Posts Tagged ‘Comments on Blogfinger’

Scene from a Blogfinger editorial meeting. Photo by Steve Schapiro from The Godfather part I

Scene from a Blogfinger editorial meeting.
Photo by Steve Schapiro from The Godfather part I.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  Blogfinger.net.   2013 Repost:

Recently a Blogfinger reader became very upset by something that was said by a commenter.  I pointed out  to the reader that we get many visits to this blog, on average about 1,500-2,000 per day. But only a relatively small number make any comments.—estimated by me to be less than 1% of readers.  So,  no need to get upset by what one person says, especially one who is anonymous.

I think there is a tendency to believe that just because something is said in print (blog comments are technically “in print” and are referred to as being “published.”) doesn’t mean that such opinions are any more valuable than those inside our readers’  heads.

I have no problem with anonymous opinions, but, to be honest, an anonymous opinion has less standing than one by a person who would give their real name.  Some of you do give your real name, and I especially value those statements. But our readers will be the judges of how seriously to take the comments on Blogfinger.

We actually  don’t let comments appear by “Anonymous.”   Everyone who signs in as “Anonymous” gets assigned a nickname  (a task I really enjoy), but mostly so the back and forth gets aimed at the right unknown person.

I don’t know why more readers don’t join our conversations.  I guess it is a form of stage fright even though you can wear a mask, like the actors in an ancient Greek play. Or maybe most people see no point in commenting publicly.  They prefer to be observers rather than participants.

It’s fine that so few of you say anything, but I know for sure that reading comments on Blogfinger is an activity that many of you enjoy.   Some of you tell me in person that that you like the interactions, so simply by reading the comments, our readers (“the bloogers”)  are, in a way, part of the discussions.

We screen all comments that come in so that we can maintain a civil tone and a presentable style. We post 95% of comments that we receive and we edit a few more.

It’s like the photo above. The editor hears you before you get to speak on Blogfinger.  But it’s not personal—it’s business.

NINO ROTA. “The Love Theme from the Godfather.”   From the original soundtrack

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I commented on Blogfinger, and no one has stolen my identity..


Cartoon by Sue Gioulis of Ocean Grove.

It has come to our attention that some individuals might be intimidated by the regular “comments” process because of privacy concerns.  When you click on “comments” at the bottom of each post, you can sign in using a pseudonym, which is what most commenters do, even though, in the  best of worlds, we would all use our real names.  You also don’t have to give us your email address, although that is the only way I have to privately get back to you for clarification, discussion, etc.

We at Blogfinger are fine with not knowing, and certainly not exhibiting, anyone’s email address, which never occurs.

If any of you want to make a comment using a back door process, simple send your comment by email. You don’t have to use the “contact us” form or the “comments” route.    Just send your comment by regular email to Blogfinger@verizon.net.

Doing that will reveal your email and maybe your name, but we will not post either.  As for your name, tell us your pseudonym, or else we will conjure one up for you.  We will not use your name unless you specifically ask us to do so.

So please join in our discussions.  And if you have an opinion that you want aired out, unrelated to anything currently posted, just send us an email and we will turn it into a “letter to the editor” or a “just wondering” segment.


Paul Goldfinger, editor and master-of-ceremonies at Blogfinger.net



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By Charles Layton

Although we have our disagreements, the commenters on Blogfinger are, by and large, well-behaved. We editors don’t receive nearly as many seething pathological outbursts as we used to.

That’s because, early on, we decided not to go that way. We didn’t want a website that was rude, crude and strewn with name-calling, as some Internet sites are. So we established a policy about comments and posted it under the “Policies” tab at the top of this page.

Some people ignored our policy and kept trying to post abusive outbursts anyway. A few of these comments had the tone of a child’s temper tantrum. Some were studded with strings of WORDS IN ALL CAPS – the typographical equivalent of screaming — and spiked with a RIDICULOUS EXCESS!!!!!! OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!! — also the equivalent of screaming. Some of these submissions looked like they’d been written by a person with Tourette syndrome.

When we didn’t post these abusive comments and pointed out to the writer that they violated our standards, the writer would occasionally respond with YET! ANOTHER! INDIGNANT! OUTBURST!

We get fewer of such comments now. Most readers seem to have learned the rules, or else they’ve given up and taken their anger elsewhere.

But I’ve just read an article in the July issue of Scientific American with the title “Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?” The article attempts to explain the frequency of uncivil comments online. It asserts that such behavior is addictive for many people — they go online looking for opportunities to vent their spleen. 

The article offers several explanations for the phenomenon, some of them obvious.

First, commenters are often anonymous and thus can’t be held accountable for their rudeness.

Second, the objects of their abuse are at a distance. Again, it’s a matter of non-accountability.

Third, Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, observes that it’s easier to be nasty in writing than in speech. When you’re having a conversation in person, Markham says, “Even if you get angry, people are talking back and forth and so eventually you have to calm down and listen so you can have a conversation.” Not so on the Internet.

Finally, the magazine quotes Edward Wasserman, a professor of  journalistic ethics at Washington and Lee University. He cites bad examples set by the media. “Mainstream media have made a fortune teaching people the wrong ways to talk to each other.” From what they see on TV, Wasserman says, some people “conclude that rage is the political vernacular, that this is how public ideas are talked about.”

According to Markham, “It’s valuable for all sides of an argument to be heard. But it’s not valuable for there to be personal attacks, or to have messages with an extremely angry tone… If on a website comments are left up that are making personal attacks in the nastiest way, you’re sending the message that this is acceptable human behavior.”

That is why rage on the Internet is bad for the soul. It signals to people that a screaming tantrum is an acceptable method of persuasion. And that’s one reason we don’t condone it here on Blogfinger. Another reason is that we just don’t think most people in Ocean Grove want that style of discourse on their local blog. 

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