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The curious case of why my benign comments were rejected, but my cruelest comments weren’t.

Photo Courtesy of Eduardo Dutra via Pexels

Yahoo! recently relaunched its comment section after a few years of being shut down for retooling. This retooling, apparently, was done to better moderate what was being said in the comment section. Their community guidelines are just like any other most of you have probably read. The focus is to make sure conversations stay civil… or at least as civil as comment sections will ever be. According to the text that pops up when you post a comment that is immediately flagged to be placed “under review,” all comments are reviewed. I assume this also coincides with algorithms that catch certain words and phrases immediately.

For the record, I’m not sure what the process is, so don’t hold me to details. I do not claim to know exactly how all of this works, and my knowledge of this type of filtration process is pedestrian. This is simply my experience.

Nonetheless, no one should be allowed to say anything inappropriate. I get that and I support that.

However, Yahoo!’s new comment filters seem to have no rhyme or reason. I occasionally read Yahoo!, but almost never comment… not really my thing. However, recently, I replied to a story about a former child television star who had found herself regretting the experience later on in life. My father had worked in Hollywood in the 1970s through the 1990s, so I was familiar with this type of situation because I grew up around it.

I was compelled to comment.

I said that Hollywood is about what sells, and unless a child star can either make themselves valuable on screen after they grow out of being cute, or move into other avenues of entertainment to branch out their talents, they will likely never get any work after their child appeal wears off.

This comment was immediately caught, I assume, by some algorithm. It was flagged to go through the “approval process,” then eventually “rejected.”

What? This rejection made no sense.

I decided to conduct an experiment by making generally lukewarm comments that do not say anything inflammatory (or at least not too inflammatory) to see how many of them would be rejected. While most made it through, many didn’t, and I was rejected a lot more than I would have initially thought. This, in turn, sparked an idea: What if I write cruel responses to see if they would get through. Surprisingly, most of the mean comments made it through, as long as I didn’t use any specific inappropriate words that would immediately set off red flags.

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Below are some examples. First, you’ll see the headline of the story, followed by the response I put in the comment section. The first three are the casual comments that were rejected, the second set are the mean comments that made it through.

The problem right now is the left views anyone on the right as a “ist” or some type of “phobic” regardless of how far right you are. While people on the far right are absolutely wrong with much of their beliefs, and probably should be cancelled, the left has decided anyone just right of center are no different. For example, I’m Libertarian, but generally I’m targeted as being far-right wing by many folks on the left, despite the fact that much of the Libertarian beliefs are further left than them. It only seems to matter that some of the Libertarian beliefs are to the right and that means I’m to be shelved.

I’m assuming key words like “phobic.” “far-right wing,” and “Libertarian” hit the radar. However, I still cannot figure out why this was rejected. Nothing in this response is inappropriate… maybe not the political lean Yahoo! likes, and I criticize some on the left, but that’s it. Maybe that’s enough.

I graduated college in my 20s with no money, debt, and with a low-paying degree (journalism). Fast forward 25 years later and I have multiple properties, a business, a solid job on top of that, and have a net worth well into seven figures. The key was simple: Instead of thinking about how much money I could make on a job, I focused solely on how much I spent and where I spent it. I also focused on making sure I did my best not to put myself in expensive situations. Bottom line, you could make $1,000 an hour, but if you do not know how to manage money, how to control wasteful spending, or how to invest it wisely, it doesn’t matter.

This was one of the most puzzling. I do not see any inappropriate words or words that by themselves would set off any red flags. This post was removed pretty quick. I did have some dislikes, but no one reported it. What kills me is that the only reason to pull this is the gatekeepers didn’t want to hear a story about how someone could easily get wealthy, over a long period of time, simply by being responsible.

Hanoi Rocks was simply not as good as other bands… I even had Michael Monroe’s first solo album, his best work ever, and that album was just okay. He mostly lacked the necessary talent. Monroe really doesn’t sing this style that well and Hanoi Rocks didn’t write great songs. It’s odd, because you could say Tom Kiefer from Cinderella didn’t have a good voice, but somehow it fit better with the songs (and those songs were much better written), just as you can say Dizzy Dean from Britny Fox sounded a lot like Kiefer, but he wasn’t nearly as good, likely due to the band’s song writing not being all that strong. Whatever floats your boat… Motley Crue blows.

Okay, I say “Motley Crue blows,” so that may have set off a red flag, but I also say a lot worse in the mean comments, and those were never flagged. This post is not only benign, but it’s the most irrelevant in social discourse. No politics, no agenda, and nothing controversial. It’s about a singer that most folks do not know and I talk about bands that have been extinct for decades.

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The only reason to pull this is you’re a Hanoi Rocks fan, which I could actually understand. Metal heads and rockers are crazy fanatic. However, this shit was relevant 40 years ago. You’re an old man. Your dedication and loyalty is no longer seen as “hardcore” or “authentic.” It just looks like you never mentally got past high school. No one cares about your dinosaur bands.

Let’s move on to the nasty comments.

The following are a few of the mean comments I left on stories that were never flagged or taken down, until I took them down myself. I do apologize if anyone is upset that I posted these in the first place, even if I didn’t mean the things I said and did it just as an experiment.

Still less traumatizing than listening to her music.

This comment stayed up for three hours, got a lot of dislikes and angry comments, but was never pulled down by Yahoo!. I didn’t expect the algorithm to catch it because it doesn’t have any alarming words, but I thought the responses would draw Yahoo!’s attention because of the vitriol. I do not think it was reported, but I’m surprised those responses didn’t raise a red flag, which I assumed would also lead to my comment being pulled.

I’m glad she is dead.

This was up for two hours, a ton of dislikes, angry responses, and I believe it was reported by someone, but nothing happened. To be fair, I assume reporting it would have eventually resulted in it being taken down if I would have left it up. I should have waited, but even I couldn’t stomach the anger that was being thrown at me.

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Sanders can drag his tongue across my nut sack.

I was tempted to use “ball sack,” but thought it would be flagged immediately. However, I was expecting the algorithm to catch “nut sack. “Across my nut sack” really only occurs in this type of statement, unless someone loses a bag of peanuts and asks a friend: “Hey, have you come across my nut sack?”

I would tell her if her body type was hot back in the 50s, then go back to the 50s. In this time period, you’re fat.

I left this up for nearly six hours, got a ton of hate and dislikes, but I do not think anyone reported it. I thought the stem of “you’re fat” would set the algorithm off, but it didn’t. I did find it fascinating that so many claimed I was spouting “hate speech,” which I assume would have caught Yahoo!’s attention. Using the term “hate speech,” I thought, would set off red flags.

At the end of the day, I know Yahoo!’s comment section is considered by many to be low-tier, mostly passé, and Yahoo!, as a web destination, is not as popular as it was years ago. I’m not here to complain about the unfairness of a site that many people do not bother with anymore, I was just genuinely curious as to why some of my more benign posts got flagged, but many of the mean ones didn’t.

Maybe I was trying to prove something that we already know: Algorithms are unreliable, the Internet isn’t fair, online policing rarely makes sense, it’s bias politically most of the time, and, most importantly, no one gives a shit about Yahoo!’s comment section anymore?

Lastly, I apologize to anyone I offended during this experiment, and especially to Deion Sanders for my inappropriate and offensive comment. I have so much respect for him and his game. I’ve always admired Deion Sanders.

With that said, Yahoo! can go and drag its tongue across my nut sack.

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