Blog comments are like the graffiti of the untamed digital continent.
Some are helpful, like the spray paint on the fence that says “beware of dog.” Others are very impressive, like a beautiful mural. Some obviously took a lot of time and thought. Others are done passionately and quickly. Some are for self-promotion, like a gang sign. Others are done simply to exercise our power to do harm and cause suffering. Many are angry. And still others leave us scratching our heads.
As bloggers and blog readers, it’s helpful to distinguish between the different types. Blog comment sections can be very powerful places to get unique perspectives on an issue, share helpful information, build people up, engage in thoughtful discussion and contribute to the “soul of the internet.” But far too often they turn into annoying and useless diatribes of self-congratulatory tit-for-tats anonymously pounded out from behind an impersonal keyboard and obscured by thousands of miles of virtual space. That’s a waste of an opportunity.
And while we can’t control what others do, we can help the situation by what we do. And I think a good starting place is recognizing the different kinds of comments and the motivations behind them. Next week I’ll continue with part two: Ways to respond to each kind of commenter.
Here are the 10 types of blog commenters:
1) Encouragers - These leave simple, encouraging comments like, “great post!” Or, “wow, this totally changed my life.” But they don’t instigate further conversation or offer anything additional to the post. (FYI - Bloggers love these kinds of comments.)
2) Non-contributors - These are similar to Encouragers, except without the encouragement. Their comments say I was here and I read your post...like, “I also have a fish named Dorothy,” or “Thanks for this post.”
3) Contributors - Contributors usually leave the best blog comments because they offer something new to the conversation. A new perspective. Additional information. A new insight. They are thoughtful. And they can either respectfully agree or disagree with the post. Overall, they contribute to a healthy conversation and they make the blog post more valuable and helpful for other readers.
4) Destitutes - These are people in need. They might be depressed or struggling with something. They just want somebody to talk to. Somebody to listen. Sometimes their comment is on topic, often times it is not. Many times they have serious questions.
5) Slackers - Slackers are people who don’t read the post. They just read the title of the post and then want to say something. So they write it in the combox. They often strongly disagree with you while making your point. Or they soundly defeat a straw man and feel better afterwards. Or they ask things like, “Well what about X?” When the post spent paragraphs 3 and 4 answering precisely that about X.
6) Brawlers - Brawlers love to fight and argue. They aren’t interested in learning, giving the benefit of the doubt or considering that it was just an accident when I spilled my drink on them.
7) Angries - An Angry is somebody who is just angry at something. They often take the form of brawlers, but worse. They don’t even want to argue or fight about it. They just want to express their anger about something. Often times it makes them feel better to bring others down in the process. Their comments are often inappropriate and hurtful. And they usually end up accusing somebody tangentially related to the post of something tangentially related to the topic and then lumping everyone together and concluding that “You people are all a bunch of losers.” They can turn into real trolls too.
8) Posers - Posers pretend like they don’t care about the topic when they really do. Their comment basically says “I don’t care about this, but I still took the time to comment and tell you. That’s how much I really don’t care about this. And now I’m going to get really defensive about something you said…but I really couldn’t care less about it.”
9) Self-promoters - These people range from spammers and link-baiters to honest people just trying to promote something good. But their comment is all about promoting something else, not contributing to the post directly.
10) Aliens - Aliens leave comments that make absolutely no sense at all. It’s like they just landed on the planet Earth and thought they would leave a comment.
Did I miss any? Let me know! Next week we can address how to handle or respond to each kind type of commenter.