Playing Nice in the Blogosphere

Last night I was reading one of my favorite blogs, which I don’t get around to visiting too often because it’s so good that I need to allot at least an hour to just to catch up. With 10,000+ active followers, it’s one of the big blogs where the comments are usually as funny and smart as the posts themselves. The blogger who runs the site admits that although she does profit a bit off the ad revenue that it generates, she has a day job that has nothing to do with the subject she writes about. The blog is mostly for her own fun.

While reading the comments on the latest post, I found one where a commentor complained that the blogger made too big a deal out of the topic of the post. The commentor criticized her (albeit rather politely) for essentially making a mountain out of a molehill when she chose to blog about a specific topic and for using an undue amount of hyperbole. Whether or not the commentor was correct in saying that doesn’t really matter; depending on how you interpret it, she could have been right or wrong. However, the blogger – who does not reply to every comment since doing so would be a full-time job – did come out of the woodwork to defend her words. In the process, though, she pulled out a considerable amount of snark towards the reader, who probably meant no harm at all. What ensued was a comment war of the worst kind where other readers started criticizing the blogger for being too sensitive and hyper-vigilant about the slightest criticism. It was painful to read. Seeing a blogger you like get criticized on her own blog for losing her cool is a lot like being 10 at your best friend’s house and watching her get yelled at by her parents.

Right about now, you’re probably like “Well, what is this blog you’re talking about, Emily?! I want to see too!” To that I reply that it doesn’t really matter. This is only the most recent occurrence I’ve witnessed lately of people dumping all over online writers who are just doing their thing. Hang around the Intertron long enough and you will see it:

It hurts even when a pink bunny says it.

It hurts even when a pink bunny says it.

A self-published author puts his/her book up on Amazon and the reviews are nasty, angrily chastising the author for wasting the reader’s time with their “drivel”.

A writer of a small blog gets trolled for being “too boring” when recounting how she spent the weekend with her family.

A Twitter user takes personal shots at fellow tweeters who gave one too many details on their inane daily activities.

Each time I run across comments online that skewer bloggers who write for free (or nearly free, as self-published writers often give away copies of their e-book free of charge or heavily discounted to drum up readers), it frustrates me. Next time, it could be me who is criticized for minding my own business online and writing a blog that someone takes the wrong way or doesn’t like.

The fact is, it has been me before. Although it rarely happens, I can easily recall the times when I got comments that were hurtful and where strangers personally attacked me for what I said here. To be sure, these comments were never from regular blog visitors. They have always been from people that dropped in to tell me I suck and then never made a reappearance. One of them commented when I was only five days postpartum. I was sleep-deprived, hormonal, and already thinking that I was a horrible human being for not loving motherhood. The commentor didn’t like it when I wrote in one of my pregnancy posts that babies who wear glasses are really cute and that I hope my baby has poor eyesight like me so she could wear glasses. I thought it was an obvious joke, but the commentor certainly didn’t think so because she wrote that she felt sorry for my baby for having me as a mom. I can spot a troll a mile away and she wasn’t one; while most trolls strive to protect their anonymity, this person was a blogger herself who I could track down simply by clicking her Gravatar image which linked to her own URL and email. Would she have said those things if she had known what a horrible day I was having? Was she just shooting her mouth off because she could? Ten months later, I’m sure she probably doesn’t remember what she said, but I certainly do.

I want to take responsibility, though. I could have just as easily gone down to a store and purchased a blank book to write in, but I have chosen to record my thoughts in an online format and then made them available for everyone to read. I have opened the comments. So have many other bloggers, vloggers, tweeters, and Facebook users. We are allowed to say pretty much whatever we want on our blogs, so can we really be all that angry or surprised when someone uses their voice to condemn the quality and substance of our words? I often wonder if I gave up the right to be offended the moment I started blogging.

This is not just an issue of online etiquette, although that does play a part in it. Since I started blogging, it has been my personal policy to not comment elsewhere if I’m incapable of saying anything civil. No one has ever seen a snide comment regarding something they posted on Facebook and said, “Wow, what a valid point. Please tell me more about how stupid I am so that I can change.” I’ve disagreed with things I’ve read, but if I don’t know the blogger, I’m not going to rip the person to shreds. If I do know the blogger and have a constructive relationship with them, then I will respectfully explain why I disagree. The other day I saw a tweet that was meant to be humorous where the tweeter admired a 12-year-old girl who told a boy of the same age to “suck her d*ck”. I came close to asking her how that was remotely funny, but instead I just unfollowed. Obviously, I am not her audience. I love a good joke but that one was not for me. No commentary needed.

But the ubiquitous “unfollow” and “unfriend” sometimes doesn’t pack that whollup. I am a blogger, and I want to be heard. I want to tell people why I disagree or disapprove of what they’re saying. I want to be snide. Kindly backing into the shadows does little to no good when you read something that incites violence or promotes negligence and ignorance. I often wonder, if I really cared about the world I write about, wouldn’t I want to defend it when others pollute it with hate? Wouldn’t I use my words to stand up to these people, rather than just unfollow them? What about the times when they don’t necessarily say something inflammatory but something that’s just dumb? Should I just close the window and walk away?

I will never close the comments to my blog. (And I promise that that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I wouldn’t even know how if I wanted to. That’s a joke for those of you who were wondering if I was even going to make even a lame attempt at humor today.) I value the opinions of the people I regularly converse with here too much to ever let the meanies or the ill-informed spoil this blogging experience for me. But I do often wonder whether I really did waive my right to be offended the instant I started writing here.

What do you think? By making ourselves “vulnerable” in the Digital Age, are we basically saying we can deal with whatever the people behind those screens throw at us?


  1. Le Clown · · Reply

    This is a great topic! I have thought about this one myself… Trolls will be trolls. It’s simplistic, but the Interwebs will host a fair share of content trashers… The less we give them, the more power they will have. I know some bloggers that will denounce trolls, by either posting their IP address, or putting them on a public blacklist. To me, it’s already too much exposure… When I do have trolls—A Clown on Fire—will get its fair share, I will most of the time moderate the comment by not publishing it (if it’s simply hateful). If it’s a comment that offers a different perspective, and lacks tact, I will publish it, and gladly enter a banter, even when it’s a less than friendly banter.

    What I have chosen as a reader, on the other hand, is to read what I want, and avoid commenting, at least, when I can. I personally have little self-restraint and when I read an idiotic post that just frankly insults social issues I care about… And sometimes, I just have to write something. But I’ve realized by doing so, especially with immature posts about topic X that there is no point in exchanging as most of the time, an idiotic post is the product of an idiot, and my best course of action, as a reader, is to simply walk away and read better posts like yours, for example…
    And… End.

    1. Le Clown · · Reply

      *The less we give them, the less power they will have.
      *I shouldn’t write either on pain killers. I’ve made myself lawl reading my comment. The core of what I want to say is there, but dude, here’s a prime example of why one should proof-read a comment before clicking on “Post Comment”…

    2. Eric,
      Thank you so much for weighing in. There is a lot of truth behind the statement “trolls will be trolls”, not only on the Internet but in real life as well. There’s not a lot of good in trying to reason with insanity, especially when that insanity is so polarizing that the general population recognizes it as such.

