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I agree as well. It seemed every single column was food for the sharks for a while. There's nothing wrong with pointing out things that could've been done differently as a learning experience - provided a solution is also offered and the tone is sympathetic in nature. Exclaiming gleefully the customer is a fool who was totally at fault because of x,y, and z isn't helpful in a consumer advocates column. I stopped posting a lot because of it. I just didn't want to argue about it every single time.
If you ever read the comments at consumerist.com - before they got hacked repeatedly - you'd have seen that snark was the order of the day. And for that site, it's part of the personality. But it was disheartening to see how many people jumped straight to blaming the victim, even when the issue was something that could catch anyone off guard. And so many times: "you should have known better than to do business with XYZ Business." I look forward to a forum that serves as a place to agree or disagree respectfully.
Well, it seems to be working. At least I think so.
I remember the pre-hack Consumerist comments, too. It was too much. It actually turned me off from reading what was otherwise a great site.
I've thought about some of the commenters we've lost. Many were industry experts who occasionally had brilliant insights into a story. But they were also recreational arguers and company apologists (oh, there I go again with that word).
For the record, the worst we ever did was to publicly warn these commenters that their behavior violated our policy. They left on their own.
Do I miss having 200 or more comments per post? Sure. But our traffic is way up. People are reading the site again. I think the new policy was the right move.