UPDATE: A response from the Daily Mail’s Martin Clarke: “comments on the article in question were not published, because the story was already a few days old … If you want to complain about a story some days after it’s published you have to take a more traditional view of things and write to the editor”
I’ve blogged before about the problem with ignoring comments. But recently “marketing man gone native” blog Bloggerheads has been providing a rather stronger case.
Julie Moult is a journalist who wrote a particularly poorly informed non-story for the Daily Mail about UK MP Hazel Blears being Googlebombed (in short, Blears wasn’t Googlebombed at all: the top result for her name just happened to be a humorous image).
The Bloggerheads blogger (‘Manic’), frustrated by its inaccuracies, posted a comment on the story correcting it. Because that’s what comments are for, right?
The comment was not published. So Manic took things up a notch.
He posted a lengthy – and search engine optimised – blog entry – Julie Moult is an idiot – to demonstrate his points:
“I think with a quiet word to my readers and a few other web users, I could easily have the entire front page for ‘julie moult’ in Google Images filled with images telling the world that Julie Moult is an idiot… and if she thinks really, really hard about it, she might just begin to understand that what enables/powers the eventual result isn’t magic or trickery, but instead Google detecting a genuine public response to my appeal and her own damn articles”
Just over an hour after publishing, his post was the top result on Google for the search ‘Julie Moult’. Now, as predicted, the whole page of results is also filled with similar entries.
Yesterday he published an update taking things up another notch – this time targeting the Daily Mail itself.
The problem? Despite the fact that “tens of thousands” of readers had seen Manic’s post (including “people at 36 different workstations at Associated Newspapers,”) the article has not been updated – and not a single comment has been published.
“After thousands and thousands of visitors that have dropped by knowing that there is something wrong with this article, not one comment has been published about it and not one change has been made.
“And if that’s not bad enough, The Daily Mail then go on to lie about it:
“”No comments have so far been submitted”…?
“What a pack of lying bastards.”
He’s now inviting readers to help document “the lies and falsehoods of the Daily Mail (focusing on a subject, speciality or columnist of your choosing)” and get Daily Mail Watch to the top of the Google search for Daily Mail.
They’re hitting the Daily Mail where it hurts – on search engines – and who can blame them? It is incredibly frustrating for any reader to put the effort into posting a useful comment on a news website only to see it disappear into oblivion. I know – it happened to me when I also published a comment correcting a Daily Mail article last February (worse, Martin Belam’s comment was edited to remove criticism*).
The lesson behind all this is best left to Manic himself:
“Just so you’re aware that your notoriously self-serving comment moderation policy does have its hidden costs; normally you lot wouldn’t be worth the time and effort, but your ignoring/deleting my quite reasonable comment response to your article annoyed me just long enough for this idea to take shape. There, now aren’t you glad that you censored a polite comment pointing out an obvious flaw?”