Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Commenting on Things: What You Should and Should Not Do

with 3 comments

Recently, I have been perusing the deep, dark recesses of the internet, and I have found that I am constantly irritated by people who find it necessary to comment on any and everything that appears. Whether it be on Amazon product descriptions, comments on people’s’ personal blogs, etc., I find that much of what it found in these handy-dandy commenting areas to be anywhere from completely indecipherable and unhelpful to irreverent and confrontational.  I believe comments can be helpful and can offer a lot of insight on a topic that the writer and the readers are adamant about, but frankly, I think that many people either do not know how to comment or just don’t care the image of themselves that they put out on the internet. Hence, I offer some of the most common commenting concerns that I see for anyone who comments on others ideas, writing, etc. and some ways in which to avoid them.

1) Fangirl / Fanboy posts– You’ve all read these types of post. These are the one in which people will blatantly bash someone’s work because they enjoy the source material that someone is writing on. This is not what bothers me per-say, but I think that

By User:Pianopianissimo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

if you are going to disagree with someone’s opinion on a subject that you should be able to disagree with them in an intelligent and civil fashion. Be able to critique someone else’s ideas by giving information from the original source material to back up your ideas. For example, don’t just say “OMG you don’t understand Edward and Bella’s relationship. You’re a big do-do head.” First, one should explain the complexity of the subject that the person obviously doesn’t get by giving details about said subject. Second, one should be able to do so without name calling. I mean seriously are people 6? Tip here is to know your shit and be willing to back up your opinion in an intelligent way without just clinging to your love of said topic.

2) The vague comment– Again, we’ve all seen this. This is the post where the person appears to either not know what they’re talking about at all or they haven’t even read the post. For example: “I really appreciate the words you had to say about this.” One, this is not helpful at all. Two, this makes it seem like you’re just trying to promote your own blog or site (as they are generally followed by the most recent blog post). If you can’t find something that you would truly like to comment on (whether you like it or not), then don’t comment… or simply say that you like the blog post and move on (which I’m still not a fan of)… Don’t be vague just to try to sound provocative or to be mysterious… please.

3) The confrontational comment– This is the comment and the commenter that will disagree with you just to do it and try to get a rise out of you. Yet again, I think that we’ve all seen one of these. They attack both the ideas presented (with or without evidence to the contrary) and usually attack the person who created the item in question. Usually, they are inflammatory. For example, “This book would have been better if they had gotten people working in the field to write it. As it stands, it sounds like a group of graduate students wrote it.” While it may appear that this person may not have liked the book, they additionally feel it necessary to attack the credentials of the persons who edited and wrote for the book in question (I’ve actually read reviews similar to all the ones that I’m using for examples… However, none of them are verbatim). This commenting situation can again be rectified by simply expressing reasons as to why they think the book is not up to snuff and also by not attacking the group of people in question, especially without explaining why.

4) Illogical comments– While these comments are usually harder to spot because they may appear to do all the good things that commenters should, they are also quite annoying to find. For example, on a friend’s blog, a guy is arguing that the Schumacher “Phantom of the Opera” should not be compared to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical because they are in too absolutely different mediums. However, the fact that they are based on the source material of Gaston Leroux and that the movie is directly based upon the musical stage show makes his assertion pretty much invalid. While some (or many most) of the things that he says could be arguably debated if he framed his argument a little differently, the illogic he uses taints the foundation of his claims. What’s more, he’s the confrontational and dick-ish commenter (view the above) that lashes out against my friend even as she tries to deal with him calmly. Here, thinking through the logic and tone of the  comments he posted could have made him look like an intelligent individual who wanted to exchange ideas in a civil fashion, but as it stands, he just looks like an asshat. One thing more I will say about this is that persons (including myself at times) may not know that they are being illogical but if their opinions are shown to be falsely based with evidence they should be willing to admit this and move on (believe me, I’ve had to take back things that I’ve said before because I proposed something that was illogical… yeah not proud to admit that myself). However, the tone has a lot to do with this type of commenting…

While I could go on listing egregious commenting annoyances, I think that I will stop where I am and reiterate the suggestions that I’ve been giving throughout for what I think makes a good comment, regardless of the situation.

  • Be civil. Don’t attack the writer’s or artist’s opinion or art. It’s okay to disagree with someone as long as you do so in a nice way (while there might be some exceptions here that people may think of, I think that generally everyone deserves this courtesy). Encourage the debate but don’t do so in a way that is ugly.
  • Be knowledgeable.  If you have an opinion on the subject that is being discussed and have a difference of opinion, tell them why with specific examples from whatever it is that you are talking about. Don’t say that their opinion sucks because it’s just as valid as yours.
  • Be specific. Don’t just say that their opinion sucks (in a polite way of course). Tell them what it is that you don’t agree with in their argument, and again be specific.
  • Fact check. Don’t tell your opinion without knowing what it is that you’re talking about. Also, think through what it is that you’re going to say before you actually put it in print because this might save you have to write a retraction in the end.
  • Comment on others’ items as you would have them comment on yours. I know I’m taking liberties with a christian bible verse but yeah… I think that it applies and is easy to decipher.

These are just a few tips I would like to share with the blogosphere to encourage more civility and thoughtfulness before people write. However, I would also like to say that I do not do so to discourage debate and argument with others. I just think that people should do so in such a way that they clearly make known what it is that they want people to know and do so in an informed way. Additionally, I am not saying that if you know the person you are commenting  on that you should necessarily follow all these rules because you know the person and know what it is that they are comfortable with. For example, I’m okay with my friends and family saying random things across my blog without really taking it to heart.  I’m just tired of reading ill-conceived or non-nonsensical yammering where I expect to see thoughtful or civil idea exchange. Here’s hoping it can be better… yeah…

Written by uncannynerdyguy

April 9, 2012 at 2:16 am

3 Responses

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  1. With regard to point two: often these obscure “comments” come from spammers. My blog is bilingual and I’ve been bombarded with spam messages in both English and German, some of which are at first glance “real” comments, but upon closer inspection are just gibberish that has nothing to do with the contents of my blog. Since many of them are worded in a way that seem to compliment the writer of the blog, people unwittingly approve them. It’s happened to me a couple of times. Now I delete everything that doesn’t comment specifically on my most recent blog post.

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you say about constructive critiques. The other day I read a blog where shockingly somebody had just “commented” by aiming a string of insults at the blog writer. Truly awful.


    April 10, 2012 at 12:32 am

    • I agree that most of the obscure comments come from spammers, which I too delete vigilantly because I don’t want them junking up my blog posts. I also approve of deleting the comments that don’t say anything about the blog post that it appears on (I too have many of these… but again, I think that you’re right about these being mostly spam too… however, I often find myself chuckling at the spam posts because they don’t make sense with the content of the entry…).

      Additionally, it makes me sick to see someone that just tries to insult someone via the comment features on their blog. People who just sling insults are hiding behind their computer in my mind and, probably, wouldn’t say half of what they write if they had to confront the people in person. I think that people shouldn’t post something on a blog or review that they wouldn’t be willing to say in public to a person. Moreover, I agree with you that it’s truly awful when someone does just attack the writer / artist or the ideas that they are representing. I also think that it’s quite tasteless to do so.

      Thanks for you comment!


      April 10, 2012 at 12:50 am

  2. […] reviews on performance, literary, or artistic items unnerve me when they do certain things (“Commenting on Things: What You Should and Should Not Do“). However, most recently, I have been watching clips from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The […]

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