      On another note completely, I ran across this today and I thought you’d appreciate it:

      1. this is definitely true. i recently got nasty/insulting emails from a troll. i replied the 1st and 2nd emails but when i sensed this person wouldn’t back down with a 3rd email reply, i stopped feeding the drama as the bulk of the content included statements about how unqualified i was as a travel journalist because of my weak writing style and insinuating that i should stop my blog altogether for the sake of maintaining integrity about the country i was writing about. they also subtly threatened to make it known publicly how bad/inaccurate my blog was and i was fuming but i took a deep breaths before realising how this game was being played. they already had their opinions formed and they were not going to budge. besides the effort to reply such emails is draining and is a waste of one’s time and energy. i decided i had better things to do than cave into the demands of a frustrated internet user.

        1. I am so sorry you had to deal with that. Totally agree that it is an incredible waste to court such harsh, unwavering negativity. Kudos to you for taking the higher road and just cutting off contact. I think we could all learn a lesson in that kind of restraint.

  2. One day I hope to be as popular as you, to the point where people say nasty things about me on my blog. With my current level of readership, I’m still in the stage where I’d just be all “That wasn’t a very nice thing to say, Mom. See you at Thanksgiving?” and she’d just say back “You still totally suck get a life loser bring dessert.” It’ll be nice to have non-family trolls.

    1. I know what you mean, but let me assure you that family trolls almost hurt worse because they can call you up and give you an earful on the phone about something you wrote they didn’t like. I speak from experience :/

      1. I’m with ya. That’s why I’m looking forward to the anonymous trolls. I wouldn’t feel bad about telling them to perform physically impossible feats of human anatomy, and it wouldn’t make holiday dinners nearly as awkward.

        1. Hahaha! That is hilarious. Trust me, trolls will come out regardless of popularity. I got called a baby killer once for writing a post about the importance of organizations like Planned Parenthood, and that was back when almost no one read my blog!

          1. Maybe that’s my problem—I don’t write anything that people get pissed about. I’ll remedy this by tomorrow. YOU’VE ALL BEEN PUT ON WARNING! SHIT’S BOUT TO GET REAL!

    2. I swear, I laughed out loud on that.

      1. Addie, you’re responsible for about 62.3% of my self esteem, I swear.

        All figures are approximate.

  3. “Since I started blogging, it has been my personal policy to not comment elsewhere if I’m incapable of saying anything civil”

    So THAT’S why you never comment on my blog. Good to know.

    Seriously, if I have a differing opinion on a subject I try to broach it respectfully and civilly. I don’t want to come across as a jerk and making inflammatory remarks only incites anger and hatred. In short, nothing constructive comes from it. But sometimes people are so sensitive that they can’t handle even the slightest bit of criticism, respectful or no. I normally just walk away at that point, but I can honestly admit that I have not run into that problem but once or twice since I started blogging. I find that if you’re respectful the author of that post will be respectful in kind.

    Great post, Emily. It’s very thought. provoking. And to answer your question, I think that if you’re going to post something that anyone with an internet connection can read, you should be prepared for someone to disagree with it. After all, we’re all unique and have different views and opinions on, well, everything.

    1. Le Clown · · Reply

      “I think that if you’re going to post something that anyone with an internet connection can read, you should be prepared for someone to disagree with it”…
      I wholeheartedly agree with that statement… The same applies for idiots… They too have access to the internet….If only they could be more entertaining when being clueless… Sigh.
      Le Clown

      1. Yes, idiots surround us. But on the bright side, we can laugh at them and they’ll never know why.

    2. Thanks, TD. I too have been really fortunate to encounter a blogging community that is largely well-spoken and understand the nuances of what is respectful and what isn’t. I think it comes down to tailoring what I say to the blogger I’m conversing with. For instance, there’s a tone I adopt when I’m commenting on Eric’s blog (when he’s posting as Le Clown) that I would likely never use when I’m commenting on, say, a mommy blog. I’ve wondered in the past if doing so runs counter to “branding” myself – since commenting is pretty much the best way to get publicity – but in the end, I think everyone knows it’s me.

      1. I tailor my comments, as well. For instance, if I let Blunt Life Coach™ loose on your blog I likely would never have been sainted. It is about exposure, but it’s also about respect. If you treat that blogger with respect, they’ll treat you that way in kind. Most of the time, anyhow.

        I’m glad to have found your blog. You are a very talented writer, Emily.

  4. I think speaking out against people who just make inflammatory comments is definitely appropriate. Comedians do it all the time and often their shows are better for it. I love it when someone has something to say and the person on stage or in blog decides to step out and confront them in a way that isn’t malicious and when cleverly done enhances the show. I saw one such comment on the Ginger Fight Back blog in their Ginger Life section. The operator of the site didn’t retaliate, but cleverly responded in a way that wasn’t malicious and no one heard from the heckler again. Link is here…

    1. Wow, I LOVE the way he responded to that guy! That shows some true Internet savvy to just let the idiocy speak for itself. I really doubt I would have had as much control and level-headedness if I got something so derogatory. I would have been either really really angry or just a crying mess. Kudos to Mr. Ginger!

  5. Slings and arrows come with the territory these days. Period. I’ve taken more than a few hits on my Amazon page and blog, believe me…
    Great post and topic, Emily!

    1. Thanks, Hook! You are a shining example of the positivity than can be found online if you know where to look.

  6. Ems, I’m lying in bed can’t sleep, but just had to comment bc this is so so so good. I have toyed w writing from my own pov on this….something like ‘how to comment.’ Regardless, what u have done here is so insightful and so spot on. I have a personal policy – in life and in blogging. And it is, ‘never draw first blood.’ So if I am commenting, I do the same as u, if I have nothing nice to say, I don’t say it. Yet, ppl constantly tell me off or my blog or tell me what they think of me or a post, not nicely either. When that happens, I think of it this way – my blog is my kingdom and I am its queen. I put that much effort into it, so I feel that’s rt. I would not let someone come into my hse and insult me and my family, so its not going to happen in my kingdom. Read, on my blog. On Twitter, its even worse. For the most part, the interactions are grt and my followers have risen rather quickly, but there are also ppl who have said horrible things. As a result, the ‘block’ button is my friend and I will block like crazy. Again my theory is, I have worked hard on that platform and if Ure an ahole I don’t want u tarnishing my space. I have also unfriended, unfollowed, and stopped reading. I do that if the person is too unspammy, too obnoxious, too offensive, or the relationship becomes too exhausting. The one thing I did in the beginning is I had some ppl say to me, ‘ can u erase my last comment, I don’t like how I came off…’ And I did that for them. But, now I feel like, if u chose to leave a shitty or overly snarky comment, the world should see it. Other ppl should know who u really are… Anyway, grt post !

    1. I agree with you on leaving the meanness up. John Scalzi has a policy on his blog where if someone says something crude, snide, or ignorant in the comments, he will not take them down if they later regret what they said and request him to delete them. His explanation is that he puts a lot of thought into his posts and stands behind every word he says – he VALUES his language – and if you cannot do the same then you are not entitled take-backsies. I love this policy because it promotes the idea that the Internet can be a credible place. I came of age in the heyday of the Internet and I was always told that you cannot believe anything you read here and that people will say anything online just because it’s so easy to publish their words and have an audience. I was always told that this place is basically the Wild West. Influential bloggers like Scalzi take us to task and make us more accountable.

