Comment Courtesy

Out of the frying pan into the fireMercury is in retrograde. I don’t know what that means, but that is what someone told me about why people seem to be a little touchier than usual.

Sure, there are always some dark alleyways on the internet where you can count on seeing or participating in some sort of cyber-brawl. Indies Unlimited is not one of those places.

We like civil, even-spirited debate, and there is no reason it can’t be respectful debate. We have a comment policy that spells it out pretty well. Nevertheless, I’ve seen a couple of weird things going on of late that I want to bring out in the open:

This happens when parties involved in a discussion thread lose their tempers and dramatically overreact. Instead of saying:

“I am not sure I see the benefit of that. My experience has been different.”

They go right for:

“That is the singlemost stupid thing I have ever heard anyone say. It redefines stupid to a new level by an order of magnitude. I am surprised the government has not used the stupidity of your comment as an excuse to shut down the internet.”

The response to that of course has to be in ALL CAPS with lots of exclamation points. Then it starts to get ugly. Yikes. That is not the kind of stuff we want a first-time visitor to the site to see. It doesn’t bring much credit on the poo-flingers, and converts are never won over by being shouted down.

Indies Unlimited has been up and running since October, 2011. We have published over 60,000 posts. It is not all hearts and flowers, and it shouldn’t be. But there is room to disagree without being disagreeable.

Thread Hijacking
Imagine you have been asked to give a presentation before a group of people. At the end of the presentation, you ask if there are any questions. Someone in the audience stands up and asks a question, but before you can answer, someone else in the audience stands up and gives an answer. They continue back and forth, ignoring you and the rest of the audience, quickly veering away from the topic of the discussion. That is what thread hijacking is. I have seen it a lot in FB groups. Often, a serious question posed by someone looking for an affordable book cover designer will devolve into something entirely different, with no one ever answering the person who started the thread. Sidebar conversations should be taken up elsewhere. Comments made here should be on topic.

Comment spam is rampant. We get all sorts, from fake Gucci purses to webcam girls, but those all get stopped at the gate. The kind that makes it through is usually from an actual subscriber who finds a way to work his or her book, service, or product into every conversation:

That article on the signs and symptoms of acute appendicitis was very interesting. When I was researching my book, It’s All About Me, available at Amazon, I briefly flirted with giving one of the characters such a malady, but eventually decided against it.

We do have a lot of features where we invite people to post their links. Someone else’s post is not an appropriate target for that kind of stuff.

One of the tactics a lot of comment spammers employ is to submit what appears to be an innocuous, even laudatory comment:

Nice blog.

I agree completely.

Great job. I really enjoyed this blog.

Occasionally, an actual subscriber will also write such a comment. If we can’t sort it out from the real spam and it doesn’t add to the discussion, we usually just trash those. Making comments specific to the topic and subsequent discussion will avoid that type of confusion.

Imagine you are having a party and someone drops in to announce they are also having a party at their place and everyone should come over. If the sole purpose of your comment (with link) is to draw people away from this site to get traffic to yours, we’re not going to feel all warm and fuzzy about that. Write us a guest post about your site. Buy some cheap advertising. We work very hard – primarily for free – to put out valuable content. Please be thoughtful and don’t come over here sneaking your link into every comment trying to suck traffic from us. We don’t do that to you.

There. Now I feel better. Almost like somebody pulled the mercury right out of my retrograde.

Author: Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the Evil Mastermind and founder of Indies Unlimited. Hise is an independent author and an avid supporter of the indie author movement. Learn more about Stephen at his website or his Amazon author page.

38 thoughts on “Comment Courtesy”

  1. Another one is Carrying a Grudge from Elsewhere. I had to delete comments by a couple of authors who had a dispute about a bad book review. They brought their fight into a post that had nothing to do with their personal disagreement. I guess it’s a combination of Flameout and Thread Hijacking.

    1. That’s a good one Kathy. It’s a small cyberworld after all. Many of us hang out at the same half-dozen watering holes. It is unfortunate when the fight from one tumbles into another. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Stephen, nice reminder. When Mercury is retrograde, logic is replaced by illogic and communications in general are in the toilet. It’s advisable to refrain from travel, signing legal documents and beginning any complex process. If arguments ensue, it’s best to not take them personally and back away slowly. The retrograde lasts about 3 weeks, so we’ve got another week and a half to go. Oh, and computers (which rely on logic) can be balky. All in all, not a fun time.

