Commenters are a scary bunch. Take it from the moderators on the front lines of the Internet. Two of them spoke with Adweek’s Charlie Warzel today and they appear to be on a fast-track for a new Web-based strain of PTSD.
“What people don’t understand is that there is a huge psychological factor to the job,” Huffington Post community manager Justin Isaf told Adweek. “Moderators deal with some horrible stuff and genuinely difficult things every day, and at other sites they are often under-cared for in terms of their own mental health. That is a real shame, because it gets draining.” HuffPo moderators actually get trained on defusing threads about Israel and Palestine.
Meanwhile, all of the ever-expanding BuzzFeed stable has just one community moderator, Ryan Broderick.
“The Trayvon Martin period was a rough couple of weeks,” he said.
But according to Mr. Broderick, the anonymous commenting impulse can’t be entirely suppressed.
“There is a social realm where things are rationally sorted and then there’s the anonymous place that brings out a person’s base instincts. It can become a frothing, bubbling cauldron of insanity. [...] Yet, you need that animalistic part of yourself. I think of it almost like your sex drive.”