On Comments

Sunday, September 7, 2008

(Because the camera is giving me all kinds of crap, thus hindering posts I wrote out which fully depend on the photos being there, here is something from the archives. Blah! Goddamnit.)

I think I actually freaked out when I saw my first comment. The fact that someone had read my awkward first steps of bumbled writing thrilled me to no end. Society, or at least one representative of it, had smiled upon me.

Then I began to moderate comments and include verification codes. Somehow, for some reason, random spiteful comments or ads that seemed to come from whatever unexplored dark maw of the internet began to crawl in. With some action those comments stopped, and it was also good.

Slowly real comments trickled in, and I was happy. Certain posts were racking up as many as 40+ comments. People were reading my posts and so the writing gained a slow momentum and a style unique unto itself. I was able to define myself out in the open through my writing and explore my own culinary creativity. The comments were supportive, thought provoking, witty, and humorous. And it was very good.

Some comments however weren't, and it was not good. Some comments seemed to be more of a personal advertisement in appearance rather than constructive feedback, as the comment might read "Great Post! I really liked the way you (insert post topic). Visit my website at...". A slippery clutch at a rain-slicked precipice to be sure, but if the comment seemed significant and it demonstrated that they actually read it, I allowed it albeit with with some reservations.

As an avid proponent of the Socratic method even the comments that disagreed with me were more than encouraged, as open discussion is a fantastic way to enlighten oneself. Detractors welcome, one and all! Assuming you do it with some class and style, and not a "Yer stoopid and so is ur opinion," or something equally clever.

Some commentors however were (and are) far more parasitic in their comments, refusing to actually write anything they simply write a "nice job" and plug themselves, their life story, and pet's middle name all with a URL included. To this the comment is simply swatted down. Vanquished in a way that most people would a mosquito; annoying and insignificant.

Not to say I'm not guilty of the crime in question. I remember my early days of commenting like a mad-man. Leaving my ideas, thoughts, and opinions (genuine and otherwise) in every digital locale I could find. Tagging here and there using the internet as my own freeway wall to graffiti with my own personal publicity. It was like running a second blog.

But eventually I stopped, it became too tiresome and I was weary of writing disenchanted, fragmented sentences. I now read my favorite blogs once a week (some still everyday) and leave comments when I am particularly smitten with a certain post or find myself awed by their innovation, creativity, and passion.

Given, I don't mind advertising if done in the right way. If I post about a recipe using pears, and someone leaves a thoughtful comment about pears and that they, in fact, also just wrote a perfect little pear post then by all means please leave a link. If you have a similar story, please write it down! I encourage it! It's a way for me to learn. Plus, my recipe might not be exactly what the reader is looking for and if they find yours is just right, then excellent. I want each reader to leave the blog feeling happy they took a moment from their day to read it. You get a new reader and I am still remembered as a wellspring of helpful links and information. Win-Win.

Ah, and lets not forget the comments left by my proliferate friend Anonymous. Anonymous is a fickle fellow, but usually accountable and friendly. In fact I greatly enjoy his assumed unbiased input. Anonymous may even sign their real name (thus rendering Anonymous' anonymity moot) and allow me to thank them for their feedback. However, he may sometimes trip up and decide to leave scathing or otherwise pointless wastes of the English language. Or in some cases, unnecessarily correct me on my diction and grammar (a massive pet peeve).

He will write "Shibby is not a word," or "It's 'anyway,' not 'anyways.'" Yes. I know. I wrote it that way on purpose. Or in some cases it's a blog, and I just didn't feel like proofing my grammar at 2 AM. I write for a living (hell, I teach it) and I know my dangling participles like the back of my hand, and am very diligent about making my prodigal semicolons sexy; therefore, all the more titillating when read. If I forgot to mention something in a recipe, or I misuse a word, I flub my grammar, or a link isn't working then by all means please let me know. However, please inform me of these things by e-mail. Not a comment.

Yes, Anonymous, sometimes I love you but sometimes you are the prime example of the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory:
Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Dickwad
This will only render you a candidate for a program I wish to create which revokes certain individuals access to humanity at large. Or at the very least internet chat rooms and forums.

