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Thread: Are internet comment sections reflective of the general population?

  1. #11
    under a groove Array Chanaynay's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
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    I'm not fit to speak on other sites, but definitely not YouTube. Negative comments tend to get the most attention, and now that you can't have negative likes they also get a lot of ups while positive comments are more hidden, so they get bumped up to the top.
    7w6 - 2w3 - 8w7 sx/so

  2. #12
    Away with the fairies Array Southern Kross's Avatar
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    I seriously hope not - especially with the IMDB message boards and Youtube comments section. Dear god they're effing awful. The spelling and grammar alone hurts my eyes. If that's a genuine reflection of society I might as well go jump off the bridge now.

    Most of the time when I'm reading them, this goes through my head:

    I think part of the problem is the sheer amount of trolling that is goes on unchecked on a lot of websites. It creates such a toxic, wild west environment that even the people that aren't trolling get nastier and more out of control. Why engage in intelligent discussion when you're surrounded by that level of madness?
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  3. #13
    know ⏩ assist ⏩ survive Array Alaska's Avatar
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    I hope not. If they are, holy shit is the general population repressing a lot of hostility...
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  4. #14
    Level 8 Scumlord Array SpankyMcFly's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
    I hope not. If they are, holy shit is the general population repressing a lot of hostility...
    Hehe! I know right!?

    @OP Nope. I can't think of any organization of humans that is representative of the general population. Which begs the question of it's utility as a measuring stick. The military? Governments? The police? Prisons? etc. Numeric inequality vs. "the general population" is a common fallacy i.e. systemic discrimination.
    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... Some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age. " - H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #15
    Honor Thy Inferior Array Such Irony's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    I don't think it's very representative of the general population. The people who post comments are more likely to be troll types- posting comments just to get a reaction out of people. Then you have the people posting back who stand up to the trolls and it goes on back and forth indefinitely. Most people are too lazy to post comments, don't care enough to post, or are afraid to post comments due to be possible scrutiny.

    There are intelligent and thoughtful comments if you look hard enough but they seem to be hidden in with the not so useful trolling comments. Oh and that reminds me of this blog:

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  6. #16
    Google "chemtrails" Array Bush Did 9/11's Avatar
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    It's a decent heuristic. Not the end-all, be-all; but it's decent.

    Computer-literacy isn't much of an issue nowadays. It's easy to read an article and to post a comment. Having the ability to post anonymously, observing that others have already "broken the ice" by commenting, etc. further encourage people to comment.

    So who wouldn't comment? Most who are near-neutral probably don't bother to comment with e.g. "Huh. Neat, but I don't really care so strongly." Additionally, those who do care about an issue and are well-versed with it may not; as, to them, hammering out an insightful ten-page essay that captures their thoughts on the issue wouldn't be worth the trouble.

    But I think Internet shows us that fewer people are 'neutral' than we'd think, given the sheer volume of comments out there that come from a wide variety of people.

    So one comment section, whether from an article, video, or general Facebook post, is pretty representative of those who care about some issue. And if we read a bunch of comment sections from a lot of different material and assume that most people care about something.. well, comment sections are pretty representative of how--but not necessarily what--people think. That is, comments, taken in aggregate, may tell us whether the population tends to be well-informed, literate, rigid, paranoid, open-minded, etc.
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  7. #17
    Senior Member Array
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    Well I know YouTube is home to a wide-ranging population of people with wide interests and little need of social conformity, however they're also free to be huge idiots and yell at each other about nothing.

    Reddit is like a database of "innovative" ideas so it's usually open to "intellectual" talk, even about things average people would consider petty or outlandish.

    4chan is a lynch mob. They won't hear a word you say unless it's engineered to be ingrate and scoffing. Avoid.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Array
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    What the title says.
    Yes or no? What's your reason for thinking as much?
    No. I think they are indicative of the internet addicted who seriously lack perspective on life and spend their time being immersed in pointless bickering on the internet. They visit sites looking for controversial articles so they can take a contrary stance for the purposes of entertainment. Their comments in all likelihood don't even reflect their own opinions.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Array Retmeishka's Avatar
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    Jan 2011


    No, the comment sections absolutely do not reflect the opinions of the general population. There are people who get paid money, by big banks, the government, drug companies, and other wealthy and powerful groups, to do nothing all day long but sit there using the internet and writing troll comments and shill comments to make it seem as though everybody believes that particular things are true, to spread disinformation, to make it seem like anyone who disagrees is a tiny minority. Edward Snowden's papers talked about this. It's real. A lot of people suspected that these paid trolls existed, and now we are sure.

    So they get paid to sit there all day long and write comments to the effect that 'anyone who questions the safety and efficacy of vaccinations is an idiot,' 'anyone who questions the banking system is an idiot,' and so on. Basically, all drugs are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines don't cause autism, drugs never cause harmful side effects, the banking system isn't rigged and anybody who says otherwise is a tinfoil hat wearer, and so on.

    There are many topics in Wikipedia that are routinely, constantly re-edited by paid trolls who do nothing but sit there and re-edit Wikipedia all day long, to make sure nobody says anything the drug companies don't want people to know (drug companies are only one example - there are others, I just can't think of them all off the top of my head right now).

    So when you read comment sections, you're going to see dozens or hundreds of comments talking about how anyone who questions this idea is a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, when actually, the conspiracies are real, and lots of people actually *do* believe in the existence of the conspiracies or believe in whatever controversial viewpoint 'they' are trying to suppress (the third building that fell down at the World Trade Center wasn't hit by an airplane at all, but was systematically demolished - but don't worry, no questions asked, the third building fell for no reason, the public will swallow anything).

    People get *paid* to write these pro-government, pro-banking, pro-drug-company comments. What a nice job.

  10. #20
    Freaking Ratchet Array Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    No, Quite a lot of the comments are not indicative of the population as a whole. Comment sections allow for people to remain "anonymous." And when one remains anonymous (or amorphous,) it allows for one to say or do something based on that particular forum. One also have to pay attention to the particular forum being mentioned.

    A comment section strictly for discussions on science articles may imply a certain intelligence, whereas a comment section strictly for discussions about a youtube video or porn video.... well.

    A person who has a name and face on a comment section can act very similar to a person on a real-life forum commenting about a speakers presentation topic, whereas a person who is in the middle of a protest/riot will comment, but may do, amongst other things, break windows, loot, burn, etc.

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