May 27, 2005

Comments on Commenters from a Commentless Blog

I'm lately fascinated by the commenters any given blog attracts. Over a period of time, does this say something about the blogger or do certain commenters create a climate independent of the blog? Do bad commenters drive out good in a sort of Gresham's Law?

The vast majority of blogs get too few comments to have any climate at all. But my impression (no empirical work has been done in service of this post) is that Mark Shea's blog has, or had, a higher quotient of the idiotic and mean-spirited than Amy Welborn's.

Camassia's are polite and intellectual; Tom of Disputations are impolite and intellectual. Tom's commenters are probably the most annoying per capita. Two frequent commenters bring hobbyhorses: one is fixated on money and another on just war theory. It's oddly fascinating to see how the latter will slip in a reference to war in a completely foreign context. (Well, I generally skip his comments so it must not be that fascinating.) If bad commenters are temptations to crossness, then there are those who flee from temptation (me, Eve T., & Mark of Minute Particulars ?) and those who embrace them as temptations to be overcome.

I'm not holding my comments as any sort of standard, especially compared to someone like Neil who modestly quotes only other people's words. There is something oddly inspiring in this, a tacit recognition that what we say has usually already been said better by someone in the past. There's an "I must decrease, You must increase" flavor. He must have a large library and a nose for good quotes.

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