When controversy happens… when tempers flare… we read the comments, so you don’t have to.
Having spent the last day reading all the streets.mn article comments (as my job as Head Moderator in Chief), I could not get enough so I headed over to the Star Tribune is Op Ed version. Like I don’t have enough to do. As of 1:30 pm Friday, the Strib article had 197 and there’s tons of quality content.
In previous posts we gave comments sections a rating of 1 to 5 stars, where 1 means “reading these made us feel dumber,” and 5 means “we have hope for our civilization even if we can’t save uptowngrrrlAPR’s car from an Ayd Mill pothole.” Since comparing streets.mn article comments to Strib article comments would be so meta our heads would explode, we’ll rate the comments section as a whole, and call out some of the most delightful comments rather than comparing the two.
Key Theme 1: Minneapolis Sucks
Lots of commenters made the point that maybe it’s best just to stick to the suburbs. Hey, the restaurants aren’t as good, but there is plenty of parking and no liberals.
- Bigracos sums it up well: “You are surrounded by people who don’t have a clue. My advice is that you move out of Minneapolis as soon as you can. I guarantee you will not be the only one. Minneapolis is being overrun by poor liberals and rich liberals —- and guess who will be left holding the bag? Well, everyone in the middle, which includes you.”
- Readingbylakeharriet wishes he was reading by Prior Lake: “It should be 100% clear to everyone by now that the Mayor and City Council prioritize non driving, low income working renters above all else. Own a single family house? – You probably support exclusionary zoning, and should remodel into a 4plex. Drive a car? – You don’t deserve the road. Own a business? You don’t pay your workers enough. So yes, Ms Becker, the council is unimpressed by your arguments in favor of a vehicle. One only has to see how Lisa Bender pilots bike lanes down some of the busiest streets and avenues in the city taking out those pesky parking spots and unnecessary lanes of traffic. But hey there’s still the suburbs.”
- Lawyerguy as some advice: “Carol, it sounds like you need to move out to the suburbs. Plenty of off street parking, better schools, lower taxes and street systems actually designed to move people in cars from one point to another. Restaurants aren’t as good and bars can be iffy but there have to be some trade offs. When the Socialist agenda fully kicks in those variables will probably shift in favor of the ‘burbs as well.”
- Garagewine says: “What makes you sure that the City and its planners are any more capable of predicting the future than the average layperson, especially given their track record of picking losers?” (BTW – what is garage wine? Can I get some?)
Key Theme 2: Reasons I Can’t Bike or Take Transit
Another bevy of commentators chimed in with why their personal situation means they have to drive and how they are impacted by the War on Cars. (BTW – did you know Minneapolis is not New York City?)
- ILUVISTANBUL has a beef with Victoria Street Station: “I live in dt Mpls and work in dt St Paul. For years, I looked forward to taking the Green Line to work, until the planners caved to neighborhood groups and added in 3 additional stations, bringing the total for me to 22 stations. And apparently, the planners never seriously considered express trains either because that would actually be a benefit to the rich “condo crowd”. So rather than spending the one hour it would take for me to walk the 5 minutes to Target Field, wait on average of 5 minutes for a train and then spend 45 minutes riding to dt St Paul (for a total of 55 minutes end to end), I drive it in 23 minutes.”
- Justthetruth has children and everyone knows kids can’t take transit: “And what do they do before ten? And by the way, if your kids play sports, like mine did and do, how do they get to the games and gyms?”
- BluGolds2180 chimes in for the cabin owners: “How can I get to my cabin in the north woods if I don’t have a car? What will I use to pull my snowmobiles to the cabin and the boat back home in the fall if I don’t have a car?”
- FrankL writes: “When my wife had a house in SMpls, never once did she have a job downtown that would work with mass transit. Thus, she drove to each job. Since each person will have at least a dozen jobs in their lifetime, few if any will be workable with transit. Yes the job location and your home maybe served with transit, but the travel times would unrealistic. Increasing transit will not cure this basic problem, even in NYC, many people still use their cars to get to work because despite all the transit, many areas cannot be reached with reasonable travel times by the transit network. Sure it is great if you work in Manhattan, but more difficult going from one borough to another. We have the same problem, we live in a matrix-ed world and transit is a linear solution.”
