I think we’d all agree that leaving comments on the internet has gotten more than a bit out of control.
Which is why with the aid of some blogger friends of mine I’ve put together a little guide of sorts for how not to comment on a blog post if human decency and maintaining your personal dignity are things that are important to you.
This isn’t intended as a comprehensive guide and it’s not in any particular order, but it is a list of some the most common commenting faux pas my blogging friends and I experience on a fairly regular basis.
If you’re new to the blogging world, I hope you find it to be a useful primer for your voyage into the dark underbelly of the Internet.
If you’re a grizzled blogging veteran, I hope you find humor and comfort in the knowledge that you’re not the only one dealing with the crazies. And please feel free to add any of your own personal commenting pet peeves to the list in, where else, the comment section.
So without further ado, here are some things you should never do when leaving a comment on a blog post.
USE THE TERM “THE WRITER” OR “THE AUTHOR” WHEN THEIR NAME IS CLEARLY LISTED.
True story: I recently went back and forth with a guy on my Facebook wall about a post I wrote and signed my name to and no matter when I said he kept referring to me directly as “the author.”
This happens all the time in blog comments.
Look, I get it.
We all feel insecure from time to time and refusing to acknowledge someone else’s humanity by using their name is an empowering way to exert your dominance while feigning an air of intellectual sophistication to your comment. I get that. But, honestly? It just makes you sound silly and makes those of us who wrote the post and signed our name to it question whether or not Hooked On Phonics worked for you.
EQUATE SOMEONE OR SOMETHING TO HITLER AND THE NAZIS.
Here’s another true story for you: I once had someone comment on one of my posts that my ideas about the Protestant Reformation were the worst thing since Hitler’s Final Solution. In other words, according to this person nothing anyone has thought, said, or done since the Holocaust of World War II has been as horrible as one of my blog posts.
I mean, I know I’ve written some crappy posts in my time, but surely none of them were that bad, right?
I’ll try to put this as delicately as possible.
When you compare a blogger or a blog post to Hitler and the Holocaust and that blogger isn’t, you know, actually espousing the virtues of genocide and the master race, you sound like an absolute crazy person and all your credibility is gone.
TURN THE COMMENT SECTION INTO YOUR OWN PERSONAL BLOG.
You know what the greatest
and maybe the worst thing about blogs is?
Anyone can have one.
Which means if somebody writes something on their blog and you feel the need to write a 5,000 word response to their 500 word post you know what you should do?
Start your own blog.
Look, I love reading people’s comments. All bloggers do. Probably cause we’re all a bit narcissistic, but I digress. The comment section is intended for brief thoughts, not a dissertation. If you’ve got a lot to say, post it on your own blog. Trust me, if you write about another blogger they’ll see it.
Because as we all know, most of a blogger’s day is spent googling themselves to see what other people are saying about us.
Don’t try to deny it. You know you do it too.
LEAVE A COMMENT WITHOUT ACTUALLY READING THE POST AND THEN BEGIN YOUR COMMENT WITH “I DIDN’T READ THIS, BUT….”
Thanks to the wonders of social media this has become a classic move.
Somebody posts a link on Facebook with their take on what the blogger is “actually” saying and then one of their Facebook friends rushes over the blog post to rip the blogger apart for supporting postbirth abortion without ever taking the time to read what was actually and so never realizing that the post was actually about the blogger’s recent trip to the beach.
Remember what I said about comparing people to Hitler?
The same holds true here.
If you start your comment off with “I didn’t read this but…” I stop paying attention.
Feel free to disagree with me anytime. Just do me a favor and, you know, actually read what I wrote. That way you don’t sound like Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys.
START YOUR COMMENT OFF WITH “I DON’T ALWAYS AGREE WITH YOU, BUT…” THEN PROCEED TO AGREE WITH THE POST.
You don’t always agree with everything someone else says?!
You don’t say??
Well, let me be the first to welcome you to adulthood where people tend to disagree with even the people they love most. It’s part of life. You don’t need to tell us you don’t always agree. We kinda knew that already.
If you’re worried that your friends will see you agreeing with “that godless liberal” or “that crazy conservative” on one thing and never forgive you for it, then I would suggest you find new friends. Preferably ones who know how to act like adults and have the cognitive ability to understand that “I really like what this person said here” isn’t a secret code for “I worship this person as a god and unquestionably agree with anything and everything they’ve ever said about anything.”
MAKE PERSONAL ACCUSATIONS ABOUT SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER MET.
Let me be clear here.
I’m not saying you should never criticize someone or their ideas in a comment section.
What I am saying is telling someone you’ve never met and likely will never meet that they’re a terrible mother based on a random blog post of theirs that you happened to read because it popped up in your news feed on Facebook makes you, not them, a terrible person.
OVER-PARSE THE AUTHOR’S WORDS AND ATTRIBUTE YOUR OWN INTERPRETATION.
This might sound a little odd, but it happens all the time.
We bloggers say one thing, then the self-appointed linguistic experts and internet police come along and by the time they’re done dissecting our word a post about how much we enjoyed spending time with our family at Christmas has become a covert manifesto about our love for the liberal socialist agenda and our undying support of rape culture.
I know we all bring our own perspectives and baggage with us wherever we go. But if you decide to leave a comment on a blog, check your baggage at the gate and give the blogger the benefit of the doubt that they’re not, in fact, staying up late at night figuring out subtle ways to covertly spread hate speech through their blog posts hoping no one will notice and everyone will be unconsciously brainwashed.
We bloggers just aren’t that creative or dedicated.
If we were we would have real jobs.
GIVE YOURSELF A PSEUDONYM AND THEN USE YOUR REAL EMAIL ADDRESS.
You know how you have to give an email address in order to leave that hateful comment you just have to share, but you don’t want the blogger to know it’s you because you know them in real life, so you create a fake name for your comment?
Just a piece of advice.
Create a fake email too.
Because, you see, being the site administrator we’re see that email address and when it’s firstname.lastname@example.org we can kinda tell who you are.
I know what you’re thinking.
This never happens. Nobody would be that dumb.
It does. A lot.
And, yes, people are that dumb.
FORGET THAT THERE ARE REAL PEOPLE BEHIND THAT BLOG POST YOU’RE RIPPING APART.
Blogger and commenter alike, we’re all guilty of this one.
When it’s just you in front of a computer screen staring at a digital universe it’s easy to forget that that digital world represents very real people with very real lives and very real emotions.
So try being as kind as you can with your comments and criticism.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be critical and honest about your disagreement.
But it does mean we need to treat out digital adversaries like we would if we were talking to them in real life. If you can’t extend basic dignity and respect to someone online, then you need to remember that ancient of rules that we all learned in kindergarten.
If you can’t say something nice…you’re what’s wrong with the internet.
Well, that’s my list. On Monday I’ll offer some suggestions for how not to comment on a Christian blog cause we all know that’s a world unto itself. Until then, if you’re a blogger, what would you add to the list?