Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blog Commenting

I follow lots of different blogs, as evidenced by the blogroll on the right.  Due to my hectic schedule, I can't read every one I like every day, but I try to look at them all before they go on to their next topic.  And when time permits, I also try to get involved in the conversation(for those that allow comments).  I sometimes can't because I've missed the boat and there are somewhere around 300 comments, so my getting involved too late would make me look like a douche, but if the time exists, which is becoming a more rare commodity of mine, I still try to enter the fray.

However, that begs the question about how to shape one's comments.  There are plenty of aggressive blogs out there, mostly political, that encourage sharp rhetoric, and I can play rough with the best of them.  However, I find that you always have to consider your audience(that is, the target audience of the blog).  Not every site is up for a nuclear war over some small point, so you have to gage whether you're on the right forum.

I've spoken before about the crystal-like egos of many writers.  Lots of people see any kind of criticism of their position as being akin to shooting their dog.  I used to wonder why that was until I realized that it was mostly an insecurity issue - if someone disagrees, the writer might not have everything figured out, and that could cause their world view to shatter.

When I comment on most blogs, I try to do so in a way that brings out a previously non-discussed point or to make an observation that might help lead the discussion in one way or the other.  On the other hand, one thing I simply can't abide is when people get matters of fact, not opinion, wrong.  Misstating these facts is usually tied to how much one is tied to a particular view of the world, and it drives me up the wall.  Hold any opinion you want, but don't make shit up just to support it - it makes the writer of the comment look like an idiot.

On various blogs, I've called out a few writers for this, and I try to do it in a respectful fashion...right up until that person gets snarky.  I go from 0 to the atom bomb pretty fast, and I can sling mud with the best of them.  I've had to take a deep breath on more than one occasion to keep from going nuclear on someone who got their feelings hurt.

Why?  Mostly because I try to remember the community I'm responding in.  I could make some people look like fools in what they comment on, but does that do more than make me feel good?  Although I won't back down - I've done this kind of scorched-earth stuff on several sites - I need to try and stay on point.  It's about our craft and how we can advance.  If we alienate too many, it can come back to bite us when we least want it to.

This is what makes commenting on blogs dangerous.  We're all human, so no one will be perfectly informed or eloquent enough to express themselves perfectly all the time.  Everyone can make an error in thought or speech, and coming down so hard creates more enemies than it does potential readers.  For me, it's a question of balance - not submitting to idiocy while also not alienating people in the process.  I've just got to keep fine-tuning that moderation button in my brain.
(Try to avoid being a yappy chihuahua)

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