      1. i’m so going to follow him. and i’m going to tweet out your post too because i think it’s a really great one. i think you bring up some really great points in this response. 1. it is the wild west, in some ways…BUT, 2. that also means that the tide CAN be turned towards good and “authenticity” and “civility.” however, that DOES take bloggers standing up for what’s right and having a “policy” in place for how to deal with these things. it sounds like you’re developing yours and in my book, that’s a very good thing. xoxo, sm

  7. I can certainly be an instigator in both real life and on the internet. But simply writing something like “This sucks” and leaving accomplishes nothing.

    And yeah, unfortunately, by putting your words out there in a public setting means that you’re likely to hear from the public. And you might not always like what the public has to say.

    My advice: Let the compliments warm your heart, and examine the critcisms. Are they in any way valid? Even if the person didn’t express the criticism well, there might be a nugget of truth in the unpleasantness.

    1. That is some really good advice. I think there is a grain of truth in all the less-than-flattering comments that come in that are not meant to be trollish. If anything, responding to the ones with truth behind them gives me a good lesson in tact and accountability. It makes me learn to weigh my words more diligently. Thanks, Cutter!

      1. I’ve also found that after interacting with people, they start to react differently. It’s like when people just see something written, they don’t automatically associate the writing with a human author.

  8. Emily Lucille · · Reply

    This blog post sucked.

    1. I love you, OG.

      1. Emily Lucille · · Reply

        And I, you, my dear :)

  9. If I get a comment from some hater, I just unapprove it. I don’t get that many. If the comment is real criticism and helpful or dissenting, I leave it as it is the writer’s opinion and they have a right to it. My blog is pretty tame and boring (I think) and I write just to write and am just happy that people drop by and like it. If they comment, I’m over the moon, usually.

    1. Comments in general are the best, aren’t they? The first one I EVER got, I wanted to ask the person to be my best friend.

  10. A nice thoughtful piece to start out my day.
    I think once we open the door by putting anything publicly accessible on line, we have to be ready for all sorts of mayhem, whether on our own sites, or in response to comments we’ve left elsewhere.
    What’s been said above is absolutely true.
    The internet gives everyone the same voice. The fact that everyone gets to use that voice is both a boon and a curse, and there have been couple of online frays I’ve gotten involved in (to my shame).

    Personally, I like what you do, and hope you continue on fearlessly.

    1. Oh, I will. And if anything, if I ever get trolly comments again, I will just put a picture of C up where she’s being super cute and the troll will have no other option but to feel bad. As you can see, I have no shame.

      Thanks, Guap!

      1. I can’t believe you would use a picture of your innocent daughter to make someone who obviously has issues feel bad like that!


        1. And next I will be using LOLcats pictures for evil. EVIL!

  11. Sometimes there are wolves (idiots) in sheep’s clothing. It’s hard to tell sometimes what a person’s intent is — people can misread, misinterpret, and be so off the intended mark that they make any comment seem inflammatory. I consider myself to be a good, kind and decent person. I always give everyone the benefit of the doubt, assuming the noblest of intentions on everyone’s part, and I try to tread lightly. When someone misinterprets what I have written (I’m not always very eloquent or articulate) I always assume responsibility – there has only been one occasion that I felt completely blindsided, abused and misunderstood. If it’s a stranger then you can chalk it up to the fact that they don’t know you. If it’s someone you thought was a friend, it’s rather brutal.
    Life is short. I decided that I only have room in my life right now for emotionally intelligent, lovely, uplifting, evolved and enlightened people, or at least people headed in that direction. :)
    I started blogging on a whim, encouraged by Lily. I thought it would be a fun and light hearted activity. I had no idea that I would make such dear friends – people that I would drop anything for, jump on a plane and show up at their door if they needed me. Unlike most people, I prefer a small circle, I don’t care about readership, or stats, etc. although I am pleased when something I write impacts someone’s life in a profound way. That just boggles my mind. Wow!

    It’s hard for me to imagine anyone misinterpreting your words, Emily. You are, without a doubt, one of the very best writers that I’ve encountered on wordpress – maybe there’s just barely a fist full (from what I’ve seen) of gifted people. You’re one of them.
    I think the walking away approach is the best way to go. To each his own. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. I think wordpress is a place that we have to be slightly discerning with regard to what we choose to read and ingest. As you so beautifully illustrated, words have energy and power – we don’t need to invite people into our lives that will cause us to feel bad about ourselves when we’re trying so hard to do the right things, to be good, and sometimes to just survive.

    Great post, per usual. Sorry my comment runneth over. Oops!
    Big hugs and love,

    1. Thanks, Lisa! You are a tremendous encouragement to me and I’m glad that even though there are people out there who have misinterpreted what I’ve said, you at least realize there is no malice in my jokes and that I try not to speak out of ignorance on topics I really have no clue about. It can definitely be hard to sometimes interact on the blogosphere, especially since we can’t all talk face-to-face. But like you, I’d prefer to have a small group of readers who I can interact with regularly than please the masses. I don’t know how Dooce does it ;)

  12. Emily,
    This is a great topic. I think that social moires should hold on the blogosphere just as they should in other aspects of life. But the available anonymity of the internet creates a space where people somehow feel shielded in order to behave badly – kind of like road rage. People will do things behind the wheel of a car that they’d never do in other public places.

    I’ve only encountered one troll – I guess I avoid controversial subjects on my blog – but after this person returned repeatedly to pick apart the comments of several of my followers, I asked him to refrain. After one final post of his preaching, he left. I went on his blog to check him out and the only post he had done in six months was a repost of his comments on my blog – very strange.

    I agree with Eric, moderation is the best approach and perhaps a willingness not to take anything personally, especially from trolls. Engaging with such people is what they want – and I think it’s best to walk away. If they can’t pick a fight, they’ll move on.

    1. Wow, that is really crazy that that person trolled you in such a bizarre way! Talk about fixation!

      I like how you compared leaving negative comments to road rage; that’s often how I think of it too. Most people are capable of both if they don’t keep themselves in check. I’m really glad that online anonymity is becoming a thing of the past, though, since many of the major publications are requiring people to use their emails and real names when they comment. When people are held accountable for what they say, they put a bit more thought in their words. Thanks for commenting, Cathy!

  13. Great post, Emily! I haven’t had many trolls yet, but I figure the more success someone has, the more likely it is their writing will be picked apart. I wonder this all the time too, “…if I gave up the right to be offended the moment I started blogging.” To some extent, my answer has always been yes, but I’ve never understood the mentality of the hateful commenter or people who go online looking for a fight.

    1. I don’t get it either. After I’ve cooled off from being angry that they said such hateful things, I usually write off their anger as a product of a bad day they’re having. Since they are clearly frustrated, they took it out on the first thing they read, which just happened to be my blog.

  14. It’s hard not to strike back if a troll-y comment (or even something that just pushes your buttons that way) really gets you on an off day. I don’t always have that filter – fortunately, there’s a “trash” button and I can go back and delete both my comments and those of trolls. Sometimes that’s the best way to handle it. Acknowledging pot-stirrers just encourages them.

    The Intertron (love that!) makes us more visible to, and therefore vulnerable to, attacks from people who are mean-spirited or think very differently from us. It’s a tough lesson for most of us because it’s a different sort of vulnerability than we experience in everyday relationships. You can often see it coming in the “real world” in a way that lets you sort of prepare for the blow, even if it’s the same nasty comment on a blog just totally sideswipes you.

