Survey Results 5: Comments

1. Do you look at the comments sections, or do you just come to the site to read the blogposts?
I look at the comments on every thread 30%
I sometimes look at the comments 52%
I rarely look at the comments 14%
I never look at the comments 4%

I have to say that I am surprised that 82% of you regularly look at the comments. The mystery is why more of you don’t comment yourselves, and like to remain lurkers.

*2. Although the site gets a huge amount of comments, they are from a comparatively small section of the blogs 80,000 monthly readers. If you don’t leave comments, why not? *
I never comment on blogs 43%
The people who comment on WHTID seem too cliquey 11%
There’s too much meaningless banter between the same old people 23%
I don’t think anyone would be interested in what I have to say 16%
I’d start commenting if Iain or SJ Chandos and other authors contributed more to the threads 7%

(ID On the latter one, I think we have rectified that and all post authors are encouraged to take part in the comment threads, and I do myself as much as I am able. The percentages on cliquishness and banter between the same old people are slightly concerning. I quite like the fact that there are a dozen or so people who seem to comment on everything, and often, but it can mean that others think they’re not welcome. That’s not the case of course. I then asked you to leave comments on the whole area of commenting on the blog. Here are a representative sample. Where you see bold writing, that’s my reply to a particular point.)

Last season there was some terrible troll like wind ups , normally during match time which was incessant and quite dispiriting, hard to prevent I know, but it stopped me taking part.
(ID: I think the new commenting system seems to have eliminated much of the trolling that had been prevalent on the site.)

Limit comments from any one individual on any subject to say maximum of two.
(ID: I don’t think that would either desirable or technologically possible. I know where you’re coming from, though)

Most sites seem cliquey. I have tried making comments on one or two and someone usually shoots back and puts you down as if opinions are copyrighted! I prefer reading the considered views of the professionals so no worries, keep it up.
(ID: A fair point. I don’t think there’s too much shouting down here, although I think that was an issue a while back)

Comment threads are the home of the idiot. Everyone scrambling over each other to make themselves heard… everybody shouting, nobody listening.
(ID: I think that is true on some sites, but not this one. I think there is some real insight on our comment threads)

I’m from Australia.
(ID: Bully for you, cobber!)

I like the friendliness of the bloggers but i do think that there is so much irrelevant banter which on the previous format of being unable to collapse comments meant scrolling through endless tripe. I do miss a lot of the older members that have left, which I think could have been avoided as I sometimes find Iain a little rude in his responses. A majority of those people are intelligent long term supporters, something that this site misses. An apology to the likes of Tom, Devo, Celtic, Matt, Headmaster and co on the C&B site could go a long way to fixing some bridges.
*(ID: I’m not sure what I have to apologise for, but as I have made clear, I don’t believe in feuds, and I am pleased that Matt has commented on here recently. Tom comments regularly and I would be very happy if the others made a reappearance. There is no bitterness on my part and I occasionally comment on Claret & Blues myself.)

I would comment more often but I forgot my password!
(ID: Change it then! It’s very easy. Just click on the top right hand corner and follow the instructions.)

Sometimes when you post and nobody responds it is disheartening and you feel your comment wasn’t spotted or interesting enough. The thumbs up/down is another way to get encouragement from the very silent minority. The bulk of posters need a forum to have a good moan with very unrealistic strong opinions regular commenting on posts by the contributors would make people feel more engaged with the process.
(ID: The thumbs up/down is being worked on now and should go live soon.)

I’m still finding it difficult to express myself properly in English, although I live in England.
(ID: You’re not alone, mate!)

This is a good question. I post comments occasionally and am always ignored, however I have not ever said anything too controversial so perhaps I should experiment. Shall I suggest Brooking was rubbish or Harewood was a tactical genius? I bet I’d get ignored though. I really like it when you or SJ answer back.

Block the childish and very annoying “first post” contest
(ID: I agree, it’s getting rather boring, and I will ask people to desist.)

In the past I only left the odd comment but I think with the new format i will get more involved, in the posts that interest me. In the past more control was needed when certain contributors started going over the top.

