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Comment guidelines. - I know it's wonky and I don't care [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kake

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Comment guidelines. [Jan. 31st, 2006|03:29 pm]
Kake

I've been reading the journals of people who aren't on my friends list quite a bit recently. The reason I mostly post friends-only is not so much for privacy (I generally use filter groups for that) but to keep out the idiots. (Yes, I know about the setting that lets you only let friends comment. I like doing it like this. Also, the fact that you're not on my friends list yet doesn't mean I think you're an idiot. It means you're not on my friends list yet.) This thought led to me writing down some things I do and don't like about comments left in my journal. And now I've written it down, I shall post it. Comments on whether I've managed to communicate my thoughts clearly are welcome. No, comments are solicited. Help me get this into decent shape, and I'll link to it in my userinfo. It's a public post and will stay that way. Edited to add: I think we're covering the "don't post like this" parts adequately; has anyone got anything to say about the "do post this" parts?

Here goes!

If you cause tedium in my journal I will ask you to stop doing that, and if you don't stop after I've asked you lots of times then I'll defriend you. There will be no "final warning" because I find policing discussions tedious in itself. This has never had to happen yet, and I hope it never does. My definition of tedium is the only one that counts for this purpose.

I get very, very bored by short back-and-forth arguments with no time taken to ponder and re-ponder in between commenting. Take your time, think about what the other person said, consider the possibility that you have nothing to add to the discussion beyond the things you've already said. Conversely, give the other person space to think about your point; immediately jumping in with a reply to every new comment they make is a very good way of failing to do this.

I get even more bored by repetition of points that someone made perfectly well the first time (I have no problem with thinking out loud, and I positively love it when someone says something like "hmm, I said X earlier but now I'm starting to think Y is more accurate", or "I've changed my mind"). I like people who understand the difference between clarifying a point and trying to make someone else accept it by reiterating it twenty times.

Single comments are never tedious, even if they're relatively content-free. Obviously-non-hostile comments are rarely tedious (the definition of "obvious" is "obvious to Kake"). Social grooming comments (that is, content-free comments used to reinforce social relationships) are not tedious unless excessive. I have no objection to *hugs* comments, but if I've not asked for comfort or hugs then I probably don't need them.

I hate the way that livejournal switches to a horrible UI when a post gets over 50 comments. If a discussion is approaching this limit, I'd prefer that social grooming comments and other less-relevant comments are taken elsewhere ("elsewhere" includes other posts on my journal), or at least postponed. Once we've hit the limit we're screwed anyway, so anything goes after that.

I love it when I get a comment on a six-month-old post. I love it so much that if it's substantive I'm quite likely to make a new, brief post pointing people at the old one, so your efforts are not wasted. I like comments that say "yes, that makes sense" and nothing more; they let me know that you've read what I had to say.

I like comments that disagree with me intelligently. My definition of "intelligently" is the one that counts; it includes things like being coherent, and showing evidence of having put a lot of thought into the matter. I also like comments that acknowledge ignorance and request elucidation.

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Comments:
From: mzdt
2006-01-31 04:45 pm (UTC)
I'm still quite amused (and yes, a little upset) I was expected to apologise for not being fluffy this afternoon; I thought people knew me well enough by now to know that it's my journal and I'll do what I damn well like with it. As should we all.
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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 04:55 pm (UTC)
Doesn't mean we have to like it ;)

(no, this isn't aimed at you Simon :) hello btw, we've never met. You sound lovely. Nice to have met you.)

Some journal writers are so up themselves as to be painful to read, and some journal writers are just stupid or inflammatory or ignorant or bigoted or insist on reading the wrong thing into some opinion or words.

Some journal writers use language as a twistable tool for their own purposes in an argument or response. Yes, it's a text medium, and yes, words are all we have, but come on guys.

Anyway. My point is that this is livejournal. Someone who makes a post has every right to make that post. Someone who can comment and comments has the right to make that comment. Attempts to control how someone behaves on a journal - their own (as you suggest happened to you) or someone else's (as kake is doing right now) - amount to censorship by another name :)

If you don't like the comments, just delete them already. Or use LJ's built-in features for controlling who can and can't, or screen them, or whatever :)

This is livejournal. It is what it is.
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[User Picture]From: vashti
2006-01-31 05:24 pm (UTC)
Attempts to control how someone behaves on a journal - their own (as you suggest happened to you) or someone else's (as kake is doing right now) - amount to censorship by another name :)

Sorry, but given that anyone reading here has their own LJ, or can have their own LJ with the click of a mouse, and can write anything they like there, I don't see how censorship comes into this in any way.
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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 05:34 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I used the wrong word :)

Pick a word that means "attemping to control what people post and don't post in an otherwise public forum known for its acceptance of free speech and opinionated rants", or similar, and substitute where I used "censorship".
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From: feanelwa
2006-01-31 05:26 pm (UTC)
But then, not letting random people come into my house is censorship, and so are spam filtering, only giving my phone number to a few trusted friends, walking away from a fight, asking somebody to turn off their mobile phone before we go into a theatre, ignoring tramps who shout abusive things at me, and not talking to people who I already know hate me. I don't think censorship is always a bad thing. Most of the times I censor something out of my own life, it makes it better.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-01-31 06:17 pm (UTC)
Effectively all I'm intending to say is "please don't be boring at me, be interesting at me instead", and then explain what I mean by boring and interesting. Feedback on how I can change the words to make this as clear as possible is most welcome. I might also need to make it even more clear that at time of writing nobody has bored me enough to make me drop them.

