“Ten types of commenter, of which the last are the rarest.”

Over at Crooked Timber, Chris Bertram describes some examples of the flora and fauna commonly found in comment zones. The kaboodle here is no different.

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  • oneill

    Pete

    With points 1 to 9, you have just eliminated probably 90% of the Slugger commentariat.

    Which begs the question (and I know this might offend your and Mick’s instinctive Popper) does that 95% really add anything whatsoever of value to Slugger? If not, then why bring down the value of the whole site for…the sake of what exactly?

    Best site in the States’ is Andrew Sullivan’s and he saw which way the wind was blowing a couple of years ago when he removed comments.

  • borderline

    Typical shite from you oneill 😉

  • Dave

    The conceit on Bloggers is that they are some class of self-imagined elite rather than, like the rest of us, fumbling amateurs with no platform other than that which is provided by a computer, a modem, and a basic command of HTML. The world has not invited the Blogger to proffer his or her opinions; and that lack of an invitation is what has compelled the Blogger to proffer them uninvited. They are plebs like the rest of us, despite their pretentions.

    Journalists, of course, are fully aware that they, unlike the Blogger, have been invited to speak and are even paid for it, so they are fond of reminding said Blogger of his/her true lowly status. The rest of us should remind them too, since they seem to yearn to rise above their station, much like a whore who doesn’t do anal looks down on a whore who does.

    The comments far usually more interesting than the Blogs.

  • Turgon

    oneill,
    I often think that people read the blogs in part for the comments and to see a bit of verbal fighting: a form of spectator sport. Hence, if the comments were stopped or even moderated beforehand then the cut and thrust (which is often brutal and messy) would be lost.

    Initially people would probably still stop by to look at the blogs themselves. However, I would submit that over time they would come less often and slugger would atrophy and eventually die.

    The converse is also, I suggest, the case and frequent comments make people log on and then also read even the less often commented on blogs which are often better quality.

    I admit to finding it a bit frustrating when one does a long careful blog and gets few or no comments whereas all one needs to do is mention some newsworthy items or certain issues and you can have a 100 plus comment thread practically automatically.

    On a separate note if a blog has no comments there is no facility to call the author to account for inaccurate or misleading claims or opinions which are extremely controversial.

    I think that commenting and lots of it in at times a nasty and brutal fashion is critical to the survival of big blogs like slugger.

  • Turgon

    Dave,
    Posts crossed. The only thing I would possibly disagree with is that if a blog has comments then the blogger can be challenged and may have to answer which is different from the newspaper columnist. It is only the comments which raise the blogger above the lowest possible status of self appointed unanswerable pseudo journalist.

    Clearly the newspaper columnist is a bit more of a serious function as s/he is paid as you say and also can be fired. In addition they have to keep to word limits; are expected to have some grasp of the correct use of their language etc. The only way their life is easier or cushier than that of the blogger is that they do not have the right of instant reply. Indeed some journalists I can think of have some problems when they blog and then get challenged in ways they do not like.

    I wonder how frequently bloggers go on to be paid for their output in newspapers or whatever?

  • Dave

    I was being a bit cheeky, Turgon, rather than taking the thread seriously. But I do think that folks need to keep in mind the difference between professionals backed by organisations and abiding by codes of conduct, and amatuers who make up their own rules. Bloggers belong in the Wild West, so it’s way too early to start taking this medium seriously. It’s essentialy an informal, conversational format. I don’t see anything that I post as a commenter as being of any consequence but rather as disposable comment that can be skipped over by the reader at will. Obviously, the situation is different for the Blogger, and I fully accept that Bloggers such as yourself and Pete (and just about all the Bloggers on Slugger) make cogent and careful arguments that merit proper consideration. It’s just that I don’t see it as being so important that it should be taken as seriously as a Blogger might like. It’s all pretty disposable there too.

  • Mick Fealty

    Borderline, just keep that up and you can take a two week leave of absence (you may consider this a yellow card). Besides, you’re simply providing oneill’s point for him by behaving like an idiot.

    oneill,

    I would disagree with your estimation. There’s a lot of barfly stuff certainly, and we don’t always get the quality of response that the content up above deserves.

    But I would not be without the community that’s grown up around Slugger. That said we are putting a lot of thought into how we can press the standards upwards. That, I think, will require (at least) two things.

    One that we find ways to generate higher value content which is aimed at communities beyond the established commentariat here on Slugger (and remember only about 2% of the readership of any blog actually comment on the site).

    And two we will be developing tools that both incentivise good behaviour (and therefore higher quality comment) and make the punishment clearer and more consistent. I don’t believe you can achieve higher standards by automating everything, but there are not enough hours in the day for me to pre moderate or individually challenge bad behaviour/content generation.

    Neither will necessarily kick in when the new site kicks in, but we’ll be getting serious about that once the new site is up and has been run in.