Have moderators available to delete inappropriate comments.
(ID: Easier said than done. We all have day jobs. To be fair, since we put this new version of the site live, I think I have only ad to delete two comments.)

May be you could have a thread per month with a topic to invite new people to comment for the first time. E.g New comments welcome, we value your opinion. Coming from the host may urge them to do that. I, along with many and again, classic e.g, longtime lurker took a year or two to comment. Why is hard to answer. I would say it is because this is the first site I have ever replied too and does anyone really care what I think. So to welcome new posters once a month may get a few more on board
(ID: That’s a really good idea. Let me think about how it could work.)

I have commented on WHO and KUMB since they first began but do less and less as the years go by. I guess that what was once a novelty is wearing off now. In WHTID’s case it’s just one site too many. But there is another reason. WHO and KUMB are neutral fan sites, run by fans for fans. There are no ego’s on display from those who make the effort in running the sites. I’m deterred from contributing on here because basically I’m not a fan of Ian Dale. I’ve had a run in with him on his radio show last year when he had David Gold in the studio and he demonstrated an embarrassing ability to brown nose him and take me to task for having the temerity to criticise the O.S. project. Also, he’s too ready to take a pop at people; to wit, his recent reaction to those of us who won’t sign up to Twatter.
(ID: It’s not a case of having a pop at people, it’s a case of not agreeing, and then arguing back. Some people have very thin skin and take argument as insult. I recall the radio incident, but your reaction to any disagreement is very over the top. As, no doubt, this will be. And my reaction to those who won’t sign up to Twitter was to compromise on it. Otherwise you couldn’t have left your comment!)

Open a section for foreign readers in which they’re able to communicate in their home language (regular reader from germany)
(ID: Leider kann ich das nicht machen. Es waere zu kompliziert und ich zweifle ob viele tielnehmen wuerden. Tut mir Leid!)

Again if the site was probably more user friendly for mobile/ tablet devices i maybe more convinced to post. Would be an extra nightmare seeing replies afterwards having to scroll to the bottom with one comment at a time on the devices i use to view this site. Bring back the old comments system please.
(ID: I can only think you were under the impression the old system was still being used. The site is now fully mobile.tablet compliant. If you are having problems, let me know via the Contact button.)

Registering for sites puts me off so for the few times i would comment then ‘guest’ comments would entice me more.
(ID: That way lies anarchy. If you have something to say, you should be able to stand by it. It takes 30 seconds to register. If you really can’t be bothered to do that, I’m sorry for you.)

Talking Point

I've Watched the Hammers for 45 Years And These Are Depressing Times

Having just watched the latest Hammer horror show at Southampton on Sky, I’m feeling depressed again. And for this I completely blame Sam Allardyce and the board who appointed him. I’ve made never made any secret of my dismay at his appointment and nothing that has happened at West Ham since that dismal day – including promotion from the Championship – has given me any reason to revise my opinion.

We were an embarrassment at Southampton, as we have been once too often in recent years. I imagine Ron Greenwood and John Lyall spinning in their graves at the archaic, clueless dross served up under Allardyce. Modern football might be a results-driven business – a handy phrase all route one practitioners trot out to conveniently excuse their ‘tactics’ – but is it not also supposed to be about entertainment?

I understand that people attend football matches for a variety of reasons: to meet up with family and/or friends; for the craic; to let off steam; and to feel part of a group, or a combination of all of those reasons. They don’t go just to watch the football.

Sam Allardyce

But I can’t believe anybody pays to watch West Ham these days because they seriously expect value for money entertainment. They have become bloody awful to watch.
I’m not questioning Sam Allardyce’s integrity as a person. From talking to people who are employed by the club, it’s obvious he is a very decent bloke who cares about those who work for him and around him. One employee who has worked under the last seven managers reckons he is the nicest of the lot, so we know he is popular and likeable around the club. He donates his fee for his weekly Evening Standard column to charity.

What I don’t like at all, however, is his approach to football matches, his crude modus operandi, one which he has cultivated since he first coined his long-ball reputation at Bolton. It’s a reputation he would no doubt dearly love to shed, it clearly rankles with him that sections of the media still stereotype him in this way. But the negative way he sets his team up to play, especially away from home, does nothing to discredit his critics. This leopard looks incapable of ever changing his spots.

