Stop Blaming The Victim

Mike writes:

I really like Consumerist. Your mission, the way it’s run, it’s great. But lately my head hurts reading your site and I have really dropped off in looking at it. Oh, once in a while I check in, but I can’t take it in large doses, or even every day. Why? The “Blame the victim” mentality is just too much to take. I almost suspect there are people out there just waiting for some new post and “blaming the victim” for fun, just to troll. It’s to the point that the “here’s why the OP is an asshat” sub-threads are dominating the topic at hand.

I used to tell everyone to read your site, but now I kinda don’t.

Anyway, I know I’m free to browse anywhere else I want, no one is making me pay to read your site, I don’t want to censor anybody, etc., etc. I don’t have any ideas for a solution. It’s only my intention to share why one fairly enthusiastic Consumerist reader gets a headache and high blood pressure reading your blog. It’s not the Comcast stories. It’s the victim-blaming.

Besides that, thanks for the good work.

- Mike

I think it comes down to a matter of tone. It’s one thing to disagree with someone and state the reasons why. It’s another to bash them and use personally derogatory language. This applies to both sides of the consumer vs business divide.

It’s hard for us to monitor all of the robust discussions going on in the comments. If you see someone being a jerk in the comments, please drop a line to tips@consumerist.com or myself at ben@consumerist.com and we’ll check it out and see if it warrants a warning or an outright banning.

Comments

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  1. Pro-Pain says:

    I just ignore those “blame the victim” idiots. They are the TRUE asshats. They prove it everytime/every thread.

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    While there are a fair number of commenters who seem to always take the side of big business, or just automatically assume anyone with a complaint is just whining…sometimes people ARE just whining. Sometimes it IS the victim’s fault.

  3. consumersaur says:

    This site was founded to be PRO consumer. It’s right there in the name and mantra of the site’s editors. There are plenty of pro business sites, blogs, magazines out there and I too grow tired of the “blame the victim” tirade that’s been creeping up lately.

  4. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Pro-Pain:
    Actually, that’s what would solve this…an ignore button.

  5. Yeah, but in THIS case, I must blame the OP

  6. hypnotik_jello says:

    Maybe consumerist/gawker should have an “ignore this commenter” button?

  7. Buran says:

    AMEN.

  8. magic8ball says:

    @TechnoDestructo: OK, but sometimes that’s actually the point of the article – “Person X did this, and these were the consequences. Now they know better, and so do you because you read this.” And a lot of times, even when the OP says they don’t want compensation and admit that they should have known better, the commenters still say nasty things.

  9. homerjay says:

    Two things- Consumerist tells the story. We commentards interpret it any way we see entertaining. Don’t shoot the messenger. Anonymity allows for a much ballsier commenter.
    AND
    The customer is not always right. I almost never blame the victim. Most of the people to whom you are referring are the “Serves you right for having Comcast” crowd. However sometimes customers ask for more than many of us believe they have a right to ask for and sometimes Consumerist post those stories. In which case, we can disagree with that person and favor the big faceless corporation.

    If we were really that one sided we’d have to change our name to moveon.org or foxnews.com.

  10. dreamcatcher2 says:

    I’m one of those people who occasionally “blames the victim”, but as I think you’ll find most people are, I’m not sitting here waiting for a new post to come in so I can come in and troll. I probably spend more time countering people who disagree with the OP than countering the OP. Nevertheless, sometimes I genuinely feel that the “victim” is not a victim, or at least not to the extent that they would have us believe.

    People generally calls ‘em like they sees ‘em, and if we all always agreed with the OP then the comments section would have a certain paucity of ideas and viewpoints being presented, perhaps to the point that there would be no actual discussion occurring.

    Of course, disagreement never justifies rudeness. I will endeavor to remain respectful and polite when I disagree, as I hope we all will.

  11. zundian says:

    Here’s why the OP is an asshat: no one is forcing him to read the comments. Read the article and move on, or cut the lace off your panties and take it like a man. It *IS* the internet after all, there’s bound to be a jackass in every comment thread.

  12. Corydon says:

    Meh…some people here seem to think that the customer is always right. That’s no more true than saying the great big mega-corporation is always right. There have been times when I feel that I have been cheated as a consumer. There have been times when I was working as a CSR, I felt that there were customers trying to cheat me.

    And then there are the gray areas where both the company and the customer are acting in good faith, but for good reasons on both sides, they just can’t come to an amicable solution.

    I’ve been on both sides of the customer service relationship. Companies often have arguably legitimate reasons for the policies that they have. Customers often have legitimate grievances. But there are people on both sides who try to game the system in their favor, and the honest customers (and the CSRs too, as a rule) get stuck in the middle.

    As a great man once said, “People are broken.”

  13. RIP MRHANDS says:

    An ignore button would be great for trolls.

    But, there are times when the victim does deserve a rapping for poor behavior on their part. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    For some of these stories, its hard for me to muster up a lot of sympathy because the victim made bad decisions without much critical thought.

  14. larkknot says:

    Maybe both “report inappropriate commenter” and “report troll” buttons are needed. The first for use on things like MisterE’s racist comment the other day, the other for use on those that seem to be corporate shills or the usual breed of under-bridge dwellers.

  15. kidnextdoor says:

    Folks, this IS a Gawker media blog. While that doesn’t excuse the asshats, it does leave the door open for them to come in.

  16. Jon Parker says:

    I completely agree with this post. The problem is that they aren’t outright trolling, and reporting them all is just going to make additional work for you guys with probably no real resolution.

    It’s not a question of trolling, it’s a question of comment culture, and it’s taken a disturbing turn. I still read the posts, but ignore the comments for the most part, and almost never comment myself anymore.

  17. homerjay says:

    @larkknot: Can you imagine the number of complaints Ben & Co would have to filter through if they let us report anyone who disagreed with us?
    I’ll take that job if it pays but I’m sure the interns have more important things to do than fight the battles that we create.

  18. trickonion says:

    Just because you’re a consumer doesn’t mean you’re always right. What if people like myself take a fair look at the situation, contemplate the situation, and decide, that some percentage of the time the “victim” really is at (at least) partial fault.

    Or, we could just say, if their story was posted on consumerist they are automagically innocent, I guess that’s easier.

  19. Michael Belisle says:

    Mike has a point, but I though sending in a tip should come with a warning: “Do not read comments on your story unless without protection. You’ll need at least a kevlar vest, gas mask and shin guards.”

    Trai_dep bought up the idea of community policing through a troll button. How about it Ben?

  20. pine22 says:

    for the most part i am very pro-consumer, but like others have already said, sometimes it is the consumers fault. there are certain situations where the consumer expects too much, or does not approach the situation correctly.

    when consumerist posts kinda whiny stories, it seems to take away from legitimate consumer issues.

  21. umbriago says:

    It’s not all the stupid people trying to extricate themselves from a self-created mess that bother me. Those are kinda fun. It’s those fifteen year old Simpsons references about our new overlords, et al, that eat away at my psyche.

  22. umbriago says:

    The whiny submissions are great! It’s a life lesson! It’s those fifteen-year-old Simpsons references about our new overlords (et al) that eat away at me.

  23. Squeegoth says:

    You guys need to start doing a Ban Monday like they do over on Kotaku. It helps keep the riff-raff out, and there’s no riff-raff like gamer riff-raff on the ‘Net.

  24. bohemian says:

    It is usually pretty clear who is just blaming the victim to be a troll or a jerk vs. who see some fault on the victims part. I have seen some monumental stretches taken to blame the victim. A troll button would be useful and more sites are starting to add them.

    As for corporate shills astroturfing the comments. I think those are rather obvious. If there is a poster who does nothing but defend comcast in comments and that is the only subject they post on and someone notices the trend, follow their comments and point it out.

  25. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @All “Sometimes the OP is Wrong” Comments:

    1) DUH

    2) That’s obviously not what he’s talking about. He’s talking about crap like this Panera Bread Employees Now Offer Nutritional Advice, Insult…
    It ought to be a no brainer that the guy behind the counter had no business saying what he did but the thread blows up to 200+ comments. Why?

    Because there’s always someone who has to make it about the OP’s weight. Or the OP’s religion. Or their disability. Or the fact that they went to Best Buy or Wal-mart or etc in the first place.

    Did Ambracas retire? Can we get a new moderator (or two)?

  26. Pylon83 says:

    The consumer is most definitely not always right. I’m not going to sit here and accept their sob story when it is full of holes, or when they are clearly just trying to pull one over on the corporation. When people who weren’t really wronged are compensated, the rest of us ultimately pay.

  27. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Squeegoth: They used to have executions back in the day. I can’t remember why those ended.

  28. Alexander says:

    The customers is not always right…
    [positivesharing.com]

  29. SVreader says:

    @pine22: “when consumerist posts kinda whiny stories, it seems to take away from legitimate consumer issues.”

    Exactly. Now, when a four-year-old dies from lead poisoning and people are nominating him for a Darwin Award, that’s mean, but sometimes not-so-blatant stories are posted here, and in thoses cases I don’t think it’s wrong for people to say that maybe the OP doesn’t have a case or is responsible for what happened–if they can make their point.

    I think the Consumerist loses a lot of its potential power if it just becomes known as that site where people scream, “So what if his out-of-warranty lapbook broke after he used it as a stage for his dancing elephant–THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT and he needs a free replacement!!!!!”

  30. Michael Belisle says:

    @Michael Belisle: Continuing where I left off, this post will be off the front page in about 12 hours, while another million people will drop in tomorrow morning. I figure that only the night crew will see it.

    It’s reached the point where the comment system really needs some serious, heavy-duty artillery. It worked well a year ago when 20 comments was “wow, this story is hot!” It doesn’t work so well when the story is tagged “Best Buy” and we hit page 3 within hours.

  31. amoeba says:

    Didn’t Consumerist have a “report inappropriate comments” button next to “Reply”? I pretty much agree what homerjay says in his first comment “We commentards interpret it any way we see entertaining.” No wonder why sometimes someone would say something silly, and expecting “the victim commenter” to reply back with anger. (i am not referring the victim of the story)

  32. Chongo says:

    I always feel like I might come off as an “apologist” for this site but as I’ve said so many times, this site is entertainment. Take it or leave it. Its just that I really hate when people come on here and say “What is this doing on the consumerist?”. Its that sort of mentality that makes it seem like were owed something for coming here, arn’t the stories enough?

    I know its a little hypocritical to say stop bitching (because hey, I’m bitching right now) but please, STOP BITCHING! ;)

    arggg it makes me angry just talking about it.

  33. smitty1123 says:

    Mike, you submitted some sob story about getting a tepid grande-no fat-strained-sugar free-skim-environmentally friendly-mochachino with extra whipped cream and the commenters jumped on you like like a new fish in prison, right?

