back to article Microsoft says the internet is the nicest it's been since 2016. Obviously they didn't look at The Reg comments

The internet is a lovely place? Perhaps not, but online civility has improved since 2016, according to research from Microsoft. Lest we forget, 2016 was when Microsoft unleashed its potty-mouthed swearbot Tay onto the world before swiftly pulling the plug when it became clear that its social media experiment had gone full Nazi …

  1. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    wrong direction: recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.... proceed to the route

    Perhaps we should be more concerned about the company that forces everyone onto the web for profiteering and then uses it against us, rather than the ones who post on said internet of things.

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: wrong direction: recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.... proceed to the route

      Who is forcing people on to the web?

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "I see less tolerance of other people"

    I've never seen much tolerance of other people on the Internet, to be frank.

    Sure, there are some commentors in these hallowed pages who are generally an example of how everyone should behave, but they are not enough to hide the ugly selfishness of many.

    Still, El Reg is the only place I go read the comments, so that's saying something.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: "I see less tolerance of other people"

      Yor momma

    2. Mark 85

      Re: "I see less tolerance of other people"

      I've never seen much tolerance of other people on the Internet, to be frank.

      El Reg is very civil. The rest and especially social media (or anti-social media to be more precise) is a sewer. Angst, hate, trolls, etc. all run amok. The few times I took a peek at Facebook and few others told me that those platforms are just a big time waster. This last election and the lockdowns brought out the worst in folks, IMO.

      It ain't going to get better, I believe.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "I see less tolerance of other people"

      To be fair, you could say that about Real Life.

      1. ICL1900-G3

        Re: "I see less tolerance of other people"

        Don't agree. If you call someone a tosser to their face, there could well be swift retribution . People are shits online because they can get away with it.

    4. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: "I see less tolerance of other people"

      "El Reg is the only place I go read the comments"

      "I've never seen much tolerance of other people on the Internet"

      This makes no sense.

  3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    El Reg

    I used to comment on a number of UK news sites, but gave up years ago because even cosy places like the Graun could get a bit nasty (relatively - nothing like some of the sewers out there). The Reg is the only place who's comments I regularly read and actively comment in because, on the whole, it's a fairly polite and informed place. The best thing about the Reg forums for me is that when I read an article on the Reg that I either don't understand or is outside my area of knowledge or experience then I can just tag the RSS feed and get educated.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: El Reg

      El Reg was not immune from bad people. Eadon, although now almost forgotten did provide some entertainment as long as you were not on the end of it. An extreme example, to be sure, but the line is sometimes hard to draw, and will be in the future....

      As pointed out in the article, many will be tapping up the local teens for some advice before handing over credit cards just to access social media. Also age verification doesn't prevent anyone saying bad things, only moderation can do that which is a thankless task when done manually.

      Pints all round, especially the staff on here.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: El Reg


        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: El Reg

          I was always partial to the occasional "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" from Mr Bryant, late of this parish.

          I think we lost a few nutjobs when Lewis left - and they stopped piping climate-change denial into an engineering focused website. Was never going to work, really.

  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    Things must be improving. I've just had a response from a Visual Studio UI developer agreeing that I've found a bug and saying they are going to fix it. If they could just fix the other dozen I've reported to them over the last couple of decades even I might become more civil.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge


      Also - damn you, that's the entire year of Visual Studio user reports done with. No point until next 1st Jan.

      I hope it was a big one.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Congratulations!

        Sadly, not. Although it will help address the current issue of the stupid Stack Explorer appearing when you switch focus back to VS.

        What would really make my day is if they could stop the Error List coming to the foreground and stealing focus during a build. Historically I've always used that as an indication that the build has ended and I can get on with editing. It's a hard habit to break and now what happens is that I start editing and the Error List steals the focus again.

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    What about Twitter and it's ilk

    It would be interesting to see what Microsoft remarked after having a little browse through that Sh**Storm known as Twitter...

    People literally threaten to kill each other, send bombs or a multitude of other threats etc. The Internet has never been so violent..

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

      Sorry to disagree, but the Internet has been violent ever since the plebs have had a connection.

      Remeber Swatting ? That didn't happen last month.

      When it was only academia that had access, sure, it was a lot more civil, but then the hoi-polloi got on the bandwagon and ever since the first XBox we've has 12-year-olds threatening everyone else's mothers.

      Violence on the Internet is hardly a new thing.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

        "Since the plebs have had a connection." or since the Plebs had access to Social-Media?

        I don't remember it being such a bad place in the times of Bulletin Boards and the various Forums ( Usenet, Fidonet, moving on to CompuServe etc)...

        I would put it around the time of the Web 2.0 when the storm erupted...

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

          Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

          Honestly, I think people have rose-tinted memories of Usenet. As a whole, the areas that I frequented were civil, but you could certainly wander into newsgroups awash in trolls and other griefers. Women had it especially rough, since once a bunch of greasy, spotty, ill-socialized neckbeards discovered a woman in their midst, they would turn all kinds of inappropriate, from stalking to abuse to threats of rape, and it's taken a long time to see improvement of that situation on the Web, if it has indeed improved at all. I think there was more community and more camaraderie on Usenet overall, but civility was sometimes in short supply. My favorite newsgroup was moderated, and the overall experience was much like The Register's forums, with spirited discussion but the worst excesses dealt with by the mods.

