Philly.com’s Commenters Are More Vile Than You Think

Why the online comments section of the city’s biggest news site is so unbelievably toxic.

Last February, Philly.com posted a heartwarming story, also published in the print edition of the Daily News, about a North Philly peewee basketball team that needed to raise $11,000 to get to the International Small Fry Basketball Tournament in Orlando. The community rallied to pony up the money. Online, the story garnered this insightful comment:

YOUR ARE LOOKING AT THE GRATERFORD CLASS OF 2020. — LARRY CHESWALD

Classy, Larry.

A May story about Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s second marriage, to Tina Lai, who is Vietnamese, brought this illuminating thought:

SHE HAD HIM AT ‘ME LOVE YOU LONG TIME.’ — Unknown

A story about a black bus driver arrested for trying to kidnap a child in Delco garnered this bon mot:

A VERY HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH TO ALL!!!!! — cynic al

And a story set in West Philly resulted in this doozy:

BRING IN WILSON GOODE TO DROP A BOMB OVER THAT ENTIRE COMMUNITY. INSTEAD OF MLK DAY WE SHOULD CELEBRATE WILSON GOODE BECAUSE THAT WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I COULD THINK OF … HE IS MY HERO AND WOLD VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN. A TRUE PATRIOT! — Friend to All

As any perusal of old editorial cartoons will attest, distasteful discourse has always been a part of the American conversation. It’s the price you pay for free speech—some of that speech is bound to be awful. But the Internet has been a game-changer in the hate-speech sweepstakes, allowing anyone to instantly comment on just about anything. The online-comments sections of major metropolitan newspapers have become magnets for racists, sociopaths and assorted trolls, who every day deface the walls of award-winning reportage with their graffiti of ignorance and intolerance.


Then there is the comments section of Philly.com.

To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi: Nowhere will you find “a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” On a good day, it’s bad. On a bad day, it’s vile.

There are a lot of bad days on Philly.com.

“Philly has a reputation for being a crass community, doesn’t it?” understates Kelly McBride, an expert in media ethics at the Poynter Institute, a highly respected journalism think tank that more or less serves as the conscience of the industry. “That’s the thing about comments sections: They hold up a mirror to the community and reflect back the good parts as well as the parts that you just don’t find very attractive.”

She’s being kind. A better way to put it might be: Is the city really this full of hateful, horrible people? And even more sobering: What kind of “civic dialogue” is Philadelphia reflecting to the world?

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  • Ms. Lu’s Twin Sista’

    They censor thoughts. That’s not good. That is un-American.

  • Joshua Speed

    Philly.com is run by loser 20-something Know Nothings who know next to nothing about journalism. People post horrible things there because they HATE Philly.com.

  • Joshua Speed

    In other words, few people take Philly.com seriously.

  • Marsha Goldstein

    I agree, philly.com is bad journalism, sensationalistic and immature, loser mentality all the way, and the censorship is disgusting.

  • Lester_From_Lester

    I agree with this piece.

    One time a couple months back I posted a comment under a Business story on the topic of leasing in the Inquirer about how I just gotten an awesome deal on a Love Seat at Rent A Center. I got this gorgeous white pleather piece for just $49 a month on a 60 month rental contract, I was thrilled, this thing would have cost me like $825 bucks new, and it looked perfect in my trophy room next to my life sized, #3 Dale Earnhardt “The Intimidator” Fathead Decal, the closet shrine to the Greatest of the Polish saints, St Casimir, and my laminated GED.

    Anyway, I checked back the next day and someone had posted under my original post that I was “a moron”. I found that to be totally uncalled for and it really upset me. I mean why me? I replied that if they were so tough they should meet me down at Clank’s Bar in Marcus Hook to settle this matter, and of course they never showed. My Union Shop Steward/Deacon said they were just jealous of my awesome love seat from RAC and it probably was a colored person or a gay. Maybe both.

    • SLUGG0

      Maybe they were busting on you for paying $3000 for a $850 chair?

  • Alvin Verum

    The Reprobate’s Motto – “Be Smug and Silence all” I could have been taking a “D***” but instead wasted my time reading this.