Civil War on the Internet

7 03 2008

Dumbing Stupid Down.

There is so much incivility, so much gotcha’ and rude behavior around, that I am reluctant to keep open the comments for FutureVerse posts after, and if, I decide to go public. As long as only a few know of the blog’s existence I don’t see a problem. But I am going to list some types of mind numbing pointlessness that passes for informed comment. Actually even the people who act in some of the ways I will talk about must know that what they are doing is beyond stupid and instead reveals character flaws, that in polite society, and face to face discourse, they would be sure to keep hidden.

I’ll start with a few items, numbered but not necessarily in order of importance.

-1. The spelling and grammar police. They don’t care what you say but are incensed at how you say it. Obvious typos, the kind that most people read through without even noticing, negate anything of substance you might have said.

This somehow seems to be the attack mode of choice for those disagreeing with your point of view who have nothing else to offer, or wish to show their superiority before casting out pearls of wisdom. I have seen a few instances where someone in agreement with a post makes a similar spell help comment, it is usually just an aside. May I suggest let is slide? Or if you won’t be able to sleep at night until the offending passage is corrected, send an email to the poster informing of the transgression.

-2. The page long paragraph. Even when they make sense, and I find myself in general agreement with the author, I often stop reading half way through. One of the joys of paragraphing is that it gives a reader a brief moment to consider your last thought before continuing to the next. Usually a good thing, if you expect it to be remembered.

This long paragraph thing is something I have to fight in my own writing and the way I approach it is, that if it looks long, break it up, even if logically the sentences are all connected.

-3. Multiple posting of the same comment. I’ve done this also and I suppose sometimes the posting software is at fault. The best way to avoid it is to save your post and wait a few minutes to see if it goes up before sending again.

-4. Attacking the messenger. This is a waste of time and bandwidth. If you disagree with the point, say so. Better still give your position and the reason you are persuaded of its correctness. Asking if citations exist are fine, supplying your own even better. But a blog post and comment thread is not a peer reviewed journal and opinion is sometimes nothing other than opinion.

If a citation in support of a point of view is given, at least take a look at it before you disagree with the person who took the time and effort to buttress their point.

-5. Guilt by group affiliation. Because a poster or commenter holds one position held by most members of a group find objectionable, that is insufficient reason to assume a membership in that group’s wider set of beliefs. It may be reasonable to say something about the group beliefs, but be careful about putting words into another’s mouth.

-6. Vulgar humor. It has its place, I suppose, but not in serious discussion. Non vulgar humor, and outright snark, is often the right spice to keep things interesting. Reading it twice before pushing the publish button is what I try to do and I am well served by the practice.

-7. Post in haste. Repent in leisure. If you suspect a comment is inflammatory, you are likely correct. Save it offline and read it again later. Then put it up or edit it further as the spirit moves.

Seven Deadly Sins already. I think I am going to need to revisit this in the future.  If I made any mistakes in the above, I can live without knowing.

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