We want to take some time to explain to you what is happening on the site and why you might have been banned from commenting.
In 2016 when we last waged jihad on comment bores we killed off maybe 50 of the most troublesome and offensive commenters. We had a million comments that year.
It didn’t kill off the site, or even comments. In the last 12 months we have had some 2 million comments, overall traffic is ~50% higher now than it was then, comments went up. We’re going to kill off a couple of hundred bores this time.
These numbers are for the last 12 months. Roughly a million views a month and rising. About 10% of visitors engage in the comments. Which whilst it is a lot of people, it is still a small minority of the overall readership. We know the hardcore commenters think they make the site, traffic analysis says otherwise.
With 2 million comments we can’t humanly read them all. We have tried out the latest expensive AI software and it is not good enough or not trained enough yet on British idiom to deal with obsesssive racists who bore on about Sadiq Khan, David Lammy and Diane Abbott endlessly. Twats who think they are being witty when they are just crass, saddos who game the moderation to insult “musl1ms”. We frankly don’t want them, like them or need them. Breitbart are welcome to them.
We have always wanted a comment section that was like a public stocks for politicians, that made them know how the public feels about them. With a level of profanity that would be tolerated in a rowdy pub, not too gynaecological such that the barmaids would be upset. With people who crack an off colour joke and buy a round for everyone. We don’t want it be a forum for Alf Garnets who bore on joylessly on every article.
The people killing the comment section are the racist bores.
People won’t be able to moan about the cartoon not being a picture, ‘boring’ stories about wonks and SpAds “who don’t live in the real world” or moan about anything in fact.
It’ll save us thousands in moderation costs, time can be spent chasing stories rather than deleting idiocy. It will unfortunately take away a bit of the spirit of the site. We really don’t want to do that, however we will if we have to.
UPDATE July 2018: This did not work so we have switched to irritating, time wasting pre-moderation, don’t take it personally. If you try to game it you are wasting your time, you will just get perma-banned for trying to game it. Everyone is pre-moderated until we trust them and they get “trust-listed”. If they are on the trust list their comments go through without moderation. If they abuse that privilege they are perma-banned, no appeal. This costs us thousands and wastes our time. It is as boring for us as it is for you.
UPDATE April 2019: The next step is permanently removing comments – of which there were 2.4 million last year. Which we think will be a shame and change the spirit of the site for the worse. To those who say we will never do it because we will lose advertising revenue, you are very mistaken. Advertisers would prefer we did it. We don’t want to do it, however we didn’t want to pre-moderate either.