Times Union Blog Commenters are nuts…

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!!!”…


8 thoughts on “Times Union Blog Commenters are nuts…

  • supergirl

    i would have rather had everyone comment “first” 🙂
    you have some great, valid points – a blog would be boring without comments, and especially with comments all agreeing with the blogger.
    i guess it’s hard for tu community bloggers to really KNOW what constitutes a ‘personal attack’ and ‘crossing the line’ so can feel ok deleting a comment. i try to publish all comments regardless of negative or positive; but some, i just can’t read, publish and then ignore – the words eat at me and my defense mechanisms kick in, big time. i certainly didn’t respond to every negative thing on that post, just one guy in particular that was a bit of an assclown. ignoring it wasn’t an option for me.
    like i’ve said, live and learn. i just doubt i can open myself up to that again, when i should be surrounding myself with positive vibes for me and baby.

  • Sue

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Part of it is that people really can be hateful, and blogs give them one more place to be rude. But I really think a lot of it is people just plain old don’t understand what a blog is, the point, or how they work.

  • Jeff

    Internet drama is stupid and pointless, and if you participate in it you’re an idiot. Protip to anyone who thinks they’re edgy by telling someone off over the internet – you’re not, and there’s probably a handful of people laughing at you (i.e. u mad?) If someone is being a tool, best to either just ignore it or make a joke out of it. In my experience, Trolls do not know how to respond to someone being a jackass back to them.

  • Rob

    Good post!

    Disagreement and discussion is good, but when it gets rude and insulting, comments should not be published.

    The TU does a lousy job of moderating comments on its staff written blogs. For example, look at Crime Confidential. They’ll post an item about someone who’s been arrested, then the name calling begins in comments. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think it’s OK to condemn someone who hasn’t yet been convicted.

    This clip says it all:

  • JenA

    I completely agree and I was just having a conversation with another one of my friends about this. We were talking about how we’ve stopped reading a lot of the TU blogs because of the attacks and also because of how cliquey some of them have become. There are lots of inside conversations going on between “regulars” that its hard to follow. Also if you happen to not agree with what the blogger has said you’re attacked by not only the blogger but the other readers. Its a shame really.

  • Roz

    I can’t help it. I know that I should be way more mature at my age, but dang it all, I LOVED it when Kristen wrote, “BITE ME!”

    I wish that “Paul L” had called Kristen’s baby a bastard in front of me. People would still be talking about the day that a five-foot-one-inch nearsighted and arthritic old lady kicked a young guy’s ass from here to NYC and back.

    You don’t think it’s possible? I haven’t told the whole story about that awful wedding I attended back in September (I think I sent you pix of the pig roast that I never got to try). I can’t blog about it on http://www.indiealbany.com because it’s a family-oriented blog. But suffice to say that I took on a group of young drunks and WON.


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