    When we get down to the development of the new commenting tools we’ll be looking for other blogger collaborators to work with us to make sure what we comes out at the end can be used on any site that uses wordpress as its cms in the form of a plug.

    Just spent a couple of days in Barcelona with a bunch of designers and some coders. I can see us moving even further in that direction with future projects.

  • Jo

    “Borderline, just keep that up and you can take a two week leave of absence (you may consider this a yellow card). ”

    Erm, there WAS a wee “;-)” at the end of his comment Mick, I think it was intended as humourous and ironic comment on a certain class of commenter.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “incentivise good behaviour”… That’s a wonderful turn of phrase.

    (Psychology module QUB 1990)

  • Rory Carr

    Dave,

    What’s all this about doing ‘anal’? Could it be that you are thinking of a blog relating your experiences with ‘those who do’ and ‘those who don’t’ in the vein of that hosted by Dr Brooke Magnanti (see Turgon previously).

    You could call it Bums de Jour. I’m sure it would be a hit especially among subscribers to the Literary Review, The Spectator and other high-toned afficionados of all things anal (not least their politics).

  • Pigeon Toes

    incentivise good behaviour”… That’s a wonderful turn of phrase.

    (Psychology module QUB 1990)

    And um “The Slugger Award”?

    submit word “inside”

  • oneill

    “Erm, there WAS a wee “;-)” at the end of his comment Mick, I think it was intended as humourous and ironic comment on a certain class of commenter.”

    Must admit that’s how I took it, though obviously if it was really intended as a pop at me he should be getting that big fat yella;)

  • RepublicanStones

    Which category i fall into fluctuates depending on a couple of things such as how much i’ve had to drink and how long the drive home from work was….perhaps i should switch those two around!!!!

  • Pete Baker

    oneill/Dave

    I’m addressing you both in this response because it covers points you raise separately. Although it’s more specific to Dave’s comment.

    Dave

    Since you’re commenting on one of my posts I feel obliged to correct you on your assumptions about motivation.

    “The conceit on Bloggers is that they are some class of self-imagined elite rather than, like the rest of us, fumbling amateurs with no platform other than that which is provided by a computer, a modem, and a basic command of HTML. The world has not invited the Blogger to proffer his or her opinions; and that lack of an invitation is what has compelled the Blogger to proffer them uninvited. They are plebs like the rest of us, despite their pretentions.”

    I can only answer for myself, but “the world” is under no obligation to read my posts, nevermind comment on them.

    As previously noted by Mick, here’s Willem Buiter’s view of blogging.

    “I write this blog for me, not for my readers. Writing things down is the only way for me to communicate effectively with myself about complex issues. By doing this writing in the form of a blog, I gain the option of taking on board the comments and criticism of those who read my scribblings and feel compelled to respond to it. I gain this benefit at the cost of having to plough through a lot of stuff that makes little or no sense, in order to uncover the few pearls hidden among the swine.”

    Now, some of the issues I blog about are not necessarily complex, but it is a way for me to follow how they develop and to try to gain a clearer understanding of what is actually going on. If anybody else gains anything from that process it’s an added bonus.

    That’s why the pearls are valued.

    And why ‘making up your own rules’ is entirely counter-productive.

    I also learned long ago not to get involved in pointless discussions – that would be oneill’s 90%.

    I’ve previously compared it to a Baconian history. A [very] rough analogy I stand by.

    Or as Telegraph blogger Shane Richmond put it – “Publish what you know now; learn more, add more..”

    And, to digress somewhat, as Willem Buiter also says

    “So no, my blogs will not get shorter, snappier, less demanding, less abstruse, complicated and confusing. My blog postings are and will be excessively lengthy, long-winded, demanding, abstruse, complicated and confusing where the problems are complicated and confusing. I make no concessions to my readers. Why should I? The readers I lose or miss as a result of writing the way I do are the readers I don’t want in the first place. They can always go to the National Enquirer, Bild or the News of the World.

    “PS Some people say I’m arrogant. No idea where they get that notion.”

  • 6countyprod

    If blogging/commenting is, as my definition might put it, about expressing personal opinion and a reflection of who you are and what you believe in, then I see nothing wrong with Commenter Type 4, ideally served up in the style of Type 10.

  • Pete Baker

    6countyprod

    “If blogging/commenting is, as my definition might put it, about expressing personal opinion and a reflection of who you are and what you believe in..”

    That might be your preferred definition of blogging/commenting – and your conflation of the two is noted – but it’s not mine [see above]. Nor is it the definition of any of the bloggers or commenters I take seriously.

    A reminder of “Type 4”

    4.The commenter who uses every comment as a peg on which to hang his (yes, “his”) own obsessions about, e.g. analytical philosophy, populism, Palestine, etc.

    “Repartition” ring a bell? Sorry Greenie, but you were the obvious example.

