Silence: An Experiment in Selective Browsing

August 21, 2012

I hate comments sections. More often than not, they depress me and remind me of how horrible people can be. The anonymity means people can be as cruel and as crude as they want with no fear of repercussions, and the brevity and informality leads to unnecessary harshness and exaggeration. It’s not that I can’t handle opposition, argument, or profanity – it’s that I just cannot stand the overwhelming negativity and childishness that tends to ooze from comments sections.

“Well, then, just don’t read the comments section!” you say. Yes, but I’m masochistic that way. Even if I suspect the comments will be dripping with haterade, I look, because I want to believe otherwise. I want people to prove me wrong and actually provide some constructive, coherent feedback for once. But they don’t, and they say awful things instead, and it makes me hate the world, and I know I’m not alone in this.

So I made Silence. Silence is a userscript that removes comments sections so that users don’t see them. Not all comments sections are horrible, so it’s also possible to whitelist certain sites. I made it just for myself at first, and I have really enjoyed browsing the web without (most) comments, so I decided to put it up for anyone to use.

Silence is not complex or involved. It is built to be customized. The base version only blocks Disqus, Facebook, and Yahoo comments, as well as comments on the Huffington Post. Why those? I have nothing against those services themselves; they were just the biggest comment services with the worst-moderated comments I could think of. You can customize the script yourself, however, and either whitelist certain domains or blacklist certain container elements.

Oh, and I am one of the few people who doesn’t mind Youtube comments (they’re usually more dumb than they are hateful, and are occasionally privy to moments of hilarity), but if you don’t care for them, be sure to check out Tanner Stokes’ Herp Derp Youtube Comments plugin.