Before I begin I will confess that I have committed many of these sins. I know it was wrong and I will try very very hard never to do it again because it was rude and wrong of me.
I also know that everyone who comes to this blog is good and wise and already knows all this. I’m really writing this post to remind myself. Please to bear with my stating of much obviousness.
So here’s my rules of commenting etiquette:
- Read the entire post before commenting. Nothing is more annoying to a blogger than to have someone say “But why did you not mention French beanbags?” when you have just spent six paragraphs doing exactly that.
- Click through the links in the post. Nothing is more annoying to a blogger than to have someone say “Oh! You should read this genius article on the evil of French beanbags!” when you have linked to that very article and quoted from it four times.
- Read all the comments before commenting. Nothing is more annoying to blogger and commenters than to have someone come along and say “Those French beanbags are totally a rip off the Eritrean ones!” when that point has already been made and responded to by multiple commenters. If the comment thread is insanely long, read at least the first few dozen and then if you must comment say “I’ve not been able to get through all the comments so sorry if this is a repeat . . . “
- Do not explode on to a comment thread in a whirl of fire and outrage. Particularly don’t do this if all the discourse up to that point has been calm and measured.1 Try to match your tone to the rest of the comments. If something truly outrageous has been said point it out. But there is no need to yell. This is especially annoying if you’re also violating one of the previous points. Exploding into a comment thread in high dudgeon to rant about something which has already been pointed out is double plus annoying.
- If your outrage is so extreme you are shaking, if the post is the worst post in the history of posts,2 why not blog about it on your own blog? This is what I do. But then I’m kind of allergic to flamewars. Basically I view blogs as someone’s living room. It’s pretty rude to start screaming abuse at someone in their own home. But by all means go back to your own living room and scream about them from there.
- This last ones for the bloggers: if you write a post and the comment thread fills with outrage you might want to figure out what it is you’ve done to upset so many people. It could be a case of innocently blogging about beanbags without knowing about the great beanbag schism of 1985. Thank the people for correcting your ignorance and move on. It could be your post’s been linked to by a forum for crazy people who believe that beanbags are immoral. Delete their arses, ban them, or do whatever it is you do to crazy trolls. Or it could be that you’ve unknowingly said something genuinely appalling. When a whole bunch of people say they’re hurt and offended it’s always a good idea to try and figure out why and how you can avoid being offensive like that in the future. Onus is on you to apologise.
Maybe it’s more that blogs are salons and the blogger is the host. They become communities and develop their own mores and standards. When you show up at a new blog for the first time you should lurk, figure it out, and only join in when you have a sense of how it operates. Which is a pretty good rule for all social settings. Now, all I have to do is remember that!
Did I miss any obvious ones? Any commenting etiquette rules you’d all like to add?
- There are, of course, plenty of blogs and forums that welcome, nay, thrive on fire and outrage. In which cause go ahead. You’re definitely matching the existing discourse. [↩]
- Valiantly resists temptation to link to some of those truly dreadful posts. But that recent one comparing Barack Obama and Tiger Woods? I’m looking at you. [↩]