Before posting comments online, we may all need to ask if we are contributing to a conversation or simply making obnoxious noise.
Jack Heller

I’ve now had over 7,000 comments on this blog.  I’ve come to enjoy responding to the comments as much I do composing the post itself.  It feels more like conversation that way.

For years this blog was a soliloquy. I never encouraged or responded to comments. As I’ve learned to appreciate comments I’ve tried to become better about leaving them.  Even now I read lots of blogs but don’t often comment (but I’m trying to get better).

Now that I pay attention to comments I’ve noticed that on some sites, particularly those that are focused on current events or religion, the comment section is often ugly and brawling, filled with meanness and bile.  Often the commenters are merely hurling insults at one another, rather than having in a meaningful discussion.  I’m thankful that doesn’t happen here.  Over the years a few comments here have been head-scratchers and a few have seemed like invitations to an argument, but those have been extremely rare.

I don’t recall ever deleting a comment and I enjoy having a diversity of viewpoints.  But if there are ever comments on this blog that are rude, offensive or inconsiderate to others, I’ll delete them. The internet is full of sites that seem to welcome and feed upon such comments. It doesn’t need one more.

So to those of you have commented here, whether frequently or rarely, thanks for the great conversation and thanks for keeping it civil.  That’s the way things ought to be.


20 comments on “Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    Uncivil comments are, indeed, a puzzle. Perhaps the fact that your blog is civil is the result of self-selection. I don’t visit blogs where insults are hurled and rancor is prevalent – what’s the point? We need more community, not less, in this world. Encouraging tribalism does nothing to further that goal. Thanks for hosting such a wonderful blog!


    • Bill says:

      Thanks Jeff. I don’t often post on controversial subjects, but even when I do the comments here are always reasoned and civil. I’ve seen sites where the posts and the blogger are polite yet many of the comments are angry and mean. In one case I’m thinking of I think the blogger should just ban some of the trolls, but he always responds kindly to their attacks and that seems to just embolden them. It’s maddening to see.

      Anyway, I enjoy the conversation here and I’m happy that very little policing is necessary.


  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’m with Jeff. I’ve read your blog long enough to know that some commenters don’t necessarily agree with each other here but have the respect not to get into a Internet flaming contest. I truly like to have conversations with other peoples’ view points but many times I have to convince them in the beginning of the conversation that I’m not trying to proselytize them to my view point. Once I get past that harsh barrier, a meaningful conversation usually results. Most times it doesn’t change my convictions but it does stimulate my thought process. It’s one of the reasons that your blog is a must read for me every day.

    In some ways the Internet has broken down the filters of conversations. Commenters will say harsh things to some one on the Internet that they don’t know and probably will never meet that they would never say to them face to face. In most cases, face to face conversations are more selective in what is said. The power of the tongue is more hurtful than sticks and stones, in my humble opinion. I always try to have a positive attitude when talking with friends and family. Hopefully, when the conversation is over they will be left with better thoughts than when we started.

    Have a great thought provoking, civil, positive commenting day.


    • Bill says:

      Yep, well said Dave. The anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in people. They’ll type things they would never say in a face to face conversation. I’ve tried to never write anything I wouldn’t say if I was having a face to face conversation. I think that helps. Of course for people who are jerks in person too, then it doesn’t.

      One the things I find most baffling about the flame wars in comment sections (usually to news articles) is the obvious fact that NO ONE is ever going to change their opinion based on those kinds of comments. As Jack Heller says, they’re not contributing to the conversation, they’re just making obnoxious noise.


  3. Joanna says:

    I appreciated the fact you did comment on my blog and in that way found yours. Having worked as a moderator for a student cafe for about nine years, I know how easy it is for folks to misunderstand each other in an online environment. One thing I discovered though, was that young teens could be bad, but by looking around other sites, adults can be truly awful and like your other commenters I stay well clear of them.


    • Bill says:

      I enjoy getting comments and I’m trying to get better about leaving them. I know it’s nice to know that someone is reading (it’s one of the reasons I like getting comments).

      I agree that it’s easy to be misunderstood online. I think we have to be more careful with our internet speech than with face to face communication. So much more is conveyed in an actual conversation that can be conveyed online, although emoticons help. 🙂


  4. shoreacres says:

    I think you need to give yourself some credit. Maybe a lot, as a matter of fact. Just as a house with an absentee landlord can fall into disrepair, a blog that isn’t tended can devolve into arguments, name-calling, and worse: sometimes very quickly. It’s fun to come here because there aren’t any of those “nasties.” Clearly, everyone here has their own opinions on the issues of the day, but it’s nice to be able to express them without anyone deciding to swing a 2×4.

    I’ve had only a handful of questionable comments in my time — I can think of four. In every case, the problem was crude language or a vulgar or questionable story. It was easy enough to put the comments into moderation, then email the commenter, suggesting they might want to delete or rewrite those sections. Three were happy to do so, and I enjoy having them around. One never responded and disappeared from my blog. C’est la vie!

    Here’s a connection that just occurred to me — maybe those of us who come here learned good manners at our family tables, and have learned now to apply them in other circumstances!


    • DM says:

      “maybe those of us who come here learned good manners at our family tables, and have learned now to apply them in other circumstances!” Yep, that is my story 😉 DM


    • Bill says:

      I like how you handled that. I learned not long ago that the blogger has the ability to edit comments too. I’ve never done that (unless asked to) but I reserve that right. 🙂

      By the way, I credit you and Teresa Evangeline with helping me to appreciate how much comments can add to a blog. I don’t recall ever seeing a blog where the blogger responded to every comment until I started reading y’all’s blogs. Before that I only responded if the commenter (and there weren’t many of them back then) specifically asked me a question. I discovered from y’all’s blogs that comments should be seen as opportunities to turn the post into a conversation starter. It’s made blogging a lot more fun, so thanks for that. 🙂


  5. associatedluke says:

    I’ve had to delete a few comments due to another’s immaturity or because of my own. I’m learning. Dear Lord, help me learn. Just trying to keep it positive and if I can’t honor what’s said, I can honor who said it. It’s hard sometimes… but always worth it.


    • Bill says:

      I’ve noticed that there are some commenters who seem to want to pick fights. I had it happen to me on your blog once. It’s hard to resist, but I try not to respond in kind. Like you said, it’s worth it (however tempting it is to fire back).


      • associatedluke says:

        Thanks for resisting. It’s tempting and exhausting. You did an awesome job. I need to pay more compliments when I see good behavior modeled.


  6. I think your thoughtfulness attracts a certain type of reader, Bill. One who is willing to think and re-evaluate and willing to listen politely. This world would be a dull place without differing points of view and you help us to remember and celebrate that!

    Anyway, I appreciate the restraint and thought consistent in your comments sections. Good to know that civility still exists and is valued.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks for the nice comment. 🙂
      I spent a lot of my life in conflict and confrontation. I prefer to avoid it now when possible. And it almost always is, in my opinion.


  7. EllaDee says:

    You’re welcome. I find I tend to follow blogs where I enjoy the comments and commenters. And many times we have multiple blogs in common. It makes for a nice community 🙂


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