  • borderline

    Thanks Jo for spotting the 😉 and pointing out the ironical joke to Mick Fealty.

    Mick has left Ireland for some time now and Dorset was never reknowned for sharpening one’s wits.

    Never mind the yellow Mick, as you are very keenly aware there is a surfeit of Nationalists on this site – I’ll take a voluntary red.

  • 6countyprod

    I am gently suggesting that it is not always negative to use opportunities as they come along ‘as a peg on which to hang …obsessions‘, much like you do with your science-related posts, which, btw, I enjoy even though they do not generate many comments. (I have posted several positive comments on them over the years)

    Most posters and commenters become quite predictable in their contributions (e.g. I can usually recognise my good friend, Greenflag, long before I see his name, and also your science posts) because all of us, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, are pushing our own particular worldview.

    Some posts are objective, but most, I believe, have an agenda.

  • joeCanuck

    I like your explanation of why you blog, Pete, even though I sometimes disagree with what you’re saying. That’s obviously part of the equation. We can all learn from each other (sometimes).

  • Pete Baker

    6countyprod

    Again with the conflation between blogging and commenting.

    If I was commenting about a space shuttle launch on one of Turgon’s or Mark’s posts you might have a point.

    But I don’t.

    “Some posts are objective, but most, I believe, have an agenda.”

    Again, separating blog-posts from comments, it depends on the blogger.

    I think I’ve made my position clear on this.

    What others do is up to them.

    But, again, I think I’ve also made clear my objections to blogging that follows an agenda rather than being led by events.

  • Pete Baker

    Disagreement is fine, Joe.

    As long as it’s articulated in a coherent manner.

    *Type 10*

  • DC

    Pete Baker, you’re the worst commenter on here.

  • Wrong Comments

    Seems like this Crooked Timber chap is something of an expert on negative comments to his blog.

    I doesn’t appear to have crossed his mind that perhaps he’s wrong, just occasionally.

    Interesting…

  • Pigeon Toes

    It’s very simple if ya don’t want people to comment, then don’t allow comments.

    I love the idea that there will be “punishment”…

  • kensei

    Never undersetimate the power of the crank. Someone taking a uncharitable view of what you said? Shit, it happens, use the opportunity to tighten your language and make it harder to do. Someone misunderstood what you have said? Make your argument more clear. Someone pointing out that you have revised your opinions, then you better be prepared to defend it. Someone being condescending about not knowing X? Read X, maybe you learn something or you’ll be able to shut him up next time.

    And that’s the benefit of the comments. It raises points you may have missed and helps you focus on sharpening your argument and language. I’m doing it for myself and ignoring anythign I don’t like is all very wonderful, but entirely missing the point.

  • Dave

    Pete, I think that your refusal to engage in media ‘peace processing’ is a fine example of the advantage that the amateurs can have over the processionals. It is why I choose to read blogs like Slugger for a better understanding of NI rather than rely on a media who I know are compromised by agendas. I don’t trust Blogs either, of course. But I do value your posts for the sharp detail and often accurate pointers to what is going on in the background.

    My point about the difference between bloggers and commenters is that there isn’t any substantive difference in that both are ‘unreliable’ amateurs and neither have been invited to speak but both have chosen to create their own stage and to speak regardless of invitation. They are both standing on a soapbox. There are plenty of exceptions, as there always is, and pointing to a Klugman or a Hannan would just obscure the fact they have a public stage without their private soapbox. Valid exceptions might be Guido and a tiny number of American bloggers who probably account for less that 00000.1% of bloggers, hardly disproving the rule.

    So, I was referring to bloggers as a pack of plebs, and not to Pete Baker or any other named blogger.

    Rory, the analogy might have been a tad crude, but it refers to an artificial hierarchy among those who are in the same class, highlighting the absurdity of such pretentions. It’s true that there is a hierarchy. For example, porn models that do page 3 porn only will regard themselves as being of a higher moral calibre than porn models that show more than tits and ass – and, likewise, their employers operate the same double standard. I think that is hilarious, but it’s human nature to constantly seek to elevate one’s own position above another even when the elevation is fanciful.

  • Rory Carr

    O.K., Dave, I’ll take your word on that. We can put it all behind us.

  • Dave

    Not if Kensei reads the reference to a Mr Klugman.

  • kensei

    Dave

    Of course I didn’t mean to suggest that all commentator’s are worthwhile. What a needless comment.

  • Pete Baker

    Dave

    A healthy scepticism is to be encouraged.

    With the professionals as well as the amateurs.

    But beware cynicism.

    Ken

    Not all comments are ignored.

    “Type 10” are the pearls.

  • Jo

    Type 11: someone who articulates extreme views, fervently held, in order to demonise others and prevent their having to face the demons within themselves: to do which, would result in insanity.

    The blog as a psychological support mechanism: discuss. 😉