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MediaApril 25, 2023

All the times NZ Herald comment moderators have had enough of your bullshit


A ray of heroic light in the great, grim, forever thread of the internet.

Publishers, writers and readers have fallen in and out of love with comment threads since the dawn of online media time. And while examples of healthy and constructive engagement endure, the sorry truth is that a lot of it lives down to the subterranean, sewage-evoking shorthand of “below the line”.

So spare a thought, or indeed a friendly comment, or a glass of wine even, for the moderators, tasked with patrolling those underground mires, by which I mean mostly Facebook. Not least, salute the unnamed moderators of the New Zealand Herald, the country’s biggest publisher that posts on Facebook. 

Whether it is all of them, or one particularly, that occasionally and eloquently loses their shit, we do not know. But it is a tonic when they do and we praise them unendingly. Below, a complete catalogue – or the 10 that our trawl dug up, anyway – of the times the Herald moderator has had enough. 

‘A lack of pop culture knowledge is not a moral high ground 😎✌️’

When Lizzo blazed Auckland in January 2020, it brought great joy to her fans and a blast of horrible comments from horrible commenters. In this, the earliest example of chef’s-kiss-grade Herald moderator moxie, they gently reminded readers of basic human decency and good taste, while airing one of the great questions of our time: why do people insist on commenting to say they don’t know or don’t care about someone/something/anything?


‘A lot braver than these faceless trolls’

November 2021, and with compassion levels online scraping the proverbial, the Herald’s bone-tired moderator flicked the comment off-switch with a righteous, furious flourish that sparked applause across the internet. 

‘Posted for ten minutes and shut down because of racist rubbish’

Also from November 2021, a report about a woman unable to be with her husband owing to Covid border controls brought out the worst in readers – and, probably more to the point, non-readers.

‘Get better material’

A report from January 2022 that the then prime minister may have contracted Covid triggered a lot of people, who jumped online to – well, you can judge by the exasperated, exhausted tone of “social guy”, aka Our Hero. 

‘Get a hobby’

A crisp but cracking rejoinder from March 2022.

‘Comments closed’

June 2022.

‘There are people in California who don’t struggle with the concept of Aotearoa’

You’ll never guess what happened in August last year when the Herald used the word “Aotearoa” on Facebook. (Correction: you will.) On this occasion, however, the moderator had a comeback for the galactic ages.

‘Too many gutless goons’

A wink goodbye to Police Ten 7. From February. 

‘Or you could make up your own version’

Also in February, from an unknown article, but to be honest it transcends specifics and could apply to just about anything. 

‘The same way we have been selling the newspaper since the 1860s’

The most recent example comes from the weekend, when our mod queen/king engaged full sarc mode after noting the millionth or so comment bewailing a paywalled story about the abandonment of filming for a Jason Momoa film following confusion over consultation with iwi.

Keep going!