howler-monkey.jpgIn a recent blog post on SF Gate, a Chronicle staffer insults the site’s commenting community head on — but most of them don’t seem to care, instead complying with the reporter’s request for their contributions.

“Commenters on SFGate are generally a nasty bunch,” begins Chron staffer Heather Knight’s blog post discussing reader reactions to a Chron report on a new statue planned for the Transbay Terminal.

Describing the “vitriol” of the (at publication time) 87 comments responding to the design of artist Tim Hawkinson, who will make the sculpture using concrete pillars, jersey barriers and a street light pole from the site of the old Transbay Terminal as “striking,” Knight then encourages the “nasty bunch” to suggest names for the artwork in the comments.

And, amazingly, they do! At publication time, 161 commenters have entered the naming contest, with suggestions like “The Chronicle, personified.”

Only a single commenter, one “jerk_quake,” appeared to note the insult, saying that “Its funny that the article calls SFGate commenters ‘nasty’ but the proposed names are much more artful and interesting than one would imagine. SFGate commenters clearly aren’t nasty. They’re funny.”

Knight concludes the post by saying that they shall “announce the winner here next week…The prize is glory.” The glory of being the funniest of the nasty bunch? There are many kinds of glory in this world, it seems.

It takes a lot of balls for a Chron reporter to talk shit about the folks at least partially responsible for SFGate’s consistent ranking at one of the nation’s most trafficked news sites and, presumably, some of that reporter’s livelihood. It takes something more than balls to talk that same shit about someone, and to get them to lap it up.

Photo of howler monkey: Wild Facts

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • James D

    sfgate.com has the most horrible (and frequently racist) commenters I’ve ever seen, I think a lot of out of town folks sign up to try to stick it to us and our “San Francisco values”. Their upvoting system means that it’s a pure echo chamber for the worst comments as well. I go out of my way to ignore them when I visit the site.

  • renegade

    Two years ago there was a “save the Chron” community effort. The community couldn’t do much, but Chron apparently discovered that nasty comments attract readers which attract advertisers. I surmise that many of the nastiest commenters are Chron moles to coincide with bait articles, e.g., immigration, bicycles and Democrats, the most hated entities at SFHate. The business model sucks by making SF look bad and perpetuating extreme hatred, but nasty comments apparently saved the Chron.

  • Matt Stewart

    If you have your own blog, there are two ways to deal with trolls: 1.) Starve them to death 2.) Assuming you have the talent and the wit, BRUTALIZE them. I prefer the latter. The thing about trolls is you can do whatever the hell you want to them and not feel the least bit bad about it.