Posted by Matt Egan 25 June 2014
6 website commenters to avoid in the real world - and why
Stop LOLing, calling me corrupt and asking for my job. And get out of my house.
Between PC Advisor and Macworld UK we have more than 15 million readers. So it shouldn't be a surprise that we're not all best mates. But there are six distinct tribes of website commentors who are welcome on our sites, but not in my living room. Here are the six types of website commenters that I would avoid in the real world - and why.
1. The conspiracy theorist
I lose count of the number of people who comment on our sites that we are in the corrupt pay of - to name but a few - Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung or BlackBerry. Often commenters will accuse us of taking brown-paper envelopes from multiple different tech companies, on the same thread. It seems that the default reaction to reading something that disagrees with these people's narrow world view is to accuse a stranger of being corrupt.
We're not of course. Principally because of journalistic ethics. Also because we are good people. Then there's the fact that as an independent media organisation taking payment for dodgy reviews would quickly scupper our much more lucrative advertising sales business (it would be hard to convince an advertiser that we are independent, credible and objective if we were taking bungs from the same advertisers).
And anyway it is all moot. I've been in this game for 11 years and despite my best attempts to look 'open' no-one has ever even attempted to bribe me. Not so much as a bag of sweets for an extra star on a review. It's like the tech industry isn't even trying.
But that doesn't stop the armchair conspiracy theorists. Post any article that doesn't praise without caveat a chosen device, and you can guarantee that a certain type of reader will impugn you alongside some of the biggest and most litigious companies in the world. Weird. And not the sort of person with whom I wish to take a camping holiday, thanks very much. (See also: In defence of the single-use device.)
2. The grammar police (See also: the freebie complainer)
You type out 2,000 words on the fly, covering a live event from your laptop in some far-flung corner of the globe. You make sure to get in all the criticial information about a new smartphone or tablet, post interesting and unique images, and add in your own subjective thoughts on how good-, bad- or indifferent is the new super device. And you do it all in 20 minutes.
And the comments? They focus only on the one typo you made in the 12th paragraph. These uses are not mad, they're simply 'not sure they can trust your information if you don't take care to correct errors'.
It's not that msitakes are acceptable. Clearly they are not. And there is a wider argument about expectations of media you receive for free, and how that changes the standards, but that's not this pice.
The fact is no-one intends to publish a typo. Generally we're delighted when someone points them out. But there is a type of person who reads things only to be publically disappointed with them. We often see comments bemoaning the 'terrible grammar' of a piece, or the 'number of typos'. On many occasions when we politely - if through gritted teeth - ask for details it turns out that what has 'appalled' this reader is a single error, or often a question of individual style.
There's nothing wrong with being a stickler for errors, but don't expect me to look for you in the pub. (See also: Cheap is cheerful: why everything must go in the world of smartphones.)
3. The ROFLcopter
Some people seem to have very exciting and happy lives. They spend all of their time laughing out loud, or even rolling on the floor with laughter. Lorks! (There is, however, a tragic epidemic of people finding things so ammusing that they giggle away the lower part of their digestinal tract.)
Yes, I know that LOL, ROFL, LMAO and the rest have become shorthand, and that no-one really means that they laughed out loud at your opinion on the latest Nokia Lumia. But really it is a very dull and lazy shorthand. Can't we just stop the laughter? (And why don't the grammarians point out that it should be LOMA?)
Either way, anyone who laughs their arse off is to avoided in almost all social situations. Tragic, I know.
4. The off-topic thunderer
Stay on topic, people.
Recently we posted an article about how good the LG G3's display is. One guy repeated the (totally false) claim that the human eye cannot discern the difference between 300ppi and 500ppi. He was wrong, but it's a fair enough point to make given the amount of misinformation and marketing spin there is on this subject. But FOUR DAYS LATER he is still arguing a point. Not *the* point, but *a* point. In this case to do with research and scientific evidence and 'can we really ever know anything, man?'
It amazes me how often commenters come in off topic, or veer wildly into irrelevant pastures in the interests of not being seen to lost an argument. Neither of these is evil behaviours. But they do make me thing that I wouldn't want to be stuck in a lift with you. (See also: The hidden cost of moving to Google.)
5. The all-round illiteratist
Here's a genuine comment we received on PC Advisor recently:
'umm so the note three is too big at 5.7"..so u ranked it low...but the lg g3 is #1..and its 5.5"...what are u stupid?? I mean your line up is horrible. ..maybe you would do better flipping burgers at mcdonalds. ..lmao...lg makes good stuff..because they copy samsung. ..obviously u hate samsung...but note 3 & s5 are at the top of any list..'
No. Me either. I think he is slagging us off, but I can't understand enough to know for what. But I guess he is happy. He is certainly not alone. We get a lot of comments, angry or otherwise, that are simply unintelligable. And why always with the ellipses?
I would hang out with you in the real world. But what would we say to each other?
6. The casual career ender
Allowing and encouraging reader comments is categorically a good thing. Interaction between content creator and content consumer makes for much more interesting content. But the power relationship hasn't entirely been worked out yet. Personally I'd say that everyone is equal on the internet, and comments and articles should be judged only on their merits.
However, there is a type of reader who revels in the perceived power of being able to judge a stranger's professional endeavours. Like the conspiracy theorists and grammar police there is an element of revenge on the world here. But I reserve a special place in Hell for those commentors who casually suggest that so bad is an article that the journalist or editor responsible should be fired or resign.
It's not we don't deserve it. If you choose to post things for public consumption you should expect slings and arrows. And I have worked with journalists good, bad and everywhere inbetween. But I place a value on politeness, and flippantly suggesting to someone you don't know that they should lose their job is just plain rude.
I don't like rudeness. So I will be avoiding you on the outside. See also: Five signs that you are doing World Cup social media wrong.