Inside The Mind Of Blog Commenters

by Conor Friedersdorf

In a Christmas Day experiment, Megan McArdle lets a few of them draft posts. A sample:

'Tis the season of goodwill towards men, loving our enemies, forgiving those who did us wrong, and calls for unity, civility, and an elevation of our public discourse to new heights of seriousness. Yeah, well, Bah Humbug to all that.

Instead, I thought I'd offer my guide to effective blog commenting: one serious tip and a bunch of fun and manipulative tricks. My Christmas wish to you is that you should all find it in you to become as much of a sneaky bastard as me.

What follows is as cynical as you'd expect!

Use fake imprecision to imply greater knowledge. Another thing any idiot can do is look up dates online. Nobody is impressed that you know that in the first three weeks of July, 1944, 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. After all, I cut and pasted the majority of that sentence from Wikipedia. On the other hand, if you can toss off references to Bretton Woods and the gold standard, you can make it appear that you really do know what you're talking about and can just call up the information from memory at will--even if you've only just looked it up on Wikipedia! As with allusions, however, you should be careful only to refer to things you do have some understanding of, lest you look like an idiot.

I guess it all depends on what you think it means to be an "effective" blog commenter.