ABC’s Michael Malone did some research into his own comment section and others around the blogosphere, and identified a number of commenter archetypes. In a lighthearted essay, Malone discusses how the Internet and comment sections have democratized published feedback on reporting, and points out how editorial protections have disappeared against criticisms:
For 20 years as a reporter and editor, I never worried about comments.
Sure, as a cub reporter, I used to die a thousand deaths every time a letter to the editor appeared in my newspaper that took issue with something I’d written. But it wasn’t long before I learned two things:
1. In a newspaper, there isn’t much room for letters to the editor — maybe a half-dozen per day. And very few of them, even after a big, controversial story, were about you; and,
2. The editorial page editor is your best friend. In order to keep a balanced page, he or she is only going to run (at most) a couple letters about you — and even then will try to maintain a balance between the laudatory and the cutting & and leave the crazies out.
I found this especially amusing:
That all changed — oh boy, did it change — with the Internet. Between this column and the various stories I’ve written for publications that have appeared online, I figure in the last decade I’ve received about 10,000 comments. That’s the population of medium-sized towns in some parts of the U.S. And fully half of those comments came with a single story — the one I wrote last October about being ashamed of being a journalist.
I hate to tell Malone this, but 10,000 comments is a slow week here at Hot Air. In three years, we have archived 1.7 million comments, and those are the ones we’ve separated from the spam. Our filters kill a lot more than that, and Allahpundit and I are usually kept too busy trying to stamp out trolls to read through all of the comments that get posted and approved.
Still, Malone’s list of archetypes looks dead-on, if a little long. Here are a few of my favorites, but be sure to read the whole list:
- The Troll — Everyone knows this guy (and it’s usually a guy), who intentionally visits sites in order to stir things up, provoke a furious reaction from other posters and then disappear. Classic examples are the Free Republic types who visit Daily Kos and vice versa.
- The Angry Man — We all know this guy. His solution for almost any problem in the world is the summary execution, in as grisly a manner as possible, of every possible perpetrator.
- The Dismisser — The ultimate arrogant commenter, this person never actually engages with the topic, but merely declares it beneath anyone’s interest, already resolved, or improperly stated — and thus hardly worth the bother. The dismisser’s only real message is: I’m smarter than you and you need to acknowledge that fact.
- The Kumbaya — These folks always show up two-thirds of the way through any heated on-line debate and ask, “Why can’t we all just get along?” They are inevitably ignored or trashed.
- The Skimmer — The commenter, usually sour, who reads only a headline or sentence of a piece, draws exactly the wrong conclusion, and then embarks on an embarrassing rant.
- The Defender — Bloggers love these guys. When you are getting hammered by other posters, this is the guy who watches your back, supports you, and tells your enemies off & and does a better job of it than your real-life friends.
Yeah, I love those defenders, and I’d bet Malone doesn’t mind them either. In fact, even though some of these archetypes can be pretty annoying, I pretty much like almost all of them. Even when I was at Captain’s Quarters, I loved having a comment section, and it’s much more robust here at Hot Air.
So which archetype are you, Hot Air commenter? Better yet, which archetypes do you regularly see in the HA comments section? Don’t just stick with the handful I excerpted — take a look at all of Malone’s list.