Comments and Courtesy: The Recap

In my comment on Kevin’s post I was a little pissy. I can admit that. Hopefully he can forgive me. He darn well better, if he knows what’s good for him. I know where he lives. Aside from that nonsense, things seemed to have worked out for the best. He got the subject out there, and you glorious people cleared the air in the comments that followed. That leaves me to swoop in and tie up a few loose ends. I do love making some lovely knots out of loose ends.

Comment Distribution or What’s the Bell Curve Again?: A few people brought up the snowball effect in comments. As pointed out by April Raines and jesteram, I think this is an artifact of the ‘Popular’ and ‘Active’ columns. Yep, it happens. That’s life, group dynamics, popularity, social psychology, etc. Institutionally there probably isn’t much to be done. Individually, I’d like to echo points already made about trying to venture off the beaten path. The ‘Random Story’ button is great for this. I, for one, rarely look at stories from ‘Active’ and ‘Popular’. I just read whatever is in ‘Most Recent’ and stuff from people I follow. Also, I try to comment on something by a person who comments on my stuff, which I think has a nice circularity to it.

Argument Askew: One of the trends in the comments was a discussion not quite in line. One side seemed to be saying, “Don’t leave mean, pointless comments!” The other side was saying, “Don’t overreact to constructive criticism!” When you think about it, they two different things. It’s sort of like how people debating pacifism always wind up talking about Vietnam while people who don’t believe in pacifism talk about World War II. Both sides are ultimately right without convincing or being convinced. Confusing? Yes, that’s how such debates go. I think ideally all the comments will have some substance to them. Also, in an ideal world, everyone will be able to take criticism with a bit of humility and an earnest desire to be better writers.

More Buttons Below Than Wing Formation: On the whole issue of preference and type buttons, might I suggest an alternative. This is based on nearly a decade of study, both scholarly and professional, when it comes to human behavior. People are going to do what they’re going to do. If you’re people, I recommend you keep right on doing this. In other words, keep commenting like crazy! If you perchance receive a comment that is upsetting, might I suggest 3 simple steps: 1) Is there anything of value in their comment, however crudely put? In other words, what can you do differently next time to make your own writing better? If they called it stupid, could it benefit from a wider range of vocabulary? If they called it juvenile, could you stretch and explore deeper themes? This may not be possible with the vilest of comments, and that’s why there’s step 2. 2) Realize that everyone around you has their own issues. Someone who feels compelled to mercilessly attack your random bit of writing on an internet site probably has some issues. In chat rooms they’re called ‘trolls’. At work they’re called ‘management’. In the extreme, they’re called ‘misanthropes’. This leads to the final step. 3) Let it go. Take a deep breath. It’s a stray comment from a stranger. If it’s not useful, doesn’t seem to express any kind of valid opinion, just let it go. Trust me; that last one works in more places that Ficly.

Hopefully, this was all just a hiccup. I do still believe we have a great community of writers. Most of all, I hope this doesn’t put a damper on the back and forth for which this site was intended. Another trend I noticed in the comments was the number of writers who honestly want to hear your feedback, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know I do. Commentators, be ye not discouraged! Writers, be ye valiant in the face of growth! Ficlyteers, be ye awesome!

18 comments Posted 2009-06-27 Author: THX 0477


  • g²LaPianistaIrlandesa

    Well said, GAM. Here’s hoping that further clears things up. Is this the part where we go forth and be awesome?

  • Marli

    Concise! No wonder you were the chosen one to do the wrap. Very well deciphered.
    Very much appreciated

  • .:Band Baby:.

    nicely put. I know I love any kind of comment. I hope this site stays and grows to as good as Ficlets was.

  • blusparrow (LoA)

    Very well said =). After all it’s what LoA is about isn’t it Grand Marshal. What happened to tagging out comments with LoA? It just seemed to die out.

  • Nancy

    Hahaha… In work they’re called management.

  • OrangeOreos (LoA)

    Yeah, I noticed that, too, blu… I used to do it, before I got tired of tagging every single comment, lol. And as for the random story button, I love that thing! It’s one of my new favorite features…

    These knots were very well tied, THX.

  • Melia

    Joining Nancy in laughing at the ‘in work they’re called management’ line. Trier words, never spoken. thanks for the recap THX.

  • ernmander

    Any kind of comment is welcome, at least it shows that someone has read :)

  • Kevin Lawver

    And this is why we pay you the big karmic bucks (because we have no real ones). Well put, sir, well put.

  • THX 0477

    You’re all too kind. I do my best and will continue to do so.

  • Paddy Festus

    Hey, I like comments, and I agree, sometimes its a grain of salt issue. Thick skins seem mandatory if you put it out there for folks to see. Thanks for the article.

  • ethelthefrog

    Yeah. I’m with ernmander. I find zero comments much more depressing than “this is rubbish because…”

    I’ve met managers like that ;)

    Nice summary, THX. Let us go forth and be awesome.

  • Fyora Cartagan

    Pssst…Maybe I’m blind but where’s the random story button? o.o

    I myself usually go through the most recent stories, and agree that having no comments is depressing.

  • uselessness

    Fyora, it’s a tiny little blue link at the very bottom of every page on the site. :-)

  • Sneaky"LoA"Cleazy

    would awesome be the right word to describe this blog? Considering it came from the GAM. I can dig it..!

  • Music-Hearted

    I’m glad this was posted, THX. Like the others, I, too, hope that Ficly will blossom into the constructive community that Ficlets was. I know we have the capacity to do so, so let’s get to it!

  • i, Coomber

    Hmmm, that random story button does seem out of the way. Maybe it could find its way to the front page somehow????

  • SandsSpot

    I recently attended a class that as a part of it taught how to give good constructive criticism.

    Keep the exchange positive. Get their attention by appealing their ego. Complement them. Tell them something about them you like. Something like this “THX, I really like the way your posts are clear and enjoyably readable.” Then, if you have something they could do better, say so. "You know, the front page is really usable, and if you made the “Random” button easier to find, it would be even better. You could put a Random Story button right next to the Browse button!"