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Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Blog Roundup

Can I ask you a question?

Why do you leave the comments open on your posts (if you do this sort of thing)? I'll share my reason. There are actually two reasons. First and foremost, I think of blogs as a skewed conversation just as I see therapy as a skewed conversation. One person does the bulkload of the talking, but it's still a conversation. Therapy without the other person is sort of like audio journaling. I mean, it's helpful to talk it out, even if you're only talking to the wall, but there is a reason people pay to speak to a live person or choose to call their friends for a vent rather than aiming their words at a sofa cushion. I think the questions other people ask or their commentary on your words brings you to a different level of understanding. So, that conversation is important.

I also leave the comments open on my blog because I often ask questions (as I am doing now) and would honestly like an answer. I'm the sort who likes the book club because I don't like to read in a vacuum. I like to talk about ideas that I've read--when I asked about robot sex and how it will affect the acceptance of treatments, I wasn't posing this hypothetically. I truly wanted to know what you thought about what I thought about when I was watching the Colbert Report. And one of the reasons why I started the Roundup over a year ago...more like a year and a half that I read these cool things and I wanted to talk about them. And I wanted to hear what you thought about them. So it's really cool when I return to a post (and feel free to do this on any of the posts below) and there are more comments and I get to read more opinions.

Here is my second question because I actually had a second one too.

Why do you leave comments? We all know why we don't leave comments--nothing to say, strapped for time, it's read more blogs or leave more comments and people choose to read more rather than write more. But when you do leave a comment, why do you do it? Again, I'll share my reasons. I do it because I want the person to know that their words weren't spoken into a vacuum. Because I have a question to ask. Because I think of an analogy or something that might (or might not) help them see their own words in a new way. Because I have an answer to their question. Because I want them to know that someone out there cares about them. Because I want them to know that they made me think, laugh, or cry.

I have been thinking about the comments section this week due to three separate incidents that appeared on three separate blogs, including my own. And several off-blog conversations I have had with people who were either directly attacked or read the attacks and were affected because they were either hurt by the words too or because they were upset with how another person was treated. And this is the thing, if I knew how to do it, I would rename my section a reaction section. Because, for me, that is what that box is meant to house. A reaction to the post. It isn't there as a space to cut-and-paste spam, though some spammers use it that way. It isn't a space to write about something completely off-topic, though some people use it that way. It is simply there as a pause in the conversation, where the other person can slip in their thoughts as a response to your own.

In this vein, is the reaction box owned by the readers or the person who owns the blog? On one hand, the reaction box is a space for the reader, therefore, it would follow that it would be like a freelance article. You give the magazine permission to print your own thoughts and house it on their pages, but the thoughts are still your own. On the other hand, each blogger owns their own blog and that includes every inch of space including what they choose to do with their sidebar, header, or font size.

I want to open this to debate, but I should probably clarify two things. I believe this space is my own in order to do as I choose and I view your space as your own. If I don't like you space, I probably won't visit and I hope that if you don't like my space, you won't spend time here either. Having people visit who don't really want to be here is sort of like the houseguest from hell. No one is really happy in that equation and life is too short to have people reading things that they get nothing from. Therefore, if you don't like my writing, I hope you don't come back. And if you do like my writing overall, but I have an off-post, I hope you stop reading it immediately (think of it like returning a library book that you didn't enjoy. No harm, no foul. Clicking on a blog should carry the same level of commitment) but come back on another day. And if you like my writing or I say things that resonate with you, I hope you stick around and keep reading and let me know that you're here so I can know about your blog if I do not already know about it.

So, that said, you may feel like something is appropriate to say, but if I don't think it's appropriate to say, it won't remain on my blog. I refuse to have name-calling take place on my blog. That's where I put my foot down. Disagreement, definitely. Disagreeableness, not so much. And it's a fine line. But, at the end of the day, it's up to me to decide what remains here. It's up to you to decide if you visit here. And if you want to call me names or someone else names, you can, but I've just outlined what will happen. And if you're not happy with this, I'm sorry. That said, my mind is never set entirely, and if someone were to make a strong argument for why they do keep each and every comment on their blog including the ones that call other commentors names, I would be open to changing my mind. But I do believe everyone needs to own their words and stand by their words when they say them. And to think before they hit publish--both on their blog and in the reaction box.

So, all of those questions posed, I would really like to focus on the blogs below. Because these posts rock. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on them in their reaction box.

JJ at Reproductive Jeans had an angry, raw post that literally pulsates in the wake of her negative. I loved this post because it is honest and brave and the words literally made me want to pick up a plate and hurl it against the wall. It's an amazing feat when a post can be cathartic for the reader as I'm sure it was (or I hope it was) for the writer. I'm incredibly grateful that she would share this piece of her heart because as you read down the comments, you realize how many people felt less alone after reading it.

MsPrufrock at BarrenAlbion had a follow up post to her recent break-in that I read three times through and I still can't find the words to summarize the incredibleness of this post. Again, the rawness. Really, all I can do is nod my head in agreement and throw a hypothetical plate against the wall for the laptop taken. But since you can't see my nodding head, please click over and read both posts because they will make you think.

