show. At Gawker, they executed a bunch of folks for having ‘snark’ in their user names. Just one way of trimming the herd after open enrollment. If the executed are serious, they will rise from the dead.

  51. Scott Kidder says:

    Even if you’ve been executed, you can “apply” for a new commenter account simply by choosing a username and password of your choice when posting your comment. If your comment is deemed worthy, you’ll have another comment account again.

  52. William Mize says:

    @Baz – thanks for that link and quote from MicroPersuasion. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Contribute to the greater good, not the common mean.

  53. Kangarara says:

    (actually a bit nervous about posting this now, but… here goes)
    I think RandomHookup has it pegged when he talks about it being part of the floor show. It’s done in public as part of the fun (check out some of the Gawker commenter executions he refers to).

    I think the thing that’s not sitting well with a lot of people (as clearly evidenced above) is … this hasn’t been “that kind of blog”. In a response to David Pogue’s article on online etiquette going down the tubes (no, not the series of tubes), Gina Trepani of Lifehacker responded that she didn’t agree as follows:

    Also, netiquette in public forums has a lot to do with the content around which the community is centered. Lifehacker’s posts set out to help folks, so in kind, our readers want to help us and each other back. Digg is a popularity contest of oneupmanship. Gawker is all about making fun of things, so its readers mock each other and it right back in the comments. Karma’s a boomerang.

    It’s always been my perception that The Consumerist was more oriented towards helping people and making the world of consumption a better place than pure making fun of things and snark, so the commenter executions seem a bit harsh here (whereas they fit right in over at Gawker). To my knowledge, if Lifehacker does executions, it’s in private and solely because a user was detracting from the overall experience of the site.

    But here… well… to me, the public hanging doesn’t fit with the ‘feel’ of the site. Sure we make fun of things here, but it isn’t the main point of the site – the main point is to improve the process of consuming, right wrongs, and have some fun along the way. The public executions (especially for offenses that just don’t seem to be that egregious) seem overly mean-spirited coming from The Consumerist.

  54. bluegus32 says:

    Flag8 was banned because his/her posts contributed nothing to this site. Every comment was a one-liner attempt at being cute. He/she never contributed anything. While Ben may have said that he/she was banned for a misperception of the nature of the RIAA, I suspect the person was banned because he/she had nothing intelligent to contribute.

    The rest of them all make sense. Bestbuy-staff was likely cut because the Consumerist might get into some trouble posting a company’s perspective (Best Buy’s) as reported by someone not allowed to speak on behalf of that company. You’re looking at possible defamation liability if you allow something like that.

  55. infinitysnake says:

    Well, perhaps there could be liability, IF the person purported to speak for the company and not for themselves, but that’s grounds to remove the comment, not the commenter.

    There’s whiff of show business around this last round that just wasn’t there before…it’s enough to make me reconsider my ‘relationship’ with this blog.

    At some point a decision’s got to be made between ‘funny snarky sarcastic’ and serious consumerism…I don’t think the two can coexist without trouble. I also find it slightly obnoxious that the blog can take such a tone but wants commenters to walk such a tight line.

    In any case, thaqt’s my two cents, not that anyone asked. :-)

  56. bluegus32 says:

    infinitysnake: Think about it from a lawsuit strategy perspective. Let’s say that Best Buy did start threatening a lawsuit — the Consumerist’s best defensive position is to say, “hey, we take all necessary steps to preclude someone from making unauthorized statements on behalf of a company.”

    It’s a showing of good faith and a showing of responsible journalism.

    As for what you perceive as a double standard — snarky comments made by Ben in the articles on this site are merely window dressing on otherwise valid and informative posts. That’s the distinction. If all you have is window dressing but no substance, then those types of comments are a waste of time.

    Also, Ben’s “funny snark” comments are statements of opinion backed by facts to support those opinions. They are usually artful, poignant, entertaining and appropriate. Again, responsible reporting.

  57. NoThru22 says:

    I haven’t posted in a while. When I say something, it will be meaningful. Didn’t want to get booted for non-use.

  58. formergr says:

    I’m not sure that somnambulist is a United PR flack. He/she may very well just be a frequent flyer (especially given his/her post regarding SeatGuru’s seatmap that says, “Man, is it sad that I have that seatmap memorized?”

    I fly United a lot on business, and I could have provided the information/clarifications he or she did too just based on what I’ve learned flying them so much.

    I also don’t see any disinformation about United’s policies, either. What he/she posted looks accurate to me…

  59. Flag8 was banned because his/her posts contributed nothing to this site.

    There were only two Consumerist posts though. Isn’t that kind of quick?

    Are executions based on all of the Gawker comments? I thought they were only getting banned from Consumerist?

  60. AcilletaM says:

    Getting banned here gets you banned at all Gawker sites.

  61. infinitysnake says:

    Bluegrass: Also, Ben’s “funny snark” comments are statements of opinion backed by facts to support those opinions. They are usually artful, poignant, entertaining and appropriate. Again, responsible reporting.

    Sure- but plenty of the comments have been informative and accurate, but still got killed for snark- or for simple disagreemenbt.

    Formergr: I also don’t see any disinformation about United’s policies, either. What he/she posted looks accurate to me…

    Same here…and given that all of us have jobs (I assume) and/or companies we may feel like defending. Anyone here might agree with the goals of this blog and still find reason to disagree with something posted or defend a policy- sometimes, the consumer is the ass**** and it has to be said.

  62. I won’t comment on the particular cases, since judging those is definitely an editorial job. However, as a commenter, I’ll weigh in with this much:
    – Not having clear, or at least clearer, rules about what gets you banned does make me/us nervous. One of the things that attracted me to this site is the snarky tone; however it’s hard to be snarky without possibly crossing lines, if you don’t know where the lines are.
    – Re: the above, it would be nice if there were a policy of warning “bad commenters” once before booting them. Even with rules in place, some violations might simply be a misunderstanding that the commenter would be willing to correct, if given a fighting chance.
    – The public executions are a bit wince-worthy, but as long as they’re handled with humor and some mercy, they don’t bother me. Giving a chance for other commenters to weigh in seems more positive than people simply disappearing in the night.

    …And that’s my 2.5 cents worth of impure copper…

  63. Elijah-M says:

    I found myself unable to post anything shortly after saying this: [consumerist.com]

    My comment privileges were restored when I emailed Gawker Media and asked why I wasn’t able to post. My guess is someone looked at my comments and concluded that I was banned by an immature editor who took a bit of valid criticism personally. I would have found this a lot more amusing had I been publicly chastised for simply agreeing with two other commenters that an editor didn’t like..