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When commenters attack!

When commenters attack! published on 2 Comments on When commenters attack!

When I posted this on ReadWriteWeb a year and a half ago, I got into a back-and-forth with someone that got my back and my dander up, which I don’t have to tell you completely distracted me from actually posting it here. So, at long last, here’s a coveted LOST NOISE TO SIGNAL, sure to be a collector’s item.

No, it’s not all commenters on Digg. Or on YouTube. Or, or, or.

But a whole lot of them seem to be lying in wait to sink their teeth into the nearest virtual pantleg… or exposed jugular. The culture of vehement attack and merciless ridicule is still virulent in a lot of places online. (The whole “You Suck At…” meme is only the latest example.) (See? Proof that this was a long time ago. –Rob, 2012.)

I’ve heard the advice that the you deal with that kind of attack by growing a thick skin, having a sense of humour about it, and generally hardening your heart and pretending it doesn’t hurt. It’s the same advice we used to give bullying victims before we discovered it just encourages jackasses to become bigger jackasses.

Anyone building or managing an online community has a responsibility to keep the oil slick of aggression out of the conversational coastal wetlands. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lively or even heated disagreements, but that users aren’t aiming to actually wound each other. And that responsibility isn’t just to users; it’s to the business or organization behind the community, because that kind of toxic behaviour rubs off on their reputation.

I won’t pretend it’s easy, especially with the entrenched culture of an established community. But civil behaviour ought to be the expected norm of online community, not the welcome exception.

No comment.

No comment. published on 11 Comments on No comment.

Not that long ago, you’d write a blog post and a handful of people might comment on it. Some of those comments might be one-line approval or disagreement, but others would go some length to engage with what you’d said.

These days, though, I’m finding you’re more likely to get a retweet: “RT”, title of your blog post, and link.

Don’t get me wrong: I love seeing those. Love, love, love them. By all means, retweet away.

But what blog comments give you that retweets can’t (unless the retweeter opts out of Twitter’s retweeting feature to add a few words of their own) is conversation. I love to hear what people thought of what I said. I love for them to agree, disagree, point me to new ideas, or take an idea and run with it. And while we can do that to some degree on Twitter, the 140-character wall is pretty limiting.

I’ve been pretty lucky, actually; since I launched the cartoon, I’ve been attracting a small but growing number of deeply-appreciated comments. I have a few tools that let me import related tweets into the comment stream. And Twitter brings a lot of people here.

I’m hoping that continues… but I have a feeling that bloggers everywhere have to adjust to a world where Twitter means blog comments, and the rich conversation that can come with them, are the exception.

What do you think? Have you seen comments drop off on your blog? And if so, is Twitter the issue, or is something else at work? Comment below… or tweet me.

(P.S. – Was I clear enough about liking the retweets? No? I LIKE THE RETWEETS.)