He has a Horde? One difference is that he was more ruthless in culling that horde. And that made it difficult to sustain — this resonated with me.
He doesn’t sound optimistic about the future of the comment section. Instead, he sounds tired: of deleting and banning trolls, of trying to police and curb an online community’s worst—and, it often seems, most natural—instincts, all in the name of a goal he doesn’t feel he’s ever achieved. “To be honest, I can’t say how long this will go on for,” he told me, addressing the possibility that he might someday close comments entirely, like his colleague James Fallows. “It never quite became what I wanted it to be. I never really figured out how to get people from different perspectives in a place without defaulting to these usual conversations.”
Sometimes comments work, sometimes they end up being self-destructive. It’s a hard thing to balance.
It’s also the case that those damned trolls have a strategy that is sometimes effective — no matter what you do, there are assholes who make it their obsessive, petty hobby to tear it down.