The keyboard mafia

Published: September 2, 2010
Email

Comments come in all shapes and sizes in the blogosphere

Over the past few months I have been paying close attention to the comment mafia. Mind you, they do not attack regular newspaper reports, but the pistols come roaring out for blogs and op-ed pieces.

In blogs there is a bit of professional rivalry. If a certain popular blogger has received a high number of comments then others bloggers will start commenting tearing his/her piece apart.

One would find something like this:

Frustrated201: What crap!

KhiGurl: I agree with Frustrated!

[email protected]: I concur…with Frustrated and KhiGurl. They are so right.

These hate commenter’s travel in packs. They will leave derogatory (but not abusive) comments on each of their targets posts in an attempt to make the writer look bad.

The mafia, of course takes care of its own. If, for instance KhiGurl wrote a post then you can be certain that members of the pack will leave plenty of “bravo’s” and “keep it up’s” in the comments section. The people who do this are usually unsuccessful bloggers who fail to get readers by virtue of their pieces and end up unleashing their pent up resentment and frustration on popular blogs.

There is another kind of resentment filled commenter as well – the eager writer who has been rejected from every newspaper he sends his pieces to. Their accusations and negativity isn’t only focused on the blogger, but towards the newspaper too. These comments are usually along the lines of:

SteinbeckFan: The quality of the newspaper is low, why is it publishing such low quality blogs?

CitizenJurno: A very third rate piece for a newspaper!

Then there are people whom you have rejected as cyber friends. Being rejected, they think that the comments section of your blog is the ideal place for them to start interacting with you. They make random comments on your piece without even reading it.

But while virtual stalkers may leave plenty of comments – it is often who (and how many) people you know in real life that can make that comment number go up.

I call one brand of commenter the “teachers group”.   They were the ones who scolded and punished you when you were in school or college.  Now they feel proud and love the way you write. Their comments on blogs are very objective, and their tone very encouraging.

Old friends who know you well and enjoy your writing style comment too. As friends, their views are unbiased and rational. Bloggers get their best critiques from friends sometimes because they comment honestly and objectively.

Acquaintances from college or university days are unlikely to take the trouble to go to a website and read your blog. But they will keep commenting on the Facebook status where you shared the blog link. These comments are random and have nothing to do with your piece:

:P

You are a difficult person

what is this

Often the comment section is a great platform to butter up the powers that be in an organisation. If a prospective blogger has sent in a piece to the editor he may spend some tome writing complimentary comments about other posts or the site in general. They are trying to win the hearts of the community. The newbie blogger will probably leave a long and highly agreeable comment on a few popular blogs so that when their blog does come up, no one leaves a negative comment on it.

Of course, not everyone in the comment section is waging war. There are the quiet readers who feel happy that their comment was published at all. They may just leave comments like “nice” and “good” on a blog.

The final category of commenter is the silent commenter – the thinker. He reads each and every word of posts and columns carefully. Sometimes you worry that he has ignored you. The thinker does not ever leave comments on blogs but one day, out of the blue they may mention that your blog on certain issue posted two weeks ago was great. They really enjoyed reading it. That is the best comment of all.

Sadaf Fayyaz

Sadaf Fayyaz

A freelance journalist, photographer, blogger and writer's take on life, culture, media and everything else.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.