The Commentariat


Word Count: 1058

Well folks, if you’ve been with me over the years, you know that I’ve changed my comment policy a few times. For a while I was letting (just about) anything go, and then for a while I turned all comments off. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand, comments tend to be nasty, or garbage spam, but on the other hand sometimes a person will say something nice or something useful. My personal inclination is to believe adults should be able to join in a conversation, but how to make this happen when we’re talking about the internet?

I’m still not quite sure what the answer is.

TLDR: But for now, all comments will be held in moderation until I approve them. I’ve got a gizmo on my phone that alerts me when a new comment is posted, so it won’t take long for me to see what you wrote. And, unless it’s just outrageously hateful (or spammy), I will approve the comment.

Welcome to the internet, kids!
Welcome to the internet, kids!

So that’s that. But in researching comments across the wider internet, I realized that my situation here on the blog isn’t that unusual. In fact, here’s the breakdown of how most comments go:

None

Yes, the vast majority of people never, ever leave a comment. Some sources estimate it to be as high as 99%, but it’s definitely the vast majority. In most cases on this blog, people rarely even like/thumbs up/star/heart/etc a post.

Tribal

Of the people who do leave a comment, almost all of them are tribal. What does this mean? Well, it’s a basic formula:

IF you hate/like my tribe THEN I hate/love you

You hate Ponta and I say something against him? Then you automatically love what I write, even if it (what I wrote) is complete nonsense.

You hate Muslims and I write something that seems to support them? Then you automatically hate what I write, even if everything I say is completely rational.

And so on and so forth. This is completely natural human behavior, by the way, inherited from millions of years of people learning tribal identities and how to differentiate between clan and stranger. It’s why, when we meet someone new, we’re willing to overlook vast differences if the other person likes the same band as we do. Or, conversely, you can meet someone charming, interesting, and charismatic, but then instantly loathe them when they mention that they’re a huge fan of the “wrong” TV show/band/political party, etc.

The benefit of the internet is that there is room for every tribe, which is why Bronies exist. After all, it’s highly unlikely that your family members, school mate, work colleagues, or the approximately 50 people you know in “real life” share all of your interests. But on the internet? You can always find someone out there who loves to write Twilight fan fiction, or hates clowns as much as you do, or truly believes that the Time Cube is the secret to the universe.

The down side of the internet is that all of these different tribes are occupying the same space, so conflict results, usually known as trolling. When you find out my “tribe” is different than yours, you will feel an irresistible impulse to leave a hateful comment trying to dismantle my work/argument/opinion through what seems to you to be “self-evident” logic or commonsense.

A case in point is my recent article about my visit to Odessa (Ukraine), in which the name Vladimir Putin was never mentioned once. But because I am not sufficiently anti-Putin, a member of the Putin Haters Tribe decided to leave a number of irrational and blathering comments about how great it is that the police let dozens of people get murdered last year (link is from the BBC, who is also frightened and scared of “evil” Vladimir Putin). But see, it’s okay that people were burned alive or stomped to death by a crowd because they were from the wrong tribe, aka people who speak Russian, so having tons of armed cops in public areas is a GOOD thing.

While occasionally there are positive comments from people simply because they identify with my “tribe”, the vast majority of Tribal comments are from people who metaphysically want to exterminate me (or at least my line of thinking). Mind you, this isn’t specific to me. The same phenomenon is killing Twitter and leading to shitshows like Gamergate.

Note: Literally every single comment in this category is always from a male person.

The Illiterate Fanboy

I don’t know how else to say this other than re-state the obvious – there are about 1,300 articles on my site containing a total of over one million words, or about a dozen lengthy books’ worth of information. That’s a lot. So chances are, I already wrote about something you think I forgot/neglected.

The Illiterate Fanboy, of course, doesn’t know how to use the handy search function on the blog (or just use Google/Yandex, etc) to see if a topic or idea has ever been mentioned before. Nope!

Instead, it’s time to act as if an “omission” from a single article somehow equates to a sin, and therefore a comment is necessary to make me see the error of my ways. Never mind that it would take literally less time to search my blog to see if I’ve written about it before than it would to type out the comment.

Note: Literally every single comment in this category is always from a male person.

Kudos

Happens rarely, but they are always appreciated. After all, I don’t have magical powers, and I cannot see into your mind to know whether or not you liked or appreciated or enjoyed what I wrote.

Detail Checker

Honestly, I keep comments open for this tiny, tiny minority. I try my best to write, edit, and research every article to the best of my ability, but I do make mistakes. So it’s really nice when someone catches one of my errors and lets me know I’ve goofed.

As for the other kinds of comments, they make me want to just close comments forever. I’m secure enough that I don’t need more kudos to feel good about myself, and it is amazingly tiresome to deal with Tribal bullshit and self-righteous Illiterate Fanboys.

So… ready to leave a comment now? :)

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Stuart M. says:

    “a member of the Putin Haters Tribe decided to leave a number of irrational and blathering comments about how great it is that the police let dozens of people get murdered last year (link is from the BBC, who is also frightened and scared of “evil” Vladimir Putin). But see, it’s okay that people were burned alive or stomped to death by a crowd because they were from the wrong tribe, aka people who speak Russian, so having tons of armed cops in public areas is a GOOD thing.”

    Where did I say any such thing???? Did you even read that BBC article you linked to? It made it sound like some armed security forces might have prevented the situation from escalating to the extent it did. The few police there obviously weren’t in control of the situation. I can now see that you are a blogger who enjoys misrepresenting and insulting readers who dare to express an informed opinion that doesn’t match yours precisely. Well, I don’t think I will provide any more hits for this site. You can keep the $70 wedding gift, it was for your wife too, but please remove my name from your “online community.”

    Like

    1. Yikes

      Like

    2. Tell you what. Tomorrow I will write a full article on the situation and we’ll get to the bottom of all this.

      Like

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