  34. oldtaku says:

    Okay, I know I’m being hypocritical by posting here but the secret to enjoying sites like Consumerist, YouTube, Slashdot, etc is to never read the comments.

  35. valarmorghulis says:

    I understand Mike’s viewpoint, but I’d just like to point out that I have yet to find a single example where the consumer could not have done something smarter/differently/RTFM that would have made no difference in their situation. Vice verse is also true. Everybody involved in the interactions submitted are responsible and at fault. All the peanut gallery does is argue on who sits where on that see-saw…and sometimes dispense helpful advice.

  36. Chongo says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I remember the bans but I gotta be truthful on that, I didn’t like it. There was one instance where Ben (sorry to call you out! :) banned a guy because there was some sort of comment about this deal that was not going to last much longer because it was posted on the consumerist . It was obviously tounge in cheek, and totally in the voice of “Aww man! dont tell anyone or they will find out and stop the promotion!” and he got banned for that.

    I think people who are constantly trolling and being insulting should be banned. But I think the decision could be mulled over with the community as well (meaning us!)

    What about using those polls for banning? Public execution if you will :)

  37. valarmorghulis says:

    @valarmorghulis: DAMMIT! first story i see when i get back to the front page? The DirectTV guy who is totally not at fault. Stupid dis-proving evidence!

  38. balthisar says:

    I do blame the victim in a fair number of Consumerist posts, because often times the facts that are readily available point out the victim’s inability to follow instructions, rules, contracts, etc. In other cases, the “victim” is truly a victim.

  39. j3s says:

    “…we’ll check it out and see if it warrants a warning or an outright banning.”

    Looks like someone forgot to add a “taking it seriously” tag.

  40. neuracnu says:

    I’ve always assumed that the mission of the Consumerist was to help make everyone a better, smarter consumer. It only makes sense that this would involve focusing on good and bad behavior on both the business’s and consumer’s side.

    I recall the recent article on an AT&T store refusing to sell a man …. On its face it appears to be a story about a business behaving badly but, when you read the story, you realize it’s actually just an obnoxious consumer throwing a hissy-fit.

    I like it when the Consumerist prints these stories. I only wish they had a more discerning eye to read between the lines.

  41. petrarch1608 says:

    consumerist used to be great when it first came out. The writing was as sharp and tongue-in-cheek as the onion. There used to be a wild-wild west, no holds barred atmosphere in those days. Ben is the only editor left that I still like. I dont know what happened exactly, but it seems like the editors are trying to appease the commenters.

  42. Thomas Palmer says:

    Sometimes I think they are company reps that are blaming the victim to try to protect the company.

  43. Sudonum says:

    I think it’s not so much the “blame the victim” comments as the tone that those comments are sometimes written in.
    @zundian:
    Instead of saying “Here’s why the OP is an asshat”, couldn’t you have simply stated “Here’s why the OP is wrong…..”? Or “Here’s what the OP should have done differently…..”

    We used to be able to have a half way civilized “conversation” on this site without the personal attacks. That’s what I miss the most about this site.

  44. Canerican says:

    So does this mean that we need to agree with Consumerist from now on?

  45. @zundian:
    OO! I think I found Waldo!

    @homerjay:
    That would be Jezebel. Third door on your left.

    @j3sX:
    lol

  46. clevershark says:

    This is a public blog. Anyone can get an account and comment, including shills and jerks. You just have to make up your own mind as to what’s signal and what’s noise.

  47. mac-phisto says:

    i like the “ban the troll” idea, but only if you find a way to incorporate an important part of my childhood:

  48. Rando says:

    Maybe if it weren’t the victim’s fault that they were in the situation in the first place, they wouldn’t get blamed.

    I’m all for consumers when they are in the right, but half they time they aren’t.

  49. K-Bo says:

    I think too often advice on how the rest of us could aviod the same situation in the future is taken to be blameing the victim. Saying they did something differently than they should have doesn’t mean they are horrible people, and we can all learn from them (not that there aren’t some who really blame the victim, but I’ve seen people accused of it who were just trying to help the rest of us).

  50. K-Bo says:

    wow, sorry about the spelling, accidentally hit submit before reading it.

  51. MercuryPDX says:

    @TechnoDestructo: I have to agree. Sometimes the person writing in is their own worst enemy.

    What happened to the Flag Comments button?

  52. BStu says:

    Ultimately, I think the problem is that there are too many anti-consumer misanthropes who post here not to add to the discourse but because they really do want to scuttle discussion. Maybe they are corporate plants, more likely they just have a great sense of their own superiority and like expressing that by belittling others. Sure, some are just trolls, but as with most forums, its not the trolls who are the problem. Rather, its those people who’ll maintain a discussion but in doing so work to disrupt and subvert it.

    Obviously, sometimes the customer isn’t right so distinguishing this can be difficult. I’m wondering about post rating systems found on other sites, but I’m not sure that wouldn’t just get abused. There has to be a way of distinguishing from some slob who wants a company to honor a warranty he broke through neglect, and someone who hassles someone for not dying from cancer in the right way or blames a kid for dying from lead poisoning. Unfortunately, I think the way would be haphazardly time-consuming and still fraught with peril.

  53. Me - now with more humidity says:

    larknot: community flagging works just fine for Craigslist.

  54. Buran says:

    @amoeba: Where the heck did that button go? Yet we still have a button for “stalk this person”.

  55. lemur says:

    @homerjay:

    “Can you imagine the number of complaints Ben & Co would have to filter through if they let us report anyone who disagreed with us? I’ll take that job if it pays but I’m sure the interns have more important things to do than fight the battles that we create.”

    You are right that there’s a real risk that they could be flooded with useless complaint. There used to be a way to flag inappropriate posts but I don’t see the button anymore. Maybe it was abused? If it is the case that’s too bad because like you point out, the point of flagging post is not to complain about people just because we disagree with them. The point is to flag really shitty posts.

    I used to reserve the flag button for posts that were just insulting and contributed nothing to the discussion like “tha OP is teh suxxorz!!11! wat a lamar!” The other case was when discussion between commenters got overheated and turned to personal attacks. But that was it. Mere disagreement was never a good reason for me to use the flag button.

  56. Amy Alkon000 says:

    If you think somebody’s an idiot can’t you just skip their comment?

    Furthermore, the customer is not always right and sometimes people are unreasonable in their contentions that the company should pick up after them when they’re irresponsible, forgetful or just dim.

    If you don’t want people to post anything but “Yay! Get the evil capitalists!” it’s going to be kind of dull around here.

    The idea that Starbucks, for example, is some terrible business, got to me the other night. Luckily, for tender Mike’s sake, I didn’t speak up (I was in a hurry). I generally find their employees to be nice, helpful, and friendly, and I like that. Anyway, Starbucks was one of the first companies to offer gay partner benefits, and at the one near me, they look after a homeless artist who does his work there. One of the barristas used to give him the keys to her Bug so he could store his work in the trunk, and when somebody in France wanted to buy his work, another barrista took the money via Paypal and gave him the cash. And they do much, much more for him.

  57. lotusangel42 says:

    Some of the people posting comments are just mean. I couldn’t believe some of the comments on the guy wihth sleep apnea the other day!

  58. yesteryear says:

    i am happy to have the opportunity to be here to share my thoughts and feelings with all of you. group hug?

  59. Televiper says:

    This is the Internet. It’s hard to find a public forum where there isn’t a few intentional jerks saying crude things because they think they are funny. Put a simple comment rating system in. Thumbs up or thumbs down and give people a little bit more room in deciding which comments they want to read. It wouldn’t do the Consumerist any good to promote a passive community of sycophants in the comments. Inappropriate comments come from both sides of the fence.

  60. LAGirl says:

    wow, Mike. what a whiner. just KIDDING! no, seriously. kidding.

    please don’t ban me, Ben.

  61. consumerd says:

    I usually read both sides of the argument first but the thing is if you are just using the EECB’s to get free crap that’s where I draw the line.

    See link for info: [digg.com]

    yea, and he is “just getting out of the business”. Well yea, after you got caught I would be “Just getting out of the business” too!

    This is one victim that deserved it, he got caught here plain and simple.

  62. Televiper says:

    @lotusangel42: Unfortunately “Mike” doesn’t touch on the meanness. He only comments on what he feels is the “blame-the-victim” mentality of some of those making comments here.

  63. Landru says:

    To all you proud blame-the-victim advocates, it may be true that people are wrong in certain cases, but it is possible to get the point across in a supportive way, without being so dismissive and mean spirited. The whole atmosphere becomes unctous and unpleasant.

  64. Michael Belisle says:

    @Buran: Creeepy, you seem to be stalking yourself. I’m not sure what to think of that.

  65. Pamoya says:

    The comments that get to me are the ones where the commenter writes, for example:

    “Well Duh!! Doesn’t she know that you have to sign a copy of your complaint and then send it to yourself via registered mail and she would never have had this problem” etc.

    Could following this arcane procedure have gotten the OP out of the situation? Possibly. But how would a reasonable person know to do this? And the tone of the comment implies that the victim is at fault for doing things the way any normal person would have. I guess it makes the commenter feel good to seem superior, and that they would never ever fall victim to corporate bad behavior because they know all the right tricks.

    The exact same comment can be made in a non-victim blaming way if you frame it like:

    “Obviously you shouldn’t have to go to these lengths when dealing with a customer service issue, but one tip I’ve found helpful is to always ” etc.

    The point is that this site is about sticking up for consumers. Sure, we have the power of the dollar, but when companies get large enough our little dollar doesn’t seem to matter much. Nowadays many companies seem to have built “churn” into their business model, and taking your business elsewhere means nothing to them. This site publicly points out bad behavior to a large number of readers. The type of comments I dislike essentially excuse the company for everything and put the burden on the consumer to jump through 10 hoops. That really undercuts the message of this site.

    Now I’m not the commenting overlord who decides what people can and can’t say on this site. I just want to explain why I find certain comments obnoxious and unhelpful.

  66. ncboxer says:

    I use to love reading the Consumerist’s comments back when there weren’t that many. Now after it has only been an hour since I last looked, there are more than 75 comments for a brand new story. It makes it hard to wade through. The greasemonkey nested comment plugin helps, but there needs to be native nested comments. There should also be a way to vote up or down (a la Digg) or give points and rate the message (a la Slashdot). Or if enough registered users vote someone a troll, then it identifies that post as a troll post. get too many troll posts and you are banned.

    Of course this message will probably be seen by only a handful of people’s since it is so far down now.

  67. Amelie says:

    I generally ignore the “blame the victim” types because they are trolls just hoping to get a reaction. On the other hand the myriad of of wannabe comedians and so called experts*, makes me come here less and less.

    Also, have you noticed how most of the names are new? Granted people may change them legimately, but my take is that many people are leaving the site because the ~level of commentary is often pathetic.