    Anyway, my $0.04 of rambling for the day. Unless you’re Canadian, in which case I guess it’s five cents now? :)

    1. “You can often see it coming in the ‘real world’ in a way that lets you sort of prepare for the blow, even if it’s the same nasty comment on a blog just totally sideswipes you.” So very, very true. My experience has been that whenever one of my posts was really popular (ie, Freshly Pressed), the likelihood of the hatemail goes up about 100 times. You never know when you’re going to strike a chord with something you write, so you can’t really predict when the hailstorm will start.

  15. Great post ~ and I think most people have articulated what I would have said. The comments I’ve gotten were 99% positive (I think it’s because I’m not writing about anything earth shattering – they are mostly personal stories) but the one critical comment I got just left me with lead in my stomach and lots of self doubt about my abilities. Then others read the comment and just wailed on the commentator. I eventually just got over it and realized that my style is my style and people can read or not. I’m putting myself out here and have to be prepared for whatever people want to say ~ I write as I write; no more, no less. I have an extremely thin skin and it’s tough to deal with. I’m trying to thicken it – but as you know, one troll can take you down despite 100 wonderful people that lift you up.

    Now when I’m reading – if I don’t like your point of view (not you specifically, but you in general) then I don’t finish reading or I just don’t comment. But it will depend. If someone invites my reaction -I might comment; but I would never write to someone what I think would be hurtful for me to read if someone had written it to me.
    We all know that there are people that just like being cruel – that’s the way of humans – luckily there are more excellent people out there than jerks. At least I hope….

    1. I certainly hope so too. One thing we’re all really lucky about is that we’re part of such a great, uplifting blogging community where our creativity and individuality is fostered. We are all well-aware that there are real people behind the screens and that we need to be as kind and civil as we would be if we met them in person. When I first started blogging, I always assumed the worst of people and figured that if I expressed any type of opinion, the trolls would come after me. And, granted, they have on occasion, but the voices of people like you drown them out. Thanks, Denise ;D

  16. I’m constantly amazed by how kindness and human dignity are thrown by the wayside when people comment anonymously online. It’s like the cloak of anonymity somehow allows them to say anything they please. Then again, I’m equally surprised by the number of positive and supportive commenters out there, so I try to focus on them.

    That comment that woman made about you (feeling sorry for your baby) was cruel and senseless. I’ve only had one mean-spirited comment on my blog, and that was directed to another commenter, so I deleted it. No one gets to diss my lovely commenters!

    1. Carrie,
      That is why you are one of the most beloved blogger on WordPress… Well, you are to me.
      Le Clown

      1. Well, thank you! Nice of you to say. I hope your back is getting better. The curse of us bipeds…

    2. It’s people like you, Carrie. that make this blogosphere so enjoyable and civil. I’m really lucky to be able to call you a friend. (I am also really lucky to soon be yet another person who will give your book a glowing review on Amazon. I’m about halfway through and it’s fantastic.)

      1. Thank you, Emily! So nice of you to say on all counts. I’m glad you’re enjoying the book, and I really needed to hear that because I just got my first nasty review (I’m posting about it on Monday). But don’t read the bad review until you’ve finished the book, because he gave away all the plot twists!

        Thank you again. The support you and other bloggers have given my book is an honored treat indeed. :)

  17. I very much “heart” you right now, in so many ways. I don’t have time to write everything I think about this at the moment. Heck I might get brave and send you an e mail chalk full of praise and lub.

    I so wish I wasn’t swamped @ work so I could give you my undivided attention.

    Hopefully more on this later.

    I have a serious case of “mom brain” and this thought might fall into the “abyss” in my head.

    In the meantime I am sending you LOADS of cosmic awesomesauce.


    1. Well, I ALWAYS invite emails that praise me ;D Feel free to drop me a line anytime at Thank you so much and I’m glad I struck a chord with you with this post! Oh and PS, I am totally afflicted with Mom Brain too.

      1. A HA! I nominated you for an award!!!

  18. I think you offended us all here who aren’t your favorite magical popular blog. That was nasty of you to do.

    Anyway, I go by the same policy you do. I mean occasionally on places like Yahoo articles I’ll troll and say something snide but it’s only ever about the celebrities featured in the articles or how poorly written the professional article happened to be. I actually once bought a free copy of someone’s Amazon book just because I don’t like them so I could give it a bad review. I didn’t though because there’s this thing called the Golden Rule and I try to follow it. Instead I know she sucks and I convinced myself it’s better off if more people who are friends with her are forced to read her awful book. She named the main guy Howard and it’s a romance. What???

    I only had negative comments once, maybe twice on my blog. It’s always about stupid things too. I think once you build up a following and they see gravatar images and comments from so many people more people are likely to stay away because they’re not sure how this blogger’s minions work. Others like the one you saw are more ballsy. I think though it can be helpful for other blog friends to stick up and attack the annoying commenter. Not a full force or anything but if one or two others chime in then it lets the negative comment-leaving see this blogger does have friends who will stick up for them. People who leave negative stuff like that online usually don’t have very many people reading their stuff anyway and they’ll end up feeling worse.

    Basically what I’m saying is I’m ready to kick some ass any time ya need me to.

    1. From my experience, what you’re saying is true. When I was Freshly Pressed, one of the really nasty comments was from some frustrated blogger who was angry that my post was featured and his wasn’t. He went off on ME because WordPress arbitrarily chose my post that wasn’t up to his standards. There’s logic for you. At the end he was like “I know that WordPress chose your post and you didn’t force them to FP it, but still I think your blog post is emblematic of the declining quality of WordPress. You probably won’t even publish my comment out of cowardice.” LOL.

      I like the idea of us all being each others’ minions, like we can round up a posse when one of us gets picked on by an outsider. Isn’t that how society is supposed to work in general anyway? If we do ever get to round up a posse, can I get to be the one who holds the torch? You can have the pitchfork.

      1. Hells yeah!

        ::smacks my pitchfork into your torch in a very Shaun of the Dead way::

  19. After reading Red’s Friday Follies for a while (, I came to understand that there are simply lots of people out there who spread negativity wherever they go — because the are negativity — whether in restaurants, retail stores, or blogs. Half the people who leave dumb comments on Red’s blog clearly haven’t read/understood what she’s written, and therefore, the comments are invalid by nature. She does a great job with funny, intelligent responses!
    I usually base my decision whether to comment or not comment on not just on what I might say, but on whether it will be heard. If there is no chance it will be “heard,” in an open and non-threatening way, I won’t waste my time, no matter how strongly I feel about the subject. Great post!

    1. I know exactly the series that you’re talking about! I love how Red completely declaws those mean comments in her posts. She is never mean-spirited and always tactful. She is pretty awesome in a lot of ways, that being one of them.

  20. Being offended is always a choice. Most of the time I notice nasty comments are the kneejerk variety, so it’s easy to take solace in their (typical) lack of intelligence. Not that it’s a big problem for yours truly, whose blog seems to leave his readership largely speechless ;)
    This is my typical sort of commenter:
    “Stop using your harsh bathroom tissue. Buy premoistened wipes or pads instead. Do you use garlic at home?”

    1. LSB,
      Stop using your harsh bathroom tissue. Buy premoistened wipes or pads instead. Do you use garlic at home?
      Le Clown

      1. Dude, I don’t even have a functional anus.

        1. ^Why I <3 you.