OmegaMom had a post about how we misconstrue words in the flatness of the Internet as well as an ethical situation about the words we put out there. Honestly, both of these posts made me thinking so hard that my head hurt (and that was after all of the head nodding had already taken place over at BarrenAlbion). I would love to hear your answers to her questions so go over and join the conversation.

Lastly, at Still Passing Open Windows, she writes about the concept of moving on. She explains that impulse to get "rid of everything that reminded me of him and our almost two years together" when she broke up with a boyfriend and how that same impulse is healing her broken heart again after the death of her daughter. Like some of the posts above, I think I was drawn to her words because they were so raw and powerful. And because you care and want to throw the hypothetical china against the wall for her in solidarity.

A long roundup today--sorry about that--I'm a bit disillusioned by some of the things I've seen written about other people this week. I am around, but I'm just taking a step back to observe for a moment.


xavier2001 said...

Just wanted to post and say that I'm still here. I don't leave as many comments anywhere anymore because I just don't have the time, but when something profoundly strikes me, I can't help but chime in. And I'm sorry that you and others have been attacked in the comments section recently, that just plain sucks.

lifefromhere said...

Just wanted to provide an initial reaction to your questions. My answers are quite similar to yours. Comments are not the place to start a debate. Differing points of view, of course, that's what makes us diverse unique individuals with the capacity to support each other. Sometimes it may be by helping someone see something in a new light or from a different perspective. But it's not a place to pick a fight, provoke, attack, or name-call.

My feeling is that if you can't support someone or offer some productive food for thought, just click away. It's that simple. No one has to justify anything to their readers. And no one should have to tolerate their comment space turning into a playground fight gone awry. Respect, civility, some common sense. That's all.

I guess some people never learned what they needed to know in kindergarten.

Lori said...

This salon has the best questions.

#1: Why open comments? Your answer is my answer (except yours is original).

#2: Why comment? To cheer, to cheer up, to empathize, to acknowledge, and sometimes, if I think I can, to help. I try to not hurt.

#3: Who owns the reaction box? Management reserves the right to refuse service to obnoxious people who subtract rather than add to the conversation, as deemed by me.

Your answer is articulated masterfully.

chicklet said...

I hate to say "ditto what lori said" but i'm saying it - she's smart...

dayzofrain said...

I keep my comments open to so that if someone has something to say about what my POV is they can do so. Sometimes its enough for them to type it out and send---but that doesn't mean I am in any way obligated to approve the posting--which is rare that I don't. I do draw that line at pulling others into their statement--or if the post is in no way related to what I have stated.

I leave comments when what someone says I can relate to so they know they aren't alone. I comment to welcome new bloggers so they don't feel as if there is no one reading. I comment when someone needs support.

Duchess said...

My comments are open so I am not completely alone. I leave comments so others don't feel completely alone.

As for name calling, I think it hurts worse than sticks or stones.

Elizabeth said...

I try to read, write, and comment following the same principles of humanity, sociability, and courtesy I try to apply in face-to-face communication, only being more careful with word choice because this is a low-context medium.

But to whom does the reaction box "belong"? That's a much trickier question.

Elizabeth said...

...and I should add, I still think that at least on two occasions I probably said the wrong thing in a comment that annoyed and/or offended the blogger, just because I wasn't being fully mindful when I commented - I was reading too quickly and not thinking too hard about what I wrote. It does take time to *read mindfully,* to really think yourself into the post and what's going on emotionally and materially with the blogger. It's much easier to read quickly and then respond to what you *think* they were talking about, but you run the risk of being way off base.

Anyway, for my part I've never gotten a hurtful comment, but then I did go pwp recently a few months ago...

nutsinmay said...

Why open comments? Because my sofa cushion is a rotten friend, It just sits there. Even the odd 'there there' would be appreciated, but nada. Also, so that I don't sit shouting at the soft furnishings, feeling like I am the only freaking freak in the universe.

Why do I comment? Because I care, because the post moved or entertained or resonated with me, because I want to offer support or, at least, let people know I hear them, and they too are not shouting at the sofa.

Why do I spectacularly fail to comment? Because the sign-in process to add comments defeats me! (for all those bloggers who only take comments from people using the same blogware as them. and I am a clutz at working out how to sign up just in order to comment). More seriously, I have a horrible tendency to fall back into Teenage Me Mode - I was always the one hanging about on the edge of the Cool Gang, not daring to speak in case I got Looked At, or, much worse, Ignored. If I see that there are lots of comments already, I slink away, feeling no one could possibly want to hear my inanities as well. They've already got lots of cool friends. What could I possibly add?

Go on, tell me to my face this is pathetic. I won't mind. I'll nod.

