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what kind of commenter are you?

I read this giggle inducing post on Pajamas Media from a writer, Michael Malone, talking about the type of commenters that exist now, in the land of the world wide web.

For twenty 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.


So, for the next twenty years, as a reporter, magazine writer and magazine editor, I never sweated the Letters to the Editor page. Even as an editor, unless there was a serious factual correction I needed to investigate, I usually didn’t even read the things – but instead left it to my managing editor to decide what she wanted to print.

That all changed – oh boy, did it change – with the Internet.

The article continues with him discussing the amount and types of comments he has received over the years, and the impact they have had. It is a good read, and as someone who writes on a blog, I can relate, albeit on a much smaller scale. But the best part of his post is his list of the types of commenters.

See if you recognize any of these types on NQ, and which type are you?

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, then disappear. Classic examples are the Free Republic types who visit Daily Kos and vice versa.

The Droll – The mainstay of all fun sites, this poster regularly tosses out clever comments, plays of words, one-liners, amusing pictures. There’s a lot of these characters on places like Fark.com

The Relentless Pol – Posters who can’t join any discussion without immediately using it to make a political point, i.e., “The current lack of sunspots is the direct result of the Bush Administration’s failed policies.”

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 Trimmer – A commenter who initially stakes a strong position, and then under withering attack from other commenters, slowly backs off until he or she has completely abandoned that original position.

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 Butt-Kisser – Famous writers and bloggers get this one. It’s the poster who just can’t say enough about how brilliant was that last entry, how they wish they could say it half as good, etc. My assumption is that these folks are angling for some kind of personal relationship with the writer.

The Kumbaya – These folks always show up two-thirds the way through any heated on-line debate and asks “Why can’t we all just get along?” They are inevitably ignored or trashed.

The Parser – What would we do without the Internet Grammar Police? These folks assiduously correct the online writings of others – never quite catching on that the Web is designed to be fast, fresh and sloppy.

The Pretender – Everybody is a pretender on the Web – on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog, as the New Yorker cartoon said. Look at all of those made-up names and sexy icons. But some people just take it to pathological extremes. If the real world actually had that many war heroes, beauty contest winners, Mensa members and Olympic lovers, it would be a very different place.

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.

The Perv – These guys show up a lot on celebrity sites, announcing some really disgusting thing they’d like to do that famous figure . . .and of course will never get the chance to, thanks to stalker laws, restraining orders, and the fact they have no driver’s license. It’s a toss-up in my mind whether the Web is a good outlet for these guys, or the platform they’ve always dreamed of.

The Slut – The best thing about slut commenters (”What’s wrong with having sex with your best friend’s dad?”) is that they don’t know they’re sluts . . .until 800 other posters happily point it out to them.

The Boaster – Few of us have ever driven a Lamborghini at 190 miles per hour. But this guy has. And can bench press 350 pounds. And dated Jessica Alba in high school. And . . .

The Tough Guy – Remember the kid who talked tough, then ran off when confronted? The Internet is filled with these clowns, all secure in the knowledge that they will never be called to account.

The Pwn3R – Most people are lucky to come up with a truly brilliant and devastating comeback a couple times in their lives. But the Web, thanks to its unique characteristics, has bred a population of posters who regularly drop verbal and visual bombs on unsuspecting recipients (like The Boaster and the Tough Guy) that are so devastating that the victims can only slink off and be grateful for their anonymity. I don’t know who these men and women are, but I both worship and fear them.

The Lecturer – This is the buzzkill pedant who feels the need, even in a casual, light comments section to post a 1,000 word exegesis on what everyone should be talking about. Hey, thanks pal!

The Illiterate – The blogosphere is still mostly a written medium – so it’s always bizarre to encounter (in about one out of a hundred comments) that poster whose spelling and grammar are so awful that you hope that they are just some drunk pounding on a Blackberry.

The Unacknowledged Expert – A version of the Lecturer, this is the undoubtedly insufficiently credentialed poster who feels the need to systematically point out how stupid everyone else is in order to prove how brilliant they are. I always picture these guys as the frustrated adult result of smart kids who didn’t listen to their high school guidance counselors.

The Mystery Genius – These folks are just the opposite of unacknowledged experts. Whoever they are, they post comments that are so shockingly clever or brilliant that you are left wondering who they are: Slumming Nobel Laureates? Bored nobility? The first glimpse of the Internet gaining consciousness?

The Confessor – You’re going along, casually reading some comment stream . . .and suddenly you are taken up short by a poster who, for some unknown reason, feels compelled to make some stunning confession – “and that’s why I buried the drifter in my crawl space” – and then disappears. These are some of the most disturbing comments on the Web.