Key Theme 3: What Is Privilege, but a Liberal Scam?
- Sanscomedy makes a point: “It’s fun watching people on here wrestling with agreeing with Carol because they drive cars, but being upset that she used liberal buzzwords like “privilege” for her reasoning.”
- ILUVISTANBUL has opinions about the Left, not just Hamline Avenue station: “Simply because you choose not to do something does not make those who do “privileged”. The left is going to soon have overused this word so much that it will lose it’s shock value, just like “racist” already has.”
- Bommerchick adds: “I agree with a lot of what Carol says. Unfortunately, she undermines her argument when she suggests that being “male, white and privileged” somehow means people can afford to give up job opportunities. Whatever the current transportation planners have in mind–and I agree it is in some ways shortsighted and unbalanced–I’m pretty sure it isn’t upholding white male privilege.”
Key Theme 4: Out Met Council Overlords
Lots and lots of comments about the Met Council, Freyplexes, Lisa Bender, and Millennials and the huge conspiracy to screw with everyone’s lives. It’s all coordinated, you know. GLAnderson really hits all the major points:
“These kinds of plans tend to be made by people seeking meaning, power, or construction contracts, and they creating pockets of urban life that are separating from the rest of society. People who live outside them don’t want to go into them because they are slow to navigate and expensive to park. People that live in these urban cultures, unlike the original American pioneers, are no longer self-sufficient and their lives are largely in the hands of bureacrats and computer systems that keep urban environments functioning.
Unlike rural and suburban dwellers, whose homes are more self-sufficient, urban dwellers dependent on systems are likely to suffer the most from power outages, food shortages, and any event that would require evacuation. A more mixed transporationsystem would provide more cultural integration and security for urban dwellers.”
This entire article would have been shorter though if nonewtaxes wrote it. Their comment: “I have a car and I drive without guilt.” You know something? I do, too!
So, that was fun. Thanks to the Star Tribune for the cross-post!
A Word on Moderation
I read the Strib comments so you don’t have to, but I read the streets.mn comments because someone has to. Generally, my job as head moderator is easy and boring. Our comments almost always add to the conversation in a positive way. We created a comments policy and identified specific moderators to be transparent on how and why comments are moderated and to support our mission to “expand and enhance the conversation about transportation and land us through research and informed commentary.” As moderators we try to steer conversations in a positive way rather than through brute force (deleting a comment), but when we do delete a comment we will always say we did and email the commenter to let them know.
We have also heard from people that while they enjoy streets.mn, they are reluctant to write because commenters at times attack authors in a personal way. I experienced this with my first post so I am sensitive to how that feels. We want to encourage a variety of perspectives and authors from all different backgrounds and, in my moderation, try to be cognizant of how comments encourage or discourage writers even if I don’t agree with them.
I couldn’t even read them all. Thank you for being willing to sacrifice your time and emotion for the benefit of all of us!
I have a pop-up blocker system that lets me read unlimited Strib articles (at no charge) but I can’t read the comments at the end. Bliss all around.
Thanks, Dana, for your work both digesting the Star Tribune comments and moderating here. Back when I was advocating for the 38th Street bike lanes and some people thought they were the end of the world I was personally attacked and threatened for having done public health work on bicycling. It sucked! So thank you for making sure comments are about ideas and not people.
I believe there is a Law of Diminishing Comment Value. It kicks in after about the third or fourth comment. Subsequent comments wander off topic, get caught in debates over tiny irrelevent details or the trolls appear and start blasting each other.
I think there’s an important question for streets.mn to consider in the recent kerfuffle, which is: if you give an author a platform from which they make policy arguments based on demonstrably inaccurate claims about their personal life, but do not allow rebuttals to point out the inaccuracy of those claims in a non-abusive manner (citing your policy of not allowing personal attacks), you aren’t fostering a dialogue, you’re facilitating the propagation of falsehoods. It’s a rigged system.
I understand the difficulty of finding authors willing to write on controversial subjects likely to draw abusive comments, but factual statements correcting inaccuracies in an article aren’t abusive just because the claims and rebuttals happen to be about facets of the author’s personal life. They’re simply a relevant and necessary part of making and responding to any argument based on personal experience.