Oh sweet Jeebus, can the day have arrived?

It appears that Yahoo! (note: I put the little exclamation point there at the end – it’s that kind of quality and attention to detail that is the hallmark of Hard News Inc.) has at last woken up the the disgusting, putrid, unusable swamp that its news discussion message boards had degenerated into.

For anyone who hasn’t ventured there – well, the level of discourse and discussion therein was something south of what you would hear from a combination of the screeching howler monkeys at the zoo, mixed with the ravings of the violent psychotic nutcases (such as the guy down at the LA County jail who scrawled on the walls with his own shit, going so far as to save the mustard from his baloney sandwiches so as to be able to do highlighting…). 

The boards were my own personal vision of bedlam – and I use bedlam here in its Victorian sense, to refer to Hell itself as a cacophony of screaming, anger, hatred and general awfulness.  I went there periodically, just to see if anything had changed.  It never did.  It was like a window into the great awful underbrain of the unwashed masses. Some of the denizens even figured out how to use a strange combination of parentheses, dashes and asterisks to mimic Goatse in their message headers, thus to avoid the obscenity filters.

And everything, EVERYTHING became fodder for the endless, useless back-and-forth between the purported “libtards” and “repukes” – innocuous stories about the raspberry harvest in Oregon became host to an insult-slanging match between those deriding Oregon for voting Democratic (mostly) in elections, and those accusing their accusers of loving Hitler and taking it up the dirt highway from Jeff Gannon and Talon News.

Yahoo!’s discussion boards (there, see – the punctuation gets ridiculous quickly, doesn’t it) were an example of what happens when you throw open the soapbox for everyone to stand on, with no consequences for those who misbehave… It was clear from even a brief reading that most of the posts had nothing to do with any kind of desire to have a clear and rational discussions, and were instead “trollbait” – the work of bored 13-16 year olds stuck in computer lab, who have figured out how to hack around the school’s nannyware and are getting their shriveled little rocks off posting such dreck as “I tracked down the wife of a Marine blown up in Fallujah and [insert vile depraved act here] to her.”  Such drivel makes you doubt the viability of democracy…

But today, there is this:

To Yahoo! News readers:

Yahoo! News is working on new ways for readers to comment on the
news and participate in a discussion around it. While we work on our
new community features, the message boards that were linked from
individual news articles have been taken offline.

As they were set up, the Yahoo! News message boards allowed a small
number of vocal users to dominate the discussion. (Really? No shit, Sherlock…) In addition, related
discussions from similar news articles were not easily linked.

Over the next few months, we plan to offer new discussion forums
based on topics in the news and incorporating the latest features to
foster a better discussion for all of our readers.

Neil Budde

General Manager

Yahoo! News

Can it be? Can even a hidebound bureaucratic dinosaur such as Yahoo! learn the lessons of Web 2.0?

Stay tuned, true believers!


(I hadda say it…)

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