Friday, February 20, 2009

I Want the Advocate to Ditch Topix

If you are reading this blog, you are probably aware that the Stamford Advocate has a feature where you can comment on articles. It's through an aggregator called Topix. You don't have to be on the Advocate site to access the articles, so Topix attracts a wide audience, many of whom appear to be dumb and racist. Part of the problem is that Topix is anonymous and poorly moderated. Any article with a Hispanic name in it attracts a dozen "Go back to Mexico" comments. I've also seen articles about local people that turn into a series of comments bashing that person. A couple of times, discussions have gotten so crude that I've emailed the newspaper editor to give him a heads up that there is graphic sexual content up! The Topix format is really annoying, because it dilutes the ability to have productive local discussions online. The less inflammatory subjects (construction, human interest) can usually produce some decent info, but often, Topix threads are junk.

A Hartford Courant writer- Colin McEnroe- has an interesting post up about how Topix is being ordered by a judge to give up the names of some Topix posters who libeled someone. I'm glad to see Topix involved in a lawsuit, because I think Topix has some serious problems that need to be addressed. Sometimes, bigger is not better; I'd like to see the Advocate with a more locally-run discussion board. I am all in favor of free speech and people expressing opinions, but I don't want to see graphic, racist, sexist, or ignorant comments when I try to read my local paper's website. A smidge of moderation would be nice.

McEnroe's post also talks about how Topix is owned by three big media companies, including Tribune, which used to own the Advocate. I've complained on this blog numerous times that the national, anonymous nature of Topix makes it a very bad place to discuss local issues. McEnroe's post adds some interesting info and opinions to that general idea.

I understand that the Advocate editors may not have any decision-making power about what discussion forum their site uses; I bet they find Topix about as annoying as I do.

You can read about Topix at its About Us page.

2 comments: said...

Agreed. I never comment on Topix.

Ok, I'm lying. I did once when my dentist in Fairfield was arrested for slinging prescription drugs.

I just had to. LOL

Jonathan "JR" said...

Topix...ugh. I wrote a long gripe on Mr. Stamford's blog about the troglodites who dwell there.

Every article about the President or Democrats in general brings out the right-wingers who scream about how the liberals are taxing us to death and giving poor people everything.

Every article about the city or Mayor Malloy brings out the haters who bash him for destroying "small-town" Stamford and selling out to the corporations. They even go so far as to imply that he gets kickbacks from developers like Rich and Cappelli. Wonderful.