    *Examples:
    ~Even though I have no children of my own, I’m an expert on child development.
    ~Even though I’m not a doctor or nutritionist and have never had a weight problem, I am qualified to tell you how to lose weight.
    ~Because I can do ______, therefore everyone should.

  68. jmschn says:

    Part of the fun is reading those who blame the victims…consumerist would be a bore if everyone were YES MEN/WOMEN. Besides, there have been numerous occurrences where the “victim” was really not the victim usually do to ignorance.

  69. Sherryness says:

    I used to get upset about the comments that blamed the OP, knee-jerkedly, or ripped on Consumerist every single time they posted something. Then I realized that a large portion of those posts may actually be people or companies who have not liked something they’ve read about themselves (their company) on Consumerist and were just trying to hurt the site. Now I just assume that’s what ALL of them are (revenge postings of some form) and shrug them off.

  70. Trai_Dep says:

    cough
    Voting flag to ban trolls
    cough

  71. Trai_Dep says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I really miss the Gawker Media commenter public executions. Especially the Defamer ones, which were snarky beyond belief. It’d be nice to see them come back.

  72. KashmirKong says:

    I’m a call it as I see it” person.

    If I think someone was a bonehead, I’m not going to sugarcoat it… but I’m not going to go out of my way to be an ass about it.

    I also hate whiners, like the people who can’t handle reading things they read online without emailing the staff.

    I’d bet these are the folk who were mollycoddled with the “everyone’s a winner” mentality and treated like precious little snowflakes as children.

  73. TehRev says:

    I call them as I see them as well. I think this has increased because the number of posts blaming companies when they haven’t really done anything wrong has increased. I think more moderation needs to be done of the post side and that will keep the “blame the victim” as they say down. Unlike the old saying the Customer isn’t always right. I am more disappointed with the quality of actual blog posts lately they are getting more lax and not to the point of flagging things really wrong.

  74. mindshadow says:

    I’m too lazy to read the comments, so I apologize if this has already been said.

    I suspect a lot of companies have gotten wind of the Consumerist and a lot of the “blame the victim” types are shills meant to either defame the poster or the Consumerist as a whole.

  75. soulman901 says:

    I usually read the story before I comment. There are two people on here that get their stories posted. Victims and Cry Babies. I comfort the victims and tell the cry babies to buzz off.

  76. Southern says:

    I think some of the stories themselves are to blame, as well.

    Take the “Online Convenience Fee Is 63% Of Utility Bill” story as an example. That was just pure sensationalism, because as it turned out, that “Fee” was a flat rate and the “Bill” was a low amount (like $11 or something).

    What if the bill has been $5 (because apparently it was a pro-rated bill) and the flat-fee was still $7.50? Would the headline have then been “Online Convenience Fee is 150% of Utility Bill!”?

    And a few weeks ago, there was a story about a laptop owner who complained that Dell wouldn’t continue to replace his laptop for free (for the 5th time) 5 years after he paid for the first one?

    Sometimes, yes, SOMETIMES, the OP/Victim *is* to blame.

    Not every story can be cut-and-dried “The company is at fault here” like they are in (examples) “Mugger Used Our Credit Card, Now CapitalOne Sued Us Without Us Knowing For $1200 And Won” or “Verizon Erases, Then Restores, Dead Wife’s Lost Voice” — but those are the type(s) of stories that make me a constant reader.

  77. missdona says:

    An ignore button would be great by me. That, or bring back the guillotine.

  78. milty45654 says:

    OMFG….waaaaaaaa….what happened to freedom of speech.

  79. scoosdad says:

    I think that when an OP starts to get blamed big-time, that whole thing provides a much stronger learning experience for the rest of us, rather than just nodding along with them and posting, “yeah dude you got scrooood…. chargeback!…. join a credit union!…. whatever….”

    When the OP doesn’t do it right and gets called on it, we all learn how to avoid that pitfall when we find ourselves in his shoes someday.

  80. galatae says:

    I use the Sage Extension of Firefox as my RSS reader, which gives the added benefit of NOT showing comments.

  81. PinkBox says:

    I like when people say what they actually think of the stories instead of passively agreeing with them. That often leads to a good debate.

    Of course that isn’t always the case… but still.

  82. JustIcedCoffee says:

    I find very few victims here on consumerist. Usage of the phrase “blame the victims” Uses a “with us, or against us” mentality, which does not serve a great conversation starter, it starts with a strong postion, and as a result people respond with an equally Strong opposite stance.
    My thing here is I rarely need to comment when I see I clear misjustice, and merely file it away in case that situation arised in my life. If the story seems really questionable. then, I am much more likely to actually post something that questions the OP, does that make me a bad person?
    Consumerist is Pro-Consumer, and I think the diagloge engaged in the commnents adds to that Goal. Back and forth dialogue, is important to help people who are reading without a well formed decision.
    Sometimes people are a little over-zealous, but that works in both directions Customers are not always right, but customers are not always wrong either.

  83. sventurata says:

    Two solutions:

    edit content better, ask the victim to clarify confusing wording before posting to the site

    provide better, less inflammatory content

    This site drives me nuts too, honestly, but it has potential. I love it, in spite of myself. But please, for the love of all that’s holy, tone down the rhetoric and fact-check, edit, and proofread!

  84. B says:

    I recently sent in a tip, and I consciously edited my email to make it clear and concise, for just this reason.

  85. Michael Belisle says:

    @soulman901: Wait, I remember your name… yes, yes here they are:

    I want Pictures of the Box, Front Side Back and I want a Picture of the PS3…. The little brat is just trying to ripoff Best Buy. [consumerist.com]

    Liar, you are the scum of this world and should pay the ultimate price for being that scum. [consumerist.com]

    Shame on Consumerist for posting this faux story [consumerist.com]


    /me apologizes for stepping the level of discourse down a notch here.

  86. TechnoDestructo says:

    @homerjay:
    Combine reporting with the ignore button. If you are allowed to distinguish spam and other abuse from trolling, and then filtered the trolls so that only reports about commenters who are on enough ignore lists actually get through, that could both work, and be fair.

  87. pibbsman0 says:

    If ya don’t like it, don’t read it. Sometimes, but not always, it may be acceptable to blame the victim, we may not know all the circumstances, but may be able to bring up a good point. Some people who have been frustrated and turn to Consumerist also have ideas that may be way off or in the wrong direction. Example: Broken Product, yet not blaming the manufacturer, but instead the retail store (‘cough’ Best Buy ‘cough’). I’m all for what this website stands for, which is to help and educate consumers, but there are such things as bad customers, and there are people that are misguided.

  88. Greeper says:

    I think the commenters are usually pretty good about identifying whiners and complainers and calling them out. A lot of consumerist stories identify “victims” who aren’t really. Overall I think the level of comments here is pretty good and accurate (and polite)

  89. burgundyyears says:

    Come on Ben, don’t you have some now-closed laptop repair stores to defend? Fur reals.

  90. legwork says:

    Here’s another vote for heavy editorial control. Consumerist would be of more value to its namesake cause were a higher bar used for both stories and comments. Sure, the free-for-all might be fun at times, but the borderline cases and mud slinging detracts from the whole.

  91. Hoss says:

    I too am greatly disapointed with recent commentary. Specifically with the airline masterbation hair jizz item, and the have fun by invading the fast food drive through order system. Both items invited a ganging on innocent consumers. The editorial restraint of this blog has deterioriated greatly with the mass posting to this site.

  92. wring says:

    hmmm didn’t there used to be a “flag this comment” feature? just grow desensitized of these trolls.

  93. astruc says:

    It’s hard for us to monitor all of the robust discussions going on in the comments.

    Comments are content that reflects on your site. Seriously, it’s not like you have thousands of comments to slog through. I love the Consumerist, but I did consider writing a letter similar to the one featured here. Then I figured you read the comments so you were okay with them, and that was pretty much that.

  94. BlondeGrlz says:

    @TinkishlyDelightful: I don’t know what you meant by that second remark but you better watch it or well come and get you. We’re scary.

    @Trai_Dep: The executions have been called for on every Gawker blog recently, and after the round over on Jezebel they took the “flag” button away. They didn’t really go as planned because if you throw out everyone with different opinions you have no discussion. Free speach and all that…

    I think Rectilinear Propagation‘s example of who should be banned was a good one, which is why he gets a star:)

  95. MisterE says:

    @larkknot:

    Sigh…again with the “Racist” remarks. I have a right to my opinion, and you have the right to ignore them and move on with your life.

  96. rochec says:

    Every story has two sides. To say that no one should ever be blaming the victim is just arrogant. Sure there are trolls, but there have been plenty of stories on The Consumerist that entail pure stupidity on the consumers end. Both sides should be examined on the site, especially when some of the complaints are a bit of attention whoring or just flat wrong.

    The guy who went to Japan with one debit card as his only funds, ya he deserved some blame. Why in god’s name would you travel to a foreign land with one form of money, especially a debit card. Sure his bank did some stupid stuff, but what if he had lost his debit card? People pointing out how bad of a choice that is serves as educational material to others who don’t know any better.

    I do understand the troll problem and they should be taken care of, but it’s an open forum for discussion about a topic. Sounds like a small case of the customers always right, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

  97. ascara says:

    I have cut back on my viewing of this blog for the exact opposite reason of the poster. Far too often I see “the customer is always right” posted as an excuse for some of the most ridiculous ass hattery. I am not the sort to think that companies have anyone’s interest in mind other than their own. On the other hand, there has to be a certain amount of reason and personal responsibility exercised. Defend your rights and speak out about things that are wrong, but two wrongs do not make a right. A grandmother taking a hammer into her cable company’s office and breaking things can NEVER be defended as the right thing to do. Not taking care of your own responsibilities is not the fault of your service provider. If I go on vacation in January and leave the windows open and the heat cranked up it simply is not my electricity provider’s responsibility. And no, there really should not be something in place for them to see a “strange pattern” in my usage and shut me off. There are a lot of people here that are fair and balanced, defending the consumer when it is appropriate and speaking out when they are out of line, but they are more than balanced by the “oh my god you should totally sue because you were mildly inconvenienced” contingent.

  98. Michael Belisle says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Isn’t moderating what interns are for? It’s like they’re busy investigating and posting stories or something. As if.

    @blondegrlz: I agree, all good examples of types of blaming the victim that are in question here.

  99. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    It gets out of hand sometimes, with comments and insults being hurled for no reason. Take Bra Seller Tells Customer To Get A Breast Reduction for example. That, in my opinion, brought out the absolute WORST in many people. I was appalled by the ignorance and sexism I saw in that thread. It kind of tainted the experience of reading Consumerist.