          On the flip side, Twitter specifically seems to bring out the worst in people, but perhaps we're turning a corner where even the Twitterati are sick of assholes.

          1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

            Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

            Usenet was always entertaining come the new academic intake each September. Still, I can hardly comment having nearly been thrown out of college back in the '80s for creatively misusing the JANET network to send reams of rather colourful poetry to all and sundry, as well as someone else's lovelorn emails that'd got stuck in the queue (God I was a horrible teenager and that almost resulted in me getting a well-deserved pasting) and finding out the hard way what phishing is. :|

      2. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

        Violence on the Internet is not a thing.

        Threatening violence and other written and verbal unpleasantness, definitely but no one has ever punched anyone on the internet.

        1. cmdrklarg

          Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

          Oh Lord, please grant me the ability to smack someone over TCP/IP. Amen.

    2. ShadowSystems

      Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

      Twitter, 4Chan, Reddit, Wikki edit wars, et al should be enough to skew any such survey right off a cliff.

      Toss Rule34 into the mix & the survey vanishes down a blackhole of sparkly vampire Hentai furry stomping FanFic SpaceGoat porn...

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

        Well I'd buy that last one.

      2. Dante Alighieri
        Paris Hilton

        leading to rule 35

        and an XKCD inspired site

        linky to xkcd/305

      3. Totally not a Cylon

        Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

        Hey! leave us fanfic writing furries out of it.

        Or I'll set The Click on you!

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

      -- People literally threaten to kill each other --

      Maybe that just signifies a lack of education. When I was at school (along with Noah) threats of violence were routine. The more imaginative the better. The starting point was the good old favourite of "I'll tear your arm off and beat you to death with the soggy end"

      -- send bombs --

      M'lud I plead the Robin Hood airport defense

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: What about Twitter and it's ilk

      I remember being on an expats forum around 2000, which was basically-english speaking foreigners living in Belgium worrying about how many hundred visits to the town hall it would take to get our ID cards. Oh and the Americans complaining about how they had to fill in forms for both US and Belgian tax authorities - something which makes astrophysics look like doing your times-tables in comparison.

      And even amongst the hundred or so regular posters we had a few angry sweary argumentative sods. Oh and one stalker who found out people's (read women's) addresses and sent unwanted flowers and gifts, as well as other even less savoury stalking behaviour. I was impressed that the local police actually bothered to deal with that.

      Usenet in the mid-90s wasn't exactly always friendly either, which was my first go at the internet.

      I was also a forum-Mod on Hattrick (an online football management game) in about 2004 - and we saw the odd death threat then, but lots of bad behaviour and a bit of organised bullying too. For some reason the Scottish forums were the worst for that, and the game owners despaired of getting the Irish to stop swearing. Though this is only because they deemed "feck" a swearword. Pub kicking-out time was the worst on the forums, but even though we had decent moderation it didn't keep everyone in line - and as many users were paying a few quid a year to play it wasn't even anonymous.

      I'd say the internet is the same, because people are the same. There's just more of it nowadays.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Internet is lovely for big corporations controlling communication and spying for governments.

    They have basically killed interest focused forums and other forms of information exchange independent of corporate control.

    Now that most of communication is consolidated within a few services, they can control and censor whatever governments or other corporations need to shape the narrative that benefits them.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've never found the Internet to be in least bit offensive, violent or corrosive. After all, its just a network. The World Wide Web on the other hand, well that has some pretty spiky corners to be sure.

    1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      I rarely find hardware offensive, the people who use it or the software they develop fall into a different category.

      1. Zenubi

        "I rarely find hardware offensive"

        Not bought a Dell PC lately then.

        (A friend - not me)

      2. Imhotep

        The carbon based units are all defective.

  8. batfink

    They think discourse is better now?

    Fuck them then.

  9. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge


    I don't know why we mock Tay. They wanted a simulated teenager, they succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings.

  10. Scott Broukell

    Somewhat like a playground the internet would seem overly full of shouty, immature individuals who have determined for themselves and themselves alone, that the internet is a forum where everyone must pay attention to them and to the bile that they very often espouse. Much to the detriment of more considered thought and expression, which is sadly often drowned out my the former. Imho, this is all the proof that is needed to see that mankind, as a whole, is nowhere near intelligent enough for such technology and hasn't been for about 100,000 years.

  11. ThatOne Silver badge

    Get real!

    > "I see more people taking out their frustrations online"

    Could it simply be there are more frustrations to be taken out during the pandemic?...


    > "we're all in this together."

    Come on, this is what everyone tries to avoid at all cost: Being in the same crappy situation as everyone else... When you say that you're either trying to placate somebody*, or you're desperately calling for help**.

    * "Be reasonable, hand me the lifeboat, after all we're all in this together."

    ** "I want some too, aren't we all in this together?"

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: Get real!

