1. The One Who Liked It.
What needs to be said? It’s wonderful when someone likes what you’ve written, particularly so when they go out of their way to say that it struck a chord. These comments are the fuel that keeps the writing cells firing. Positivity is beautiful, and the gratitude for it cannot be overstated.
2. The Self-Promoter.
Harmless. Scours the internet looking for comment sections on which to leave links to their blog or site. Didn’t read the article but will probably say something like “Great read!” before regurgitating their URL and traipsing off to the next virtual bulletin board.
3. The Over-Zealous Insulter.
I don’t know if they understand any of what they read, but they say things like “This sucks I hope you die in a fire.” Oh, uh, okay. That’s a totally appropriate reaction.
4. The Troll.
The troll is any writer’s digital rite of passage. Trolls may or may not read a piece. Whether they’ve done so is completely arbitrary because it has no bearing whatsoever on the piles of steaming troll scat they leave behind in the comments section. And, like any animal waste, people are better off just stepping around it. I envision an internet troll as a putrid, elephantine ogre, sitting under a bridge, lazily lobbing handfuls of its fecal matter at anything that moves. Good for you, you can produce an astonishing amount of shit. No need to share.
The internet should come with a warning sign: PLEASE DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. It only results in the production of more stinking excrement.
FUN FACT: This point contained 5 different synonyms for poo. Great for making that lasting impression at networking events.
5. The Vaguely Condescending.
“Um, wow. This is garbage. Please never reproduce. Thanks.”
Oh no, REEEEEAAAAALLLLLY? Don’t worry about specifics. Your condescending tone is all the convincing I need that you’re the authority here. I’ll just pack my things and leave the Internet forever.
6. The One Who Didn’t Read The Piece.
These are the comments I always have to sit on my hands not to reply to. When I wrote a piece about not having children, the vast majority of negative comments were things like, “having kids would just ruin her party life or her ‘perfect body’” and “no one says you have to buy your kids expensive clothes and private college educations.”
Great, but… I didn’t say any of that in the article.
There are always people who read a title, perhaps skim a few paragraphs, and then vaguely register that the overall concept of the piece disagrees with a belief they hold — and they’ve got to TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT, NOW. Don’t bother reading the rest — the world has got to know that I’M AGAINST THIS SHIT. The result is generally an ill-informed comment which highlights their own personal feelings about “people who argue Point X,” but is most likely completely irrelevant to what’s actually been said.
Knee-jerk reactions are emotional, not rational, and are usually dismissed as such. There is nothing wrong with disagreement, but if you’re going to argue against something I’ve written, make sure you’re arguing against something I’ve actually written.
7. The Lurker.
Doesn’t actually comment, but passive-aggressively upvotes all the comments which represent his/her viewpoint. I see you there, Guest Vote.
8. The Legitimate Critic.
Readers, please believe: when I write any argumentative or opinion piece, I really and truly do my best to try to anticipate potential counterarguments and points of disagreement; I am even more conscientious about trying not to be flat-out ignorant or offensive. But, I’m human. There are always going to be things that I miss, or that don’t occur to me. I cannot view all things from every possible perspective.
A legitimate criticism points out these oversights without necessarily attributing them to my personal character, i.e. “Your argument is flawed” vs. “ur ugly n stupid k byeeeee.” A legitimate critic reads an argument, understands it, and can point out the objective flaws without resorting to name calling, profanity, or any of the other useless dissents which basically equate to “nuh-uh!” and the stomping of feet. I’m not saying I’ve never received a legitimate criticism that wasn’t wrapped in a package of “fuck you, lady,” but on the whole, this feedback tends to come from folks who can read a dissenting opinion without immediately jumping on the defensive.
These are the best comments to get. Positive feedback is glorious ego-chow, but these comments are the ones that end up making us better writers. They’re also the ones that hurt the most, because the person arguing against me has a valid point. I take these comments seriously. I do have a policy of not replying to comments on anything but my personal blog; however, if you’re one of these types of commenters, please know that I’ve read your words and appreciate your thoughtful response.
TL;DR — If you want a writer to take your criticism to heart, try supporting it with something other than veritable asshattery.
Let the comments fly.