So one day the comment feature on all The Daily Beast articles just vanished—poof!—and was replaced with a little “How do I comment?” link.
So far as I know Tomasky’s increasingly delusional columns at TDB were the only reliable place to occasionally run across Rip and 9mile, and even tommydog and KevinNevada now and then.
That the Beast would abandon their Livefyre comment platform— absolutely the worst fucking mess I’ve ever seen in terms of functionality and aesthetic appeal—comes as no surprise. And I suppose since the Beast is still losing money hand over fist (so far as I can discover, anyway) it’s understandable that they’d want to cut whatever the costs of maintaining that system were.
But there’s a trend here too, I think.
I just the other day noticed that Firedoglake, which used to have a robust comment culture populated by a committed crowd of participants not unlike Comment is Free back in its early days (Tomasky was in on that gig too, of course) has closed up shop and their URL now redirects to something called “Shadowproof”, a site which also has abandoned any in-house commenting architecture in favor of Facebook, Twitter and Disqus interfaces.
I’m not savvy enough to understand what’s going on, except in general terms I assume this is all just more churning as various online enterprises wiggle around trying to figure out how not to hemorrhage money forever. I’ve never owned a computer that’s ever been connected to Facebook even for an instant, nor will I. Disqus won’t even load for us satellite users most of the time, though as a comment platform it’s fairly workable. Twitter is just so whacko and intolerable and such a time-suck that I haven’t even looked at it in more than a year, and I tried to find a way to discover value in it, I really did.
So none of those “options” have any appeal for me at all.
There’s still a little fun to be had on the Guardian’s comment platform, and some of the old halfway sane Comment is Free crowd are still there giving it their best shot. But I don’t know how many of these online media operations make any money at all, if in fact they do, and I sure don’t understand how they do it. I mean, are there actual internet users who don’t use AdBlocker and the other available (and free!!) browser plug-ins? I haven’t seen an ad on any site I’ve visited hardly at all in I don’t know how long.
I don’t get it. I suppose they can monetize email addresses they get when folks register with some of them, but I can’t think even a million or so email addresses would be worth all that goddam much, certainly not enough to run a high volume media website with, you know, actual employees and shit.
But hey, what do I know?
Anyway, the Beast’s comment culture sucked, and Tomasky has degenerated into an unimaginative beltway drone continuing, I remain suspicious, to trawl for a job with a future Clinton administration. But I’ll still miss the occasional visit with the usual suspects.