      Have you listened to any politicians? "We're in this together" means, "my luxury lifeboat is exactly the same thing as you treading water."

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Get real!

        > "We're in this together" means, "my luxury lifeboat is exactly the same thing as you treading water."

        Yes, that was my point, you just said it much better...

        Still wondering what my downvoter had to complain about.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I quite like reg comments. They have the right level of snark and sarcasm and everyone gets it. I'm guessing that's cause it's a tech website and we (maybe not me) aren't idiots. I use Reddit but I have severely limited the subs I subscribe to because some of them are now really full of arseholes. There was a post on r/funny earlier where a two year old shit himself (not literally) when a toy went off twice, the parent laughed, I found it hilarious, the kid got upset from being laughed at. Incoming loads of posts how it's cruel and the kid will be scarred for life. How can people be so dumb? Welcome to the new age of internet.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      A two-year-old complained on the internet about being laughed at? Ummm...

  13. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Self congratulatory research

    Hypersensitive millennials congratulating themselves on policing content via big tech monopolies to make the Internet safe for puppies & kittens.

  14. Binraider Silver badge

    Thankfully El Reg remains largely a bastion of sanity in terms of ability to debate something. I've had some heated debates here where I feel like I make a point; even if disagreeing with others in the debate. As opposed to exploding with rage.

    I am still particularly bemused by the excellent episode of The Orville with it's government and policing by like/dislike button... And just how warped that concept is.

    There are other areas of the internet where I would not even remotely contemplate saying what I think or know. Which says an awful lot about the standards here.

  15. a_yank_lurker


    Some sites and channels have generally well behaved commenters even when we get snarky and sarcastic. The difference is the target; I have a low opinion of corporate manglement and their shills and government goons where ever they are. But sites like Twatter, Reddit, etc. get very nasty and personal fast. So how vicious the Internet appears to be is probably more dependent on where you hang out on it. I do not see that much but I do not hang out in the most notorious cesspools.

    For this 'research' I would like to know how the Rejects of Redmond selected and rated the sites in more detail. I suspect they have serious methodology problems which I think points to an underlying design problem. The Rejects want to show specific outcome for their own purposes which might at variance with most people's experience. Given the popularity of Twatter and Reddit amongst some and the notorious vileness on both sites and the probably strong overlap between the 'researchers' and the users I could see the data being skewed badly. There is strong tendency among Twatter users in particular to think it is more popular than it actually is.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      "For this 'research' I would like to know how the Rejects of Redmond selected and rated the sites in more detail."

      This is the default approach to take to any form of survey. Who's running it and what axe are they grinding?

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        Fully agree. I would also point out the articles in papers, on TV or websites where, rather miraculously, everyone asked as part of a random sample of people passing in the street agrees with whatever the article is about.

    2. Mark 85

      Re: Really?

      Research by MS????? I have a feeling it was very select and targeted few who were questioned. And probably had some ground rules, hidden or otherwise, to eliminate snark, and nastiness.

      IMO, it's just another corporate exercise in "remain calm... all is well!" folloiwed by "let's see how the profits are growing, shall we?

  16. cornetman Silver badge

    I feel that as a species we are poorly adapted to the realities of the global reach of the Internet.

    There have always been dogpiles but the likes of Twitter manages to amplify their effect by many orders of magnitude.

    I don't know what the answer to that is. More evolution perhaps?

  17. Teejay

    I don't agree.

    El Reg commentators are mostly fine, and often with humour and wit.

    You should *really* take a look at Arst*chnic*.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    The web reflects the world

    None of the web's, or social media's, problems emerged de novo. They merely reflect things that have been around for millennia.

    We live in a time of increasing tribalism, be it based on race, sex, sexual preference, politics, or even jobs, and the web makes it much more apparent but not much more different.

    (N.B. What ElReg reflects is not at all clear, but I'm glad it exists.)

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: The web reflects the world

      "We live in a time of increasing tribalism"

      Homo Sapiens Sapiens has always been tribal and always will be. If we are ever not, we will no longer be Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The web reflects the world


      "We live in a time of increasing tribalism"

      Hit it in one !!!

      I think the real problem is people are finding the world as reflected by the 'Interwebs' too big to handle !!!

      Too much information without an easy way to filter out the dubious sources.

      Social media has magnified the sources you regularly take input from .... so the only way to shrink the problem is to fall back to Homo Sapiens Sapiens favourite sport ....

      Align yourself with a 'tribe', absorb the tribal catechism and then fight your corner with the rest of the tribe comfortable in your ignorance/impatience/anger/etc/etc. !!!

      You may be right, you may be wrong but you are not alone.

      [In Stephen Fry 'General Melchett' voice]

      What we need is a good war to thin out the disaffected & align our values again ...

      .. and Putin may just oblige .... <jk>

  19. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Empirical research proposal

    May I suggest to MSFT's boffins to just release a reset-to-defaults Tay into the world again and see if it becomes nicer or ruder? Maybe tweak the algos a bit, giving more weight to more recent stuff.

    That could be a better, or at least an alternative, indicator of what goes on, compared to surveys.

  20. Cederic Silver badge


    Have a wonderful day everybody.

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