Scalzi on being a good commentor

John Scalzi at Whatever asks 10 useful questions we should all be asking ourselves about our commenting habits.  These two points made in his answers to those questions stood out strongly as things I keep on running into all the time, including offline.

Firstly:

4. If I’m making an argument, do I actually know how to make an argument?
[…]in my experience the single most common bad argument is the assumption that one’s personal experience is universal rather than intensely personal and anecdotal. Sorry, folks: you are probably not actually the living avatar of What Everyone Believes and Knows.

Secondly:  in the answer to his sixth question he links to a classic post of his from 2010 which led to many t-shirts:

The failure mode of clever is “asshole”.

This is a continuing feature of your average night of stand-up comedy, and I’ve been guilty of it more than once myself while blogging and also in my offline banter.  Apart from the quip often falling flat purely as a performance, in person it’s simply rude.

Finally, this is the one I think I most need to remember Elsewhere especially:

10. Do I know when I’m done? I’m not saying you should enter each comment thread with an exit strategy, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt. It’s okay not to make a lifetime commitment to a comment thread. Likewise: If you’re having a conversation in a comment thread that’s going nowhere, it’s okay to admit it and get out. Letting the other dude have the last word will not mean you have Lost the Internets; really, quite the opposite, in fact. Similarly, if you find a comment thread is making you angry or sick or pissed off, walk away. If you find that the reason you’re still in a comment thread is to thump on someone else, go get some air. If the thread has stopped being fun and started to be something like work, seriously, man, what the hell are you doing? Go away. It’s a comment thread.


ObScalziBaconReference: the index thumbnail image for this post is BaconCat.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, fun & hobbies, Sociology

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7 replies

  1. Overtones of SWOTIN. Which I suffer from. A lot.

  2. I think I need to paste 10, or a summary, above my screen.
    On the other hand, I think I’m very good at “my experience is merely my experience”.

  3. *is amazed at what you kids can do these days with underline thingys to tell people what that acronym means* ooo arrr oooo arrr

  4. Most of the time, I’d probably get a B–B+ for effort at sticking to the 10 rules of good commenting. However, when I’m up against a gang of anti-feminist MRAs on a public forum, I’ve been known to blow the lot.

  5. I think number 10 is on of the the most important and applies to everything from blog comments to twitter to email. If the conversation is making you seriously angry or upset, walk away. In the end in many cases where debates get heated its highly unlikely you’ll change someone else’s opinion anyway. And there’s always someone else on the internet with more time to waste than you do. Its just not worth the pain.

  6. I’m drowning under crashing waves of irony.

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