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10 Questions Blog Commenters Should But Don’t Ask

John Scalzi knows that you want to be a better commenter because, “You’re a fine upstanding human being, not some feculent jackass with a keyboard, an internet connection and a blistering sense of personal inferiority that is indistinguishable from common sociopathy.”

To help achieve your objective, he suggests asking yourself ten questions:

1. Do I actually have anything to say?

2. Is what I have to say actually on topic?

3. Does what I write actually stay on topic?

4. If I’m making an argument, do I actually know how to make an argument?

5. If I’m making assertions, can what I say be backed up by actual fact?

6. If I’m refuting an assertion made by others, can what I say be backed up by fact?

7. Am I approaching this subject like a thoughtful human being, or like a particularly stupid fan?

8. Am I being an asshole to others?

9. Do I want to have a conversation or do I want to win the thread?

10. Do I know when I’m done?

He fleshes each of those ten out quite nicely; I commend the piece to you in its entirety since, after all, you don’t want to be that guy.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Would you say that 47% of commenters are failing to live up to these standards?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  2. DRS says:

    I’d say they feel like they were entitled to comment. You can’t do anything for them, Michael.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  3. Dave A says:

    Obamas dream has come true I thought this was America I’ll say what I please you socialist
    Ayn Rand 2012

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Anderson says:

    11. Is this at least kinda funny?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  5. PJ says:

    1. No
    2. Maybe?
    3. Maybe?
    4. Circular?
    5. Anecdotes?
    6. Anecdotes?
    7. …..
    8. Obviously
    9. FTW
    10. Goto 1

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. David M says:

    @Anderson:

    11. Is this at least kinda funny?

    That’s an alternative if you’re failing the first 10 questions…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. Anderson says:

    @David M: Right you are!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Rob in CT says:

    Scalzi is excellent.

    And I suspect even the best of us occasionally fail to meet those criteria (#8 springs to mind…). They are still good to keep in mind.

    Of course, on Scalzi’s blog, people are subject to the Mallet of Loving Correction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. I have a policy against meta-commenting ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. rodney dill says:

    One of the funniest posts/comment sets of all time.
    I think Michael Reynolds and Anderson tie for the win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. rodney dill says:

    @john personna: I thought you never meta-comment you didn’t like…..

    responding to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  12. @Anderson:

    The Rule of Funny applies double to blog comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Ben Wolf says:

    If I answer “no” to all of the above, does that mean I win something for consistency?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Andre Kenji says:

    11-) Are writing properly, since you are writing in a language that is not your native tongue?

    12-) Are you using foreign examples that most of fellow commenters have no idea about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. @Andre Kenji:

    Just so you know, I love 78% of your comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. mattb says:

    @rodney dill:

    @john personna: I thought you never meta-comment you didn’t like…..

    Give this man a badump-chah and close the thread!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    1. Do I actually have anything to say?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. john personna says:

    @mattb: FWIW, one of Rodney’s +1′s is mine

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. ASK says:

    But What Does Hitler Think About the Secret Video?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @rodney dill:

    I thought you never meta-comment you didn’t like…..

    Public: Call for Dill to be permanently banned for bringing the lowest form of humor into this blog.

    Private: Curse myself for not thinking of it first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. LightsOut says:

    ::yawn::

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. rodney dill says:

    @MarkedMan: My exact thoughts when someone beats me to a pun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. ASK says:

    From Twitter:

    Jeff Greenfield ‏@greenfield64
    Q. for my fellow journos: is it common to see 2,500 comments–but after the first two, none of them have a thing to do with what you wrote?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Bob2 says:

    Scalzi needs to modify “blog commenters” to include initial blog posts

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0