Monday, January 28, 2008

Responses to Comments

I try to keep an eye on the comments on this blog, and, where appropriate, respond to them. The comments often help clarify points, or they raise other interesting issues. On occasion, though, it appears that some commenters lose perspective on their right to demand attention.

Please don't draw conclusions when I fail to respond to comments. I only get paid to monitor this blog 0 hours a day, 0 days a week, and that means that sometimes I don't even read your comment until it fits into my schedule. Sometimes, when I do read your comment, it doesn't interest me. I'm sure a lot of my posts don't interest you, so don't take that as an insult. Also, I've decided that some people really want to get personal and nasty, and I'm trying to be a little wiser in not always taking that bait.

Atrios found a post about comments that I thought had a lot of wisdom in it:

I cannot make anyone stop responding to pointless or nuisance comments. You have to want to restrain yourself, because you understand that the only way to get rid of them is to fail to give them the attention they want. A "troll" is not just someone whose comments you disagree with, or even just a nasty or badly-worded comment. A troll is someone who does not, under any possible set of circumstances, care what you think about him or his comments. He merely wants attention. Negative attention will do. The more you disagree with him, the more he is able to tell himself that he is persecuted and victimized or the only voice of reason or one of the elite few who has the God's-eye view of the world or whatever his current delusion is. If he isn't merely a narcissist who thrives on feeling attacked, he's just some putz who enjoys irritating other people. Therefore, you "feed" the troll by paying any attention to him at all. It does not matter what you say in response. Any response to a troll just encourages the troll.

Besides classic trolls, we have a few resident long-winded bores who believe that the rest of us have never been exposed to some trite, shallow, bombastic rant they just heard on the radio or read in Reader's Digest or saw in a vision, and feel compelled to share with the rest of us. These people lack any possible sense of context or audience; they are incapable of noticing that the bulk of our commenting community has been exposed to the world for a while now and is not interested in any comment that starts "there is one simple answer to this the rest of you aren't getting." It does you no good to respond to this type either; they'll just re-write the same comment again, at the same length, saying the same thing, until you "get it." They are bores with no self-awareness. The cool thing about the internet is that you can just scroll down to the next comment without being "rude." So take advantage of the medium.
Like a lot of blogs, this one frequently has its most interesting and enlightening material buried in the comments. Commenters like Travelingal, Les, XO and others have made this blog far better than my solo effort could ever be. I appreciate the time and effort people put into comments. But all commenters are definitely not created equal . . .



Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Trolls are like pigeons. If you don't feed them, they will eventually fly away and crap somewhere else.

I've never had much trouble with trolls.

I attribute this to the fact that I have the most boring blog on the intertubes and even the trolls have better things to do.

1/28/2008 9:07 AM  
Blogger les said...

I don't recall where I stole this, but it strikes me as worth remembering in the intertube comment world:

Grow up! If an issue has survived long enough to have two solidly defended sides, then it is complicated. Remember, every problem has at least one clear, straightforward, and totally incorrect solution. You’re part of that solution.

Doesn't apply to me, of course...

1/28/2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Your friend said...

When is calling someone a troll, name calling?

1/28/2008 10:50 AM  

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