When it comes to writing articles for the Web, I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve been doing this for enough years, and have written enough articles and posts that I am very well aware of one significant occupational hazard: crazy comments.
I’m all for civil debate on the merits of an argument, but something about the anonymity of the Web makes people think that it’s perfectly fine to attack writers and even their fellow readers and commenters personally and wildly when they don’t like something they’ve read.
In my own readership, the lovely, smart, respectful readers outweigh the wack jobs about a million to one, so I really can’t complain. But when things I write get posted to some of the larger websites, I tend to either hold my breath or just not read the comments at all, out of a concern for the random bizarreness that I might find.
Recently, a piece I wrote for a large publication landed on the welcome screen of one of the largest online sites in the world. I had very mixed, gut feelings when I saw it there, knowing that this particular site’s community tends to be borderline rabid in terms of the sentiment contained in their comments. I’m an old pro at this, so negative comments about my articles (or myself for that matter) just don’t bother me much, but I always worry about how a commenter whose peers rip into them will take it. So, I clicked to read the comments. And I was astounded.