Blog Comments and Commenters Revisited

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A rather bizarre exchange on a friend’s blog has me revisiting the idea of blog comments and commenters. Long ago, I posted a blog on blog comments that was geared mostly toward commenting approaches and how or if these have changed for us as our blogging careers advance. Here’s part of what I had to say:

I know there are pages that I visit that I don’t read the comments until after I’ve said what I have to say, and that works for me because I really do prefer to respond directly to the blogger in those cases and not to the commenters. I do this in part because I want to say what I have to say and not be influenced by what others have understood or seen in the post. Now sometimes after I’ve commented, I’ll go back and read the other comments and maybe comment again in response to that. Or not. There are other times I don’t read the comments on other people’s blogs because I don’t know the commenters or I’ve seen them around and don’t particularly understand them or (can I be mean?) don’t care what they have to say. Then there are just time constraints, life stuff that makes it impossible to read blogs plus comments on every page, every day. That’s my m.o. with those long and thought-provoking blogs. I behave differently on fun blogs and as Nancy has recently said enjoy the banter that can occur in comments.

When I first began blogging and getting comments, I would occasionally get upset when someone didn’t understand what I was saying or if they talked about some (to my mind) insignificant element of the post. But I’ve seen other people get snippish about that, and I realized that I don’t want to be like that, that I want people to say whatever they want and to respond to whatever is interesting to them. Heck, I know that when reading a blog, I may hone in on one aspect of it and run with that (I did that to poor Ceres recently), but that’s just how my mind works sometimes. And I see that others do the same thing. That change of mindset has been a blessing for me because it makes blogging fun again; instead of stressing me out that I’m not being clear or someone’s not “getting” it, I try to just roll with it now, make a joke sometimes, whatever.

Now, this was all back in the best days of 360 when the cotton was high and the birds were a’singing. I’m not much on the blog scene anymore, partly because I do miss those good old days and things just aren’t as good or fun anymore, and partly because I’ve lost my blogging imperative for some reason. But I do still love to visit my friends’ pages and read their blogs if the topic catches my eye or interest (whereas in the past I would comment on any and everything because I was reading any and everything).

Some things here haven’t changed, though; I still don’t read every comment on every blog, and I still don’t bother reading the comments of people who don’t interest me or seem like the sorts of people I would want to know. I think that’s okay; we can’t like everyone or expect everyone to like us. I do always respond to the blog post in question, and yes, I do sometimes hone in on one aspect of it or do some stream of consciousness thing and end up on a side topic. But isn’t that the point of comments? To hear what people are thinking about a post and/or its topic at a given point in time? Seems so to me.

But I’ve recently run into . . . um, interesting circumstances that prompt me to ponder the role of us as blog owners in regards to comments and commenters. That strange exchange I mentioned at the outset prompted the owner to delete a series of comments, and I think she did the right thing. And I’m quite certain that I would have done the same thing. Or . . . and here’s the thought I’m forming as I type . . . do we have or should we have “rules of the road” on our comments and commenters?

I like open dialogue as much as the next person, but I’m not really interested in most people (go figure), and I assume that most people aren’t that interested in me. Why would they be? So I’m often surprised when on certain blogs my comments are deemed worthy of quite personal responses by random people on that person’s friends list. But hey, open dialogue and exchange of ideas and all that good stuff, right? But the sad truth is that I don’t want to have an open dialogue with some people for whatever reason or whim, and I’m not inclined to be dragged into one with such people. Yet as last night’s exchange attests, some people are very interested in . . . um, commenting on my comments on someone else’s blog. Relentlessly. And in the clear face of my indifference and (yes, even) disdain.

So what if you have a rogue commenter on your blog? One who responds to comments and commenters as if it were their own blog? Do you step in? Do you let it go? Now I’ve never had this happen on my blog, so I’m genuinely interested in this point.

I do feel these days that I’m not a “part” of the blogging community (on 360 or multiply) anymore, so perhaps this puts things in a vaguely different light? Once upon a once, I was interested in meeting new people and adding to my friends list, but it became daunting to keep up, and life happened, and now I’m much less “into” the scene, excepting the few friends still remaining that is (of course!). I suppose if I saw someone on someone’s page that I found insightful, thoughtful, or thought provoking, I would visit their page, but that hasn’t happened in . . . oh, ages! I like my circle of friends (circles of friends, I guess, as I’m still posting on both 360 and multiply), I like the diversity and the differing viewpoints.

So where is the line in commenting on comments? This person I’m talking about on another post implied that I didn’t respond properly to the post; now, I wasn’t on her blog, and I wasn’t addressing her, but she found the need to hold me to some sort of standard of her own and to attack me for my comments. I found that very strange and presumptuous. And as I said above, I often just comment on whatever in a post catches my eye or imagination or interest. If this is unacceptable to someone (and I’m actually on their blog), I’d like to know that, perhaps by private message. But I don’t think it appropriate for other people to police other’s blog comments. Last night’s exchange with this same person was equally weird. If someone is dictating to people, intimidating (hmph! or trying to), or otherwise inexorably aggravating your other commenters/friends, do you step in? A comment of response or disagreement with another comment/er, seems reasonable, even highly desirable, but where is the line? Is or should there be a line?