  100. Hambriq says:

    I kind of like how Consumerist is using this post to let out their unofficial opinion on the victim-blaming “issue”.

  101. Michael Belisle says:

    @MisterE: After reviewing the play, larknot may be over-pressing the racist issue based solely on your original comment and followup. It’s a common view, though I may not agree.

    But that video is totally inappropriate.

  102. Add to the “Blame the OP crowd”

    The “Why should I have to sit next to a fatso on my plane” comment on every airline story.

    The “Tipping is voluntary” or “If you cant tip 20% then stay home” comment on every restaurant story

    The “thats illegal, call the AG” comment on every story, regardless of illegality

    The “Why would you shop/eat at/order from XXXX, your comment is invalid” comments

    The “local pizza/Coffee/Restaurant near me youve never heard of is so much better then the chain you went to” comments.

    And my favorite, the labeling of anyone who disagrees with customers occasionally as a shill or a troll, something thats been thrown at me.

    Am I pro-business? yeah, probably. But I think Ive also added to the discourse with knowledge Ive accumulated, have rarely gotten profane (and was banned), and am never nasty toward the OP.

  103. Southern says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace. No, really, ACE: The “Why would you shop/eat at/order from XXXX, your comment is invalid” comments

    Can’t argue with that one, Steve.. I positively detest reading comments on a Best Buy, Circuit City, or Wal-Mart story (and pretty much don’t, anymore), because they inevitably have these type of asinine comments.

  104. theblackdog says:

    It would be easier if y’all would just bring back the flag button.

  105. MercuryPDX says:

    @Southern, @Steve Trachsel: Any articles involving the “showing or not showing of receipts” are the new “cranky iPhone user” stories from last summer.

    We need a “be all end all article” that says if it’s really legitimate or not, or a limit of one a month.

  106. Peeved Guy says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace. No, really, ACE: Great list. You hit all of my peeved save one. Anytime a kid is mentioned in the story (sometimes even anecdotally), there is the inevitable:

    “Keep you whiny brat, demon-spawn out of my eyesight until they are at least 22 years old. Kids have no business in a restaurant, airplane or any other public place.”

    Those get kinda old.

    I could even deal with the negative comment IF they were done constructively.

  107. MercuryPDX says:

    @MercuryPDX: And before I’m jumped on, I completely avoid these articles like lead toothpaste from China.

  108. forgottenpassword says:

    its a war out there!

    Its the tiny consumer against the gigantic, uncaring, greedy company trying to trick,scam, deceive the consumer out of their hard earned money at every turn!

    This is a pro-consumer site. So obviously you are going to see stories posted that typically side with the consumer (and commenter who do so as well) even if it seems like the consumer is expecting too much from the company that wronged them. In other words… the customer is almost always right (at least here at the consumerist)…. as it should be IMO.

    SOme of the “blame the victim” types here dont seem to understand this. Its amazing how many here I see who will typically defend the companies that wronged its customers. I often wonder if they are company shills or people who work in the service industry who tend to HATE the customers they deal with every day.

  109. Southern says:

    @MercuryPDX:

    I actually don’t mind the STORIES, Mercury, (the comments are a completely different matter, I don’t read ‘em in those type stories), but ONLY because I want the practice either stopped or made mandatory at every shopping center, mall, grocery store & neighborhood 7-11.. We’ll see how long the practice sticks around THEN..) :D

    Not going to get into it on this thread though, as this isn’t the place for it. :)

    Agree with you regarding the comments on those type stories, though – they’re just rehashes every time.

  110. forgottenpassword says:

    .
    @forgottenpassword:

    ^^^ This post was in response to most of the commenters who were defending their “blame the victim” stance. I should have made that clear in my original comment.

    And I agree with the OP about them.

  111. grithfang says:

    To bad you don’t have the same software wikipedia does. I would put money down some of the victim bashing is coming from corporate servers.

  112. MeOhMy says:

    If the “victim” is to blame, then there’s nothing wrong with blaming the “victim.” I say call a spade a spade and I certainly do when I see one. In addition, many times when I’ve been accused of “blaming the victim” what I’m really tryig to do is tell others “Don’t do _____ and you’ll be less likely to be in this situation.”

    The thing is, business is a two-way street. We simply cannot expect to get a fair shake from a business if we are not going to give the business a fair shake. The Internet in general and Consumerist in particular are growing weaker in terms of the power wielded. Each time someone drops an EECB frivolously it’s less effective when someone really needs it.

    OTOH if we the consumers do everything above-board and by the book then we are truly blameless and have real power against the company.

    I will also say for the record that the quality of comments has severely declined in the last year or so….right around the time they stopped requiring you to make an actual contribution to the discussion in order to get an account. And they stopped “executing” problem commenters.

    Thinning the herd and tightening up the standards is overdue.

  113. Michael Belisle says:

    @Southern: Yeah. The consumerist has a duty to report the seeming esclation from “kept walking” to “convicted of assaulting the 75-year-old who asked to see the receipt for the bike I was removing from the store”. Reality is a cruel mistress.

    And It took me a few discussions before I understood the validity of the issue (but that’s because I like to do a little grappling in the octagon from time-to-time.)

  114. Alex Chasick says:

    @homerjay: We certainly get enough emails as it is, but getting to ban trolls would be a nice treat.

  115. acasto says:

    OMG… you mean to say there are people out there who don’t think exactly like you? Something definitely needs to be done about that. I mean, it is so insensitive for them to express themselves without first considering whether or not a handful of Consumerist readers will be able to stomach it. I know I shape my life and opinions around you alls blood pressure. It shocks me that others aren’t so considerate.

  116. daniinpa says:

    No one is saying that the consumer is never ever to blame. That’s just a straw argument and I seen a few dozen comments in this thread wasted attacking it. There’s no problem with people who raise reasonable concerns and express them intelligently. But that is not what is going on here and that’s not what anyone is objecting to.

    This website used to be pro-consumer. Full stop. Do businesses deserve a fair shake? Yeah sure. But I thought this website existed because there has been a massive shift in power. Too many companies have taken stances that are anti-consumer in practice, even if they claim to “take consumers seriously”. This attitude is pervasive and NO MAJOR SITE is speaking out against it except The Consumerist.

    There are plenty of websites dedicated to slagging on customers. Waitstaff have them, flight attendants have them, and every corporate blog has comments full of shills who excuse everything the company does (Southwest, for example).

    A lot of the commenters seem to be on a mission to find a way to blame the customer. True, rarely has the customer done everything perfectly. But the power imbalance is such that the response of the company is often way out of line and out of proportion.

  117. cmdr.sass says:

    I just hate it when people don’t agree with me, too. I mean the NERVE!

  118. Buran says:

    @Michael Belisle: Hah. Yeah, recursive isn’t it? I did that because I accidentally clicked on myself shortly after the button showed up and I wanted to see how it worked, but I couldn’t figure out how to remove myself from my own list.

    Then, I realized that it was useful for tracking where I’d commented in the past because it shows my own activity right there on the front page, and I can see my history in my “friends’ activity” list, so I decided not to email to find out how to undo it.

  119. boxjockey68 says:

    When all those asshats were commenting about me I would have LOVED an ignore this commenter button, or as I would say, ignore this asshat button

  120. Dervish says:

    A few things -

    I agree with sme of the commenters here who think that, sometimes, the consumer is to blame. When I hear a story about how “my cell phone was stolen and I took two weeks to report it and now they want me to pay the $2000 bill,” well, I’m inclined to blame the consumer. It sucks that those charges to Africa are clearly not yours, but you didn’t get off your butt and alert your carrier.

    What bugs me are angry comments on innocuous stories – like the one the other day about the guy who took his 5-year-old to Applebees and was underwhelmed with the experience. Commenters jumped all over him, lecturing him on everything about how he shouldn’t have been so whiny (he wasn’t really) to how his kid was probably a screaming terror (we don’t know) to how he ruined his son’s birthday by bringing him to Applebees in the first place (not super likely). Basically, they ragged on him in all the ways detailed by comments above me.

    Why be such jerks? From the tone of the article, the guy wasn’t angry – he just wrote in because he had a weirdly underwhelming experience. I LIKE lighter, “isn’t this weird” stories like that. I think they’re a good counterpart to the more serious economic/safety issues and the really abysmal experiences the blog posts. Don’t even get me started on the comments left on the “ejaculated in my hair” story. I’m not at all a prude but those were some awful, juvenile comments.

    One more thing – I really wish more commenters took the time to read the entire thread of comments. It’s pretty boring hearing people make the same case over and over, especially if they’ve been proven definitively wrong 50 comments ago. I like having debates in the comments but it’s pretty hard sometimes when people don’t read them.

    Like many other commenters, I wish we still had the buttton for fagging comments. Also, like Troy F., I wish we still had to audition for commenter positions. I’m sure it was a system with many of its own problems, but it really helped the conversation stay interesting. Most of all, I wish that the anonymity of the internet didn’t encourage people to be such jerks. Now THAT’S a pipe dream

    So that’s my piece. Sorry for writing a novel, and if you’ve managed to make it this far, I really appreciate it.

  121. Hawk07 says:

    Some could say I’m trolling with this post, but I was seriously thinking about emailing the ops here about how the Consumerist is turning into Digg with its mob like mentality and unwelcome/unflattering comments that degrade the consumer who sends in the story. While some criticisms have been legitimate, it’s getting out of hand. I used to participate a lot on Digg, but it’s not worth it anymore.

    I also used to send out links of the really good stories to friends, but I don’t do that anymore because I’m embarrassed of the mentality some have here.

    What stands out in my mind is the story of the guy who AT&T refused to sell the refurbished iPhone to. It turned into a lovefest of faceless internet users calling the guy a d-bag (which anyone with a brain can come up with a better putdown) b/c he made a comment about income out of desperation after being accused of wanting to unlock the iPhone at home. What I find ironic is that on AT&T’s OWN webpage, they tell you to activate the refurbished phone through iTunes in the comfort of your own home.

  122. RedSonSuperDave says:

    nthing the request for an ignore button.

  123. thelushie says:

    @Dervish: The masturbation in the hair story comments were just awful. I think respect has gone out of style somehow. And being mean is in thanks to the internet. It is easier to be nasty when you are hiding behind a computer screen. I do my best not to be mean but I am not perfect. I know I called someone an idiot over at the hair story.

    There are people on here that feel that unless you agree with them, then you should be banned. They will flag not the “She is a whore, how could she let a guy masturbate on her” comments but the ones that start with “You know, I disagree with you…” and it will be pointless and useless.

    I would like to see an ignore button. I know three commentors that I would use it on immediately. But, you know, I would not flag them. They are not being needlessly mean or trolling. I just personally find them obnoxious.