"If you don't like the comments, just delete them already. Or use LJ's built-in features for controlling who can and can't, or screen them, or whatever :)"

But I find the act of thread-policing to be terribly boring, and while I know some people enjoy doing it, the only person who can do it in my journal is me. Also (in my experience of livejournal), in the case where the number of people with access to a post is large, by the time it becomes necessary it has also become impractical. And, more importantly, deleting or screening comments doesn't address the issue that I want to address - I have to have already been bored by them in order to know that I find them boring. Finally, I think your suggestions are quite likely to stifle discussion, and I don't want to do that.

In any case, the feedback I want is not so much on whether my desires are reasonable, but on whether I've managed to communicate them as unambiguously as possible. I've edited the post to make that clear; thank you for helping me realise that I needed to.
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[User Picture]From: tiquetoque
2006-01-31 07:02 pm (UTC)
I'm not likely to invite someone onto my friends list unless I've seen something of them elsewhere

If I may be so bold, I will interpret this as you having been impressed with them elsewhere, and shall name this interpretation Bob. It suits my next point. ;)

Making it clear up-front what I find acceptable lets me offer people who enjoy being argumentative the option of deciding whether they'd like to participate in this space that I have some control over, or not.

Ah, this is probably the nub of it, and I think it's a clear difference of opinion, and one I'm willing to accept now you've explained it :)

You see, Bob, above, is also the criteria for my friends list. It carries with it the perpetual (until further notice) acceptance that they can read my friends-only posts and comment what they like. My journal is not read-only, even slightly. Anyone can say anything they like while they have permission to do so (as implied by the usages and customs of the community my journal is a part of), and until this is abused, I see no reason to limit it - as you are now doing, or using LJ's built-in features.

Having thought about it, this is probably because I have not felt inflamed or threatened by anything anyone has posted, which may be due to the inane and rather arbitrary drivel I tend to post, as opposed to your occasionally intensely personal and perhaps controversial offerings. However, my point stands :) We differ in how we approach and tolerate our "friends".

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[User Picture]From: whit_merule
2006-01-31 08:19 pm (UTC)
And so do we, clearly .:) I'd never have the nerve to tell people what to write and what not to write, but I don't have a problem with "please don't be rude" or "please consider other people's feelings when you post here". Although I'd probably not say "please don't be boring", it falls under the same category.
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[User Picture]From: whit_merule
2006-01-31 08:42 pm (UTC)
Edited to add: I think we're covering the "don't post like this" parts adequately; has anyone got anything to say about the "do post this" parts?

Probably the only thing I'd say if I were to post something like this in my journal is a request to comment on the posts that I've clearly invested more in. I dont' really care if a post on how 'bukkake' is a weird word that should apply to doing weird things with chickens attracts comments. And yet it ends up with lots, whereas people are edgy about commenting on, eg, short stories and so on. ;) And they are the ones I always want feedback on, whether it's 'heh, that was fun' (though that's probably the least useful comment) or 'i liked that line!' or 'this bit grated' or 'i don't get why this person was acting like that'. I can't read my own writing as an audience member, any more than I can watch my own performance onstage (even with the help of a video camera you still feel everything you do, you can't watch it as the audience would see it).

And of course, I also have very little confidence in my own writing skills right now. :)

But yes, to relate it back to the discussion - obviously the post that the author has put most into is the one we're least liekly to respond to - either because it seems like too much effort, or because we don't want to put a foot wrong, or because we're not really into thinking that deeply and getting an opinion at this hour of the morning / night.

And yet, even just tiny little comments, on some small detail rather than a broad analysis of the whole, can make the author feel like someone's really read and appreciated what they have to say...
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-02-01 09:01 am (UTC)
"I dont' really care if a post on how 'bukkake' is a weird word that should apply to doing weird things with chickens attracts comments. And yet it ends up with lots, whereas people are edgy about commenting on, eg, short stories and so on. ;)"

I think my first incidence of 100 comments or more was when I asked people how they were and what they were having for breakfast.

"And yet, even just tiny little comments, on some small detail rather than a broad analysis of the whole, can make the author feel like someone's really read and appreciated what they have to say..."

I hear a lot of people saying "I didn't comment because I had nothing to say". I'd like to encourage "I read this"-type comments. I suppose the difficulty is coming up with a phrasing that sounds less blunt than "I read this". This post by sashajwolf is relevant.
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[User Picture]From: johnckirk
2006-02-01 12:25 pm (UTC)
I'm less convinced by that (the whole "signal:noise" thing). That's not to say that people shouldn't do it - if you like those kind of comments, and people post them to your journal, then everything's fine. The problem comes when people say "Nobody's commented, even with a ., so I don't think anyone's reading this". There are only so many times that I'm willing to say "Yes, you're on my Friends list, so I do read all of your posts, even if I don't comment on them."; eventually I'll just say "Screw it - you're now off my Friends list, so now you do know for certain whether I'm reading your posts or not."
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[User Picture]From: taimatsu
2006-02-01 09:36 pm (UTC)
This all makes sense :)
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[User Picture]From: therealdrhyde
2006-02-01 11:10 pm (UTC)
the definition of "obvious" is "obvious to Kake"


Obviously :-)
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[User Picture]From: jvvw
2006-02-14 08:49 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to post and say that I think there's either a firefox extension/greasemonkey script (can't remember which) which stops the horrible above 50 comments behaviour. Should be easy to find if you know it exists.

Haven't tested it throroughly but have it installed and haven't noticed the problem since.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-02-23 09:55 am (UTC)
Ooh, thanks. This looks promising, but you still need to click on lots of "Unfold"s to get all the comments to display, and of course if you go away from the page and come back then you have to unfold them all over again. I wonder how difficult it would be to hack it to give an "Unfold everything" link.

Is that the one you were thinking of, or have you got a better one?
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