    2. Well, do you? Inquiring minds want to know if you use garlic at home or if you just limit your usage to when you’re on the road ;D TMZ LSB

  21. Wow amazing post and insight Em! Sometimes I think people like to hide behind their screens and tell people how wrong they are. They like to shut people down, play the devil’s advocate, and make people feel uncomfortable. I wrote a blog about my opinion on things once, knowing it would upset people. I remember you being one of the few who didn’t say awful things to me. I feel like some people can stand to hear other opinions. Some people also don’t know when someone is making a joke (something I can’t stand). Some people feel the need to correct you on every point that you make. And for some reason, all of these types hang out in the blogosphere.

    I definitely think there’s a blogging etiquette. Why are people’s first responses to be mean?

    1. can’t stand to hear* not CAN ooops..

      1. I hate it when people don’t realize you’re joking! Or when they completely don’t get sarcasm. I wrote a post a few months back that got picked up by BlogHer. It was about strangers coming up and touching my baby all the time, and how I didn’t like it because she might get HERPES! I wrote it just like that, and I was totally kidding. Picking a disease that no one would actually give my baby just by touching her because it was extreme/funny. All of the sudden I’m getting comments from people saying they’re offended that I think everyone has Herpes, and why am I so obsessed with Herpes, and don’t I know you can’t get Herpes just from being touched…

        It was ridiculous.

        1. Omgggg I hate that. I hate when people feel like they have to teach you something. Oyyy. I feel your pain!

        2. I was just telling someone about that the other day! The best (and by “best” I mean the most “gotcha moment”) was when Sonia actually got a strain of herpes from a stranger. Haha it was not “the best” that she got herpes. *Inserts foot in mouth.*

    2. I HATE it when people can’t see that I’m making a joke, and I reject the idea that if no one can tell it’s a joke, then I failed at its execution. Um, no. My mom doesn’t think Louis CK is funny, but does that mean that he’s not? Absolutely not. It’s just not her brand of humor. It’s not Louis CK’s fault for not catering to my ultraconservative mom’s sense of humor.

  22. I do my best to play Switzerland, and stay neutral. If I can’t say something nice, I don’t say anything. It’s how I work in life, both in my 3D world and in the ‘Hood. In the old days, when I was a lurking commenter on a number of blogs, before I started blogging (after Lily suggested I do so), I watched friends fall out over comments. Problem is, you type in one voice and the comment is read in another. I’ve seen Person D stop commenting on Person B’s blog because Person B shares comments with Person K and Person D doesn’t like Person K. I’m now exhausted with trying to explain that clearly.

    So, I’ll wave my Swiss flag proudly, and play with the cute knife they gave me when I signed on to represent their ideas (minus the banks and stolen gold).

    1. Le Clown · · Reply

      Switzerland’s colours just became brighter by you wearing them. Kudos, Addie.
      Person LC

      1. Thank you. I’ll send you a Ricola. (You made me giggle)

    2. It’s funny (and by “funny” I mean unfortunate) how cliquey blogging can be sometimes. I know what you mean about the Person D/Person B situation. But I think you do an excellent job of being the Switzerland equivalent of bloggers, Addie. Things are uncomplicated and straightforward with you, as they are with bloggers like Brigette, Carrie Rubin, and Jells. It’s a beautiful thing ;D

  23. I have to be honest, I’ve cried over things people have said to me, and everything I write is basically crap about being lame anyway. I genuinely needed someone to talk me back up into writing again when it happened. So, I know what you mean. Like Addie, I try to stay neutral. I know putting things out there makes us vulnerable and I’d like the same respect that I give. Great topic!

    1. I’ve cried too. And I’ve had a knot in my stomach over things trolls have said to not only me directly but to bloggers I think highly of and regard as friends. I never would have thought before I started blogging that I could get so emotionally connected with my words. Neutrality is key, I think, because since we don’t all really *know* each other IRL, we need to promote the positivity that we may not be experiencing in our real lives. Thanks, LaLa.

      1. Yeah! That makes me mad, but I feel a little bit less alone with the crying. People can be so cruel.

      2. I hate that someone made either of you cry. That’s just so wrong. The one time I had a public criticism (not on my blog, but on an article), I was really down. That is, until I tracked down who wrote it (even though they thought they were being fairly anonymous) and found that that is all they do, no matter what is written or by whom. Then, I was just like, “F**k ’em.”

        1. I’ve also noticed how some trollish bloggers only have negative things to say – no matter what they are responding too – to the extent that they appear to search for key words that they don’t like and then berate the writer regardless of the context those words were used in. Twitter is GREAT for them.

          1. Some people totally search for key words, it’s true. Great observation. Sending you a negative comment, though, that’s like kicking a puppy. There’s just no cause for it.

  24. It’s hard to guess how I would react to negative comments because I’ve never really gotten them (not on the blog) That’s probably due to the fact that I have like 3 readers (including Y-O-U). But I think that as bloggers we are taking responsibility for the words we are saying and therefore, as if we were having conversations in ‘real life’ have the right to defend ourselves however we see fit. If you get a comment that really sets you on edge and causes you to lash out, I guess that’s your right, but then do you paint a REAL negative image of yourself. It’s kind of like putting your foot in your mouth when you’re in any given awkward situation. If you respond and how you respond will mean something and reflect a little more about you as a person and a blogger. I’m probably falling over my own words but in the end, YES you have a right to say whatever the fluff you want on YOUR blog, YES you have a right to defend yourself if an angry comment sets you on edge, and YES you are responsible for what you say and how you make yourself look as a result of your rebuttal.

    1. Word. I TOTALLY agree! What you’re saying applies to the example I gave at the beginning of the post about the blogger essentially putting her foot in her mouth when people started criticizing how defensive she was getting. Is she allowed to defend herself on her blog? Absolutely. Is she allowed to say whatever she wants? Absolutely. But has my view of her changed? Yes and YES. I will still read her blog and giggle when she makes hilarious jokes, but I really can’t erase what she said to fellow readers from my mind.

  25. I have to admit, I have sometimes refrained from posting things out of fear about mean comments. Any time I approach something semi-controversial, I cringe a little bit when the “you’ve got comments” emails start rolling in because I’m just waiting for the day someone says, “Listen, you @#%%&$#, you #@%#$@%@# the @#$!@!!!!”

    Truth be told, it doesn’t bother me so much when it’s a stranger, but I worry about offending the people I “know” (bloggers I interact with regularly and whom i respect a great deal). I think it’s mostly because I dislike conflict, but as I write more (and age more), I’m learning how to respectfully disagree and how to just keep my mouth shut when I need to. I’m also learning how to write in a way that doesn’t sound sanctimonious, which I think I struggled with when I was younger and thought everything was black and white.

    As for whether or not we waive our right to be offended? I don’t know. Does a filmmaker invite people to tell him he sucks when he makes a film? Does a novelist invite people to tell them their book is crap? I think artists, writers, and anyone putting media out for consumption invites discussion, and even people who disagree with them or for whom their work isn’t a homerun, but I don’t think you invite a complete lack of human decency just by putting yourself out there. That seems to be a generational/internet phenomenon. It’s cool to rip people to shreds any time it makes you feel more special and important, and that’s sad.

    Told you this post would generate great discussion! Look at you go!

    1. runningonsober · · Reply

      Outstanding comment– I agree!

