The Art of Commenting

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When I started my journey into the land of the Web, I imagined it would be a pretty solo affair. I envisaged myself as the intrepid explorer treading silently through its tangled connections and recording its sights, sounds and smells. Then 5 words appeared on my screen that changed that.

“Please moderate comment on post.”

How can these words send such pleasure and surprise down my spine. I look over my shoulder and there are people there. Real people and they commented. Now, what do I do?

It seems like if I am to equip myself with the proper manners to embark on my internet adventure. I’ll need to head towards the band of willing individuals ready to show me the new rules of netiquette.

There’s a new form of conversation on the internet with its own rules or lack of them.

Everything the web knows about netiquette is stretched along the long branches of a large willow tree. It seems to beckon me from my path and offer me an invitation to rest awhile under its shade.

I sit under its canopy and from its narrow leaves, I ignore the flashing instructional videos, and the short and rather lifeless bulleted lists. Instead, I pick from amongst its canopy, these simple introductions into the art of commenting.

1. 7 tips for Better Comment Etiquette – from Chef Katelyn. Of all the 3/5/10 tips number rundown versions of this same kind of thing, this one still managed to offer out the advice in a novel and individual way. The introduction paragraph frames it perfectly.

2.Is it worth it? – I imagine a loved one on the other end of that speech bubble and I think this picture pretty much sums it all up there is to say about dealing with trolls.

xkcdwrongoninternet

But, something else is missing. Armed with the lessons from the net – my fingers wait on the edges of those empty comment boxes and yet I hesitate.  The tips are all simple and sensible, but why then does every polite pointer only make me want to run back into my lurking corner.

The sage words of all these guides talk of tempering or crafting the ready made skills you already have in comment-making. But what if your internet voice is barely ever used.

See if this is you: You write an entire post out. Read through repeatedly, edit, agonise over words, tone, smiley face or not. After coming back to the post several times, you decide that for one of the perceived rules. Its really not that valuable or interesting a post, so you delete it.

For someone who posts regularly this might be a great self discipline. But I wonder if there are quieter voices like mine among the shadowy masses of internet readers. For the consummate lurker, doubt is a stifling drug that I’ve taken many a time. For some of us participation isn’t necessarily about honing the art of commentary, but having the courage to comment at all.

So I have one tip I’d offer in addition to those already out there. To the voices waiting in those silent vastlands, beyond the noisey centre.

3. Shake off your doubts – As your finger wavers over that post button and you wonder if its worth putting yourself out there. To speak, to question, to seek for something more than just a fleeting moment passed on a digital minute. Do it, don’t think, don’t doubt.

Have the courage to let your voice be heard. I’m listening.

Quest Objective: Comment on 5 blogs this week

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