As to who owns the reactions box, well, the blogger. As much as I am totally all about Free Speech, I am also Properly Brought Up and the place for Free Speech is the soap box on the corner of Hyde Park, and not someone's parlour. Just becasue a person decided to open up their parlour to passers-by and serve tea, doesn't mean they don't have the right to be treated with respect in their own space. You wouldn't insult or fight with the cafe owner or other customers, you don't insult or fight in reaction boxes. I think I would let people disagree with me quite happily, but name-calling and damning statements of 'you're wrong!', I would not allow. It's my damn' parlour.

Natalie said...

I state now and then on my blog how my blog is my journal. It is, for the most part, a one-sided conversation. I write not FOR the commentors... I don't write only when I feel witty or have something I feel needs to be said. I write for myself.

But at the same time, like you said, I leave the comments open because... it's nice to be heard. It's nice to be validated, it's nice to know people out there care. That, like you said, I'm not talking into a vacuum. I get something from that.

I comment to let others know I'm there. I don't do it near often enough, but I really try. If something strikes me in some way, I try to leave a comment, even just to say, "I feel the same way." I want to touch the people who have touched my life through my blog, and I feel guilty that I'm not able to do it near enough.

Oh, and I will absolutely delete comments from my blog if I feel they are disrespectful. Sometimes it's hard to make that judgement, though... I leave myself open to critique.... are they being too judgemental in a disrespectful way, or am I being too sensitive. It can be hard to separate it out sometimes.

andrea_jennine said...

#1 - I leave comments open because I need encouragement, or I have questions that I want answered, or I want to know how people react to what I write, or I just want to know who is out there reading along.

#2 - I comment because of many of the same reasons - I want to encourage someone, I might have an answer to their questions, I was provoked to react by what was written, or I just want to let the writer know that I'm there reading.

#3 - In practice, I treat the comments on my blog as if the space belongs to me. I use the comment moderation feature so that I can screen out any inappropriate comments (although I've only had to do that once or twice for spam). Comments are public, and I feel a responsibility to maintain that public space appropriately. It's not so much about me - after all, I see the comments whether they are published or not. It's trying to be considerate of others, to discern and weed out the comments that might be harmful in the small public space I've created on my blog.

andrea_jennine said...

Oh, P.S. I wonder if you actually could change the "name" of your comments section to "reactions" in the settings for comments on Blogger. It seems like I've seen blogs with creative names for their comment section...

andrea_jennine said...

One more time! I looked around a bit, and you can rename the comments section by going into your template, clicking edit on the blog posts bog, and then replacing "comments" with whatever word(s) you choose. Hope that helps!

DEMummie said...

Hey Mel. I leave comments on, but do use the "moderation" feature. It really isn't a big deal, since my blog gets very few comments. BUT, like you, I won't tolerate any name calling etc. Readers are welcome to disagree with me and provide alternative points of view, but down right venemous responses will be deleted.

I guess I missed the attacks that were in your comments. I am sorry that has taken place. I have always tried to ascribe to the principles "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all." and "Better to be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt".
Keep doing what you are doing Mel, you are a valuable resource to this community. And let me know if you need more Aero bars!


The Dunn Family said...

I leave my comments open because I'm curious to what people think, or if anyone is even out there reading. 8-)

I comment on other blogs if I feel like I have something to add to the conversation, or if that blogger just needs a hug, some support, or a congrats.

I do not comment on a lot of blogs that I would like to, because I am fearful that they may not be in a place to click on my link and see pics of my kids. And since my blog is very "kid oriented" I do find myself shying away from commenting on a lot of blogs. I recently wrote a post about that.

As for the comments, I own 'em. I have them open so people can say whatever they want, but if it was in any way rude or derogatory, they would be deleted. I also have seen that on a few other blogs recently and was very disturbed and offended by it. It was lovely to see all the wonderful bloggers in blogland step up to the plate and "yell" at the anon commentor. We must support each other, and that was a full show of it.

I'm all for a good debate. So if someone had a discenting opinion I would be ok with that. It's just that "mean for the sake of creating controversary" that I'm not a big fan of.

That being said, I would leave that post up in the comments. And then write a big "F U" post to the commentor, cause I'm just like that.

Elizabeth said...

Ok, here's a corollary question, prompted by the synergy of this post plus #66 on the CDLC (Twisted Ovaries, "Choosing Toppings").

What is the social responsibility of the blogger towards readers? In one sense, "technically," none. Reading a blog is a completely voluntary activity, so one could assume that the only responsibility the blogger has is to herself. And yet a sense of responsibility emerges, in part I think because of the reciprocity involved in commenting. It's like a virtual gift (well, not the rude/insulting ones), and according to classic anthropological theory, reciprocity in gift-giving is the fundamental social bond that unites society. Maybe this is one reason that the negative comments come across as such a slap in the face - it's like giving someone a present and they respond by flinging mud at you. But that perspective suggests that a blog post is also a "gift," which implies a social bond, which does imply responsibility of the giver (blogger) to the receiver (reader and potential commenter).