  124. oakie says:

    @TechnoDestructo: “While there are a fair number of commenters who seem to always take the side of big business, or just automatically assume anyone with a complaint is just whining…sometimes people ARE just whining. Sometimes it IS the victim’s fault.”

    quoted for truth. the customer is NOT always right, especially when they decide to take their issue public as they are no longer being judged by the retail outlet they are up against, but by their consuming peers.

    there are many cases of unjust actions made by corporations, but not everyone who thinks they’re a victim of fraud is truly a victim… or worse, they may even be crying “wolf” as they are committing fraud themselves.

    for instance, the guy with the “Sony and Best Buy conspiracy theory” who complained about BB not accepting his obviously swapped PS3 in an attempt to fraudulently “extend his warranty”.

    i made the mistake of working for BB a few years ago as a part-time thing to make a few extra bucks in the winter time. i worked in merchandising/warehouse… they do not have extra holographic sealing decals and shrinkwrappers. i know this because i dealt specifically with merchandise returns. if something came in returned, there was no way for me to repackage it to look brand new again… and depending on the item, condition, and reason for return, it could end up back on the shelf… but obviously “opened” in most cases and with decals stating as such to make the buyer aware.

  125. oakie says:

    i am not against corporations and their greed simply for the sake of hating like many of the commentators here. nor do i support shady business practices on their behalf.

    i judge each and every article on here at face value, and i DO notice some people who try to use the mercy of corporate haters on here to justify their sometimes fraudulent activities… and i make my comments as such.

    just because wal-mart as a corporation sucks with commonly reported acts of stupidity and anti-consumerism, doesnt mean it’s ok for someone to do something illegal against them. for instance, buying an xbox to replace their broken one, then return their broken one for a refund. i dont care if wal-mart sucks and they screwed over your sister, mother, father, daughter, dog, etc… it’s still fraud and is still illegal.

    why not simply boycott instead? use your wallet as your voice. since i hate Best Buy and their practices on both sides of the counter, i just dont shop there, and i have convinced my family and some friends to avoid them too.

    but i DO have a life, and dont have the time to actively try to screw them over one PS3 at a time… and maybe some of you should be reconsidering the value of your lives too.

  126. Ben Popken says:

    I think it comes down to a matter of tone. It’s one thing to disagree with someone and state the reasons why. It’s another to bash them and use personally derogatory language. This applies to both sides of the consumer vs business divide.

  127. Michael Belisle says:

    Or maybe we have arrived at The Consumerist: Where every story is a Rorschach test.

    Now in the spirit of Rorschach, let’s play Mad Libs®!

    1. Click on a Consumerist story. Reading past the headline is suggested but not required. You may also rotate or flip over the story, search the internets, or do whatever you need to do.

    2. Choose a word in each of the following groups. These are just possibilities. Go crazy!

    adjective) kind, gentle, fat, whiney, lazy, manipulative, lying, clever, stupid, funny
    noun) person, customer, victim, scammer, whiner, joke
    verb) EECB, chargeback, call local news, contact AG or BBB, go to hell, take their whine elsewhere, your mom, ask for a supervisor, lighten up, not “say” words I put into their mouth, go home and cry about it, calm down, call the CEO, ha ha.

    3. Fill in the blanks in this sentence with your choices. Rephrase the idea as you see fit.

    “In this post, I see a <adjective> <noun> who should <verb>.”

    Congratulations! You have just constructed a modern Consumerist post. Now reflect and consider what your choices reveal about your inner self.

    @Buran: I did that too. I remember trying various combinations before I successfully unfriended myself. (I took Myspace to heart when it said “You can’t be friends with yourself.”)

  128. Michael Belisle says:

    @Ben Popken: Ooooh, very well said.

  129. I agree that a rating system, a thumbs up/down deal like is seen on other sites would be good. I suppose that becoming reality would depend on how difficult that is to implement.

    I also want to point out something that I don’t think has been mentioned yet; there are generally 2 types of posts here on Consumerist:
    1.Posts that are taken from items in the news
    2.Posts that are from tipsters, from readers who have sent in their personal experiences.

    I’m a bit of a ninny, and I cringe when the abuse starts on posts that are of the #2 variety. I know that the contributer is reading the comments, and reading everyone’s snarky opinions on how they reacted to or handled a situation. The Applebee’s Breadstick thread comes to mind, where commenters piled on the submitter, insulting his parenting skills, and his 5 year old child. If anyone is wondering, he read your comments, and he wrote in to clarify his position. His response is the last comment. [consumerist.com]

    I don’t cringe nearly as much when people get snarky with items of the #1 variety, because I know it isn’t as likely that the consumer involved is reading the comments here.

    Of course, in either scenario, I have a lot more tolerance for people who explain why they think what they think than for those who don’t.

    And here is a very entertaining site about the types of commenters you will find on the intertubes, I think everyone will find it informative…. really, check it out… it’s funny but it’s soooo true
    Flame Warriors: [redwing.hutman.net]
    “Some years ago a minor spat ignited a searing flame war that threatened to consume a once-placid discussion forum. While the forum burned I amused myself by caricaturing the chief antagonists. Confounded at seeing themselves thus revealed, the combatants fled the field in disarray. Over time the roster of online belligerents expanded and eventually congealed into the netizen’s guide to Flame Warriors.”

  130. You know what even more annoying than the “blame the victim” comments?

    The “this post is uninteresting to me, therefore it is a waste of my precious time to even click on it, so I’m going to waste even more of my precious time to whine about it in the comments” comments.

  131. @ceejeemcbeegee (just debatin’ not hatin’): I heartily agree and you described it perfectly.

  132. boobaloob says:

    There was was a post last week about a muslim woman complaining because a wal-mart cashier said to her “don’t rob me!” [consumerist.com] and I was incensed at the amount of intolerance that ran rampant in that thread. The PC-Police? Give me a fucking break. Try being a member of a minority group that encounters some sort of bullshit discrimination on an almost daily basis. How on earth was she was at fault, and how was it at all irrational for her to be insulted? And then all the crap about how she should “dress like an American” if she wants to live in this country. WTF??? She is entitled to her religious beliefs, which entail that she covers her head. And you’re beyond ignorant if you think that “joke” was not centered around making a derogatory comment about her religious practices. It is reading bigoted crap like the comments on that story that often makes this site unpleasant to read. That case was a no-brainer — when you are insulted by an employee of an establishment that you are giving business to, there is absolutely no question that you are the victim.

  133. Trai_Dep says:

    Yup.
    There’s a HUGE difference btn people exchanging ideas, people making funny and people hiding behind their keyboard being asses. The tragedy being that the last group is the one of the three that can’t tell them apart.
    I think there should be a Ignore tag, similar to YouTube’s comments (you can set your threshold of how many flags you’re willing to brave, and above that, the comment is collapsed). Thus we individually choose what signal/noise ratio we’re happy with, and “worthless” commentators disappear for most.

    And those with too many hits should be observed by the staffers. If too many of their comment are off-topic (unless it’s a joke), patent trolls or insulting, then a gloriously snarky public execution. This avoids poor staffers needing to monitor every single comment.

    The thing is, while trolls inflate the hit count in the short run, in the long run, it’ll hurt Gawker. Good commenters don’t bother, leaving the commenting to the RedState types yammering at each other. Compare the ad rates for the typical Gawker property versus RedState and tell me it makes good business sense to do nothing.

  134. Jesse in Japan says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to blame the people who blame the victims.

    Try wrapping your head around that sentence for a while!

  135. aikoto says:

    What are they talking about? The comments? The articles?

    If it’s the article, I think the poster is looney. I don’t remember ever seeing an article that blamed the victim.

    If it’s the comments, so what? It’s some Schmoe saying crap. Happens all the time. Seriously, where can you go on the web except tiny closed communities to avoid idiot commenters?

  136. lemur says:

    @oakie:

    quoted for truth. the customer is NOT always right, especially when they decide to take their issue public as they are no longer being judged by the retail outlet they are up against, but by their consuming peers.

    Ah, yes, because judgment from a bunch of half-informed people with average intelligence, that’s a reliable standard.

  137. lemur says:

    @alphafemale: Thanks for the post.

    I also want to point out something that I don’t think has been mentioned yet; there are generally 2 types of posts here on Consumerist:
    1.Posts that are taken from items in the news
    2.Posts that are from tipsters, from readers who have sent in their personal experiences.

    And people should understand that neither of these are legal documents. There’s a tendency among the “blame the victim” crowd to interpret any ambiguous part of a story to fault the victim or they take “absence of evidence” as “evidence of absence”. e.g. The story does not say the victim did X, therefore the victim did not do X. Or the story does not say the victim did not do Y, therefore the victim did Y. Faulty logic.

  138. emjsea says:

    Consumerist DOES NOT tell the story. Consumerist allows the OP / Consumer to tell the story. Consumerist doesn’t fact check, look into it, or do ANY basic journalistic follow up. Don’t expect high journalistic standards for the articles from the site because the people that are in charge are a far cry from journalists. They’re hipster kids that often don’t have a clue, but get their jollies posing as “pro-consumer” when, in reality, they are only “anti-company” and that’s not always the same thing.

    So yeah, sometimes (more often lately it seems) the “victim” isn’t much of a victim, just an idiot that thinks “the customer is always right” even if the customer is an uninformed, whiney, unreasonable asshat. Just because you are a consumer doesn’t mean you are blameless all the time. Sorry it bothers you so much that people actually point that out sometimes. If you have such thin skins then don’t come outside your home let alone onto the internets.

    The same people that whine because they didn’t get everything there way at company X are the same idiots that are surprised that they get treated badly on the internets, just like everyone else does. You aren’t special.

  139. lemur says:

    @emjsea:

    Don’t expect high journalistic standards for the articles from the site because the people that are in charge are a far cry from journalists.

    Actually, I think the Consumerist is not all that far in reliability from the vast mass of news that come out of so-called “professional journalists”. I find the that traditional news media is rather unreliable. Exceptions to this general unreliability do exist but they are few.

  140. ACurmudgeon says:

    I haven’t commented on this site in a long time. I still read the stories quite often, but no longer read the comments. There used to be a reason to, but no longer. I use a simple criteria for posting: “Do I have anything important to say about the article?”…wait this comment doesn’t met my criteria…back to lurk.

  141. RustysNailed says:

    They should add a “minus” button to ignore certain commenters

  142. sabrinad says:

    I actually have kinda wondered about why Consumerist’s commenter enforcement seems to be different from other Gawker blogs. Like, as an avid Wonkette reader (who often reads comments for entertainment there, vs. often skipping comments here), the quality of comments there seems much higher, just in terms of relevance and snark — I mean, there is not a lot of peanut gallery “another sex scandal from a legislator who legislated against sex, surprise”-type short form comments that provide no entertainment there, unlike the “Shopped at Best Buy, got screwed, surprise” short form comments we get here. That said, I suppose there’s a finer line to walk since, ostensibly, many Consumerist posts are invitations for commenters to provide help in the feedback, and it would be harder to get useful suggestions if commenters were required to be clever and witty in addition to useful. I’m certainly failing that test myself, surprise.