West Ham supporters excused this crass bish-bosh approach while pursuing promotion two seasons ago and Allardyce felt indicated in the end because, despite being outplayed for long periods by Blackpool in the play-off final, he achieved what he was asked to deliver by his employers. We were not in the same class, football wise, as Southampton or Reading and, significantly, failed to beat either of our more cultured promotion rivals but it was still a case of job done. For many, the end justified the means.
I went to only one home game that season – a 1-0 shocker against Peterborough – but I was appalled by what I saw and vowed never to go again while Allardyce is in charge. I had neck ache by the end of the 90 minutes; it was so alien to the ‘West Ham Way’ I and thousands of others have been brought up on through the years. OK, so I don’t expect the limited players Allardyce had at his disposal to turn it on a la Brooking and Devonshire. But it would be nice to at least get the ball down and pass it occasionally. Yet I was horrified to see that the back four and keeper were clearly under instructions not to build play from the back but to try and ‘hit’ Carlton Cole with a long ball, which invariably either went sailing over his head to their keeper, or it was headed on to . . . er, no-one.

BS received more plaudits last season by steering West Ham to 10th place on our return to the Premier League, but so what? Let’s be honest, if a couple of results had gone against us at the end of the season, we could easily have been dragged into the relegation dogfight. The final league position masked many deficiencies and fooled his disciples into believing we were a better side than we really were. Tenth place flattered Allardyce.

Now I expect many of you will quickly retort: ‘Ah, but it doesn’t matter how we play as long as we stay in the top flight’. But to me and many others who no longer attend games, it DOES matter. We care very much HOW we play. In the same way a long list of former managers – Fenton, Greenwood, Lyall, Bonds, Redknapp, Roeder, Brooking, Pardew and Zola – cared, too.

Sure, apart from three FA Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, we never won much playing attractive football. We never won the league championship. No matter. If I’d wanted to be a glory-hunter obsessed with winning trophies, I would have supported Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal as a kid. We took pride in having Moore, Hurst and Peters in our side and were universally respected for playing open, attacking and entertaining football. Even when we were shit we could still play a bit.

Many fans today, mainly those who weren’t lucky enough to see the greats I did in claret a and blue, seem to think that a sustained period spent in the Premier League cannot be achieved by playing ‘fancy football’ but other teams clearly manage it OK. And I’m not talking about the ‘big’ clubs with huge resources (or debts) to finance their Champions League dreams. Fulham, who probably have no more financial resources than us and certainly not as many fans, aren’t a team that hoof the ball forward but they rarely flirt with relegation. And look how far Swansea have come, right through the divisions, playing consistently attractive football under three different managers in Martinez, Rodgers and now Laudrup.

I admire what the Swansea board has done by sticking to their principles and making the right appointments to ensure the club’s football philosophy is not compromised. They have decided how they want to play the game and pick men who share their ideology. Their faith has been rewarded, too. It’s also the Barcelona way and that’s just how it should be. The egomaniac Mourinho made it known he was desperate for the Barca job before Pep Guardiola got it a few years ago but the Barca board, much as they admired his achievements, didn’t want to appoint a man who they believed could damage their credibility and image.

How I’d love Martinez or Laudrup, proper football people, to manage West Ham and restore the footballing ethos we took for granted for so long. I may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but I’d rather we finished 17th playing decent football than 10th by hoofing long, aimless balls in the general direction of a lone striker and playing without any guile or creativity.

Which brings me to Andy Carroll. It’s not his fault that he cost £17.5m to sign from Liverpool but it was ours for paying such an outrageous fee for a player who, let’s face it, has had only one half of a good season in the Premier League – for Newcastle before Dalglish lost his marbles and blew an eye-watering, management career-ending £35m on him. Carroll scored 11 goals in 19 PL games for the Magpies but a meagre six in 44 for the Reds.