Most of us in the IF blogosphere preface certain posts with warnings: "children mentioned, pg mentioned," (as you have blogged about before) as a way of being gentle with readers who are in an emotionally vulnerable place. And then there's the whole realm of "survivor's guilt" verbal mechanisms (you know what I'm talking about) that also, I think, come out of a sense of social responsibility for the feelings of readers. What makes these courtesies feel necessary?

Thinking about posting and commenting along principles of reciprocity and exchange goes some distance for me in thinking about these issues, esepcially when taking into consideration the possibility that the medium of the internet sometimes has the effect of disrupting the hold that general social norms have on people, because it's still such a relatively new mode of communication.

So this turned into more of a "thought experiment" than I anticipated ... sorry if its too academic. (Note apology accompanying the "gift" - in case it's the wrong size or color!) :-)

Elizabeth said...

Reading through the comments here I had another thought couple thoughts about the moderating of comments:
1) who owns the comments? If they are gifts given to the blogger, then the blogger does, and she can do whatever she wants with them - like delete them (analogous to giving to Goodwill or hanging in the back of the attic closet)- see Nuts in May and the Dunn family's comments.
2) why moderate your comments? There seems to be a sense of generalized social responsibility (see Andrea Jennine's note) towards other readers. I find this very interesting - that the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and words through blogging has such a powerful effect of virtual community.

Four comments on one post - have I fulfilled my social responsibility here yet? :-)

Cali said...

I loooooooooove comments.

In two years I have only closed comments once. That was for a particularly angry post about becoming unpregnant and if I read one more "sorry" or "time will heal" I would have LOST IT. Thankfully people got that- they knew that I needed to vent and purge.

But for all other posts I adore getting feedback. I write for myself some of the time, to hear myself think. But most of the time I use the comments as a conversation substitute. Being homebound by my caregiving job I don't get a lot of interaction with like minded people. Getting a comment is like getting a voicemail from a friend. Most days I try to respond via e-mail to every comment left just to acknowledge.

Since I value getting comments so much I tend to leave LOTS of them. basically if I read your post I will let you know. Even if there are 4 million comments before mine, I feel compelled to wave and give some indication of 'I hear you'.

I mean really, that is what comments are about. Someone is sharing out into the void that is the internet. If I am listening in I feel obliged to let them know.

Now I can't comment on EVERY post. And there are some posts that I have to click away from swiftly. Sadly those include posts with belly shots, ultrasound photos, new Moms talking about how fricking awesome it is to be a get the idea.

I do not think that the comment section is a place for agendas or cruelty. If someone posts a comment on my blog that is an attack of one of my readers that comment gets removed with an e-mail explaining why. If someone leaves a comment that is hurtful on another blog I read I will let the owner of the blog know and let them act according to their own notions.

sheesh- was this a long ass comment or what?!

(sending a weekend hello!)

p.s. why did you turn off some of your comment identities? it is only allowing comments from people with blogger, wordpress or livejournal, but if you have your own domain it doesn't like you today...wah!

The Town Criers said...

Elizabeth, you're too funny :-)

I agree with you--I think there is also a responsibility on the blogger's end and I think of it as the same type of responsibility that exists in any friendship. Having a friendship is a privilege, it's not a right. So in that regard, I think if we have partaken in the friendship, we owe a few things.

I think when two people stop being friends, they owe each other an explanation. The other person may not like the explanation, but at least they know a reason. And with this analogy, I am talking about a close friendship with constant communication, not an acquaintance or a peripheral friend. And I'm not talking about life getting in the way and phone calls not returned due to time constraints, etc. I'm talking about an obvious falling out where a support system is removed and the person receives no explanation. In those cases, I think the person removing the support and friendship is in the wrong. I think they owe an explanation (they don't have to stay, but they have to say why) to the other person because they benefited from the relationship and took what they needed.

So, on that end, it wouldn't be right for a person to pull their blog entirely off the Internet without at least an explanation. A blog and the writing is yours to do with as you please and I'm not saying not to pull a blog off the Internet, but to give an explanation. Some people may not like the explanation, but at least they have one. And then I think the social contract is fulfilled. Those who were invested in reading the words and invested enough to comment are given their parting gift. And while they may not like walking away, I don't think there is a responsibility for a blogger to keep blogging simply because other people like to read it.

So, on that end, in the interested of holding up one end of the relationship, I also have a responsibility to be circumspect and not upset people. I can't know everyone who is reading so I can't help but offend someone along the way, but I can take responsibility for my words and stand by my words and do my best to aim for the general population. And, the other side of that is that if someone writes something that is upsetting you, stop reading it. I mean, I would expect that people who hate Jews are not hanging out at my blog, and if they are, well, that's like saying I don't like the taste of orange juice but I want to drink a big glass of orange juice so make it different. I make it quite clear in my header what you are going to get here--my hoohaahooterus, some Jewiness, some soap box spouting on sustainability, some stories about the twins. And I'm not offended if this isn't someone's cup of tea. But I would expect them to click away rather than staying around and asking me to change my blog to suit their wants/needs. There are a couple million (billion?) blogs out there. Surely there must be a few that actually match what the person wants rather than looking to make an existing blog something it is not.