    I don’t know that I’d see much use for a “report troll” button. But I sure would use a “report comment that contributed nothing novel or funny, and/or consisted of ‘Best Buy sucks'” one.

  143. Gev says:

    I’ve been reading this site for a while and have noticed a gradual shift from things being pro-consumer to being anti-corporation. Yes, there is a difference between these two things.

    This place used to be a site where you could go to find out helpful tips on how to deal with various and sundry businesses with some really useful insider information on how those companies work.

    Now it seems that every other article is about some horrible injustice that some poor consumer has suffered at the hands of some evil, greedy company, and quite often whatever happened to the person is indeed their own fault.

    Yes, there are some people out there who are genuinely screwed and deserve to have their stories told on a website that has as much viewership as Consumerist, but a lot of these stories are not a whole lot more than anti-corporate sensationalism.

  144. malefactor says:

    The internet is full of contrarians that one normally doesn’t encounter in real life, because most often one will choose not to associate with them. You know “that guy” who always manages to see the negative in things, and is generally disliked? Guess what. He’s one of your internet trolls.

    People say things on the web they would never say in real life BECAUSE THEY CAN.

    They feel like they’re anonymous, and for the most part they are. They are no less pathetic, and not worthy of attention.

    I agree with the OP though, and I’ve shifted what I read because I fatigue of such a dour world view.

  145. Jim says:

    I’ve definitely noticed the change in comments. It is hard to read through some, but I’m more in favor of self-policing. To be clear, I’m neutral on an ignore button, but I do miss the Flag button. The thing I usually flagged was the rampant use of the F-bomb or other extreme language.

    I think, like most of you probably do, this is a site that can accomplish more than just letting us vent. We’ve seen dozens (hundreds?) of posts indicating that people having problems with a company got a response after their story was posted. I think talking like we’re uneducated and profane undermines all of that.

    In the Ron Burley interview last week about the book “Unscrewed”, he talked about conducting yourself as though you were a business. The Consumerist staff includes being calm in polite in our dealings with companies EVERY TIME they give us a tip on how to resolve an issue (it’s usually the first step). Even we commenters have repeatedly stressed the importance of being civil with company representatives, yet here we are on the forums displaying our lack of education and ability to speak professionally, and our inability to be civil with each other.

    I’m fully aware of the first amendment, by the way, but go ahead and ignore my reasoning when you unleash hell.

    I don’t usually mind wading through the trolls – it helps filter me too. If I can’t stand reading through, maybe I don’t care much about the story (or commenting on it) and can move on with my life.

    I didn’t realize “commenter auditions” had ceased. That wasn’t a bad program either, IMO.

  146. MeOhMy says:

    @lemur:

    There’s a tendency among the “blame the victim” crowd to interpret any ambiguous part of a story to fault the victim or they take “absence of evidence” as “evidence of absence”. e.g. The story does not say the victim did X, therefore the victim did not do X. Or the story does not say the victim did not do Y, therefore the victim did Y. Faulty logic.

    No more faulty than taking “absence of evidence” as “evidence of presence.” Someone should play devil’s advocate. Trying to think from your “opponent’s” point of view helps you anticipate how they will respond so you can be prepared.

  147. Doofio says:

    A “comments” section exists for exactly this reason: to post COMMENTS/Opinions of the article in question. Just because this is a “pro consumer” website, does not mean that the comments following one of the rare sob stories must be filtered to only support the consumer, regardless of how wrong or right they are.

    Are there people that just like to cause a ruckus? sure there are. There are also articles on here where the consumer, or “victim” is clearly at fault and deserves blame. Too many people like to hide behind the tired “the customer is always right!” phrase which is hardly the case most of the time.

    The thought process a lot of people these days seem to have is something along the lines of:

    If a big company swindles a consumer, the consumer is a victim, if the consumer tries to swindle a big company…well they’re a big company, they probably deserve it and the consumer is just fighting for his rights…hypocrisy anyone?

  148. DoubleEcho says:

    I think personally it comes down to people trying to be “cool” and “edgy” by putting blame on the OP. With posts like “I don’t think they’re telling the whole story” when there’s not much more to tell, and I remember specifically one person in the thread Security Stick Defeats Product Key… where the commentor says “This story is very vague”. How the hell could that story be vague? It’s posting something for the sake of posting without even putting thought into it.

  149. Erwos says:

    If we want a good system, we need balance. And, frankly, tossing all the power to the customer isn’t balance, just like giving the seller all the power wouldn’t be. Transactions need to have adequate protections in place for BOTH parties. Sometimes, I’m going to lean towards the seller if the buyer seems to want more than they really deserve in terms of policy and service.

    If we want an ethical system, we need to behave ethically all the time, even if the other party isn’t.

  150. hexychick says:

    It’s more the commenters that blame the victim, not the posting. OP should be telling his friends “read the article but not the comments” or something to that effect.

    Didn’t there used to be a “flag this comment” button on the individual comments? Wouldn’t the editors see that a certain comment is flagged a zillion times and then look in to it and that be easier than a bunch of emails?

  151. BugMeNot2 says:

    I really like Consumerist. Your mission, the way it’s run, it’s great. But lately my head hurts reading your site and I have really dropped off in looking at it. Oh, once in a while I check in, but I can’t take it in large doses, or even every day. Why? The “You Can’t Ever Blame the Victim” mentality is just too much to take. I almost suspect there are people out there just waiting for some new post and “chastising those who are blaming the victim” for fun, just to troll. It’s to the point that the “here’s why the commentor on the OP is an asshat” sub-threads are dominating the topic at hand.

    I used to tell everyone to read your site, but now I kinda don’t.

    Anyway, I know I’m free to browse anywhere else I want, no one is making me pay to read your site, I don’t want to censor anybody, etc., etc. I don’t have any ideas for a solution. It’s only my intention to share why one fairly enthusiastic Consumerist reader gets a headache and high blood pressure reading your blog. It’s not the Comcast stories. It’s the victim-blaming-bashing.

    Besides that, thanks for the good work.

    - Mark

  152. Aphex242 says:

    There definitely are people who are knee-jerk over the top with this. I myself have pointed out when I feel that certain topics or articles don’t really expose a problem with a business but more a problem with an entitlement mentality in the consumer.

    I think the articles fall about 75%/25% for me, with 75% being legitimate problems and complaints with companies, and 25% being glorified whining.

    I guess everyone has a different opinion, but simply because someone complains and it gets posted to this site does not make it some kind of biblical event. I reserve the right (as should anyone who can think for themself) to judge and comment accordingly. Tonally, no question: some of the rhetoric should be lowered in amplitude. But strongly disagreeing with a post should be perfectly acceptable, as long as it’s not a pattern.

  153. Daniel-Bham says:

    @Pro-Pain: The only time I really jump on the “blame the victim” bandwagon is when it is truly deserved.

    Generally this is when someone documents a 5 page essay of how they got screwed to the CEO of a company – then finishes off the letter with a promise to continue shopping/doing business with the same regardless of remedy.

  154. BugMeNot2 says:

    And now, to carry on the blaming of the victim, my thoughts on the OP and why he may be wrong:

    Just as with any religious or social movement, there are often those new converts who are the loudest proselytizers out there. They tell everyone and every thing about their new beliefs. Two things generally happen with these types. They either 1) mature in their relationship with the system and chill out a bit, or 2) burn out and turn their back on the system, focusing on one part of it as bad and forsaking it all because of it.

    With his comments that he “can’t take it in large doses, or even every day” and he “used to tell everyone to read your site”, it almost sounds as if he is in the second type of convert.

  155. savvy9999 says:

    It’s my view that the compassion of my response is proportional to the seriousness of the complaint.

    When something is posted here that involves consumer health, safety, livelihood, and/or outright criminal behavior on the part of a corporation, I will never blame the consumer. These are truly ‘victims’. People like Jordan Fogal (remember her? [consumerist.com]) is a victim of corporate abuse. Poisoning kids, mistreatment of animals, the mortgage crisis, all of that is extremely serious shit about which I absolutely rail big business for.

    People and stories that harp upon issues of simple convenience (they wouldn’t sell me my iPhone!), of impoliteness (they called me fat!), or of just sheer ineptness (they erased my uninsured xbox art!) simply lack any compassion from me. Sorry, but these people are whining, and 9 times out of ten, IMO they usually deserve the treatment they got. Things could be so much worse and broken, yet these toe-stubs are the defining moments of their lives? Good grief, only in America.

    It’s all a matter of perspective. Serious issues get my compassion, trite issues get my mockery, and anything else is simple entertainment and/or learning about something new.

    If that makes me a bad commenter here, than fine, ban me.

  156. SmellyGatto says:

    I think Consumerist has been doing a bad job of vetting stories in the last few months. They get submissions from asshats that out their own asshattedness in the post and we are expected to be some lock-stepping drones agreeing with everyone like some big slap-happy family? Screw that. I state my opinion and when my opinion is that the OP is actually and idiot/tool/niave/crazy/in the wrong/a douche…god damnit I am going to say that.

    Most of the whiners crying about “blame the victim” stuff don’t take the time to read the person’s point on the matter, they just automatically go into a “Don’t blame the victim” mode because they think Consumerist is a place where the consumer gets an automatic free pass to complain about any business and any matter.

    And yes, I think the editors od Consumerist are subconsiouly programmed to post certain stories, no matter how asinine, about certain companies or topics. Anything Best Buy gets posted no matter how lame.

    I can’t count as as high as the times I have struggled to read an OP nonsense 10 page diatribe that blathers and drags all to get to a small tiny point.

    Why I am (or you) being asked not to set that OP straight?

  157. Propaniac says:

    I just really, really hate the comments that blame the victim for expecting the service that they’ve paid for or been offered. The posts that are basically “[Company] says that they will do/provide such-and-such. Company fails to do so.” and then people have to comment with “Why would you expect anything different? Who still expects [company] to do such-and-such? It’s your fault for not assuming they were lying and planning for their failure to provide what they said they would.” Those comments are not interesting or entertaining or informative and they certainly aren’t original because they show up in response to practically every post. Why are they still allowed?

  158. BugMeNot2 says:

    @umbriago:

    Yes, dear god, yes. You can pick any random thread, and it’s almost certain someone will make a “I for one welcome…” comment about the topic, even if it doesn’t fit in and despite the fact it stopped being funny about 10 minutes after the first run of the episode that spawned it.

