On the art of reading every single comment

(September 29th, 2017)

This past week well known ANEWS commentator Emile wrote a new forum post on the “‘Realist’ bias (intolerance) in Anarchist News Editorial policy”. They’re seemingly upset because thecollective has been “deep sixing” their 500+ word responses to articles posted on the website. Not only have we been doing this continually for some time now, but we’ve also communicated with Emile multiple times about why their comments are being moderated to the dust bins of time. Unfortunately, the message doesn’t seem to have gotten through as they keep writing exceedingly long responses and complaining when they are unpublished.

For a while there, thecollective was doing Emile a solid and unpublishing their comments on the main articles and reposting the comments to the more open ended forums. One can imagine that such a task can become increasingly routine, let alone actually trying to engage and dig into what each comment is saying – as I was not thecollective member doing this, I can’t say much – but bet it felt a lot like having a full-time job. To be honest, I could personally count on my fingers the amount of times I’ve tried to read an entire long winded comment by Emile. Of those times, I’d say that 9 out of 10 of them the language was beyond overly complex for the text in question. Don’t get me wrong, the long-form essay is a beautiful thing, however there is also an art and way of engaging in a conversation and dialogue, especially over the Internet (and on ANEWS).

In the past, thecollective has even go so far as to publish a 60 page zine of Emile essays and comments, not because we love it, but it’s just the way we roll. Hopefully, for Emile’s sake, they’re saving all of their comments somewhere and perhaps one day can complain no more, as their magnum opus largest book of all time is published and then maybe they can add another over 9,000+ comment about their own writing. The Cuban writer, José Martí comes to mind with his 28 volumes of published material one can find stacked in the low lit dusty bookshelves of a sweltering Habana city, with the pages blossoming flowery texts, although to be honest Martí is much more of a digestible read.

I think I could go on talking about Emile, their comments, and all of that – but that’s just part of the thing, especially the focus on one person. It holds no interest for many when stacked up against the totality of anarchist writers and texts. ANEWS has always been a place where the big tent of anarchist ideas are shared and discussed, whatever that discussion may look like. If one is upset about the poor discussion, please try and chime in and make honest comments about the text or redirect the conversation towards something interesting. Believe it or not, we are human and do our best to moderate out really shitty comments. You should only see some of the shit people talk about ANEWS as a project and its caretakers, some of it is even enough to make it through the fire, even though the comments are still witness to the common critique of being terrible. A funny, but somewhat sadly disturbing story is the time a new friend mentioned that if ANEWS was a real thing, it should be burned to the ground because of a comment they read there that upset them. That friendship ended pretty quickly. Trust me when I say, that I find a lot of comments upsetting as well, especially those by the infamous regulars. We’re continuing to have conversations and discuss what comments look like.

Part of the problem is that we’re an anarchist website that publishes original content, aggregates anarchist counter-information, and allows anonymous comments – plus, perhaps most importantly we’ve made a name for ourselves. To many this recognition is the burden and huge wooden cross we carry while crawling down a jam packed city street with cars breathing exhaust into our lungs. It’s not for the faint of heart to view.

Time often doesn’t allow for reading all of the things, but when it does the comments leading down a winding forking path of lulz, hilarity, seriousness, anger, and a 1,000 other emotions. Here is a cheers to having good conversations and intriguing anarchist thoughts. For more information, please have a look at the ABOUT US section linked in the sidebar. #smashthelikebutton

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