Fertilize Me said...

i leave open comments because i like comments and feedback - this is the same reason i leave comments and to let people know you are "there" for them

but it always does leave room for open attacks that just hurt and are not greatly appreciated

good discussion

Denise said...

I leave comments open to get feedback on my thoughts because it keeps me sane. It keeps me from spiraling into negativity, answers my inane questions and lets me know I am not alone. I leave comments because I hope the blog owner will get the same benefit out of my comments that I get out of comments left on my blog (see above).

I think the reaction box belongs to the blog owner, but that the owners let the readers borrow it for short periods of time to provide feedback. Whether it's a simple I'm sorry, or a long explanation to a question the blog owner had, I believe the reactions are there to help, not hurt.

The rule for my comment section is simple and is one of the first lessons we all learn in life (after sharing and not picking your nose in public)-if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Personally, I use the moderation function to require blog owner approval before comments are posted on my blog. This is for two reasons: (1) To assert control over the one section of my blog that is not ENTIRELY mine, and (2) To protect the people who comment regularly and provide me with the support I need. They don't need to be harassed by uninvited guests in my house when all they have done is brought over a nice bottle of Cabernet.

I also want to just say that I read your posts religiously. I don't always comment because I like to read through other people's comments first and you always have so many comments, sometimes I don't have the time. I suppose I could ignore the other comments and just add my own, but that seems like going to a book club meeting and only listening to myself speak. What's the point? I also sometimes hesitate to comment because you write SO well and make so many good, thought-provoking points that I sometimes don't feel like I have the energy to leave a comment that would be worthy. :)

Almamay said...

Last year in one of my 2WWs I was being flamed and getting very hateful comments. I went invite only for a while to stop it because I didn't need that in my 2WW. It upset me a great deal but I have to accept that not everybody in the IF community is supportive and some people actually don't think you deserve to have your dreams come true. I leave my comments open because the things I've learned from other women has been invaluable. I thank you Mel from the bottom of my heart for all you've done to support us on our IF journeys. I have realised that this is not just a medical journey but one of the mind and soul as well.

Dianne/Flutter said...

I feel a little out of it. Sorry to hear that people have been misappropriately using the comments section and causing hurt.

Personally, I try not to leave a negative comment on someone else's blog. It is their space, and they have the right to write what they feel. And like you said, I usually click away if it is something I don't agree with.

When I post, it is for three reasons:

1. I feel as if I can provide some other insight or a bit of knowledge.

2. The post spoke to me and like in a conversation - I feel it necessary to provide my own experience so that the original writer knows that they are not alone.

3. The person has given me so much support, that I just can't walk away from words that make it obvious how a person is hurting or rejoicing.

Whatever drama occured, I hope it is over. And that those individuals who casted stones look closely at themselves. Learned a bit of empathy and compassion. If more people did this, there would be less harshness in the world.

hoping4baby said...

I am a new blogger so I mostly lurk right now. When I really connect with a post or feel I have something that may help, I leave a comment. However, I often feel reluctant b/c it is sometimes difficult to convey exactly what I am think and if it may not come out right then there are no point in commenting. I believe the "reaction box" belongs to the blog owner - he/she sets the rules and therefore if they do not like a post they should be able to erase it. It is awful if a blogger is attacked - however, what if that was not the intention of the commenter. I am sure this is obvious at times but what if the words just were not written in the right manner. Just something I would try to consider - however, I have never felt attacked in the reaction box or on any related boards. Is there a way to confront that person or is it not worth persuing?

Excellant post and important ideas for all bloggers to consider!!! Thanks for the wonderful read!

Vanessa said...

My answer to the comment section is straightforward.

I leave my comment section open, because I believe in freedom of speech, positive or negative. And I leave comments mainly for one reason, to encourage, in whatever way I can.

I think as bloggers we need to learn to not take everything so seriously. Its a lot like life, if someone says something I dont like, I just let it in one ear and out the other, and try not to let my feelings and ego get bruised in the process :)

SO with that said, happy commenting to all ;)

Aurelia said...

I'm sorry you got flamed a bit Mel.

In my case, I leave comments that are awful up if the person is a troll and needs a good ridiculing.

But many trolls get deleted simply because I don't feel like dealing with it.

That said, not everyone has to agree on a post and to be a good form of therapy, sometimes we have to get called on our assumptions. Most therapists nod and such, but if all they ever do is nod, what good is that?

I've tried to 'gently' challenge people on their assumptions about prenatal diagnosis and medical termination when it comes up. Most people work on prejudices and misinformation, so I feel like I need to let them know that it isn't what they think.

Sometimes people need to just go with the space they are in, but sometimes people do want advice or feedback, and a little hope, not just sunshine blown up their ass.

And others only want sunshine blown up their ass every single day. I tend not read them. I don't want to watch them fail, it's too sad.