  159. Dervish says:

    @BugMeNot2: You very well might be right. I’ve been lurking and reading Consumerist since it was first up and running, though, and I do get frustrated with it a lot more these days. I don’t think it’s burnout – to me it really is that the number of interesting comments and debates have gone down, and the section has turned into people saying the same (sometimes incorrect) things over and over.

  160. Cerb says:

    Welcome to the internets. It’s full of asshats and always has been. Get used to it.

  161. Beerad says:

    More banhammer, please.

  162. emjsea says:

    Consumerist will post just about anything because if they have a bunch of posts in a day, they get more hits, their rankings go up, more advertising. Because of that, they really don’t bother vetting or thinking about that stuff they post any more because, well, if they did, there might be some days with one “story” or none at all and that would be bad for their business. Yeah, I guess the only business they actually like is their own.

    Definitely gone from pro-consumer to anti-business. Hell, even when a business does something RIGHT they have something snarky and assholey to say about it.

  163. Kali Mama says:

    A lot of claims of common sense aren’t in place, because what you and I, Jane and Joe Internet call common sense isn’t all that common in the entire population. Granny Joanne IS going to be sold that swamp land because she’s an easy mark. To be all jaded and “serves her right, grandma, she should have known better” isn’t going to solve anything. How should she have known, osmosis? Certain people aren’t going to research everything and take things on good faith when they shouldn’t.

    So if you have a family member that is that mark, you can send them a consumerist link or printout to that story to describe the scam and inform them.

  164. Limecrete says:

    Shortly after I discovered Consumerist, I decided to stop posting comments. Shortly after that, I decided to stop reading them. This entry seemed like a good opportunity to break my rule.

    Naturally, the customer isn’t always right, and there are steps people can take to protect themselves from certain unethical business practices. However, it’s pretty obvious the original plea was not “Let’s just assume the business is wrong every time!”, and to pretend it was is just being deliberately obtuse. He’s simply dissatisfied with the inundation of “Your bank screwed you over? Well, you deserve it for not using a credit union!” type of comment, and I couldn’t agree more (my “favorite” example of this were the commenters who somehow found a way to blame the woman who got punched in the face by a cabbie for trying to give him an entirely legitimate form of payment).

    The fact that the internet is full of assholes is not an excuse to be one, and when the comment scales tipped, so that a majority of them were a play on “This lady was just stupid!” “No, you’re stupid!” “Well, so’s your face!”, I knew that the days I could wring helpful consumer suggestions and ideas out of them were over.

    And frankly, this is the site’s fault. “It’s hard for us to monitor all of the robust discussions going on in the comments”? No, it’s not. It’s called moderation, and if sites that garner far more comments than this one can manage, so can you. I enjoy the site, and the information you disseminate is often invaluable, but the grade-school comments (not to mention the poor grammar — seriously, hire a proofreader) holds it back from ever being as effective as it could be.

  165. PirateSmurf says:

    Its called freedom of speech, you take peoples post too seriously. Stop being such a Nancy Boy and just deal with it.
    If something as stupid as “Blame the victim” posts upset you that much then you have some issues, people need to grow some skin and stop being Pussy’s

  166. Here, here, HERE. And I should probably apologize to the admins, because I’ve sent them clones of the OP’s note more than a few times.

    Quite a few people will try to divert the issue by talking about the miniscule percentage of times that the consumer/victim is actually wrong, but that isn’t what this is about: This is about the 90+% of times that the story is a real one about a company acting horridly, and there never fail to be at least a handful of commenters who decide that it’s the victim’s fault for [dealing with that company / wanting to preserve their rights / demanding that the other side follow the rules too / expecting compensation for time and trouble / not being rich enough (I wish I were kidding) / etc.].

    Some of them are almost certainly shills. Some are just so self-centered or entitled that they honestly can’t muster any compassion for anyone who is not themselves. A few are probably terminally stupid or batshit crazy (this is the ‘Net, after all). But they’re all wrong, and their comments are inappropriate, and if we (the readers, admins, and writers) want this site to remain cool, and hopefully restore some of its former, lost coolness as well, then we need to be on the ball about discouraging those comments.

    *yay* I’ve been waiting for this to come up forever!

  167. picardia says:

    I’d love an ignore function. It’s one thing for people to honestly debate the truth behind a story, and another for people to hurl invective at people for crimes like not personally being able to handpick which city they need to fly into on a rainy day. We all agreed the lady who was upset about not getting a breadstick at Applebee’s was probably too upset about — we can be reasonable. But there are a LOT of people who hang around this blog either because they’re professional shills or professional asshats, and once somebody’s outed himself as a shill or asshat, I don’t see why I should have to listen to their tripe any longer.

  168. ninjatales says:

    There’s always going to be varied opinions in everything but it does get frustrating when you report and incident and people don’t believe it just cuz it’s on the interweb.

  169. picardia says:

    @SmellyGatto: And yet another asshat crawls out of the pile.

  170. Consumer007 says:

    I just think as a general standard anyone attacking the consumer on a PRO-consumer blog in a personally nasty and non-constructive way should be asked to stop nicely once and then excluded after that. Thankless work, but then again, it would help with retention…

    Further I want to say that consumers who attack other honest consumers having problems are vermin hypocrites, and almost as bad as the corporations abusing them in the first place.

  171. SmellyGatto says:

    @picardia:

    I see what you did there. You called me an asshat. LOL. I am sorry that I speak my own opinion and am not locked into being a whining slobbering crybaby like you and your ilk. They should write “Sorry fucking sheep” on your tombstone.

  172. SmellyGatto says:

    @Consumer007:

    let me paraphrse your post.

    “We should all agree no matter what”.

  173. SmellyGatto says:

    ” just think as a general standard anyone attacking the consumer on a PRO-consumer blog in a personally nasty and non-constructive way should be asked to stop nicely once and then excluded after that. Thankless work, but then again, it would help with retention…”

    and what happens when the consumer is actually wrong? What happens when a consumer is expecting to be entitles to somehting that is over the top? What happens when the consumers own story’s facts can be used to teach that consumer what to do differently next time?

    You don’t have an answer, do you? You are too busy singing at the campfire.

    “Further I want to say that consumers who attack other honest consumers having problems are vermin hypocrites, and almost as bad as the corporations abusing them in the first place.”

    And when the facts of the sotry prove to no be an oversight by a corporation? Should we still lambast that corporation becasue this a PRO-consumer site?

  174. TPS Reporter says:

    If I see that it is the customers fault, which it is sometimes, and I see they realize it, then I don’t even comment. “Yeah, I did this and now I realize it was a mistake on my part, can the business help me anyway”…then we comment “Yeah it was your own stupid fault, you have no right to ask for anything.” Seems kind of pointless. Like the Applebees complaint on the bread stick and candles. Some act like it was practically murder for the guy to write in. If it looks like it is a stupid or silly rant, don’t read it. But they do read it and even take the time to comment. Or I bought this at (fill in the blank) and got screwed, then some comment “Well that’s what you get for shopping at (fill in the blank).

  175. WNW says:

    Considering the popularity of The Consumerist it’s my opinion that 99% of the trolls are plants. I mean, if you’re Walmart or Best Buy and you’re getting bashed here every day and all your dirty laundry is made public you’re going to pay a PR department to defend you. Since PR is a euphemism for liar they get what they pay for. I think the answer is going back to a closed commenter system and banning anyone who consistently sounds like a shill OR add a “this guy is a shill” button.

  176. mrbiggsndatx says:

    @homerjay!! I say blame CANADA. If it wasn’t for their fancy gravy/mayo on french fries and their universal fuckin health care, maybe America would be just a little bit better and we would have more tolerance for the daily ass rapings performed by our government and business entities. However, posting this comment from my work station could result in such. gotta go now, boss is here……..
    …………….
    help……put the…….chain…..saw……AwaY?!?!?!?!

  177. BugMeNot2 says:

    @Dervish:

    That happens with any online community eventually, though. A couple of message boards I used to frequent, I rarely go to anymore. The reason being, they got to the point where it was too formulaic. It was “new thread, same story” over and over, with the same people posting the same exact things, over and over.
    That’s even more likely on a site such as this, because, well, to be honest, the whole concept is formulaic. Business/Employee/Vendor says/does/does not/refuses to wrong thing/right thing/indifferent thing. Then the comments reflect that. On a public message board, where any member can post threads, that’s to be expected. However, on a site where only a few people can post the topics for initial discussion, there should be a bit more thought put into the initial post.

    I’m not saying don’t post stories that are the same-old-same-old, just that you can’t really expect them to generate new discussion. How many different things can be said about, for instance “Wal-Mart says it will pull $item, $item still on shelf 6 months later”, regardless of whether or not the item is a t-shirt, underwear, pet food, whatever? So what happens to the level of discourse whenever things become monotonous? It breaks down. People start posting inane comments, off-topic comments, or taking it personal, because everything else has already been said.

    A lot of this can be handled better by editorial choices made at the time of the initial post. A little clarification of facts, some grammar and spell-checking for ease of reading, fewer ‘quirk’ stories. As to the first one, the argument that “this isn’t science, it’s journalism. The reader should search out facts, if they’re so important.” is a false one. Quite simply, if The Consumerist finds a story worth posting, then they should find it worth fact-checking, at least somewhat, especially when it’s a tipster story. If someone writes in and says, “I was at Kroger in Saskachooga Junction, TN and the cashier spit in my face, called me ugly, and didn’t give me my change.” the story would get posted because it’s titillating. However, that doesn’t make it true, and while I as a reader could call the store and ask for their side of it, the more appropriate action would be for The Consumerist to take that action before running the story. That alone would greatly cut down on the “this sounds fishy” and “we’re not getting the whole story” comments. An interesting aside is that, generally, the first people to castigate those requiring more proof of an incident, are also the first to dismiss the doubters as simply shills or trolls, without any proof.

    As to the cutting down on quirk stories, yes, they make for amusing stories. Yes, they can be turned into consumer issues (but honestly, if loose enough with the topic, what can’t?), but perhaps the editors should sit on some stories, then go back and review then say, “OK, yeah, we want to run with this.” An example: “Lady goes in for leg operation, gets new anus.” That story was run on every news site. It was on every radio station’s weird news segment. TV news reported it. This site ran it. Why? Not to illicit any response other than a chuckle because ass and fart jokes are funny. Was that really a consumer issue? It was a medical foul-up and some negligence, but how does running that story help empower or inform the consumer? Because of that, I made some ass jokes in that thread. What else could you say? “Oh, that poor woman.”? I wasn’t blaming the lady, because how could you, but at the same time, it was just an asinine story to see on this site. Even in posting this “PSA” as it is labeled, Ben in the comments says (paraphrased), “It’s not the blaming the victim that is wrong, but the way it is done.” yet the thrust of the letter and the title of this topic is “Stop blaming the victim.” That certainly strikes me as less “Let’s raise the level of discourse” and more “don’t question the supposed victim, ever”.

