Readers Who Spew Before They Think

from the nice-to-know-we're-not-the-only-ones dept

Some of you may have noticed a slight increase in the “angry moron” quotient of comments around here lately, which is what inevitably seems to happen as more people discover a website. I’m not exaclty sure what really causes people to think they’re so smart to simply go off and insult someone else for writing what they think (almost always anonymously), but there seem to be an awful lot of these people out there. David Futrelle at Business 2.0 has tried to respond to a few of them who trashed his column on why the new satellite radio ventures are bad investments. He pointed out that the product was cool – but the business model was unproven. The readers (of course) responded by trashing his knowledge of the technology – which he wasn’t talking about at all. I wish him luck. My own personal experience is that responding to the morons (even if to explain to them nicely why they’re morons) only encourages them. Some people really need to get lives.

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Comments on “Readers Who Spew Before They Think”

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Jeff Darcy (user link) says:

Two types of flames

Most flames fall into one of two categories: strong differences of opinion and pure mud-slinging. Moral issues aside, these are two very different “tactical” situations, which should be approached differently.

In the difference-of-opinion case, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you can do a better job of refuting an idea than has already been done. Some posts you’ll find on the net are so obviously stupid or counterfactual, or so badly written, that they serve as their own strongest refutation. Any response you could make, even in disagreement, would draw more attention to such a “tar-baby” post than it would get on its own, so it’s better to leave them alone. If you do decide a response is worthwhile, consider who it is you’re trying to convince of what. One of the most common mistakes people make when responding to idiots is to overstate their own case, drawing others in on the idiot’s side. Limit your own response to statements that are unassailable, and you won’t have that problem.

A similar caution applies to the mud-slinging case. OK, so someone else is being a jerk and you want to make them pay for it. I call this aversion therapy. The key here is to make sure the other guy’s a better target than you are. Long posts give your opponent more stuff to shoot at. If you identify yourself, everything else you’ve written can become a target as well. If you come across as more of a jerk than your opponent, other people will start taking pot-shots too. If you want to sling mud, it’s best to do so anonymously and briefly. If you really want to get under someone’s skin, five brief posts will give you a much better “damage ratio” than one long one. Guerilla warfare is more effective on the net than pitched battles.

Jonathan Grant says:

Re: No Subject Given

..silence, nitwit! Techdirt rules. it’s the best thing i read in the morning. much better than the idiots over at Plastic.

..seriously, discounting morons, the biggest reason i find for ridiculous arguments online is that both parties are essentially arguing about different things. there’s a lot more interest in soap boxing than there is in discourse. see Plastic once again.


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