By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – According to Northeastern University journalism professor and blogger Dan Kennedy, the Boston Globe has finally had enough of cruel, vulgar, gratuitous online comments from readers.

They have hired a Canadian company to moderate the comments and remove the ones that violate Globe standards.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

These include false, defamatory statements; in one example cited by Kennedy, if a disgruntled Red Sox fans wants to post that “Carl Crawford is a detriment to the team,” that’s fine, but “he or she shouldn’t say that he’s dealing drugs in the dugout.”

Other obvious candidates for removal are obscene or profane comments, although less offensive terms such as “jerk” or “idiot” will still be allowed.

But get this — the Globe’s new policy, as quoted by Kennedy, includes the following: “We permanently disable comments on all stories about people who have experienced a personal tragedy, as well as all obituaries.”

And: “We also temporarily disable comments overnight for stories about immigration, religion, and religious figures. Commenting on these stories should be enabled at 7 a.m., and the stories should be given extra attention throughout the day so that we can move quickly if the comments degenerate.”

Perhaps it comes as a surprise to you that there are people who will post vile comments about victims of tragedy, religious figures, and the recently deceased.

If so, welcome to the sleazy underworld of the Internet, where anonymity empowers the worst in too many people.

I commend the Globe for the steps it is taking, but I also urge them and every web site manager to consider removing the shield of anonymity completely.

Force the jerks and idiots among us to make a choice: take responsibility for what you want to say, or keep it to yourself.

My guess is, most will clean up their act in exchange for the privilege of being heard.

As for the rest?

Good riddance, to wicked bad rubbish.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (40)
  1. Stephen Stein says:

    Jon, I would have liked this commentary a lot better if you could tell us what the rules for posting in YOUR comment section are. I would say about a quarter of the comments I submit here never show up. Why? Who knows? An explanation is never given.

    As far as I can tell, if the comment is too long, it doesn’t show up. If the comment contains links (I do like to cite sources for my positions), it doesn’t show up. Maybe there are banned words here? I have no idea. And of course, if you take too long to enter a comment, the page resets and your words are lost.

    Also, I note that this comment section doesn’t require real names, yet abusive behavior here is at a minimum. Perhaps you just attract a more civil crowd?

  2. Heather says:

    I wish WBZ would take after the Globe on this after reading several of the 38 comments from the “Charlie Sheen ends Boston visit with Toucher & Rich interview” story. Apparently it’s not acceptable to simply leave your opinion or comment without getting attacked – sometines on a very personal level. Opinions are just that – if you don’t like it, move on and leave your own comment. I am quite surprised at the bickering for lack of a better word that goes on when all I want to do is read what people think of the actual story. There really is no room for personal attacks just because you don’t like someone else’s opinion. It’s a waste of time. And it happens on more stories than not. Check out the comments – some of them are quite ridiculous.

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks was the first time i’d commented on WBZ.. guess i wont anymore

  3. whatever says:

    I blame emom.

    1. blackbear1 says:

      Leave emom alone. She is allowed to post her views the same as anyone else!!

  4. jzsmith1965 says:

    wbz already removes comments some of which are civil I know because some of my comments where removed on sunday while other more insulting comments were left up

  5. Mark Pierson says:

    Sorry Jon, I disagree very strongly with how far you want to restrict the ability to comment anonymously on the Web.

    While you are protected by a powerful news organization, an attorney, and a regular audience who will stand by and defend you, the rest of us are not. Anonymity is our “only” protection. Our only way to enjoy free speech, without paying the price of retribution by a company, government official, wealthy individual, or another commenter.

    I hope you will consider this important aspect of the new “free press” and change your opinion on this.

  6. BostonIrish says:

    Jon, I was agreeing with you right up to Mark’s comment. I’m registered with this site and I post often. I agree with Stephen about the quality of your audience that posts here. The weather blog looks like a war zone at times, and Conversation Nation was shut down. But anonymous is the only, if thin, buffer we have. It seems you have probably one of the better followings. For those of us who have been around a while, I guess it stems from when we would post and wait for you to review before allowing it through. I kind of miss that.