    2. “I don’t think you invite a complete lack of human decency just by putting yourself out there.” WORD. People will always be mean and thoughtless, but that doesn’t mean that we should except it as a norm. I’ve had my moments when I write people off as jerks and a-wads who will never change their tactless, narrow-minded ways, but I am regularly pleasantly surprised when I see individuals change. There is some good in the world, and we shouldn’t hold back our thoughts simply because we’re afraid of the meanness.

      Thanks for reading over this ahead of time, Ashley. As per the usual, you are the best.

  26. I stopped blogging for a lot of reasons. But one such reason is the backlash I experienced over what seemed to be “controversial” subjects I broached not long ago. In one I addressed anti-Semitism growing in much of the Western World, and in another I talked about my experiences as a woman with a child, living in the Bible Belt, who doesn’t wear a wedding ring. The latter was featured on BlogHer, and out of the wood work came people who took offense at my post, which was not written to offend or call out anyone…other than assholes who judged single mothers, or those who appear to be single mothers. After sitting back for several days, watching the comments pile up telling me that I needed “therapy” for my “daughter’s sake”, I finally snapped. I snapped at a commentor who accused me of being insecure about my finances (although she has no idea how much money we make) and that insecurity being my only reason for writing the post. She then went on to humblebrag about her name brand purses and her luxury vehicle. It was sickening. And I snapped. MY comment was then removed by BlogHer editors and I was basically blacklisted by BlogHer. And for what?? Because I was vulnerable and after being repeatedly attacked I went on the defense. In the wake of this event, and the nasty one over the Anti-Semitism post, certain bloggers (YES, bloggers. NOT trolls.) Google bombed my real life name and a slew of profanity and insults. Today, if you google my name, I’m saddened to say that neither my artwork, nor my writing appears first. This is so damaging for me. As you well know I’m working very hard toward being a children’s author/illustrator, but the words of these other bloggers have tarnished me more than I truly have deserved, and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s disappointing and it’s sickening. And I try to tell myself that these must just be very unhappy people and their lives must suck, but it doesn’t take away the damage they’ve done to my name and reputation. In all this I learned my lesson. The internet is a wasteland, filled with vultures and jackals. And more often than not, being vulnerable leads to more trouble than it’s worth. Even now I’m terrified to click publish and I don’t even know which name I want to use here. People are cruel. And permanent damage CAN be done through the internet.

    1. Wow!! I didn’t know you got blacklisted by BlogHer. What in the world?? I can vouch first hand that some of the commenters over there get…extreme. It gets really hard to not just want to continually defend yourself. I haven’t written over there in a while.

      Don’t be scared out of using your talents just because there are mean-spirited people in the world. You have a strong, passionate voice, and that’s going to illicit strong, passionate responses from people, which is scary, but hiding doesn’t serve you. Also, don’t let the big internet brands get the best of you. There’s success that comes from kissing all the asses you’re supposed to kiss, and then there’s success from being genuine and having a real voice. The latter is the better option, even though it’s harder and takes longer.

      1. Yep. My response wasn’t even that bad. I didn’t cuss or anything. I simply said her comment was ignorant and off topic…passionately. Either way, the different editors I’d “come to know” because of my features suddenly unfollowed me and stopped talking to me. Then they stopped responding to my emails about unrelated things. The message was pretty clear.

        I’ve decided it’s best just to use my talents in positive ways. Writing for children feels authentic and purposeful for me. I think in some ways I’m really glad for the experience with BlogHer (and I’ve since found I am not the only one who this has happened to). Because of it I took a hard look at my goals and aspirations. I stopped blogging, and started WRITING. It’s been a wonderful transition for me. I hate that it happened this way, and I hope it doesn’t have to happen to others, but that’s the internet for you. It’s unpredictable, at best.

    2. I was totally unaware that all that went down. I am so, so sorry that you had a bad experience over there. Female bloggers can be incredibly mean. When I was doing my research for this post, a lot of the information I found was about how female bloggers were attacked on the Internet by women who didn’t know them from Adam. It is a terrible shame when we can’t even get along.

      I find it hard to say this without sounding totally patronizing, but I think you know what I mean when I say that I am really, REALLY proud of you for going forth with your children’s book. You know that I adore you and think you have one of the most powerful voices I’ve encountered here. If you ever chose to return to blogging, the network of people I interact with on WordPress would love to include you as one of our own. xoxo

  27. runningonsober · · Reply

    One of my favorite posts ever, Emily. I don’t think blogging in any way condones rudeness or meanness or implies we have to tolerate it. We all have our own reasons for blogging, but I think negative comments are an exception and not a rule.

    I’ve un-followed a few blogs too because of the blogger, and I haven’t said anything or made a big deal about it; they just pushed some of my buttons that I don’t want pushed. No biggie. Not everyone is going to click with everyone else, not even two nice, well-mannered people.

    Great thought-provoking post!

    1. Thank you so much, Christy! To be honest, I’ve struggled with unfollowing blogs that I just didn’t jive with, especially when they didn’t have a lot of followers and my absence may actually be noticed. But in the end, you just have to cut ties with things you aren’t getting any positive feeling from. Just as we are free to write whatever we want, we are also free to read whatever we want.

  28. Great topic, Emily. I can’t imagine ever saying something insulting to someone. But if I felt it was a topic that I felt was worth defending, I would want to state my case politely and respectfully. I think people have forgotten how to do that sometimes. I don’t think we should run from conflict, but if people are being creeps we don’t have to listen to them. I like that we can discriminate and not publish a comment. Hopefully, that gives the blogger a little control of the conversation.

    1. So true that it’s hard to stay polite, especially when the commentor comes out swinging. As with most things in life, it’s difficult to take the high road when someone is unduly assaulting you. Plus the stakes are higher in blogging because EVERYONE who reads your reaction is going to form an opinion of you based on it. But at least IMO, you stay in control when you don’t lose it.

      1. That’s true, Emily. Everyone is always aware and watching on the blogosphere, or at least they could be! Good point.

      2. That’s true, Emily. Everyone is always aware and watching on the blogosphere, or at least they could be! Good point.

  29. My husband used to work for a newspaper and part of his job was to field comments on its website. You can imagine the nastiness. He also got the nasty phone calls. People aren’t afraid to offend other people when anonymity is involved. If people don’t agree with what I say, no they don’t have to like it, but as I tell my kids, they still need to be respectful. And really, you have to remember that some people just don’t have a sense of humor at all. ;)

    1. That is SO true! Some people seriously can’t take a joke, and it totally defeats the purpose of the joke if you have to explain to them why exactly it’s funny. You’re husband must have some really thick skin. I am personally totally ill-suited to being yelled at all day by people who have no filter. I think I’d lose a lot of faith in the world if I had to field those types of comments as part of my job. Luckily, though, some of the major publications are now requiring commentors to use their real names. Hopefully that will weed out the trolls!

  30. I think that by blogging publicly, I have accepted the risk that my writing could be torn to shreds by idiots (and maybe even some educated people on a power trip). (notice I didn’t say that *I* could be torn to shreds – because y’all don’t know me. All anyone is doing on here who hasn’t met me in person is judging me based on my writing and my gravatar.) However, I don’t think this means that I signed up to get harassed, verbally abused, or insulted. No one deserves that, and that includes me.