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8 thoughts on “Blog Comments and Commenters Revisited

  1. I can certainly appreciate your concern for what seems a desire for intimacy of conversation. Unfortunately on the internet there isn’t ever going to be. The internet is a billion people eaves dropping on your conversation. You have to expect all kinds of people with their varied stages of maturity or lack there of to make comments and comments on comments. You can’t control it completely. You can limit who can read or comment on your site through the settings but once you leave home it’s a “Brave New World” out there. So you’re right you gotta roll with the punches. But you gotta admit that if you limit the access of your comments anywhere you might miss out on meeting some really interesting people. 🙂
    In any given location and time you will find most people are good and don’t mean harm to anyone. You can get some good feedback but you’ll always get trash too. That’s why there’s that delete button. Unfortunately everyone doesn’t use it enough and if it’s another’s page you just gotta shrug it off. You could give up leaving comments and that would be a sad repose of your wit, wisdom and humor. I would certainly miss your writings and ramblings and rants and your sweet disposition on political gossip. 🙂
    Going back to your caring about what others think or say.. maybe you do.
    On last rambling thought, nobody on the internet has power over you more than you are willing to give them mentally. There are ways of dealing with trash and it’s slow and infuriating but it can be done. You do have the ultimate power of turning the computer off and with it them.

  2. First and foremost, absolutely and positively, no bones about it… people are weird!!! Sadly, and sorrily, some folks have nothing better to do; interestingly and challengingly, some folks just like playing devil’s advocate and simply want an exchange to take place whether it be positive or negative. Yes, there are folks who are mean, stupid and ignorant; and then again there are the humorous, intelligent and thought-provoking. Heyman is right, by not commenting on something that strikes your fancy, you may just miss out on meeting some very interesting people or even miss out on starting an exchange that just may prompt a mind-blowing blog being written! And knowing you, Fuzz — that is a SURE thing!!!

  3. And, as if what I wrote above was not enough…

    There is a church around town that always updates their sign-board with interesting one-liners. There’s one I like that stuck in my head….

    “He who angers you, controls you.”

    Don’t be controlled!!!

  4. Hey Heyman! :)) I think you’re right about limiting access to comments; part of what we love about this blogging ‘verse IS the openness and access, after all. Hehe, you make me smile. Anyway, I won’t stop commenting, but I do think that I will stop returning “jabs and barbs” with random people on other people’s sites, at least with those in whom I have zero interest. What’s the point, right? So yeah, our own rules are the rules of the road . . . I like that. It’s like an existential certainty (!?), and I rather like that. Thanks for your fab thoughts, as always! Huggs to you.

    And you’re right there, too, Wendy! I very much think you are right, and I’m so glad I posted this so I could “hear” from you guys. I suffer fools poorly; it’s a real problem for me, and one that I haven’t outgrown, so fear I may be stuck with. And I think I know that church! Is it the one that had “Don’t worry about your debt, it’s been paid in full by Jesus”? That one made me think some thoughts that I prolly shouldn’t share but that involve sending Jesus my Visa bill. 😉

  5. Ok, here I go, commenting on the comments!!!

    This blog and it’s results made me think of some heated discussions I’d been witness to…. years ago, at a family gathering, my ex-husband became part of a political discussion that turned into a very long, interesting exchange between him, his brothers and brother-in-law. On the ride home, I said to him “geez, you really got everyone all fired up didn’t you? But what you were saying was NOT what you truly believe in, did you change your mind on that issue?” He said, “nope, I was just playing devil’s advocate, I was in the mood for an intelligent discussion, it’s beats sitting there like vegetables watching the boob tube, so I argued the other side to see what people would say.” I thought that was truly brilliant: to be able to argue the side that you don’t even believe in, it meant to me that he really knew the ENTIRE issue, not just the side he believed in. I was rather impressed by that because sometimes I can’t even justify what I believe in. It showed me that he really researched all sides before he made up his mind on the issue.

    Quite possibly, during these exchanges, someone may simply be prompting you for a reaction!!

  6. LOL, Wendy, you’re always more than welcome to comment on my blog! The sitch that I was referring to was pretty specific and certainly doesn’t relate to you in any way! (you either, Laurie!). Playing devil’s advocate is very useful, particularly in classrooms where most kids seem and tend to carry the same or similar opinions, and I do that often to encourage thoughtfulness; I also tell my students that you can’t really discuss an issue with any authority if you have only one viewpoint and haven’t considered, even studied, the opposition. So I think you’re dead right about that. The person that I was referring to, though, wasn’t commenting on a topic or even a talking point, she was just being emotional and strange.

    Yo, Laurie, you can and should always comment here! :))

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