    1. Stephen Stein says:

      Why is it that weather brings out such assh… err, idiots? I moderated a weather discussion group about 15 years ago and it was, like you said, a war zone. I never understood that.

  7. Jeff Kingston says:

    WBZ has some very arbitrary and hidden rules that don’t seem to apply to all comments. They need to stand up and stop being a hollow shell and stop being “politically correct’ with all they publish. I thought the bastiens of journalism were supposed to stand for something other than the amount of advertising revenue they produce.

  8. BostonIrish says:

    Kind of explains the phrase “fair weather friends”. Weather-related topics are Stormy, Thunderous, Flooding, all of the human emotions. Stephen, I don’t know. Seems crazy to me, too.

  9. DrStrangelove says:

    Conversation Nation blew up when its Moderator became too close to two female posters and let them run rampant over intelligent posters. Then all walls were removed, and anyone could post with any email address (made up ones) and using anyone else’s name (I assure you, I AM the original DrStrangelove, but I left for a long time because of the CN stupidity). I noticed that people post all kinds of vile commentary on the weather blogs, but the BZ meterologists just post stuff like they don’t even see the puked-up commentary over there. It’s surreal. Jon Keller seems to moderate his blog, and it’s about the only safe haven left on this site. As for the “in-fighting,” that’s why Kissing Cousins aren’t allowed up North — There are SEVERAL regular posters who should have been removed months ago. If this comment makes it on, you can be certain I am who I say I am, and my email address is the real deal. Yeah, I’ll cut your legs off if need be, but I expect and encourage the same when I’m over the line. It’s called “intelligent discourse.”

    1. Stephen Stein says:

      Uh, I don’t mean to jinx things, but Jon *used* to moderate his blog but I don’t think he does so any more on this new CBS site. I think it’s more robo-moderated now, with a spam filter and maybe some bad words filter.

  10. jerk says:

    Whoever came up with censoring the idiots that read this paper is a jerk and an idiot

  11. Ellen says:

    I also commend the Boston Globe for taking the responsibility of deleting any offensive comments being made on the Globes web site. I only wish the Boston Herald would do the very same thing as what the Globe is doing now.

  12. says:

    This site says my e-mail ius not valid. Will try again.
    I’m tired of easy stories like the publiucity for Charley Sheen’s escent into madness. Looks like your producers are lazy.

  13. DrStrangelove says:

    The only problem is… who is being offended? Are the comments offensive like, “You’re a glubulous pinhead of idiocy…” or are the comments offensive because they lean to the right when Globe’s readers are leftists? Same with the Herald — Are comments offensive because they’re too socialist and it raises conservatives’ hackles? The idea of opening a forum and then weeding out the commentary that a certain group considers offensive because it’s not their point of view… That’s the wrong kind of censoring. The Media cannot have it both ways — Either you OPEN forum, or you don’t REALLY open the forum. Which is it?

  14. The Owl says:

    Keller’s comments are somewhat odd given the TV and entertainment business’ penchant for individuals giving themselves more marketable names.

    Just think how the name Mgnorphkin Sknorfelblob would play as Katie Couric’s replacement on the BZ-aired CBS Evening News.

    1. Stephen Stein says:

      John Wayne was born Marion Mitchell Morrison. Jon Stewart was born Jon Stewart Liebowitz. And of course, Jay Severin was Jimmy Severino. Names can be changed.

  15. John says:

    Regardless of position or opinion, this is the first set of reasonable and intelligent sounding people who I have seen commenting on the WBZ website. I would like to thank all of the people above for thier posts.

    Other than being socially and technologically up-to-date, I don’t see the point in having a place to comment on any news website (WBZ, The Globe, etc.) since news is supposed to be factual and not opinion based, but I guess I am the pot calling the pan black since I am leaving this comment.

    1. Hope says:

      I have to disagree with you…there is a point to being able to comment on any news related site, the writer might be heard. I have caught mistakes on many of the news sites, WBZ included. I think too that I should be able to let WBZ know when they have offended me or they are just feeding the hype by putting a news story out there. I also like to put it out there that something is not news worthy. I hope that someone at the site’s home will actually read some of the comments and listen to them. I know they don’t read emails.

      1. Ajay says:

        I haven’t seen a ‘factual’ based news show in many years.