    1. That is such a wise observation, that we as people are NOT our blogs. I mean, they may do a really good job of painting a picture of who we are, but at the end of the day (and god how I hate that phrase but you know what I mean) we are real people who are far more complex than the words we say could possibly indicate. As a therapist, you definitely know that :)

      1. I know all the things.

  31. This is so great. I think I’ve had one “bad” comment that I decided to just delete. (It said something like “Well, you’re an idiot because you’re Mormon”) Any other “arguments” I’ve had, and I’ve had a few, have come from a couple of people that I personally know, and have for many years. I see myself as a “fence walker” of sorts. I have a distinct stance on many subjects, but I try to look at both sides when I write about them. I almost ALWAYS get a positive response when I do this…except from these two guys (one’s a family member actually) I chalk this up to them assuming that since we are old acquaintances they feel they are allowed to say whatever they want. It usually doesn’t bother me, except when they shoot me an e-mail apologizing for their behavior on MY site. I don’t understand how it’s alright to call me out and act so condescending and arrogant…in front of EVERYBODY, but when it’s time to say I’m “sorry”…that’s done in private.

    I personally don’t feel that I’ve waived my right to be offended. It’s just what I do that makes the difference. I’ve only posted a comment on one blog where I disagreed with what they had to say. I still disagree, but I’ve decided that it’s better to stay quiet. I have also sent an e-mail to one blogger voicing my criticism. If I remember right I was fairly rude, but privately. I haven’t heard much out of them since, so I guess that worked. I’ve also edited the language on my blog comments before too. I do my best to not use bad words on my site, so I would prefer if others didn’t too. I don’t change the word….just add the symbol thingy – you know…where the F-word turns into F*ck, or something like that. I guess I don’t consider that as me being offended by language, cause I’m really not (I used to talk horribly back in the drinking days) I just don’t want a certain group of my readers to have to see that. I think I’m just rambling now. Anyway, awesome post. Good work.

    1. One of the best things about WordPress (and other blog sites too? I wouldn’t know because I’ve only used WordPress) is that we can moderate the comments. I am with you on censorship, even though in this case that word seems oppressive when it’s really not, when used sparingly. I don’t think I’ve ever used r-rated words here, partly because they’re not a major part of my personal vocabulary but mostly because I don’t feel comfortable using them because C may read the blog someday. I’ve set a tone for this blog, and I want it to be something that an eight-year-old can read along with her mom or dad (kid has good taste) and not have to be confronted with harsh language. That’s just me. Thanks, BroJo!

  32. “No one has ever seen a snide comment regarding something they posted on Facebook and said, ‘Wow, what a valid point. Please tell me more about how stupid I am so that I can change.'”

    That. Well said.

    When I first started blogging, someone commented that my husband was going to leave me and I didn’t deserve my children. I was totally taken aback. I don’t really react much to those anymore except to think “Wow.” I do moderate those comments most of the time, though. I don’t need to see them. People may feel they have the right to say whatever they want, but it’s just as much my right to remove them if I like.

    I have only closed comments on one post that I can remember. My most visited/commented post. People lost focus and missed the update that clarified some things, and I wanted them to read the other post before commenting. I don’t regret it. It’s a useful tool. I don’t follow blogs that routinely keep comments closed, though. I love conversation.

    1. I don’t really get it either when bloggers close the comments. There was one post I read a long time ago that discussed the infamous reaction of the Berkeley university police to Occupy protesters there. And the comments were closed! I guess the reasoning behind it was that people were so inflamed over the incident that it would be hard to be objective when discussing it, but it was kind of a shame because I feel overall that the WordPress crowd is a smart one where people think through their replies before they post them. Maybe I’m naive.

      I’m sorry you had to deal with that comment about your family. Honestly, what are these people thinking?!

  33. I go into any blogpost I write under the assumption that I suck and everything I put out is going to be complete drivel.

    That way any criticism I get just reaffirms me, and any positive feedback I get is gravy.



    1. You must have nearly fallen out of your chair when you saw that your post got Freshly Pressed then! It was pretty much the opposite of drivel. I’m not entirely what exactly the opposite of drivel would be, but likely it would be fat-free bacon-wrapped iPads. I don’t even know what I mean.

      1. I just laughed. The fallout from being FP’d is just silly. To go from 100 hits on a good day to 3,500 in 24 hours is just comical. Now I suddenly have hundreds of followers… all for a stupid blog about superheroes and Star Wars figures.

        Madness. Laugh-inducing madness.

        1. Dude, you are telling me. When I got FP’d I think the post itself got “liked” 400+ times. I was like, “Really, Internet? Are you sure? Go take your meds and see if you still like me.”

          1. So far 685 likes on my post… and counting

            1. That’s amazing! :D And very well-deserved, I might add.

  34. Ahahahaha! I had to laugh because I had to scroll down so far past the innumerable comments that the margins turned black — you’ve sparked quite a conversation there with this topic!

    I suspect that people who make nasty or aggressive comments are probably really passive during face to face interactions. I haven’t — knock on wood — had any yet on my blog, but I did get some nasty comments for something I said in response to a Huffington Post article online — stupid me! This one person said something so mean that I responded with just what I said up there — I told them that they were so ‘badass’ online but that I suspect they let people run all over them in their day to day interactions — I didn’t hear anything after that. It’s silly to initiate a cyber comment war, kind of punk-ass, I think personally. I think I’d rather invite the person for a nice debate over tea. :)

    1. You are way braver than me for leaving a comment on a major media website. One time I just suggested a myth on the Mythbusters message boards and I couldn’t believe the amount of negative feedback it got from one person in particular. Seriously! It was just a stupid message board and someone decided to get angry at me and tell me I was stupid! I like to chalk it up to this person not getting hugged enough as a kid. Like you said, it’s usually a personal issue with these people and they just take it out on us, unexpectant denizens of the Intertron.

  35. Emily, this is a great post — as you can see by the astute and sincere comments. I don’t have much more to add to what’s been said. I just wanted to thank you for bringing this topic out and for your comment that we blog for ourselves and to share ourselves. We are not paid, and we are not here to persuade anyone to do anything (at least I don’t think so). People who blog are generally sharing their stories, their lives, and themselves. A little respect and tact, even if we don’t agree, goes a long, long way. Whatever happened to common courtesy and some general niceties even if we are hiding behind a screen?

    1. Amen! I love you for saying this (a lot more succinctly than I did, I might add!) We are all just here for ourselves. I’m not trying to convert anyone to a certain mindset (except, maybe, to never eat raisins because I think they’re evil, obvs). I just want to talk. We ALL want to talk. I just want C to have something to look at someday and know how loved she was when she was tiny. And for her to understand the sacrifices I made for her when changing her raisin diapers. All the rest – the comments people leave, the friends I’ve made – are happy consequences. ;D

  36. What a thoughtful post. Many people have commented a lot of things that I agree with. I think the democratic nature of the internet simultaneously exposes best and worst of humanity. But whatever it is, I am glad to be a part of it. While it’s a bit of a frontier attitude in here sometimes, I think the onus is on us to impose civility.

    Putting my thoughts out there is validating and having people challenge me helps me clarify my position on things. The best part of the internet for me is the comments section. As much crap as there is to wade through sometimes, sometimes there’s things that are so right on it makes me do a fist pump. Plus, it’s fun to try and win the internet occasionally, if only to prove to no one other than myself that I am smarter than the really terrible people who comment on news sites. I’ve been party to the odd a good solid internet fight, and I have realized that no one wins in the end; it’s a waste of time and energy just like Farmville and only entrenches everyone further.

