John Walker's Electronic House

Tag: loonies

A Comment On Comments

by on Jul.04, 2010, under The Rest

I’ve been discussing the nature of affirmation and defamation with a few people recently, talking about where we get it from, and how it affects us. And one thing I’ve mentioned, to people who don’t make their living by having their words scrutinised and commented upon by the bustling internet, is comment threads under articles. And I was reminded to write about it by the most brilliantly awful comment that appeared on RPS today. Which is below.

Clearly I’m aware of the irony of a critic talking about the criticisms of their critiques, but as much as this may be, it’s still interesting to think about whether comments can affect me.

(I want to add that I’m mostly talking about comments on reviews, and the like. Comments threads on places like Rock, Paper, Shotgun tend to be much more about a regular community discussing the topic, rather than only people popping in to tell the site why the piece sucked/was great.)

I’ve flipped back and forth on reading comments. I’ve gone through times when I read none at all – I send the review to the editor, they’re happy with it, edit it, and it gets published – so as far as my job is concerned, I’ve done what I’m paid for. Then I go completely the other way and read all the comments, and respond to lots of them, sometimes getting involved in heated discussions. The latter I finally learned, years ago, is never worthwhile, and is something I’ve at last taught myself not to do. People who want to call you names are welcome to, and attempting to reason with them is almost never going to end in satisfaction. My compromise, currently, is to read them unless they’re boring, and to respond to genuine enquiries.

(continue reading…)

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