  16. taxedout says:

    Let’s get rid of the Secreat ballot also!!!! Yeah I’m gonna come on here and give my slant as to the crooked pol’s, and unions and guuess what happens when I get pulled over. Free speech, get used to it, don’t like it don’t look!!!!

  17. Just sayin' says:

    I have mixed emotions about censoring comments just because of the people who are just plain mean or nasty. But I think they are going too far with it to the point of infringement on freedom of speech. The problem is the people reading the comments, what may be offensive to you may not be to me. So I really say get over it. don’t like what you are reading go somewhere else. See that is the beauty of freedom, you don’t have to read

  18. StanleyRamon says:

    Mr. Keller has brought this subject up before and it appears to be very important to Dan Kennedy as well. I had originally disagreed with it, for all the reasons stated here, but I must say, commenting on other sites can be a waste of time given the amount of childish rants and personal attacks that are posted. When you require people to identify themselves it most definitely cleans things up and a more civil discussion can be had. On the other hand, it also creates an exclusive atmosphere, which is what censorship does. I have never commented on Dan Kennedy’s site because it seems to be made up of media experts who really aren’t interested in comments from a “regular” guy like me. You will notice on Dan’s site on his explanation for restricting comments, that the first comment posted mentions that the site is for “media professionals”. All that aside, I miss the original Keller At Large site because he regulated the comments himself but I’m sure that can become quite tedious. This new site stinks for all the reasons Stephen Stein mentioned above. That auto page refresh thingy drives me nuts, but never fear, I will work through it; and as a matter of fact, I’m beginning to take pride in the fact that I can now out-smart the comment nazi, as I like to call whoever or whatever makes comments disappear.

  19. Ajay says:

    I’m against any censorship of postings. I agree that there are many out there that are just rude and mean, but as you get to know folks online, you tend to overlook the jerks.
    Once you begin to censor people, the site dies. It quickly becomes a group of people that support the site’s owner and thier views. If you’re not willing to hear the negitive side as well as the positive….then just close the site completely. The sites are restricting enough as it is.

    My identity is another subject. My correct email address is sent along with this post. I choose not to post my full name. What purpose would it serve other than to invite reprisials?

  20. I thank everyone for participating here, appreciate the thoughtfulness with which the vast majority of you do so, and apologize for the problems many of you experience with the site. Please know that I have never sought to delete a comment based on its political slant, and never would.

  21. DrStrangelove says:

    Jon, why don’t you moderate your blog anymore (pre-moderate, I suppose, is a better phrase)? And thank you, Mr. Stein, for bringing that to my attention – I have been away from BZ since Conversation Nation had its meltdown, and I didn’t realize that this blog is now available to open-season-posters. Such a shame. I’m all for anonymous posting of topic-based comments, but I get a little bored with the cat-fighting of places like DYC and the weather blogs. Keep it real, Jon. Right now, you’re one of the best blogs in town.

    1. Jon Keller says:

      Thanks Doc

  22. ARTHUR R. TAYLOR says:

    They talk about the poor air traffic controllers being over worked and not getting enough time off to function properly but noone has mentioned the sense of resposibility that these people should be assuming. I spent 4 years in the US Air Force as a traffic controller. 1 year at Westover AFB and 18 months in North Africa and my remaining tour in a flight control center in PA controlling all military flights on the East Coast. I can assure you, we never had a problem with personnel falling asleep on the job. Unlike today’s youth, we assumed the resposibility of our position and realized the need to keep a watchful eye. So, in my opinion, the probem with today’s air traffic controllers is lack of rresponsibility because they don’t really care.

  23. I’m really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues? A couple of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?

  24. jimes says:

    I can assure you, we never had a problem with personnel falling asleep on the job. Unlike today’s youth, we assumed the resposibility of our position and realized the need to keep a watchful eye. plz visite :

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  27. bangla blog says:

    it seems to be made up of media experts who really aren’t interested in comments from a “regular” guy like me. You will notice on Dan’s site on his explanation for restricting comments, that the first comment posted mentions that the site is for “media professionals”. All that aside, I miss the original Keller At Large site because he regulated the comments himself but I’m sure that can become quite tedious.

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