Hi there! It looks like you’re thinking about leaving a comment on something you read on the Internet.That’s great! Well, maybe not so great for the job you’re supposed to be doing while instead you fuck around on the Internet, but… no, never mind. It’s fine.
As someone who writes on the Internet for (part of) her living and who has never managed to entirely give the gospel truth of avoid comments the respect it deserves, I’m here to help you not leave one of those comments that writers complain about.
(Yes, it happens. Just like restaurant and retail staff vent to each other when a customer doesn’t know what an herb is or wants a minimum wage employee to risk their job so they can use a 15% off coupon that’s clearly marked as one-use-per-customer three times in the same transaction. A bit of knowledge to keep in your back pocket. Hey, we writers of the web gab about comments we like, too! And Pajiba comments and its commenters are, generally speaking, 586% better than those of the Internet at large. Let’s not talk about YouTube.)
So. Before you write that comment …
Did you read the post?
Of course I did!
No. Don’t lie to me. Did you read the post?
Will whatever statement you’re about to type in your electronic word box clearly indicate that you are responding to something that you did not actually read?
Well, I skimmed it.
Did you skim it, or did you just read the headline on Twitter and then scroll past the actual text so you could add your two cents?
Take two minutes and read the fucking post.
OK, OK, I read the post. Can I comment now?
Depends. What’s your comment?
Well, the post is about that time Justin Bieber sharted on a baby zebra, and the author of the post didn’t mention the time Gwyneth Paltrow did it too as part of a new cleanse, and I think the writer is an incompetent idiot for leaving that ou—
Hey, stop for a second?
Can you do Ctrl+F and search for “Gwyneth”?
It’s there, isn’t it?
You didn’t read the post, did you?
No, I didn’t read the post.
READ THE POST.
OK, I read it this time, I swear. Can I leave the comment now?
Yeah, but leave out the “idiot” part. No personal attacks in the comment section.
But … but that’s a violation of my free speech!
No, it’s really not.
Yes, yes it is! What, you think a website can just decide to delete and ban people for not conforming to their arbitrary standards of behavior?
Go cry about it into your persecution complex and come back when you’re ready to behave like a human being.
OK, fine, no “personal attacks” or whatever.
Thank you. I feel like you’ve really matured as a person. I think you’re ready for this next one.
That sounds scary. What is it?
You know how sometimes a writer will make a mistake? Like there’s a typo, or something that’s factually inaccurate, or something like that?
I need you to not be a dick about it. No “ugh, this site has gone downhill” or “and this person actually gets paid to write.” Because people who write these things that you read on the Internet are human, and we make mistakes sometimes. If you have to point it out, point it out politely.
Not word monkeys chained to a desk churning out content so I can procrastinate at work?
No. Every single person you direct a negative comment to is an actual human being with feelings.
Hold up, what is this feelings shit? Writers on the Internet don’t have feelings!
I can assure you that we do. Some of us have thicker skins than others, but that’s no excuse for calling someone an “immature, mouth-breathing teenager” for not including Lars Von Trier on a list of the funniest living filmmakers.
He has subtle wit.
Go write about that on your website, then.