You’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.
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 “email@example.com” (I’m not kidding on that one). Or “firstname.lastname@example.org” (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?