Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Vox reporter Jane Coaston is trying to turn over a new leaf:

Hooray! More people need to be familiar with this term, which was a team creation back in 2006. I suggested that we needed a word for “trawling through open comment threads to find wackjobs who can be held up as evidence of crazy liberals”:

Needless to say, this practice is almost self-discrediting: if the best evidence of wackjobism you can find is a few anonymous nutballs commenting on a blog, then the particular brand of wackjobism you’re complaining about must not be very widespread after all. So how can we mock this practice effectively enough to make people ashamed to indulge in it?

Bill Wasik, now gone on to bigger and better things as a deputy editor at the New York Times Magazine, was the judge, and he chose “nutpicking,” which had been suggested by commenter BlueMan.

Not only do I think this meme deserves more widespread use, I’d even broaden the definition a bit these days. An awful lot of reporters now trawl through Twitter looking for performative comments without checking to see if the tweeter actually has a following of any serious kind. I’m not suggesting that the Washington Post should only quote people with big Twitter followings, but I am suggesting that if your goal is to find flamers and trolls and randos, maybe you should just stop. You’ll certainly find them, but what’s the point?

THE END...

of our annual funding cycle is fast approaching, on June 30, and we have a considerable $230,000-plus gap in our online fundraising budget.

If you value the nonprofit journalism you get from Mother Jones, and you can, right now is an important time to help us keep charging hard with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation.

payment methods

THE END...

of our annual funding cycle is fast approaching, on June 30, and we have a considerable $230,000-plus gap in our online fundraising budget.

If you value the nonprofit journalism you get from Mother Jones, and you can, right now is an important time to help us keep charging hard with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate