August 11, 2015 by McDowski
So I no longer visit The Verge – a website that started out as a tech blog, became insanely popular, was one of my most regularly visited sites for a long time, is actively falling into the, “jack of all trades, master of none,” trap that has rarely worked for anyone, and is now out of my life.
The single biggest problem with The Verge over the last several months, perhaps a year or so, is how they were becoming increasingly trigger-happy when it comes to deleting comments and banning users. Sure, there are occasions when it was warranted, but there were several occasions where users got banned despite posting well-reasoned and civil (albeit dissenting) posts. But these, apparently, were enough to get them a ban. And jokes, too. The Verge, it seems, simply doesn’t have the ability to laugh at itself.
I got banned there about a month ago. Basically, I had noticed on that day that the last few threads on their “Meta” forum — a sub-forum where users can post about topics related to The Verge itself — were all abruptly locked and closed by the same moderator. None of them were particularly offensive, but the moderator just locked them, usually with no good reason. Just an abrupt end to the discussion. So I made a new post where I jokingly called out the moderator, basically saying that since he seems to enjoy locking threads so much, I created this thread just so he could lock it. “Knock yourself out!” I said. Next time I visit, I see a message informing me that I was banned from commenting because my “childish” post was exactly what they don’t want on their esteemed site. So while I was “free” to browse the site, I could not comment. Gee, can I really browse the site still? Really? However so generous of you!
*shrug* Okay, then. I closed the tab without acknowledging the message like they wanted me to (I know it doesn’t affect them, just my little ‘rebellion’) and haven’t been to the website since. This was over a month ago, I think. And you know what? I don’t really miss it. At all.
The problem with sites like The Verge, and this can really apply to any business, is that once they reach a level of mainstream popularity, it seems they fool themselves into thinking that they are somehow unique or irreplaceable. They’re not. Everything The Verge does is fungible, and can be replaced easily with dozens of other sites. Let’s examine:
Technology news and information? Virtually any tech site will do. CNET, Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Techdirt, Ars Technica… the list goes on and on. There was virtually no piece of news or information that was unique to The Verge, anyway, as all sites would ‘break’ news at roughly the same time.
Information about movies/music? A weird part of The Verge to begin with, which doesn’t even have its own dedicated section. And there was never any consistency. They review certain movies, but not others, and there’s no particular rhyme or reason why. Go to virtually any movie or music related website for this, and they will assuredly do a better job. Try RogerEbert.com for movies or Rolling Stone for both. Of course, you could just head to Rotten Tomatoes and get aggregated results from dozens of reviewers.
Cars? Another weird addition, though at least this one has its own dedicated section. This section was always unintentionally hilarious, because all it did was remind the reader just how little The Verge guys knew about cars. It basically involves one of their senior staff writing and talking about cars in the absolute most generic way possible. It was an embarrassment, really, and if you actually went to The Verge for car related info, then shame on you. Try Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Cars.com, or Yahoo! Autos. If car tech is what you’re after (like Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto or self-driving tech) then any one of the aforementioned tech sites will do.
Longform articles? Honestly, this is really the only part of The Verge which I might miss. They occasionally did some solid, in-depth articles on various topics, complete with splendid web-design. Unfortunately, these were fewer and far between over the last several months, and I actually can’t remember the last longform article on a topic that interested me. Ars Technica does a pretty good job of these, as does Engadget occasionally.
Overly-sensitive moderation and an Editor-in-Chief who looks, talks and behaves like an overgrown man-child? If this is what you want, then really, you should just stick to The Verge. It’s perfect.