Monday, October 5, 2009


Fair readers of thongcharm, I apologize. The madness - or at least, the contrived madness - of wedding planning has eaten up the sleep and mental space required to write a regular blog. Your regularly scheduled programming should resume shortly.

However, in the interim  - I have a question for you all.  I read newspapers online. and blogs online. and recipes online. And I very rarely, if ever, read the comments. Now, of course, this blog is different - I love your comments! But, if I'm reading, say, the obituary on William Safire (so sad, may he rest in peace in a place laden with good grammar), I am not interested in the 299 comments that have been left. Not even a little.

I have one friend with an active comment reel on his blog, the Rutherford Lawson blog. His blog has a political bent, and his opinions are strong, so his readership is active in debating the merits of his case actively. Even still, I have often lived to regret pressing the "send along responses to my comment" button when commenting myself, because weeks later, I continue to get emails about a debate I have since forgotten. (One might argue I haven't got enough vested interest in the community he's created - sorry, Ruth! I'm in it for your posts!)

Strangely, I do often glance at the comments on recipe sites, as they give me good information like "I tried this with chicken breast and found I needed to cook it for 20 more minutes" and "Throw in cranberries! It adds a tartness that offsets the cloying honey flavor." Maybe it's the hints that tempt me on those sites - and not the comments in other venues.

Maybe it's a generational thing? Maybe I have never wanted to write a letter to the editor? Maybe other people's grammatical choices pain me too much to consume? Maybe I simply don't care, and apathy towards the opinion of faceless others is my crime?

So I ask - do you read the comments? On anything?


Capt. BS said...

Sometimes I like to read comments in response to interesting news articles just to get a feel on what the common man thinks about it. The first few comments are usually insightful and relevant (think of them as being left by the "early adopters" who actually care about the subject matter).

Unfortunately -- whether it's due to the millions of paid comment-trolls or merely a case of the Second Law of Thermodynamics rearing its ugly head -- many comment threads degenerate into bickering, name-calling, and ideological wars, even if the news at hand concerns something like the opening of a new animal shelter. For example:

Comment #1: "It's refreshing to see new animal shelters opening in spite of the down economy."

Comment #2: "Woohoo, Underdog Res-Q
! Maybe I'll start volunteering again."

Comment #3: "wake up people its all part of no-bama's communist takeover... what is wrong with you?"

Comment #4: "Um, where did you go to school that you don't know the difference between its and it's?"

Comment #5: "shut up commie's! keep sipping your ivy league tea on your silver spoon, its the same tea that i'll dump into the harbor on tax day!! yeah thats right, the irs calls you it's bitch, and it turn's you on!"

So maybe it isn't so much the sheer volume of comments that's annoying as it is their inevitable gravitation toward banality.

rutherfordl said...

Well, there is some truth to what Capt. BS says about the degeneration of comment threads. Very often it does disintegrate into name calling and ad hominem attacks and of course this goes on at my blog all the time.

But something interesting also happens. First. at least in my case, the blog has morphed into somewhat of a forum where a small cadre of regular readers debate the issues of the day. Sometimes on topic (i.e. about what I originally posted) or off topic. But it is less a blog than it is a roundtable of folks expressing their opinions.

The other interesting thing is that right when you think a "discussion" has run out of steam and degenerated, someone posts something fascinating that sparks a new discussion.

I fully understand those who don't have the stomach to wade through all of this. Heck ... as blog owner I have to read every comment. But the camaraderie, even among political opponents, can be quite enjoyable.

Thanks, for mentioning my blog and do keep visiting ... even if you don't comment. :-)