How rude do you like them? (comments, that is)

Yesterday I posted a critical comment on someone else's blog. It doesn't matter where, or why, because this is not about that blog post or the argument I had with it.  It's just something that the blog author said that got me thinking, along the lines of:
"if you don't like this stuff, you don't have to read it".

Now to be fair, I had been close to the bone with my comment, and much credit to him for publishing rather than quietly suppressing it, but at first I was a bit put out.  Then I wondered how I would have reacted if I had received that sort of comment on my blog. In the end, I felt a bit uncomfortable about it all, and was pleased to give him the last word, even though I didn't agree with him because it is, after all, his blog. It did feel a bit like going into someone's living room and shouting at them.

On the other hand, why do we blog if not to get a reaction?  The internet is a public space in which anyone can see what you've written. Shouldn't we expect them to exercise a right of reply? There are some blogs which seem to be read only by mutual admiration societies, if the comments are anything to go by, everyone rushing to agree with the opinions being peddled that happily coincide with their own.  You fear to post a negative comment on these, in case the crowd rounds on you and stones you.

Most the comments I get are quite friendly, which is nice but doesn't generate much debate.  Of the negative ones, most are so banal that I can't bear to publish them, usually sub-trolling of the "Church of England is rubbish" variety.  I like to think that I welcome genuinely critical comments, hopefully not too insulting, but taking issue with me in an intelligent and responsive way.  Bring it on! I wonder just what level of dissent other bloggers are prepared to tolerate?


UKViewer said…
Just found your blog via your twitter link. So no need for me to be rude.

But you're right about intelligent, well directed criticism can provoke useful debate.

Just posting criticism, without a thought through response is actually just a waste of your and the poster's time.
Unknown said…
I have posted on this before after being really rather hurt in comments boxes. I now no longer read those blogs. My mother and several of my closer friends have experienced the same in some of the same blogs too. The danger with this is that it is a platform for the weak to roar like lions so when you go at them with lion taming gear, they accuse you of borderline abuse.

I am sorry that you have experienced this. You are one of the most measured courteous comments I have read, and you always mitigate your words carefully. In short, you deserved better.

The retort to your blogger you can simply say 'if you don't like people to disagree find a private place to air your public views'.
Charlie said…
Thanks for the comments. Just to clarify - I am not complaining about the behaviour of the blogger in my example. He was bold enough to let me comment, and to be honest I wasn't particularly courteous because I was quite cross about something he had written.

Also to clarify that I am encouraging critical comment on this blog! I just reserve the right to suppress anything that isn't very high quality.
Ray Barnes said…
It seems to me that if you never write anything remotely controversial in your posts, you really do not deserve to get any response at all.
Like most bloggers, I love to get comments on my posts and if they are not necessarily friendly it doesn't matter.
Anything which teases a response out of a reader is in my opinion a successfull blog.
Gratuitous rudeness is another matter entirely and i think should I ever receive such a comment I would simply delete it. (If I knew how!)
Sadly I rarely attract trolls. I might get more comments if I did. Maybe it's harder to troll irony because nobody knows that, deep down, it's all very serious.

Keep up the controversy! And disagreeing is fine as long as you're courteous in my opinion.
Interesting. I rarely bother to disagree with a blogger's viewpoint in the comments section, since everyone is entitled to their opinion. I only engage in argument and controversy if I am personal or blog friends with the blogger, and care about them and their opinions. I guess I don't have the energy for controversy.
That said, my own views have often been modulated, refined or even altered as a result of critical comments from people holding opposing viewpoints. And thinking, and having your thinking refined, is one of the pleasures of blogging!!

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