The Tomboy – Every geek’s dream girl. These women show up on sites frequented mostly by young men and instead of professing shock at the proceedings, actually raise the stakes: “Well I happen to like playing World of Warcraft all weekend in my underwear and only eating Doritos and Top Ramen . . .”

The Handyman – This poster is basically Dad in disguise. Someone mentions a mechanical or computer problem as an aside, and this poster instantly has the solution – the wrong jets in your carburetor, a poor ground on your toaster, insufficient cache memory. Whatever it is, they’ve got the answer.

The Alien – This is a poster from another country who has no context for what every commenter is talking about, and so asserts his or her own cultural solution: “Why this complain about wife? Sell gotes and buy more wifes!”

The Martian – Finally, these are the commentators whose combination of pretzel logic, conspiratorial tone, and downright weirdness – “Well, we all know the Pope is behind that big lake of fire at the South Pole, don’t we?” – reminds you that the world is an even scarier place than we imagine, and makes you wonder if this writing for the Internet gig is such a good idea after all.

I don’t think we have any Sluts or Pervs here, or Confessors (thank gawd!). I would like to think I am The Droll but am probably more like The Alien.

  • elise

    OK, I admit it. I’m a “lecturer”. Does it help if I apologize or would that change my status to apologetic? If I say this post was fun AIG, does that make me a “Butt-Kisser? I’m having an identity crisis.

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ sarainitaly

      LOL!

  • http://noliinsipientiuminiuriaspati.blogspot.com/ adagioforstrings

    I am a narc commenter & I’m reporting all of you PUMAs to the AMERICAN NETWORK MONITORING ANTI-OBAMA ACTIVITIES

    Mwa ha ha haha…cough….HAA!!!/sarc

  • Kim

    Love this post American Girl!

  • Arabella Trefoil

    A Field Guide to Commenters. Handy list.

  • http://noquarter foxyladi14

    I enjoy the comments.sometimes I learn something new..sometimes I just laugh.thanks

  • Mercedes

    I don’t know what category of commenter I usually fall into, but I do know that I would never write some of the things I do if I had to give my real name.

    Off the subject, but there is a fairly new website related to DNA analysis and genetics called “23 and Me”. The site has an introductory video called Genetics 101. The man reading for the video sounds to me so much like Old Grumpy Guy who has written some interesting blogs for NQ. I would be surprised if there were more than one Old Grumpy Guy around or even anyone who sounds like him.

    • oowawa

      (“The Confessor” speaks): I miss OGG. I guess he’s given up on his mission to bring culture to us colonial heathens. I don’t blame him.

  • I’mFedUp

    Okay AGI I am sorry this is OT…But check out the newest addition to the criminal family members in the Fraudbama clan…Pedophile Obama…Good lord.

    http://lamecherry.blogspot.com/2009/04/pedophile-obama.html

    • I’mFedUp

      Here’s another one…

      Obama’s brother denied entry to UK because of sex charge…WTF is up with the “First Family?” Wow.

      http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/04/obamas-brother-refused-entry-to-uk-because-of-sex-charge-on-young-british-girl.html

      • Docelder

        Must be because of his “tribal affiliations”. We had better get him asylum, free residence, some food coupons and a lifetime ACORN membership ASAP. ;)

      • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

        WOW, and Bill and Jimmy thought their brothers were bad…

        • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

          President elect Barack Obama’s half-brother Samson Obama is one of several
          close family members from Kenya headed to the U.S for the presidential
          inauguration.

          http://mpelembe.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2009/1/15/4057947.html

          • I’mFedUp

            AGI…LOL…It really is the Clampetts in the WH.

            • Docelder

              I almost envision a bet between some Saudi royalty and somebody like Soros… one bet the other he could take a lower level nobody in Harlem who makes 12K a year and make him the President of the U.S. So, they got him into Harvard and began playing with his career until here we are… well I hope the bet was for something significant. I hope it was worth it. But deep down, you have to think the bet was probably for $1.

              • I’mFedUp

                Ohhhhh Docelder…good call. Sort of like the film Trading Places in the White House? LMAO.

                • oowawa

                  HaHaHa–”Trading Places” is right on, with a dash of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady thrown in. What a musical this is going to make!

                  • Portia Elizabeth

                    So BO is Eliza Dolittle?
                    Or BO Doesn’t-do-Diddley.

                    • I’mFedUp

                      I think we can also add Dave/The Legend of Zelda too!

              • mommakk

                It’s a joke,that’s for sure.