Soooo, yes, we should be kind and supportive, but if someone is working on a completely inaccurate set of medical facts? And others will read it? I can't be totally silent. I do try to email people, but they don't always have an email, and comments are all I've got to use to communicate.

Take care Mel, you will get trolls yourself, but you have enough friends that hopefully it won't matter.

Melanie said...

I applaud what you're doing. You've created a community place for those of us who are traveling a similar road. Because the journey is hard enough on its own, and day to day life is rampant with insensitive comments, well meaning or not, your blog (all of our blogs actually) should be a place of support and productive comment.

Seriously, there are many forums where anger and venom are de rigour. Keep your home a cozy one, with the red wine flowing and the fire in the fireplace. Let the malcontents move to the other side of town. There's plenty of room there.

MLO said...

I leave comments open (except when I forget to change the book reviews, duh!) because I'm one who thrives on discussion and debate and would welcome controversy on my public blog - but I'm weird. Now, if I could just get more people to comment... Now, I won't allow spam or abuse. That is just not debate. That being said, on my own blog, and in some disucssions on bbs's I have been known to say something outrageous to start discussion because I'm genuinely interested in how people think about stuff. (There is one topic I am actively avoiding at the moment, and it is not IF related.)

Of course, I'm an old internet user - think Usenet News days. Trolls don't really bother me. Flame wars are to be expected in a place that I have made public in my mind.

Why do I not comment?

Sometimes I have nothing to say, and sometimes evilMLO is out in full force and that would just not be nice. evilMLO would say something really, really snide because someone got a good test result right after I got a bad one. I don't think that would be productive. Sometimes we are all a wee bit selfish, and that is just the way it is.

Who owns the comments area?

Ultimately, the person who acts as the publisher - but, that means that that person can be as loose or as strict as they want. I would choose to be much more free because I enjoy the debate and sometimes the arguments that I get involved in. For instance, the boards I frequent on Ravelry (the evil time wasting knitting center) include the Hot Issues which engenders lots of really strong debate - until someone starts quoting lolcats or such. But that is my choice, and its ok that another pulbisher/blogger chooses something else.

Tash said...

Sorry for the brouhaha, hope everyone's feelings are on the mend. Seems crazy that sort of thing can break out in this corner of the universe.

On a kinder, gentler note: I linked to you and your Blogher column, um, two posts ago? Sorry I'm late. Just wanted to say thanks in person.

Wordgirl said...

I've been very infrequent as of late in my commenting -- I have a few blogs I regularly check in on -- and I guess I try to comment when, as people have already mentioned, something resonates with me -- but there's so much I read that resonates and sometimes this whole journey has sapped me of so much strength I find I'm gathering strength from the writings...but not always able to muster the energy to contribute...until I'm on an upswing again...ah...the rollercoaster.

I actually had a really hateful comment on my blog recently -- but strangely enough it was someone whose ire was raised over an offhand comment I made about a certain celebrity chef getting pregnant -- and we all vented in the comments...and this person said some truly hateful things -- and at first I posted a reply -- commenting on their post -- but then, after thinking about it for a long time...I deleted the entire post. I just thought -- why air that negativity? What good does it do?

I've been thinking a lot about the public sphere because I do write openly about my own life and the people in it -- and I walk that fine line between freedom of expression and accountability -- if that makes sense. I know how harmful words can be and I try to be thoughtful about how I use them.

I admire so much what you do Melissa -- and clearly most people respond favorably -- just recently I was even musing about my own writing -- thinking of how some bloggers -- such as yourself -- are so approachable -- which I think is a wonderful's this ineffable quality that you either have, I think, or you don't.

I've been sort of out of the loop for a while here -- but I'm sorry to hear that negativity has been floating around here.

Your blog is invaluable!


Kathy V said...

I write my comments because of something that you said in the post for the Creme list. When I clicked on a blog before I would read a post or two. If I was hooked, I would read many of the archived posts. If I wasn't then I moved on. I never posted a comment and never let anyone know I was there. Then I read the post for the Creme List that said if you have a comment, then Please do because how else will people know that their blog is being read and touching people. That touched me. There were posts that touched me and I never let the author know that they they were read and they touched me. Now when I read something, I try to let my presence be known. If I really don't agree at all, I try not to post because everybody is entitled to their own opinion. If the post makes me think even if I don't agree with all the thoughts I try to post a comment to the author thanking them for making me think. If I agree I try to let the author know that they are not alone in their thinking. So I guess I do it as a way to let people know their blogs are being read.
In answer to your other questions, I guess the blog and the commens section belong to the owner. If I have said anything rude or ignorant (even if it was unintenional or not meant that way it came across), I would understand if somebody deleted it. If it is a different opinion than my own but it doesn't come across as rude, maybe a differing opinion will make me think and change my perception of something. I am so sorry that many of the bloggers have been hurt recently. The blog world is where I came for support with and from people that struggle through the IF journey of hell alongside me. I guess we all need to go back to the concept "If I don't have anything nice to say, I just shouldn't say it." That being said I like when I click on my blog and a comment appears. I lets me know that there are people that read the things I have to say.

