Somehow, through some twist of malicious fate, I managed to scuttle my way out of the comment gray and I am now a semi-functional commenter on IO9, Gizmodo and a few others.
I even managed to change original author’s lists (http://io9.com/14-tv-shows-that-reinvented-science-fiction-in-the-past-1714350217) and somehow got comment of the day. () You are probably wondering who I bribed to do this, or why there is a sudden lack of io9 staffers. I assure I did it through fair play (mostly). I’d like to think it’s due to my dastardly skill and wildly wordy witty wiles, but it’s more due to luck and following a few simple comments.
1. Keep your day job.
Let’s face it, it’s intoxicating. Your little voice has been read by hundreds of thousands, you are the genesis of thousands of smiles, you made hundreds think, and for a brief flash you found dozens of comrades and likeminded people on a subject. For those 15 seconds of fame, you matter. So you want to do it again, and again and etc. Only trolling doesn’t pay.
The very first and most important rule of commenting is keep your day job. Your boss’s IT guys know exactly what you’re doing on their systems. Your boss knows if you’re making quotas, or if you’re performing. So you really have only three options. One be in a job where you can devote your attention to commenting and only take breaks to do work. I think this is why there are lots of IT people on these sites. Two not work, I think this mystical realm is called retirement or self- employment. The third option is to thread the comments into your hot shot work ethic. Sometimes folks need quick mind breaks, or the CAD model needs to buffer, the database needs to crunch, or the pdf doc needs all that WTF time to load. These are the fleeting moments the performers make comments. You can almost see their telltale marks too. Often it’s a single gif or a one liner and usually only has relevance to what a skim read of the article can find. Just remember, commenting is the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, do your job first, troll for lols second.
2. Add value.
It’s an important and often ignored fact that most people don’t care really care what you have to say. To the wildly webby … (sorry I’m alliterating again) to the internet you are a single voice in millions, why should anyone listen? Well because you’re adding value to the thread. There are three ways to do this, either implement some of your latent skill, see Raptor above. Bring in some of your awesome professional knowledge, like Tom did below. Tom took the time to calculate a principle I remembered from physics 101. He single handedly brought my cursory knowledge against their most tenacious opponent, math. () and he was only off by an order of magnitude too! The third and easiest option, is to make a point people agree with or find hilarious. I’ll admit, I don’t have any pride so I usually stick with the latter and make pithy quips against Tom Selleck’s mustache of truth.
The last way, is the hardest yet, scariest and most daunting and doesn’t get a number. Try to help someone else. Behind these thin masks of avatars we can let out our fears, and longings. Sometimes the writers here will bring up heartfelt subjects and people need a comforting word or two. Kindness here can do credit but can often lead to greater hurts.
3. The writer is better than you.
I don’t mean to alarm anyone here, but you know in rule 1, where I said keep your day job? Well there are a precious few people who get PAID to post! They are the reason we are here, we get to quibble, snark and jab across the world solely because they put mostly lucent thoughts on paper. Face it, you wouldn’t be reading my words if it weren’t for them, so be mindful, know your bounds, and know which ones to call out. (I can get a rise out of Ester) and which ones hate your guts. (George, what did I ever do to you?)(http://io9.com/the-12-greates…
4. Leave your God emperor at home
I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.” -Shepherd Book. I’ll be straight up here, I fancy myself a Catholic Christian. It means I get a sip of wine on Sundays, and I can make quips about all these upstart religions under 1,500 years old, but that’s not the real reason. As for me and my house, I just don’t have the faith to be an atheist. I absolutely respect them though. What’s bright in this world is due in no small part to them. Now that that part is out of the way.
Here’ why I try my damnest to leave my precious and fluffy Lord out of my comments. Belief is something ingrained into the inner most part of a person’s being. You will never change their ways with one liners, nor should you. Every person has their own path, and the outcome of an internet rage storm will only strengthen their ways. Also all Faith based religions are just that, they are faith based, you will never win a rational argument with it. As the great Bill Nye, so handedly demonstrated.
Lastly, if you’re truly selfless you leave God at home. You know those guys protesting at Comic Con with the “You’re going to hell” signs. They’re not there for you, they’re there for their own precious souls. If they were there for you, they would be in the crowds cosplaying as Terminator Jesus, handing out water and fish snacks while saying “Come with me, if you want to live” Faith and belief are only strengthened by adversity. I will admit in my early days getting into arguments and becoming stronger for it. I don’t do that anymore. If I want others to find their way to the Devine, I can only set an example and show them the door and not fall into the True Scotmans trap yet again.
4. Leave your god emperor at home
So I made a quip against our dear leader once. Carnage ensued. The thread looked like this when I was done.
I deserved the verbal beating, I was wrong. I made it mostly because I can’t really claim a party. The last time, my party did something unconditionally right, they elected Lincoln into office. Politics like religion has a strong foundation in belief, it’s another core of a person. Mentioning politics is the definitive way to lose your account get your intelligence counted, upbringing challenged, and to get your pet terrier insulted I’m sorry but my dog just deserve that kind of abuse, I and I hope you, will leave your precious fluffy god emperor figure at home. In my book, people who troll with politicians belong in the same hell as the ones who talk in theaters.
5. There is always someone smarter then you.
This is one of my primary drivers for commenting. If I say something about NASA mission control, a Fricken Astronaut will take me to school. If I make a hypothesis about business, a company CEO will share links, if I make a derisive comment about the Stars and Bars, a bloody descendent of Jefferson Davis will rebel yell at me. This site has so many bright and freakishly knowing readers, if I whisper into the void, knowledge screams back.
6. Know when to give up
One time I made a comment about the theory of war that sounded like this “”If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight!....” Sun Tzu said that, and I’d say he knows a little more about fighting than you do, pal, because he invented it! And then he perfected it, so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor!”
Then I made the verbal equivalent of throwing monkey poo at Von Clausewitz grave and blaming him for the German’s aggression during the dark months of 1914. You can guess what happens next.An honest to goodness West Point instructor hops on the line and starts laying artillery fire on me. The back and forth was fierce, but he went for my center of gravity, and after an hour, that I really should have been working I was turned around decimated and just lost the will to fight. I worked long into the dark that night, to make up for the company time I wasted. There are internet fights that can be won, other’s cant. A true commenter would know the difference. Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.
7. Know when to hold your ground.
I am going to say it here and now, and no power in the verse is going to stop me. Dogs are better than cats, and Firefly was an awesome show. Now you are entitled to disagree with me, and your thoughts are your own, but like people who believe in fairies, you are of course wrong. If any care to fight, I will gif you until your eyes bleed, then send misquoted firefly lines until my days of not taking you seriously certainly come to a middle. There are things, trivial enough but worth fighting for!
8. Spell check or get the Fug out
Now when you’re in a hurry, spelling may seem optional. I mean “Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are in; the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a ttoal mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Reference However, there is no shorter road to losing your credibility then misspelling cradabulity. It means you didn’t double check, didn’t rethink your thoughts and didn’t bother to hit the convenient little edit button. If your thoughts aren’t worth a second glance, why should I waste my time and give you a third!
9. Stop making Listicles!
Already broke one of my rules, well they’re more like guidelines anyways.
The long and the short of it is, be polite, add value, and you will transcend the gray into the realm of semi-relevance.