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Reading the Comments

Likers, Haters and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web

By Joseph M. Reagle Jr.
12-minute read
Audio available
Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web by Joseph M. Reagle Jr.

Reading the Comments (2015) delves into the social phenomenon of online commentary. These blinks explore how online commenting became the force it is and examine commenting’s positive and negative influence on communication at large. Importantly, these blinks encourage you to think about the implications of online comments for the modern internet user.

  • Readers fascinated by online commentary
  • People keen to learn about new modes of communication
  • Students majoring in communication studies

John Reagle is the author of the acclaimed title, Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia. He is also an assistant professor of communication studies at Northeastern University.

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Reading the Comments

Likers, Haters and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web

By Joseph M. Reagle Jr.
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web by Joseph M. Reagle Jr.
Synopsis

Reading the Comments (2015) delves into the social phenomenon of online commentary. These blinks explore how online commenting became the force it is and examine commenting’s positive and negative influence on communication at large. Importantly, these blinks encourage you to think about the implications of online comments for the modern internet user.

Key idea 1 of 7

People love offering commentary and the internet has given the opinionated free rein.

Thanks to the internet, online commentary is booming. Users can convey their opinions in many different ways, from awarding stars to writing in-depth reviews.

But our passion for commenting wasn’t born online. It has precedent in history.

Take the Michelin guide. Established in the early twentieth century, the guide not only helped drivers navigate highways safely, but was also the first to offer a star-based rating system for hotels, gas stations and other services along the way.

Consider, too, printed book reviews. As unprecedented numbers of books and articles were published following the Enlightenment period, periodicals such as London’s Monthly Review and the New York Times Book Review cropped up to assist readers in deciding which books they should be reading.

While experts penned these early guides and reviews, other review platforms that allow anybody to share a thought or opinion have been around for decades.

The Zagat Survey, for example, leveraged the wisdom of the crowd to rate the quality of restaurants, hotels and even music. Founded in 1979, Zagat reviews were a hit long before Yelp!

When you share your opinion about another person’s work, however, you also offer a form of commentary: it’s called giving feedback. We’ll explore the implications of this sort of commentary in the online world in the next blink.

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