A Few Basic Thoughts on Successful Internet Commenting

From time to time, even our spectacularly intelligent, thoughtful and hilarious commenting community runs into a spot of trouble. That’s okay! It happens—pretty much every four months or so, something here provokes heated feelings and words. (And often that’s a good thing, in the end. Sometimes, less so, sure.) But in general, things are so relatively well-oiled here (sorry, that sounds gross?) that when there’s some conflict, it’s surprising and even upsetting! Upsetting to the feeeeeeelings.

So some general thoughts on commenting and on how things work—here, at least.

• Name-calling really never goes anywhere good, anywhere in the world. Hey, you? Don’t be calling people names. Thus concludes the latest repetition of that thing you’ve been told since kindergarten, you silly name-caller. Picture me making my Coach Taylor angry-disappointed face at you when you’re calling someone names.

• You are responsible for yourself, which is the greatest freedom of all. (USA! USA!) That means that the editors of this site will not be coming to give you a star for the day (see again: kindergarten), or giving you a “time-out,” or what have you. You’re not eight years old! The reason I actually like commenters is that they’re grown, thinking, playful adults, doing their own thing, with diverse opinions and backgrounds and therefore something to bring to the table. So you are grown up enough to own your behavior and treat people (at least pretty much) the way you’d want to be treated. That is why we have a successful commenting community of smarties: because you get to act in the way you see fit, and it’s not because someone’s patting you on the head like you were a particularly smart golden lab (which is to say, not that smart, because man, I had to fend off a lab the other day that was trying to get through me to kill its reflection in the mirror, it was not very impressive).

• People can easily mistake your vehemence for rage, insanity or rudeness, and they will treat you accordingly. (This is something that happens to me quite a bit, as I often get very worked up! So, you know, I’ve been there! Regularly.)

• People can easily mistake your sarcasm for assholism, if you’re not careful. (And it’s not, we know that: we love sarcasm.) Oh, the “printed” word, with its inability to convey tone without great explication.

• Sometimes you should ask yourself: Am I a man? And if so, am I mansplaining?

• From time to time, I am just plain misunderstood! And that’s because I expect people to understand me as if I was saying something to their face. But I’m not—I’m just typing. So sometimes I have to go back to a conversation and say, “Whoa, sorry, I really meant this like that, my bad,” or, “Garbage! What I was trying to say was x, and I made it sound like y.”

• In terms of this site’s administration, we still reserve the right to straight-up ban anyone who seriously uses “tl;dr.” You’re just too confused! For land’s sakes, why would you admit your shameful ignorance in public anyway? Come back when you have the time to “r” something that wasn’t really that “l” anyway, future pal!

Hmm. What have I missed?