May 26, 2009

Comment with caution

The best part of Web 2.0: Everyone has a voice.

The worst part of Web 2.0: Everyone has a voice.

Tell me if you’ve ever had this experience. You’re browsing your favorite newspaper’s Web site and you find an interesting article. So you read, and then you notice a link at the end of the article to an entire section devoted to reader comments. Thinking it would be interesting to browse through others’ thoughts on the story, you click.

Thirty seconds later you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake. The personal attacks, ignorance, hatred and profanity make reading comments unbearable.

After a few experiences like this, level-headed readers might come to the conclusion that comments are at best meaningless, and at worst bigoted, destructive and hateful.

These awful comments can be found everywhere, and it’s unfortunate that a vocal minority has the power to shed an ugly light on any group, person or belief simply by leaving a comment at the end of a story or video.

Therefore, it’s up to reasonable people like you and me to set things right. Here’s an assignment: Leave a constructive comment on something you view on the Web this week. Be thoughtful, say something useful and avoid personal attacks and profanity at all costs. Remember the three rules of commenting:

  • Only cowards leave anonymous comments

  • Only simpletons use profanity

  • Never say anything in a comment you wouldn’t say to a person’s face

  • Also, remember this: Usually it’s only the really passionate people who leave comments. The people with strong opinions. Comments do not represent the feeling of the general public… even though it might seem that way.


    1. Hi Adam,
      It is really nice to receive a comment that is thoughtful and shows the writer that you have actually read what they have written. I have to agree with your three rules of commenting,however because of the anonymity of the Internet perfectly rational people at time disobey those rules. I also agree that the loudest voice is not necessarily the opinion of the general public when it come to the media in all areas.

      I love to read many different things on many different Blogs, and most of the time I try to comment. I always try to follow your posted rules. It is simply the way my "momma" taught me to be polite. :)

    2. This is the reason I moderate comments on my blog. I'll publish ones that disagree with me, if they're civil. I will not publish foul language or personal attacks on anyone.

      Another issue I have with a lot of comments (such as on my local news channel's Web site) is that so many are just barely even recognizable as English, let alone literate. (sigh)

    3. I agree Adam,

      And I also think you could do a whole other post about punctuation, abbreviation, and emoticon abuse in comments. These contribute greatly to making the commenter look like a 13 year old girl. Perhaps they are all 13 year old girls...

    4. Adam--as always--you have a way with presenting your ideas in a very cohesive, thought provoking, and motivational manner. What a gift.