We knew he was injury-prone from his loan spell with us last season (7 goals in 24 games) but Allardyce, backed by the board, still lavished virtually all of his summer transfer budget on Carroll . . . and then compounded the problem by wasting the last £5m of it on the non-scoring, one-footed, overrated Downing. His paltry three goals in 65 appearances for Liverpool says it all.

I think they saw us coming. TWICE!

We’ve not tossed away so much money on a winger since we bought, er, our last one – Jarvis, from relegated Wolves, for an even more lamentable £9m. Maiga? Paulista? Chamakh? It has to be said, our judgement in the transfer market has been woeful under Allardyce. Whether they were bought or just cheap loan deals, you have to wonder who actually watches these players before we sign them or, indeed, if we do watch them. Do we have a chief scout and any semblance of a scouting network at all?

The injuries that have delayed Carroll’s start to this season provide Allardyce with a ready-made excuse for the team’s current shortcomings but we now find ourselves in a situation that was wholly avoidable and, sadly, predictable. Why spend so much of the transfer budget on one very expensive, injury-prone player and then waste what was left of it on a winger, when Stevie Wonder could see that we needed another quality striker?

Maybe I’m doing our scouts a grave injustice. Perhaps they have spoken to a number of potential new signings but have been met with a polite ‘no thanks’. It can’t be much fun being a lone striker having to chase long balls pumped airborne for 90 minutes. Of course, they also know that when Carroll does eventually return, they will almost certainly find themselves benched because the one-dimensional Allardyce knows only one way to play.

Now we have evidently left ourselves with no other option but to go cap in hand to a player the manager deemed unworthy of the shirt just a few months ago. Is Carlton Cole really our only option? Cringeworthy, isn’t it?

Let’s ponder those Carroll figures for a moment, though. Apart from an outlandish transfer fee of £17.5m, he is reportedly on a weekly wage of £100k. Not taking into account any other goal bonus or whatever else his agent managed to extract from West Ham which we don’t know about, Carroll will ultimately cost us £48.7m over the full term of his six-year contract.

Which is complete and utter madness.

This, for a player who was on the open market as available for weeks between the end of last season and his permanent move to Upton Park, in which time not one other club showed even the slightest interest in paying Liverpool’s ridiculous asking price. That’s why, reluctantly it seems, he had to give up waiting for any other takers and stay with us. But the question remains: with no other Premier League club in for him, why on earth did we not drive a harder bargain with Liverpool? The prospect of having to pay a £100k-per-week player in the Championship – and don’t tell me it couldn’t possibly happen – a year or two or three from now doesn’t bear thinking about given the club’s current level of debt and with the move to the OS on the horizon.

I’ve no doubt I’ll again be accused of being negative but, to me, this is the reality of how things are under Allardyce. Am I alone in these thoughts? I’ll stand by them anyway and predict a season-long struggle to avoid relegation.

After 45 years of watching the Hammers, I think I’ve earned the right to be critical.

I need to cheer myself up. Now where’s that Boys of 86 DVD . . .

Tony McDonald

Note from Iain: I am delighted to welcome Tony to the site. Many of you will know him from West Ham programmes and issues of Hammers News in the past, and he now edits the very excellent Ex Magazine, which concentrates on celebrating the history of the club. He produces 4 issues a year, and it really is a must read if you’re at all interested in the history of the club. Their website is HERE. I’d really encourage everyone to take out a subscription.

Parish Notice

Parish Notice: New Links Feature

You will see a new Links button in the toolbar at the top. I aim for this to become the most comprehensive West Ham links pages on the net. You will see various categories in the drop down. Just click on them to get the links. I haven’t been able to copy the links section from the old site, so there may well be some gaps.

Please do feel free to tell me of any gaps, especially on the Twitter feeds, or make suggestions for new inclusions. You can do this in the comments below or by using the Contact button above.

We’ll also be introducing a Recommended link of the day in the sidebar shortly. Lots of new stuff to come too!

Player Performance - Vote

Vote: Player Performances v Southampton

Click HERE to rate the performances of the West Ham players who played at Southampton.

I can’t do a match report as I was on a plane to Glasgow when it was taking place.

Match Thread

Match Thread: Southampton v West Ham

Please use this thread to comment on the game as it progresses.

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