Without a fear of social repercussions for anti-social behavior, online communities without moderation often devolve into a cesspool. Take for instance InsiderPages, a hybrid yellow pages with reviews. There are countless sites like this out there, all suffering from the fact that bizarre and often inflammatory comments may include keywords that bump the site higher in search rankings. There’s no real incentive to police the comments, which gives us gems like this:
Despite the term “flea market” the Cowtown Rodeo’s market isn’t a low place. It’s an outdoor swap meet that caters to the agrarian marketplace of Salem County. However, the first few comments on the listing are an argument over our current president’s stance on immigration. Completely irrelevant discussion, yet it remains there. NJ.com is perhaps one of the biggest offenders; leaving downright profane comments on race at the bottom of many articles. Without moderation, the comments become something else entirely; anti-social outlets for the individuals and a bump in SEO rankings for the site. A losing situation for anyone looking for unbiased information.
I’m sure not all of the sites are gaming SEO through comments; some may be simply understaffed. On the other hand, when you consider the time individuals waste in the innumerable echo chambers like this one, the mind boggles. God bless America.