Today, Mashable’s hard earned sales dollars were finally put to good use, when the newly hired community manager Vadim Lavrusik, in his first official act, posted a commenting policy for the site. The post was put up three hours today, and judging from the number of shares and the number of times it’s crossed into my field of vision, it’s by far their most popular piece of content today.
What sort of guidelines has the man with the banhammer set down?
1. Personal Attacks: Please don’t engage in personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling or mindless abuse. The Mashable community should focus on intelligently discussing topics by furthering the conversation and informing the participants with resourceful and constructive ideas.
2. Hate speech: Racism, sexism and homophobia will not be tolerated.
3. Language and Threats: Please watch your language and respect other people’s views, beliefs and emotions. We reserve the right to remove any content that might be found extremely offensive or threatening.
4. No Spam: Spam and advertising content will be removed.
5. Smear Tactics: Although we acknowledge criticism of our articles and our writers, we will not allow misrepresentation. We will distinguish between constructive arguments and smear tactics.
6. Relevancy: Please keep conversations relevant. Off-topic comments are subject to removal in order to keep the thread on track.
7. Quality: We encourage you to take responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Maintain intelligent discussions in the Mashable community by being respectful and considerate.
8. Help us: Maintain an inviting interaction space by self-policing threads and flagging spam. Although we have a hands-on approach to community engagement, we do sometimes miss problem commenters or trolls. We appreciate your efforts to keep the Mashable community environment inviting, insightful and constructive. Let the conversations be quality ones.
The first rule on the list pretty much ensures, were I to go back to Mashable today, that I would be promptly fired. I consistently had editorial pieces with the highest number of comments during my tenure, but also consistently drew the most ire from the commenters.
I’m not sure if it was inspired by my commenters or not, but during my tenure at the company, there were comment contests dubbed “Troll Week,” that usually came around in time for the winter holidays.
Contrast Vadim’s post with Pete’s from three years ago:
This week’s Thanksgiving celebrations start the countdown to that sickeningly over-commercialized “non-denominational winter holiday” formerly known as Christmas. Frankly, that makes us grumpy. So grumpy that we feel the need to insult someone. You, preferably.
After your abject failure to thoroughly grill us during Troll Week, you’re getting a second chance. “Deck The Trolls”, a festive contest in which you’re rewarded for witty and amusingly insulting comments on Mashable posts, starts today and ends whenever we feel like it.
Unlike before, you can’t win on a single comment. Instead, we give credit for the following troll-like behavior:
–This week only: bonus points for including the word “turkey” somewhere in your insults
At the end of each week, we’ll reward the snarkiest troll with a $100 voucher for iTunes, the Apple Store or Amazon, depending on your trolly preference. But since you really need no excuse to lob insults our way, we’re also happy to send the money to a charity of your choosing.
The catch: only posts with the following image in the footer are included in the contest. Troll me, bro!
In all seriousness, though, even though the idea of a troll contest may not be the best in the history of blog comment contests, don’t you think it’s a sure fire way to get more personality injected into a blog than a dry list of don’ts like the most recent list?
I understand that Mashable’s success has rested on being mainstream, and generalizing, dumbing down and blandifying the content – but more than one competitor has said “Mashable’s jumped the shark” in the privacy of a restricted forum.
I’m just saying – they mayhaps should have thought this through. Probably not the best way to jazz up your community than to show them the big ol’ banhammer on your first day.
Update: I forgot – the whole reason I wrote this post was to work in this little snide crack at Mashable… I asked Editor-in-Chief (and my former boss) Adam Ostrow today on Twitter whether or not this was the official death of the Winter Troll contest. He has declined to comment thus far.