June 9, 2009, 1:56 pm

“Jane, You Ignorant &*$#!” – The Art of Commenting in the Blogosphere

aykroydcurtainYou’ll have to pardon the title of this post.

Those of you of a certain age will surely remember that famous line used in the second season of the “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update” skit.

For you youngsters who have never seen it, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin were the co-anchors. They would engage in a point-counterpoint debate, and Dan would always start off his counterpoint with the endearment, “Jane, you ignorant slut….”

Pretty funny at the time.

Not so funny when you use it in the blogosphere.

*****

No one has ever said that to me in a comment, probably because my name isn’t Jane.

But, a few have come close.

And I wondered. I’ve been doing this for four years.

When did the blogosphere get so nasty?

Nothing wrong with controversy and strong debate. It’s what the internet is all about; it’s why bloggers blog and it’s what makes for a vibrant discussion and for those with an open mind, it can be exhilarating.

But something is missing lately.

Manners.

*****

Given the barriers to full communication inherent in internet interactions (lack of facial expressions, tone of voice, body language), it is easy to appear curt or insulting without meaning to. In large discussions with many commenters, a response can be confusing: was it meant for the blogger or was it a response to a previous comment?

Comments are the heart and soul of the blogosphere so it is important to make your comment count.

Here are five ways to do that:

1.  Keep your focus on the topic up for discussion. Remember, it is your opinion on the topic at hand that adds value to the discussion.

2.  If you are referring to a previous comment (as opposed to the blog post itself), be sure to make that clear.

3.  Do not insult the blogger or previous commenters by resorting to name calling. Let me assure you that likening the blogger to a female dog or questioning the legitimacy of their birth is sure to dilute your point. Trust me on that one, m’kay?

4.  Sarcasm is an art form. Use it sparingly; it rarely comes across on screen unless you are an extremely talented writer.

5.  Identify yourself. Even a pseudonym is okay – lots of folks use them.  Anonymous comments don’t carry the same weight as those whose authors are not afraid to put their name/pseudonym behind their words. Which brings me to the next point:

6.  Use a legitimate email address. If what you have to say is articulate and adds to the discussion, why go to the trouble of using a phony email address to make a comment?

*****

As you may have guessed, I’ve been receiving some rather interesting comments from some rather interesting sources.

In four years, I have never had to moderate comments. I take all comers – agree, disagree, vehemently disagree…you name it, it’s here.

I don’t plan to start moderating them now.

But I will say this: if I get comments from folks with emails like “yousuck@yousuck.com” (I’m not kidding on that one). Or “lightenup@lightenup.com” (yep, that was a real one), they will be deleted immediately.  Even if they are articulate and responsive to the topic.

If you aren’t willing to use a legitimate email and your name/pseudonym, why bother to comment? Anyone can hide behind a fake email or the popular name “anonymous”.

You may have great things to add to the discussion but your opinion loses its value when you don’t take credit for it. Back up your opinion with your name/psuedonym.

I stand behind everything I write with my name.

Is it wrong to expect anything less from anyone else?

15 Comments

  • JimK
    JimK

    June 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    well put. You and I both put a ton of effort into our blog posts, and it’s not fun to have someone come and flippantly spread anonymous filth across our little baby. I’ll take all legitimate comments and complaints, but if it’s nasty and inarticulate, it’s deleted right away.

    Keep your chin up. We’re not all bad commenters. 🙂

    Jim


  • Reality Rounds
    Reality Rounds

    June 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Bravo! It can be tiresome to weed through the crap. I have been reading your blog for a long time, and I don’t get way commentors would be so rude. Grow up people.


  • RehabRN
    RehabRN

    June 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Brave soul! I moderate comments because I can. I can’t change the world, but I can make my blog a better place.

    If someone’s being an idiot, they can do that in their own blog, thankyouverymuch.


  • Walt Trachim
    Walt Trachim

    June 9, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    *Adding my affirmation of this opinion to the mix*

    It’s easy for those who comment to say stupid things and not think about them. Or what’s worse, put a lot of thought into being stupid. And rude. And hurtful.

    I’m just thankful that there are ways to deal with that. And your way of handling a problem such as this is a good way to go about it. And people that behave badly should expect to have the hammer dropped on them.

    Nice post, Kim.


  • Maureen at IslandRoar
    Maureen at IslandRoar

    June 10, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Here, here. The world can use a little more manners everywhere!


  • Nurse K
    Nurse K

    June 10, 2009 at 6:39 am

    You can block out anonymous comments on Blogger. Usually this keeps most of the trolls away. I have to read Happy Hospitalist or Scalpel to get flamed!


  • Tony
    Tony

    June 10, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Amen! I wrote a political post last year that ended up getting some pretty racist comments back. I was tempted to delete them, but chose to leave them up because I figured the only way to reaffirm your loathing of racists is read/hear them now and then.

    Besides, the best way to argue with an idiot is to let them do most of the talking.


  • Premed Journey
    Premed Journey

    June 10, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Good call. For whatever reason, people’s nasty side often comes out in the anonymity of the internet.


  • Calli Arcale
    Calli Arcale

    June 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Well put, and a good strategy for dealing with the flamers. On the other hand, I do feel I must point out that manners have not suddenly disappeared from the Internet. It’s always been like this, since before the HTTP protocol was even developed. Back in the Usenet/BBS days, it was like this. All that’s changed is the format.

    In fact, I’d say that arguably, the quality of the discussion has improved since those early days, in large part because people are more likely to face actual repercussions for their misbehavior nowadays, mostly because of how thoroughly the Internet has permeated our lives. Insult your mother on Usenet, and she’ll likely never know. Insult her on Facebook, and you may find yourself grounded and losing unchaperoned computer privileges for a month.

    But in the end, the facelessness of the Internet is what promotes this. It’s easier to insult someone to their blog than to their face, and misunderstandings are a lot more commonplace when communication is limited to prose.


  • Sean
    Sean

    June 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Amen sister! (imaginary fist-bump)
    No matter what your identity is be sure to stand behind the words you type. Otherwise don’t type them.


  • Mommy, RN
    Mommy, RN

    June 11, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Would that all people could remember to use manners. There is always a way to express your opinion politely and courteously! Thanks for the courage to call out those who would do otherwise!


  • […] why nurses should consider being health coaches and much more from Nurse Ratched’s Place, Emergiblog, The Man-Nurse Diaries and […]


  • anonymousRN
    anonymousRN

    June 14, 2009 at 6:51 am

    It is unfortunate what people will do/say behind the anonymous shield of the internet. People who normally seem like mature, decent people will regress to acting like little brats. I guess some people think that once people don’t know who you are, manners are not needed.

    Sometimes folks forget that your tone of voice and intonations does not follow through when you type on the internet. I have come across (and been part of) many unnecessary fights because someone took a comment in the wrong way because someone else meant it as a joke or to be sarcastic.

    It is important to re-read what you type before you hit that big bad “SEND” button.


  • Rogue Medic
    Rogue Medic

    June 14, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I tend toward Tony’s approach. The rudeness does not make the person’s position appear any more sensible. I have only deleted spam from my comments.

    I have been surprised that the comments of mine that have been deleted have had links to abstracts on PubMed. It is interesting what some people find offensive.


  • NPs Save Lives
    NPs Save Lives

    June 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I have also had to deal with stupid, rude comments and just a few have been deleted due to the absolute “badness” of them. Someone even called me fat! How RUDE.


About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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