Friday, February 21, 2014

Disqus Turns Down-Voting System Off?

Dear Readers,

Until I saw a comment by hrh here today noting that the Disqus system seems not to be showing down-votes for this blog any longer, I hadn't even noticed that the down votes seemed to have disappeared. Now that I check the National Catholic Reporter threads, I see the same absence of down votes there, too.

I haven't seen any announcement from Disqus noting this change. If you've seen one, hrh, please let me know. 

I have to say, I'm grateful not to have anonymous trolls using the down-voting system simply to attack, undermine, and annoy. As I told you all after NCR suspended its comments system some weeks back (you all know comments are back up and running there, right?), when a set of anonymous down-voting trolls migrated to Bilgrimage after that happened, I contacted Disqus to ask if they could turn off the down votes for this site or perhaps make it optional for blogs using Disqus.

If that request (which other sites may also have made) is the reason Disqus has stopped showing down votes here, then I'm surely grateful to Disqus. I don't see this as any kind of suppression of free speech, but as getting rid of an unnecessary annoyance, since what kind of "speech" do anonymous down votes by people working together to troll a blog site really represent, in any case?

Speaking of trolling, Rachelfs told me this past week about a great article in Time magazine pointing to a study by several Canadian psychologists which finds that internet trolls are psychopathic sadists who enjoy the sense that they're inflicting pain on others through underhanded, devious means. As Digby says in response to the study, "Well yeah."

Anyone who has spent even a little bit of time on blogs that feature discussions of religious issues as those issues connect to politics--and, in particular, on blogs that feature religio-political discussions of women's and gay issues--can't fail to have noticed that a significant portion of people trolling these sites are there for the sheer sadistic thrill of the trolling. Hurting is the name of their game. They obviously get off on this behavior. 

And I'm glad to see these psychopaths with one fewer online outlet for their sadism. 

Change of subject: I very much appreciate all of your valuable comments in the last two days. I've fallen behind once again with acknowledging comments, since I've been preparing for a commitment tomorrow. After that's over, I hope to catch up.

Meanwhile, a very good weekend to all of you, and thank you again for the great comments, which are much appreciated.

P.S. Later: Okay, a quick addendum. As hrh and Conrad Noll have pointed out in the thread below, it appears Disqus is still counting down votes, but the tally for them will no longer show up beneath a comment. Hrh points out that if you hover your cursor over the little down-voting carat, a message will pop up pointing you to this comment (Conrad has helpfully provided an url) explaining the change in the Disqus down-voting system. As blog administrator, it's still not clear to me how to see how many people have voted a comment down--so for all those folks who troll blogs with the specific purpose of down-voting, you may now be engaging in futile activity when 1) no one sees the tally of down votes any longer, and 2) it's not even clear to blog administrators how many down votes have been cast for a particular comment. Sorry! (And many thanks to hrh and Conrad.)

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