Don’t get me wrong. The Times Union blog community can actually be fun. Over the past few months, reading blogs like Kristi Gustafson’s “On The Edge” or Steve Barnes’s “Table Hopping” or even the freelance bloggers like
Kevin Marshall or Amanda Talar, personalities emerge from the comments, and, from the small snipits that the posts usually are, a good discussion can ensue.
But not always.
Earlier this week, on the Times Union Bethlehem Blog, Kristen P. posted a very personal perspective on dating as an expecting parent. I paid attention but did not get involved, but, at a certain point, it turned into all-out name calling, and really went far off the rails when Kristen decided it was her duty to defend herself. Kristen has since taken the post down and has made it very clear through twitter and her personal blog that she is very displeased with the reaction her post recieved. I also paid close attention on twitter and offered her the perspective that people will go as far as even questioning your choice in soup for lunch, let alone moral issues that split society as it is.
The issue is with reading comprehension. Some readers approach blogs as textual indicators and, once certain catch phrases pop out, they feel the need to comment on just that phrase. It was clear that some readers of that post saw the terms “single mother” and “dating” and decided to just flame on her in whatever context they wanted for her past decisions. Clearly, if you had the chance to read the post, the focus was on dealing with dating in the community with the caveat that doing so under her circumstances poses additional unexpected challenges.
It’s not all love for Kristen. She did make a mistake and attacked back at a nasty commenter, which had the whole situation spiral out of control. Recently, Amanda wrote a relevant post, where her spin was to have respect to what commenters have to say. Having readers comment on your blog articles keep the conversation going; attacking readers is counter productive. It portrays the idea that you don’t want to be bothered with their opinion, which, in my opinion, is the exact opposite of what people blog for. In the case where the reader personally attacks the writer, it is up to the writer to either moderate the comment or to regroup and get things back on track.
A recent article on Kristi’s OTE is a perfect example of this. The readers were clearly misinterpreting the intent of the post/question. Around comment 94, Kristi chimed back in to bring the conversation back to a respectable reality. That control is really a virtue that you must strive for as a blogger, because, without it, well, you have seen what happens. Other than reading and commenting, I have absolutely nothing to do with Times Union Blogs, but, if I were running things over there, I’d make sure anyone I give a spot to understands this.
As a commenter, I consider myself a heel. Generally, I have no problems telling it like it is. What that usually amounts to is expressing my opinion on a post or poking fun at what the writer is saying in a constructive manner.
Case in point, I recently commented on Steve Barnes’s “Table Hopping” Blog post regarding a chef who pulled a knife on his employee. take a look:
I didn’t really pursue an argument on someone else’s blog, but I think it’s pretty clear that my comment was a joke and that I wasn’t accusing anybody of anything; Bill in Glens Falls clearly didn’t get it. And not that I should have to explain myself, but there’s an additional layer to the joke. A few years ago when Chris Benoit had his 10 minutes of fame after the double murder/suicide he concoted. The first thing the media did was try to pin the root cause on steroids.
Maybe Bill in Glens Falls would have rather I commented “FIRST!!!”…