  3. Resolution: I must have my computer’s horoscope read and take the result into consideration if all future posts. I might even check my own as well and see if we’re compatible. But what if we’re not? That could spell disaster. It may rely on logic, but I’m far from sure I do.

    Now you’ve given me something to worry about until Mercury becomes whatever the opposite of retrograde is. Oh dear.

    Oh, and if I’ve committed any of the sins listed above, I apologise unreservedly. I certainly never meant to.

    1. The idea of this post is not to call anyone out, but to simply re-introduce folks to the way we do things here. All sites have their own commenting conventions. Anyone looking for a flame war should haunt the Kindle boards or Redditt.

  4. Excellent post, EM. That pseudo spamming one is something I see a lot too. Not long ago they were more obvious because the comments made no sense, often appearing to have been done by a non-English speaker with a spammer to English dictionary. Now their English is okay, but the comments are so generic they could apply to almost any post.

    Keep up the good work, sir.

    1. Thanks, BigAl. I appreciate the sentiment and good intentions of pople who just chime in with a “right on,” but from the admin panel, it make it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. I appreciate your comment. 🙂

  5. I disagree with your Pseudo-spam. I was brought up to acknowledge when I liked something, which extended to posts by default. So I will tell someone when I like it. Plus something I was told over and over as a child– “if you can’t say something good, say nothing at all.”

    1. Cyn, I agree completely that it is nice and proper to acknowledge when you like or agree with something. If the commenter can also include some specifics, that’s better. It keeps legitimate commments from being confused with the generic comments made by spambots. Sharing a post you agree with is also a nice way to recognize its author. 🙂

  6. If I may add to that – poaching is completely unnecessary. Everyone has the opportunity to share their website’s link as part of their Gravatar. Note above this comment, to the right of my photo, that my name is highlighted in blue – that’s a hyperlink that goes to the site of my choice. So, if someone wants to know more about me, all the interested party has to do is click on the blue link of my name.

  7. “…I am surprised the government has not used the stupidity of your comment as an excuse to shut down the internet.”

    I sincerely hope that was an actual comment in a thread!! Whatever. I’m stealing it. Now, I just need a good argument to start. So we have a forum here?

    1. Kenyon – is that supposed ti be a full blown fight or merely a quick spat. I’m not sure I have time at the moment for a full fifteen rounds. Do you do short scraps?

  8. Since every time we submit a comment the system comes back with an e-mail asking for confirmation, is all this worry about spam necessary? How many spammers will bother with that? Heaven knows, I find the confirm requests irritating enough and I choose to participate – under my own name, too!

    1. Yikes. It really should not be asking for confirmation every time, Ian. I wonder if perhaps you have subscribed to comments rather than to the site. Sorry about that.

      1. I thought I had subscribed to the site, Stephen, and I do get notified of all the new posts. It’s simply that every time I make a comment it takes about 50 seconds thinking about it when I press Post Comment, and says ‘Submitting Comment’. Then clears back to the main thread. A few minutes later I get an e-mail from IU asking me to confirm my submission.
        It doesn’t happen on any other blogs and I just assumed it was a feature (an irritating one, sure) of this site.

        Anyway, I’ll worry about it next week. I’m off tonight and will be away from my computer until next weekend. So if nobody hears from me I’m not sulking!

  9. Good advice. If I’m guilty of one, I must admit, I sometimes end up leaving a vague cheery comment when I’d like to leave a comment, am in a hurry, but don’t have tons to add. But your suggestions of sharing the post is probably as good a remedy as any.

    1. There are lots of things worse than a vague, cheery comment. 😉 If something like that comes from a known user, it’s not really a problem. We can have difficulty telling it from comment spam if the user is an infrequent or first-time commenter.

  10. I have heard that when mercury gets in your retrograde it can be very itxhy and uncomfortable. This is why I use smilex. (Don’t ask for a link, I only share with the overlord)

  11. Great post. Great comments. Happy Saturday. Love you all. 🙂
    Please note: The above comment is not spam, and should not be removed by the administration. The sentiments expressed are a true indicator of the emotional state of the writer, a human of infinite powers.

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