Saturday, 24 September 2011

Beware the online commentator

If you’ve got a blog or have written for an online magazine/publication you’ll be well aware of the phenomenon that is trolling. Much has been said about these ‘people’ and their nefarious pastime but far less about their younger and less famous sibling the online commentator.

I’ve written several pieces for online publication now so feel able to detail some of the categories that I’ve identified, think of it as a labour of love. Don’t be put off from commenting just look out for these identified groups it’ll do wonders for your blood pressure. Nik xx

The genuine commentator.
This is becoming an increasingly rare find in my experience. People who have read and enjoyed the piece or who don’t agree but offer balanced argument who feel motivated to go through the sign up process and who offer insights or experiences which broaden the below line debate . These people are my favourite people because they are motivated by the passion they feel for the topic at hand.
debate score =10

The Jealous commentator
There is a very high rejection rate for submission to online publications like The Guardian. Therefore some people who have pitched and been refused will target the work of those who haven’t with pointless argument about how the piece is wrong, misguided, lacking in cohesive thought or reasoning or other cheap shots.
Disappointingly frequent and easily identified as their comments are lengthy and include all the stats and facts they would have included in their own piece if only the world wasn’t deliberately conspiring to prevent them winning a pulitzer. They will often attack the genuine commentator for complimenting the author.
debate score =1

The lazy commentator
These people are interesting. What they lack in motivation they make up for in bitterness. It takes time to write or pitch a piece and a strong nerve to face rejection especially if your piece includes detailed research or is on a topic which means a great deal to you personally. The lazy commentator will also write at length and will include carefully worded barbed criticism of the author, a technique which they have honed over time to prevent their comment being moderated if too overtly abusive. They know what they mean, you know what they mean the moderator knows what they mean but the comment stays.
debate score =5

The expert commentator
These people are hilarious. They will have a pet peeve or all consuming passion. They will have been applauded at some point for being the authority on a particular issue and they will have extensive knowledge or a perception that they do which gives them the absolute human right to dictate who gets to comment on this issue. They do not deal in nuanced debate. If you are not on their mental list of approved writers they will take you down in the comments. They also fall into the Jealous commentator section however their blinkered view is much more damaging as it is completely counter –productive to the issue at hand. They remain doggedly untroubled by this notion however as their ego has been pricked and their objectivity shattered.
debate score =0

The agenda commentator
These charmers are the elite of commentators. They are well trained, fully prepared and calmly, expediently get the job done. They usually feature on issues which may have an impact on the public mood. They are in short politically driven. They can masquerade as you or I and will en arrive en masse at a topic which they deem to be “hot”. They usually target left wing sites and will thoroughly dilute balanced debate by causing side issue arguments. They also drip drip drip the sense out of a piece and any debate it prompts, with articulate pseudo complimentary but covertly patronising right wing bias. They chase off genuine commentators and quash perceived dissent.
debate score =0

The disappointed commentator
These people usually surface on pieces written about public figures. They are very driven because the object of their approbation was formerly the object of their affection. The public figure under debate may be a politician, singer, actor, or writer but they will all have one thing in common. They will have revealed something about themselves which has drawn disappointment. This revelation might be career choice or a marriage or an affair. They may be speaking honestly perhaps for the first time about their sexual orientation, addiction or lack of religious belief or a renewed faith. To some fans the disappointment is enormous. They imbue their celebrities with mythical powers. They project their own thoughts and feelings and belief systems onto the celebrity and when that public figure “fails” the unknown test, the disappointed commentator vents online.
debate score =4

The pedantic commentator
My second favourite after the genuine commentator as they are usually very sweet and equally determined.It's not what you write it's the way that you write it. You may be many things in your writing none of which matters more to the pedant than an inability to spell, punctuate or use grammar correctly.
debate score =0

The bored commentator
These people couldn’t give a toss about the issue under discussion. They don’t fall into the category of troll but do fit the time waster category. They will snipe and snark and belittle their way through a piece about disability as easily as they will rubbish valid points about relationships. They can be articulate but are usually fond of making puns at the expense of the issue discussed. They are usually stoned, bored hipsters who snipe and move on quickly.
debate score =0


  1. Who dares to comment on this now? Eek, what am I?
    Actually it's interesting that you've written this because I've read a few of your pieces recently and then read some of the comments and couldn't help wondering how you manage to not allow the negative, boorish commenting get to you or put you off? I'm not sure I could stay polite and not get incensed with some of those people. And now I know - reduce them to the pitiful stereotypes that they are. Nice one, very good, I like it.

  2. Thank you bluehook you are in my favourite category a genuine commentator. All love and thank you. Nik xx

  3. From my experience, the best way to beat trolls is to ignore them entirely. Usually, a piece like this would be like catnip to them, or whatever the troll equivalent would be (a billy goat, presumably).

    Anyway, I find you blog very interesting, so hopefully the trolls will steer clear.

  4. I'd add the dogmatic commentator. They often start with "Sorry, but..." and will allege that their opinions are facts. Often, they'll say "End of" in particular when their comment is one of the first on what is a discussion section.