All and all, comments are the lifeblood to the blog world and at times the link to the Outside as scary as it may be. They motivate us, network us, give us the raw sociological connection to the world we sometimes so crave from behind our computer personas. Ideas, inspiration, and comfort come from those we have never met, yet cheer us on regardless! In times of sadness, while we cannot feel their hugs and sympathy, their concern and joy travels in pixels and signals through miles of fiber optics and can actually provide a tangible warmth.

They can at times make you feel alive.

And for that, I and every blogger, to every single reader and commenter we say thank you.


  1. Great post. Visit my bog at cupcakeproject.blogspot.com. Just kidding. :) Actually, as someone who more recently began blogging, I wanted to say that your post totally hit home and let you know that I was really excited when you commented on my blog. Neat to know that someone whose blog I read is now enjoying mine. It makes the whole computer world seem more real. It's amazing the many ways in which people can build community.

  2. Ah Garrett, I kuddenuv said it better myself. Thank you for writing the best explanation of a comment policy that I've ever seen. Bravo.

  3. A great post and I share your annoyance re: the grammar grannies. Some people have WAY too much time on their hands.

  4. I think dangling participles are hot! :)

  5. You don't understand, when I started my blog I thought NO ONE would ever look at my blog let alone, comment on it- Let alone the cupcake GREATS like cupcake bakeshop and Vanilla Garlic.

    I was soooo excited when I did get A comment and now i just hunger for more and more and more. :) It's like getting to open a present everyday-I love it!
    Thanks for the post.

  6. You're always so spot-on with your commentaries, Garrett, it's really refreshing to hear every now and again. I feel the same way about comments... the first time I had a comment that I found somewhat critical (though I was kind of miffed about it,) I thought it made the p.o.v. of my blog even stronger. Then there are other comments that are genuinely sweet and make you feel great about what we do. I haven't really had too many comments but this is as much as I know so far: It's really crazy, this blogosphere.

    And if there are any grammatical errors... oops! :-D

  7. As usual G, incredibly well written and thought-provoking. Sometimes I leave a comment just to let the blogger know that people are reading it!

    I will give my comments more thought, thanks to your post.

  8. Hey,
    Its nice knowing that I am not the only one who was so happy when i got my first comment.

    This is random...
    I was reading your profile and was looking under your favorite movies... I can not believe that you like Howl's moving castle!!! It's an awesome movie!

    your fellow blogger,

  9. Cheesy but your post gave me warm fuzzies after duking it out with some nasty comments on my blog. I'm not the only one who has suffered a tech-attack! Thanks for making my night.

  10. All I have to say is WE WANT MORE EAT BEAST!!
    Love ya, your fan,

  11. Comments can make you feel alive? Yes! Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. Comments can also make you feel a-love. Sigh...

  12. I remember my first comments and how excited I was that someone was actually out there reading! I have only rejected two comments (1 spam and 1 nonsensical ad). I try not to be a lurker, particularly at my favorite blogs, since feedback is part of wha grows a blogging community.

  13. Did Eat Beast write this?

  14. I couldn't believe when I got comments either. At least comments from people I didn't know! And one of my first was so outrageously critical. Not anonymous - I give him that at least. I honestly think those bizarrely inappropriate corrections (it made my blood boil just hearing about your grammar being corrected!) and negative opinions are from lonely, lonely, LONELY people.
    Did you see the NY Times article a few months back on BlogHer's code of conduct and the dangers of anonymity on the web? It's still on nytimes.com if you feel like a read. Actually I own the NY Times and that was another plug.

  15. Ditto. Ditto. And did I mention, ditto? I have been surfing this same wavelength lately. And Honey, just so you know? You can dangle your participles any ole time. ;)

    You always make me smile. Or laugh.


  16. I love this post. You have said everything the way I couldn't convey it! Well said and beautifully written. Don't worry too much about the Grammar Freaks though- that annoys the ever-lovin' shit out of me, too.

  17. Ha, so true, so true. The digital veil really seems to beckon to the crazies.

    I've just recently gotten hit by almost unbearable spam this past week. While I can approve/disapprove comments, it's a huge pain in the arse to wake up to 60+spam comments in one day.

  18. I must admit this is a great article, and the type a lot of people need to read more often. Then again, if they were the type that read / listened to these types of articles they probably wouldn't be such........not nice people.

    Anyway, fantastic article, keep up the amazing writing, and feel free to visit my blog :)

  19. This is a fantastic post, but you miss that many of your readers are too shy to comment (like me). Just remember that we ARE reading your every word. :)

    Keep it up!


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