    All that is just my verbose way of saying, “If you want better comments, provide better content.”

  178. Jim says:

    @BugMeNot2: I understand what you’re saying, but the problem isn’t the content, it’s how the content is handled – by us.

    I didn’t think it was a big deal really, until a post about not attacking people contains blatant attacks on people. So, I guess count me amongst the disenfranchised (your scenario #2).

    I am glad to see Ben and crew “taking it seriously” enough to post about it.

  179. SmellyGatto says:

    @Jim:
    What Ben is doing is actually trying to employ Gestapo tactics to protect his own reputation. Ben decides what gets the front page and Ben doesn’t want us plebes to openly disagree with what he thinks is front-page-worthy. Sad. Pathetic even.

    What happened to an open and honest discussion of issues?

    It died a little today as did Consumerist. But, I am risking the ban hammer by being openly critical.

    I regret that have but only one user name to give for my Consumerist.

  180. BugMeNot2 says:

    (if this dupes, sorry, all of a sudden the page randomly refreshed and what I typed was gone)

    @Jim:

    I think it is the content, though. Just as an example from today, we have another of the tired “HAHA lamerz put wrong price on openbox, making it higher price than new, unopened item” posts. This one is spectacular because it also comes equipped with the editor who posted it using cutesy comic-strip profanity symbols and basically telling a company “we will call you stupid no matter what you do.”

    Yet they expect better from their commentors? Really?

  181. royal72 says:

    “I know I’m free to browse anywhere else I want, no one is making me pay to read your site, I don’t want to censor anybody, etc., etc.”
    … so put the mouse down and move on. btw, they get paid for your pain and suffering to read this blog via advertising… lmao! you got pwned dumbass!

    “I don’t have any ideas for a solution.”
    … there’s your first clue to stop typing and find something else to fill your day.

    “It’s only my intention to share why one fairly enthusiastic Consumerist reader gets a headache and high blood pressure reading your blog.”
    … are you the victim of blog addiction? you need to contact your doctor, as there may be drugs and treatment options for your condition. you should also contact a lawyer to file a lawsuit and hope for a nice cash settlement!

    [better update your legaleeze consumerist, you're gonna need to protect against "pain and suffering" and "addiction" lawsuits... better put in an arbitration clause while you are at it.]

  182. t-spoon says:

    The OP is an asshat.

  183. prameta1 says:

    no company gets more “blame the victim” posts than best buy. there’s never any point of scrolling down to read the comments underneath a best buy post, cause the OP should “never have gone to best buy”. whatever the problem is, that’s “what he gets” for having walked into a best buy. that’s always what it degenerates to.

  184. royal72 says:

    ben, i’ll bet you $100 that within the next ten years “blog addiction” or some variant thereof, will be classified as an actual illness and may even make it “disease” status… bloggers anonymous anyone?

  185. Dervish says:

    @BugMeNot2: I agree that better content would breed better comments. I can understand, however, that it’s somewhat difficult to get “better” content when you’re relying mainly on user submissions.

    Not every message board inevitably turns into crap, though. I think the (admittedly rare) shining example of this is the Something Awful forums. However you feel about its 100,000+ posters and content, you have to appreciate that it functions so well in part because of excellent policing, clearly enforced rules, and very visible mods. I’m sure that kind of thing goes on at some level on Consumerist but in my mind it’s just not public enough.

    There are other differences, of course. We don’t pay $10 per account on Gawker blogs.

  186. The Porkchop Express says:

    Are you really “blaming” the “victim” if it is actually the “victim’s” fault?

    Sure there are people who always blame the victim and they’re trolls. You know what you can do about them? Now get this, and without any extra work for Ben and crew, you can not read those ones. Or you can read them a think to yourself how much of an asshat that person may be. Who are they hurting? If the “victim” truly believes that he is a victim, what harm is there in somebody else voicing their opinion that he is not?

  187. sean77 says:

    MercuryPDX, here you go:
    [legallad.quickanddirtytips.com]

    The be-all-end-all article, written by an attorney, on showing your receipt.

  188. Jim says:

    @SmellyGatto: What Ben is doing is actually trying to employ Gestapo tactics to protect his own reputation. Ben decides what gets the front page and Ben doesn’t want us plebes to openly disagree with what he thinks is front-page-worthy. Sad. Pathetic even.

    Ben’s part of the OP said: “It’s one thing to disagree with someone and state the reasons why. It’s another to bash them and use personally derogatory language. This applies to both sides of the consumer vs business divide.”

    That isn’t a “Gestapo” tactic, that’s a plea for civility. If he had just dropped the “ban hammer” without comment, you would have a little more justification.

    Being “open and honest” hasn’t been suppressed or discouraged! Be honest! Disagree! But try to do so in a mature manner!

  189. BugMeNot2 says:

    @Dervish:

    Yeah, it seems that the exceptions out there are pay sites Along with Something Awful, I’d add the Straight Dope Message Boards. Aside from a few nutjobs, the board tends to be good, with much of interest to read. I may have been overgeneralizing when I said all boards eventually go that way, but I think it safe to say the majority do.

    As far as relying on submitted content and getting better content, that’s where I would say stricter editing would help. I just find it a bit hypocritical to demand less sensationalistic responses while throwing up sensationalist stories to get those oh-so desired page views.

  190. Kajj says:

    What I hate most is the Consumerist groupthink that’s started to crop up in the comments. No one can complain about bad service at, say, Best Buy without the comment thread turning into a giant echo chamber of people saying “Why do you shop there in the first place? Serves you right.”
    People shouldn’t have to submit a map of their local retail selection and a detailed explanation for why they chose one store over another every time they email in a complaint. Every customer at every store deserves good service.

  191. BugMeNot2 says:

    @Kajj:

    I agree. I find that much more egregious than ‘blaming the victim.’ As has been said a several times in this thread, sometimes the victim is not a victim of anything other than his or her own failings, and we should be allowed to call them on it.

    However, blaming someone simply because they shop at a given place is silly, given that oft times they don’t really have any other choice, despite how many people on the internet may wish to tell them that they do, in fact, even though they are unfamiliar with the poster’s location.

  192. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @consumersaur: One can better serve the collective consumers’ best interest by accurately portraying and analyzing situations. Blindly taking one side helps no one, unfortunately.
    Since the site does appear to reflexively support one side, every time, (almost) without fail, it tends to bring out a lot of blame the victim crowd.
    If you were to ask that crowd, they wouldn’t say blame the victim, they’d say there is no victim.

  193. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @WNW: I don’t think there are as many plants as you think. Believe it or not, not everyone agrees with the editorial stance of this website, and as with anything, those that disagree with you tend to whine louder than those who agree cheer. :-)

  194. spanky says:

    OK, so this post is a day old, and it’s all bumped off the front page, but I want to post anyway.

    I don’t have a problem with reasonable doubts or well considered opinions, but the victim blaming goes way beyond that, and it’s gotten worse pretty quickly. At this point, the comments here are pretty much indistinguishable from Digg comments or something. A good half of them are just uninformed, inarticulate kneejerk reactions and AOL style Me Toos.

    Some time back, when Consumerist was covering that story where the Geek Squad guy left his cameraphone set to record in a customer’s bathroom, the comments pretty quickly turned against the victims in that case, speculating about their motives, concocting absurd scenarios, and criticizing their appearance, their demeanor and their appearance. Thing is, most of the Hardy Drews and Nancy Boys doing the speculating hadn’t even read the story, and didn’t have even the basic facts straight. In that case, the accused parties didn’t refute the story, even. The only place I saw the victims being blamed was here. And they weren’t just being blamed, they were being outright attacked.

    The comments on that story were fucking disgusting. They were vicious, stupid, and completely uncalled for. The little 13 year old girl (an intended victim) was called fat and ugly. There was absolutely no excuse for that, and the fact that the comments were left as is and the people who posted that disgusting shit kept their comment accounts here was kind of the last straw in a lot of ways.

    I rarely read the comments anymore, but more importantly, I don’t send people links to Consumerist stories anymore, and I would actively discourage anyone I know from tipping Consumerist just to have their story tossed to that throng of half-witted jackals.

  195. TeresaNielsenHayden says:

    The problem doesn’t have anything to do with Consumerist. We get the same bozos making the same kind of comments at Boing Boing.

    Blaming the victim is cheap and easy. The ones doing it don’t have to know anything. The weblog, or whoever wrote the story the weblog quotes, already did all the work of laying out the story for them. So they strut, and jeer, and make fun of the victim. Mostly they come within a hairsbreadth of announcing that they’re ever so much smarter than the victim, and *they* would never get into that situation.

    Actually, most of them aren’t all that smart. That’s why they find it so infinitely entertaining to hear tales of other people being dumb.

    (I was particularly amused by the commenter who announced that this is a public weblog, and therefore they can say anything they want. Boy, is he wrong.)

    If I were you, I’d get a moderator and start cleaning them out. Once they reach sufficient levels of saturation, they start egging each other on to engage in misbehavior they’d never try if they felt more alone. Bad behavior will escalate. People who don’t want to have to deal with that crap will stop showing up.

    They’ll hate you for it, say you’re censoring them, and claim you don’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t toe the Consumerist line. As usual, they’ll be wrong on all counts.

  196. JohnnyE says:

    @Ben Popken: If a poster has a substantive complaint — e.g., the terms of the contract were this, but I got that, etc., etc.; company A is engaging in practice X, which is illegal under law Y — I’d expect comments to likewise be substantive.

    However, if a poster’s story is basically “someone hurt my feelings” or “I felt bad/disappointed”, all bets are off.

    Subjecting the public at large to one’s emotional whining is rude in and of itself. Those types of people fired the first shot in the incivility war. They (the ‘victims’) deserve (are to ‘blame’ for) what they get.

    Being able to cry the loudest and get your feelings hurt the fastest doesn’t make someone a victim, consumer or otherwise — it just makes him or her an emotionally unstable person. Those types of posts are lame, personal stories that naturally attract mostly lame, personal commentary.

  197. Namilia says:

    @JohnnyE: A question, then: What would you think of stories such as the lady whose feet were badly burned by the Wal*Mart flip flops? As I recall, over half the commenters blamed her for the burn or claimed it was an allergic reaction even after she mentioned she was not allergic to latex. Additionally, the flip flops were later recalled for the same reason. I think, personally, that in that case and similar cases (I believe the Joann Fabrics story around the same time?) that people do cross the line. I do however realize that the customer is not always right and some stories posted on here are quite whiny.

    I also do not believe the EECB is always the best solution; that people should try to resolve issues through the customer service departments and use the EECB as a last resort – overuse of the EECB will ultimately render it ineffective. Apologies for going off topic but felt this was a good spot to mention that.