I sometimes play a game when I’m reading stuff on the internet. It’s called Commentogeddon – or, if you prefer, Crystal Ballocks. Do you want to join in?
Here’s how you play:
1. Read an article which has comments open. Since most things have comments these days – wisely or otherwise, YMMV – this can mean anything on a blog, news site, content portal or whatever. It helps if the comment count is greater than 0, but don’t read the comments just yet.
2. As you are reading the piece “above the line” (i.e the blog post, article, original content), try to predict the nature of the comments which will follow. Your prediction may concern form, tone or content of comments. For example, you might keep a mental tally (NB this is not the same as a mentalist tally) as follows:
— there will be a comment consisting of just one word
— someone will complain about the topic, insisting that this has already been discussed and concluded
— people will mention (and take issue with) the third paragraph
3. Now read the comments.
4. Award yourself a point for each comment type or form you correctly predicted would occur “below the line” as a result of the piece above it.
Over the years, you will hone your instincts to such an intuitive level that you’ll be able to accurately predict the content of any thread without needing to read it.
Whether you then decide to do so is entirely up to you.
The Author Variant
If you ever write a blog post, article or content piece which is open to comments, you may sometimes be dismayed by the comments which follow it. You may have deserved them. You may not. But people being rude to you in public is never nice, is it?
So rather than feeling depressed and downhearted about the public discourse surrounding your efforts, you can ameliorate any negative feelings by simply using the alternative comment scoring grid below:
Tot up your score at the end.
If you have scored more than 200 points, CONGRATULATIONS! You have won, and everyone who participated in that thread now owes you a proportionate share of the £ or $ or € equivalent to your score. So, 20 people participating in the conversation and your score is 1000? They each owe you a nice crisp £50. You can go round to their house and collect anytime.
(inspired in part by this parody of a science news story and – more importantly – the 400+ parodying comments which follow it. Nice to see that commenters have such a good knowledge of their own, often unwritten, rules)