Wordgirl said...

Hi again...

I just posted another comment on an earlier blog entry and wanted to reiterate it here...sorry for the chattiness but this is related to the idea of blog decorum, I guess...and I wanted to reprint it here in case people aren't as dorky as me and reading through the archived posts :)

Here goes:I'm saddened somehow -- in the same way frankly that I was saddened not too long ago when women were bashing Hilary Clinton -- not because we all need to be Hilary backers because we're women -- but I was saddened by women using the kind of patriarchal b.s. to criticize her -- if she doesn't cry she's too tough -- if she does cry she's too soft...etc. Why talk about this?

Because in this little corner of the 'blogosphere' populated by so many people (mostly women I dare say...sorry Frank) drawn together by the heartbreak of infertility -- struggling as best we can to make sense of it -- making choices and sharing those -- this is a place to respect and honor one another -- not that respectful discourse isn't welcomed -- but there's a line between respectful discourse and barbed attack -- I think.

In my profession all I do is work with words and context -- and I press my students to realize the power of those words -- and how readers read between them -- see the intent as it rises of the page or screen as the case may be...words have tremendous power and we that wield them have a responsibility.

Last comment today -- I promise...


Neenie/PawsNY said...

nice post! I agree with what you said 110%. I believe a blog is a place for me to vent, share my story, my life, ask for support, advice, or help. And I leave the comments section open to confirm that my words arent spoken to dead air, it's nice to know that people are reading and the support from fellow bloggers is amazing. I view blogs as a support network and an informsation resource from peoples personal prespectived and they are not a place to be attacked or deface someone else. Do what you wish with your own space, but I would never dare start junk with someone in the comments section of their blog. It's rude...and not mandatory that you leave comments. Just leave!

msmiranda said...

I am ambivalent about comments because I'm not sure I have the same relationship with blogging that a lot of people do. I have the publicity settings turned off (or whatever it's called) on mine, although I did contribute to CDLC and people can find me through my occasional comments on other blogs. It makes me feel safe that very few people read what I write (I even posted about this once).

So, I leave comments open primarily because I don't feel susceptible to trolls or flames at this point. If I did, I'm not sure what I would do. Of course, it goes without saying that I greatly appreciate the kind comments I have gotten.

I leave comments when I feel I might have something of value to contribute to a discussion, and sometimes just to show support when it is clear that the blogger needs it -- although I don't do that nearly often enough because I don't want to say the wrong thing. There have been so many heartbreaking stories of loss in the past month or two, and I cry into my keyboard but often remain silent.

As to the final question, I unequivocally believe that the comments/reactions section belongs to the blogger, and she has the right to delete anything that she doesn't want there for any reason whatsoever. I consider my blog to be my personal journal, and I have chosen to allow others to read it if they want to, but it is not a public space. Perhaps if I had a large audience, I would feel differently. Same thing with respect to putting disclaimers on posts -- I don't do that, and I'm not sure I would ever do it, but I would be more inclined to if I knew that 100 people would be reading instead of 3. :)

Helen said...

I don't comment near as much as I should.

I sometimes close my comments because sometimes people - although well-intentioned-go in a direction that is not helpful. If you're feeling blue, people try to diagnose you. If you have relationship issues, people tell you to split. These things, while they're opinions, aren't always helpful when you're just trying to clear your head.

Why comment? Because you connect, and because you have a moment to tell someone that.

Who owns the comments? Management. No shoes, no shirt, no service.

MsPrufrock said...

First of all, thank you for linking to my posts. I'm quite surprised to see them up there in lights, as I'm not entirely pleased with what I've written. That, and I swear a lot, which is certainly not a departure from the norm, some would be disappointed to discover.

In regard to commenting, I open all of my posts to comments because I like to hear what other people have to say, whether it's specific to my situation, or their own experiences. I started my blog three years ago because I had no real-life manner of discussing what I was going through, and my blog gave me the forum to do so. Most people who read my blog know the sort of thing I was/am currently going through, in this case, infertility, now motherhood.

I comment on other blogs because I suspect they feel the same way I do. As you rightly say, I don't want them to feel as if their words have been published to a silent audience. I try to comment even if I don't know what to say, as sometmies it's nice just to hear a few words of support.

Samantha said...

I leave comments for many of the same reasons you describe. I also think that Elizabeth has some interesting points about both the bloggers and the commenters have some sense of responsibility towards each other--I like to know people are reading my blog, and I like let people know I'm reading theirs. And sometimes I have something I really want to tell the blogger as well. I don't always agree with every post, and sometimes I decide to say something, if I think the person might be open to it, or if they are asking for multiple opinions. I think treating people online with the same care as you would in real life.

I think of my blog comments section as being open, but still my space. I think your analogy for that is apt--I'm inviting people in (and I allow anonymous comments because I have gotten some interesting responses) and I might get someone who will say something hurtful, but if the line is crossed, I feel I have the right to remove hurtful comments.

Tara said...

I guess the basics of why I leave the comments open - because I want support.

