Earlier today we made some renovations here at VICE.com. Gave the place a facelift. Slapped a new coat of paint on the old URL. As with most redesigns, this is the first step in an ongoing process, and over the coming weeks and months we'll be tweaking things and adding features to make the new site even better. But along with these additions will come the loss of some staples from our old site, notably the comments section.
In theory, comments sections are great. Writers and editors, with their unquenchable thirst for validation, love to hear thoughtful responses from readers. At their best, comments can foster a productive community discussion around a particular story or topic, often providing insight or commentary that might have been missed otherwise. As our colleagues at Motherboard pointed out last year, comments sections are really just a continuation of that age-old tradition of letters to the editor, a cherished part of many publications and a valuable way of creating an open dialogue between magazines and the people to whom they are ultimately accountable.
Unfortunately, website comments sections are rarely at their best. Without moderators or fancy algorithms, they are prone to anarchy. Too often they devolve into racist, misogynistic maelstroms where the loudest, most offensive, and stupidest opinions get pushed to the top and the more reasoned responses drowned out in the noise. While we always welcomed your thoughts on how we are actually a right-wing mouthpiece for the CIA, or how much better we were before we sold our dickless souls to the gods of capitalism, or just how shitty we are in general, we had to ban countless commenters over the years for threatening our writers and subjects, doxxing private citizens, and engaging in hate speech against pretty much every group imaginable.
We don't have the time or desire to continue monitoring that crap moving forward. Besides, there are plenty of other ways for you to publicly discuss our work and the personal worth of our staff. We'll still be reading your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and we legitimately do enjoy getting IRL mail (no bombs) sent to our offices in Brooklyn.
We value thoughtful comments and critiques from readers, and our biggest worry in killing this section was that the people who have constructive and intelligent things to say would consider this a slight against them. Please don't think that. We know that the vast majority of you are hot, brilliant non-bigots who challenge us to be better every day. That doesn't change just because we're losing the ugly stuff at the bottom of our articles.