tl;dr – Dear Gizmodo, it’s not so much as “put up or shut up”, but rather to build relationships between you and your readers.
Gizmodo posted an article today basically telling its readers that they can either agree with the editors or leave the site, but readers don’t have the right to call the editors unprofessional. That and “fuck you“.
And I’m not sure how I feel about it.For one, I understand that the editors are being paid to do their jobs. This aren’t volunteer posts, nor is Gizmodo a charity. The editors get paid to post news and opinions on all things gadgets and technology, while Gizmodo is a company that relies on advertising revenue to keep the company running. Everyone at Gizmodo gets paid so they can bring home the bacon and put food on the table, so in a way the editors should’ve known what they signed up when they first started their jobs. I get that.
The difficult part for me is what if the readers don’t agree with the editors’ opinions. Should they be able to voice out their disagreements? I think so. Otherwise these opinions wouldn’t turn into the beginning of a dialogue or encourage further reader discussions, the very purpose of a blog or an op-ed article.
Then again, I don’t go to my job to constantly hear how much my opinions suck. In fact, if it gets bad enough I’m pretty sure I would talk to Human Resources and file for harassment.
And from a business point of view, I also think it’s fair for Gizmodo to screen and ban “repeat offenders” so the website isn’t filled with negative comments. Negative comments affects more than the look of the site, they also discourage readerships and more importantly — advertising. The last thing a company wants is to have their site be the next YouTube comment graveyard. (it’s hard not to feel desperately hopeless in humanity after reading a page of YouTube comments.)
So perhaps the answer to that is to move toward a reader-voting system, where the highest rated comments will be on top and the lowest ones will be on the bottom or hidden. SFgate does it, so does Joystiq. It’s a compromise, sure, but it’s also a balance of power between paid editors and the invaluable readers. In turn, Gizmodo shouldn’t ban everyone just with a different perspective. There are distinct differences between disagreements and what you deem as trolling.
I hope this post from Gizmodo is more of a vent than an actual declaration. Mr. Joel Johnson – it’s not so much as “put up or shut up”, but rather finding a way to build meaningful relationships between your writings with the readers. It’s like the university-and-student analogy: if there are no students, there would not be an university. The readers is what gets you advertising, which in turn is what pays your paycheck.