And the reason I leave comments - I want the person who wrote the post to know that I support them.

I have also been attacked on my blog and it's really not a nice feeling at all.

As far as I am concerned, it's my blog and I control every part of it - and that includes moderating the comments, if need be.

loribeth said...

I pretty much agree with what everyone else has had to say. I leave the comments open because I comment on other people's blogs & want to give them the opportunity to do the same when they visit mine. I leave comments for the reasons everyone else has said -- primarily when I want to offer support or think I can add to the conversation (& when I have time!). I "own" my blog & all its contents, including the comments box. Thankfully, I think I've only received one post to date that I have not published, and that's because it had absolutely nothing to do with the post, or infertility generally.

Bea said...

Yes, you've got it down as far as why comments goes.

I guess I err on the side of leaving comments up, because I feel that if there's a genuine rebuttal to be made, it should be made and not just have the issue brushed under the carpet. If there's no genuine rebuttal - if the person is just trolling or is continuing to be nasty when there's nothing more to say - I will delete. So I guess it depends how far it goes and how nasty it gets. If it's degenerating into pure name-calling, it stops.

Luckily, it doesn't happen often.


littleangelkisses said...

I'm going to say exactly what Duchess said. I leave them open so that I'm not completely alone. I leave them so that others know I'm there. I know that I have very few readers and I think it's sort of give and take. Why would anyone leave me a comment if I don't leave them any? I have found lately though that I don't have a lot to say. I don't want my comments to come from being polite, I want them to be genuine. It's a "it's me not you" think I think.

kate said...

I open comments because if I spout off my opinion, I think it's fair to allow people to make a response. I also enjoy knowing that I don't write in a vacuum.
I comment on other people's blogs for the same reason that you do- to let them know that someone is listening and carefully reading and has some sort of reaction to what they write. Ironically, one of the few times I won't comment is when someone who I generally agree with and get along well with writes something that I disagree with. I welcome other people to stir the air on my blog, but I sometimes don't want to do it on other people's blogs, especially if I know it might hurt the blogger's feelings.

That said, I think that debates are right and healthy, and that calling out someone who is being rude is perfectly acceptable. The number of times that I have read a rude comment and then have been SO pleased that another reader set them straight- well, it happens often, and I like seeing it happen.

As far as who owns the comments- well, the person that owns the blog owns the comments, but if they are honest, and real about the type of dialogues that their post inspires, then they will not censor those comments (except, perhaps, removing spam). All the same, if it genuinely goes to the point of direct insults and hurt feelings, it may be worth it to intervene, but those blog postings that provoke those kind of responses are sometimes the most valuable instigators of real dialogue or introspection on the part of all readers, not just those that comment.

sltbee69 said...

I leave my comments open so that in the off chance someone is actually reading my blog, they can comment if they want. I leave comments, although not enough, on blogs to let the blogger know it's being read, to leave support, etc. The name calling stuff I missed but my comment is that old saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." If it really bothers you that much and you have to speak your mind, say it in an email.

Rachel said...

I leave my comments open because people don't always find my blog when I wrote the post.

When I first discovered blogs I often went back and read the blog to the beginning so I want others to be able to do the same with mine.

Whether or not I comment has a lot to do with whether or not I have time to. I am more likely to comment on a post where no one or only a few people have commented because I want the blog owner to know that someone is reading what they write.

As far as who owns the reaction, I never really thought about it. I don't really post on controversial topics, but I guess if someone was mean or offensive to me, I might turn off the comments.

Rebecca said...

Well, at the risk of sounding redundant...I comment mostly to let someone know that they're not alone, if I have an answer to a question they've asked, or just to let them know they're heard. Most of the time I don't comment, because I just don't know what to say, or because I feel that my comment wouldn't really add to the conversation.

I leave comments open because there are some times that I just need that additional validation that I'm not alone, that someone out there "gets it". I don't really post about huge issues (well, in the grand scheme of life they're not huge...they're huge to me, but not usually to the world in general), so debate or negative comments are not something I deal with on a daily basis. I have received emails from a "friend" who decided to call me out over things I said about my feelings regarding wasn't pretty but at least it wasn't in my comments section.

Most of the time my blog is pretty boring, and mundane compared to others, so I'm okay with the fact that people don't feel the need to validate my every post. Not many people read it anyway.

And as to who owns the comments section, ultimately I do...but others are more than welcome to come and visit as long as they're respectful. Disagreement or "debate" over ideas is fine, but "my blog=my space" and I want to be respected and allowed to voice my opinion in it without feeling attacked. Just like everyone elses blog is their space, I don't have the right to attack them. I might throw out a differing viewpoint, but I am always respectful.

Thanks as always Mel for a thought provoking post and discussion!

Julia said...

I leave comments for reasons very similar to yours. To support, to encourage, and, occasionally, to respectfully disagree. I also read a lot of blogs that don't get very many comments, and so often I feel the need to leave a comment to make sure the person knows they have been heard, that they have touched someone else.