Media Monday: Trolling the Post's new comments system


The other week, the Washington Post announced changes to its comments system, including: deleting all comments that attack fellow-commenters; more aggressively banning users and eliminating trolling; broadening the list of naughty terms that trigger automatic deletion; getting more Post staffers to comment; and awarding more badges, like the "Washingtologist" one that really ought to depict something other than the Capitol Building. But the news hook here, at least as far as Nieman Lab and Poynter were concerned, was that the Post was waging war on trolls.


So I went trolling. Here's what I learned.

Penis jokes are OK

Below "Will & Kate get a puppy: Cuteness overload," a news brief about the royal couple getting a puppy — a male cocker spaniel — I posted my first comment under the username MuckWithoutTheRake:

"There's nothing cute about male cockers."

The comment stands.

Testicle jokes are OK

An article about Super Bowl marketing hype mentioned a company called TaTaToos, which "sells temporary tattoos designed for women’s breasts." So I suggested:

"TaTaToos should branch out into racy temporary tattoos for men: TesteToos."

The comment stands.

"Rectum" is OK

Emboldened, I became even more immature, trying to find a word that might sneak past the auto-delete word bot. On a much-commented-upon E.J. Dionne Jr. column about Romney winning Florida, but losing overall, I wrote:

"721 comments! So you won't possibly notice if I write 'rectum,' right?"

To which a user replied, "Wrecked 'em? Damn near killed 'em!"

Both comments stand.

Non sequiturs about urinating are OK

A Capital Weather Gang post about Punxsatawney Phil seeing his own shadow inspired me to write:

"Sometimes, when I see my shadow, I get the urge to outline it with my own urine."

The comment stands.

Making fun of clean-and-sober types is OK

The (presumably female) subject of a Carolyn Hax advice column, after recovering from years spent drinking too much, dabbling in drug use, and sleeping with married men, wonders what explanation, if any, she owes her new friends. I suggested:

"Just tell them, 'I used to be a lot of fun. Not anymore.'"

The comment stands, and inspired three replies. One user called what I wrote "horrible but funny." Another took me seriously: "How about: I used to be *fun* but ultimately the *fun* made me unhappy." And the third one-upped me with a slew of mean sentiments, including, "I know guy [sic] in relationships like this, and the kindest thing you can do is arrange a gardening accident."

Insulting other commenters' intelligence is OK

On a story about online dating, a commenter wrote, "Online worked well for me... I'm happily married and I met my wife on OkCupid," prompting some to accuse the commenter of astroturfing. But then others jumped in to defend OKCupid and other dating sites, about which I wrote:

"If these commenters are astroturfing for OkCupid, they're not doing a good job. The spelling and grammar are atrocious."

So what's not OK? That's-what-she-said jokes, apparently

The story, "D.C. yoga lovers train to become teachers," contained the following quote from a trainee: "I was shaking during downward dog for the first time in my life.” So I wrote:

“'I was shaking during downward dog...' TWSS"

The comment was gone within 24 hours.

After the jump: Slightly more mature news.

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