    When things are really, truly negative though I consider that like a big angry beast. If you don’t feed it, it doesn’t live.

    1. I did that proverbial fistpump when I read your comment just now. Amen amen amen. No one wins when there’s a big fight on the Internet. Do people think that by putting up ill-informed diatribes in the comments of Yahoo, they are actually going to convert anyone? I think not, much as I doubt that seeing people playing Farmville will ever convince me to try it myself. Thanks, RG.

  37. Really awesome post, lady. I’ve received pretty harsh comments before and I choose not to respond. I know my response will sound angry or rude and that attitude won’t fix anything or calm an already worked up reader. I guess I think more along the lines of I have to be open to receiving the bad comments because I’m writing in a public place, but also people should chill out and be respectful if they choose to visit my little writing place.

    1. Thanks, Tori! I can’t imagine someone leaving mean comments on your blog, since you are a bright spot. But maybe that’s telling: when some people read about the lives of well-adjusted, discerning people, their first reaction is to attack them. Delete delete delete ;D

  38. I don’t know. I think it’s really no different than real-life encounters. Sure, people are less prone to be offensive and confrontational in person rather than anonymously (even when you can find their blog, they’re still just a virtual person to you), but really people who have no tact are going to pick apart your words, feelings, and actions no matter the format. I guess that’s where the “turn the other cheek” stuff comes in for a lot of people, or the “punch right back” for others. I’d say, it’s your blog, your facebook account, your tweet. If you want to defend it, by all means do so. If you want to be upset about someone smearing it, go for bad. If you want to unapprove the comment or simply ignore it, that’s all you. Trolls will be trolls whenever and wherever they choose to be, but that only needs to make you feel vulnerable if you are somewhat undecided on the subject you’re speaking of. If someone’s calling you a walrus, but you know for a fact that you’re not one, what’s wrong with them saying what they say?

    1. “but that only needs to make you feel vulnerable if you are somewhat undecided on the subject you’re speaking of.” WORD. I have thought the same thing so.many.times, mostly because my own insecurities are really tied up in my writing. I am soooooo not sure of a lot of things, and even if I am, I doubt my ability to defend my stances fluently. Plus, I don’t really have the time or the energy to wage a war with a stranger about (for instance) my decision to stop breastfeeding before the end of the first year, and that’s why I chose not to blog about things I am not willing to tirelessly defend in the comments.

  39. I apologize for my super-lateness. It’s been a week of craziness I am attempting to dig myself out from under. With varying levels of success.

    I think we, yes, open ourselves up for critique/trolls/flaming asshats, if we have open comments. But we also are allowed to deal with the trolls as we see fit. If the comments are insanely offensive (I had a couple that just should never, ever see the light of day) I delete them. If they’re just asinine – well, I usually mock them. I’m a grand old mocker, me. If they’re personal and mean and attempting to attack me, I usually – USUALLY – attempted to retaliate with being a grownup. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes. And then I can sleep at night, because I was the bigger person in the encounter.

    I’m lucky, though – I don’t get many trolls. I’m happy about that. I think the length of my posts scares ’em off. Trolls don’t like to read. It’s dark under them thar bridges. :)

    1. That’s ok. There ain’t no party like a comment party ‘cuz a comment party never closes. And THAT’S why my rap career will never be successful.

      I wish I could mock people more tactfully. I am pretty much the person who comes up with a witty reply about two weeks after the mean or dumb one was made. As of yet, my replies are usually along the lines of, “Oh really? You’re mom goes to college.” I am really cool.

  40. It’s an internet thing. Today a British man (24 yrs old) has been charged with threatening to kill by making a posting on facebum that he would kill 200 American children. This caused schools in one American state to close for a day.

    Now there’s no way he would do that before the internet – he wouldn’t have written a letter and posted it to anyone with such a threat.

    I can’t imagine being rude to anyone on their person blog site.

    1. WOW. I hadn’t heard about that threat. It really demonstrates what kind of creeps hang around the Internet.

  41. […] Playing Nice in the Blogosphere ( […]

  42. […] Playing Nice in the Blogosphere ( […]

  43. Reading everyone’s experiences nearly frightened me out of the blogosphere! One tongue can produce as much good as evil. Thanks, to you, and your readers for posting such critical points. As the Proverb goes, in the end, people appreciate truth.

    1. That is indeed the truth. I am humbled by the incredible conversation this has started. I am very blessed to be surrounded by such smart people in my corner of the blogosphere.

  44. Reblogged this on I'd Rather Be In Iceland and commented:
    I’ve never reblogged a post before, but this topic is one I have been wanting to address for a while. What we write is for the public and everyone is entitled to their opinions, but how does it feel when someone starts telling you what you should write on your blog? Or when you see your ideas being copied without credit? For most of us our blogs are meant to be just a bit of fun, but ironically they feel very personal despite being out there in the public domain, which is why I think things can get heated sometimes. Anyway, Emily has written about this far more eloquently than I could and has had some really insightful comments on the subject.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one, whether you’re a blogger or not.

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog, Eva! ;D

  45. jimmydevious · · Reply

    Now I get my magic talking stick turn?? After everybody ELSE has held it and gotten their cooties all over it? Greaaaaat. :P lol

    But seriously, I think if one is going to put their thoughts on a public blog they should be prepared, if not EXPECT that anybody could say anything about anything you write.

    Having said that though, you should be able to say whatever you like as well, or to delete comments on your blog that you feel don’t contribute to the “vibe” you’re going for in your blog.

    All this stuff is very subjective. One person’s “hate speech” weird speech, asinine or bad joke, maybe someone else’s edgy and brilliant.

    The one thing I think should be a paramount principle for everybody is to avoid censorship…of anyone.

    Open conversaion is what makes a free society a free society, and I think sometimes people are too quick to confuse the “politically incorrect” or just plan silly and stupid with hate…we’ve got to be careful with that kind of stuff!

    Deep stuff!:)

  46. […] The Waiting wrote a wonderful post on interweb interactions the other day and I’ve been wanting to throw my hat into the discussion ring for some time.  I think there’s a lot to say on the subject.  Yet, it’s also amazing how often basic etiquette gets ignored or even worse still when common sense is totally turned on its head. […]

  47. I hate to say this, but I think when you put yourself out there in a public way, you have to expect that people will attack you. Is it right? Absolutely not. Should you accept that this is a natural part of the process? If you want to survive you should.

    The internet has given voiceless people a platform to finally assert some power in their lives; unfortunately, that means people will troll. I also think it’s a place where unmasked people feel the freedom to be their truest selves, and that can be an ugly thing for some.

    I don’t like rude commenters, and I don’t like rude bloggers. There is a way to handle criticism in a funny, “Go F yourself” way, but when someone gets downright nasty and wages war, it just seems childish.

  48. […] credit where credit is due, I probably wouldn’t have written this post if I hadn’t read this one by The Waiting, and in turn these two by Sweet Mother and Harper […]

  49. This is such a great post Emily! I wholeheartedly agree with you that often, it’s unneccessary to comment. If their humor doesn’t agree with you, or you don’t necessarily join with their feelings, there’s no need to say anything. Just stop reading. It does get more tricky, as you say, when it comes to topics where people are being hateful and ignorant. But for those who make mean comments about how “boring” someone is, or what “drivel” a book is. It’s just so unnecessary!

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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