In addition to a lot of great movies and an inordinate amount of drinking (and for my part, a few embarrassing Facebook updates), SXSW also allowed most of us on staff here at Pajiba to discuss the state of the site and where we want to go with it in the future. And miraculously, in between Long Island Ice teas in mason jars and Drag Me to Hell, we actually did have an opportunity to talk about the direction. In fact, we all came back from Austin more focused, and though we haven’t announced any of the site changes, we’ve been quietly moving in a more positive direction, I think.
You may have noticed, for instance, that there are now nightly trade news updates. In the past, I’d wake up on a Wednesday morning, for instance, and scour Tuesday’s trade news, and then pre-write Thursday’s site and schedule it. The result was that much of our trade news was at least a day and a half old. Now, we write it as it comes in — it’s no longer prescheduled. We cover trade news first thing in the morning, then in the afternoon, and again before we got to bed, and we publish in real time. In terms of timeliness, we wanted to be able to compete with other sites.
You might have noticed, also, that Stacey has also added other movie blogs to Pajiba Love. There are news and features on other movie blogs that we often don’t get a chance to write about, and we’ve been around long enough now that I’m not so insecure as to think that our readers would abandon us if you found a better site through those links.
But more importantly, we’re also making a concerted effort to write more, actual reviews, a campaign spearheaded by Prisco. We’re trying to cover a lot of those smaller indie films we once didn’t bother with, and we also brought in Henry Britt, who we hope will help us resurrect our Underappreciated Gems, Pajiba Blockbuster, and Hangover Theater series (along with our other new critic, Steven Lloyd Wilson). We’re also doing more television coverage (and Sarah Carlson will be helping with that in the coming weeks). Our goal is to post at least two, sometimes three reviews a day, to go along with the trade coverage, the seriously random lists, and our usual features.
But there was another suggestion bandied around at SXSW, and it’s one that I’ve been wrestling with for the last few weeks. We love the site’s Eloquents — we really do. But lately, in our minds, the focus has drifted — more and more comment threads are hijacked and off topic. A few of the staffers (who will go unnamed) suggested that we try to steer the conversation back to the reviews and the news, etc. We talked about requiring registration to comment, but it’s something that takes up more server resources than we’d like; we’d finally sped up commenting, and we didn’t want to slow it down. So, another suggestion was proffered: We should moderate comments.
I was on the fence about it, reluctant to do so. But a couple of things have happened since SXSW that has made me come around to the idea. First of all, a couple of weeks ago, I admit that I got a little steamed when the Eloquents completely hijacked Dan’s wonderful I Love You, Man review. There were 401 comments on that review, and only about 20 were related to the movie.
I appreciate that we have a lot of readers who like to spend their time in our comments sections shooting the shit, but that was fucking ridiculous. Bucdaddy, I believe, had turned the conversation toward which Eloquent would be the best FREEBIE (in other words, which would you most like to have sex with). Not only was it completely off-topic, but as a lawyer, I was fairly concerned with the sexual harassment repercussions. It was absurd and a little scary. This is a movie site, not your fucking sexual playground. And I don’t know how many more times we can suffer through Pookie hijacking another thread with his off-topic nonsense.
The other thing that turned the tide for me was that interview we ran a week ago, which featured Kevin Smith talking about his relationship with the Internet. The one thing that really stuck out for me was his statement to the effect that, “It got to the point where, instead of arguing with these trolls for three hours, I just decided to … beep … delete their comments. It made life much easier.”
I could relate.
And so, from this day forward, we’ve decided to moderate comments. And we’re going to be fucking fascists about it. Off-topic comments will never see the light of day. Comments of a sexual nature: Delete. Hijacking threads: Delete. In fact, when someone decides to start railing on one of the staffers here: Fuck it. Delete. It’s our fucking site. We don’t have to deal with the bullshit anymore. It’s time to make the conversation a little more civil, a little more on-topic, and a little less hostile towards your “overlords.”
And that’s the way it’s going to be.