                Check out this movie trailer
                Head of State- Chris Rock.
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN-rv6QZfBs

                So who pulled the wool on America?

        • Docelder

          If only there was a “Miss Lillian” around to keep Barack straight… oops, I forgot he wouldn’t have respect for a female authority figure.

    • candymarl

      What’s a pedophile or leader of mass murder (Odinga) between friends?

      • I’mFedUp

        I think it’s time for a Fraud Family Tree thread.

  • candymarl

    I’ve climbed Mt. Everest, rescued puppies from a burning building, parachuted plane-mates to safety, and escorted a dozen elderly persons across the street.

    That was all in one day.

    Who am I?

    • arran

      0bama

      • candymarl

        Oh snap!

    • oowawa

      Bo Diddley?

      • candymarl

        LOL!

  • arran

    I should add that I wasn’t commenting on NoQ commenters during the primary or now. I have no criticisms of ya’ll in fact you are much nicer to “Julie” than she/he deserves.

  • arran

    Yes, Jackarooty, I’ve seen as many as 10 links posted in one comment.

  • arran

    Aah–”The Lecturer”–During the primary where comments numbered in the hundreds at times, along would come this thousand, or 2, worded “thesis” with no indentions, maybe as long as 5 or 6 pages, and my brain cells would explode. At last, I told the commenter to shorten his comments as no one is reading them.

    • Ferd Berfle

      You mean Detractor the dissertation troll?

  • WhatNow

    Interesting. I’m sure there’s a grant and a lot of money for someone, who is all knowing, who can do a study, not necessarily, a scientific study to determine the personalities of the people who blog and how their personalities dominate their blogging life.

    Heck, here’s a career in the making. Once that study is completed, the all knowing can do a research on people who have their own blogs, why, which personalities have successful blogs, etc.

    I turned to blogging because I thought I had a lot to say but, it turns out that I don’t have that much to say. I do a lot of blog reading.

  • Jackarooty

    How about “The Linker”?
    One who always has to post a pertinent article that everyone must read!

    The “OT”? Speaks for itself.

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

      the worst is when the article they are linking as a *must read* is the very article the post is actually about! haha

      I get that one a lot…. makes me think people aren’t actually reading my post… hmmm. but, i KNOW that can’t be the case. hahah

      • Jackarooty

        I just thought of another one…

        “The Copier” – one who doesn’t know how to copy a link and copies and pastes the entire article!

        Argh!

      • TeakwoodKite
        • Jackarooty

          Funny! Funny! I’m so tempted to copy and paste AGiI’s post…but I won’t!

          • V

            See, Amgirl? I told ya. You can delete my comment but you can’t delete the truth– you got Pwn3d.

            • V

              Oh, best part: in order to make this unpleasant truth disappear, you have to not only delete my comment, but your own as well, in which you gullibly yuk it up with Jackarooty that the offender described is a laughable clown without realizing that he is describing you.

              Priceless.

              Go to work, destroyer of reality!

  • arran

    Portia Elizabeth–I googled Pwn3R and it “comes from the language of 1337 or leet [80's software game]in which gamers describe another as a dominating opponent.”

    It also is a form of the word owner where ther attacker is owning the other.

    • Portia Elizabeth

      Thank you.
      I’m embarrassed I never even thought of Google.

      • TeakwoodKite

        The Illiterate.

        The first glimpse of the Internet gaining consciousness?

        I never even thought of Google.
        Vert wast tobaggan. :)

        • Portia Elizabeth

          I tried googling “vert wast tobaggan”, but Google is insisting that I want “vert waste toboggan”. :{

        • Portia Elizabeth

          So next I tried “translate vert wast tobaggan”.
          Google thinks I really want “very best toboggan”.

        • Portia Elizabeth

          So far i’ve tried Dutch, German and Swedish to English with no luck.

          Is that perhaps Austrian?

  • oowawa

    You know, looking over this list again, I realize that at one time or another I have been guilty of “fitting” most of the categories at one time or another. And indeed, I think that is true for many of us who post frequently. Here’s a few other essential categories: The Chameleon–usually a troll–who assumes various identities and takes great supercilious pleasure in deceiving the stupid gullible posters as to his “real” thoughts. The Stalker–who nurtures a personal animosity towards a poster or small group of posters, and sniffs them out through various threads. The Psychopathic Lurker, who does not post, but who knows who you are and where you live (okay, that’s just my tin hat talking to me).

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

      OOOH yes!! two good ones! i have been subjected to those two types, by the same person!

    • http://theheraclitanfire.blogspot.com/ Craig Della Penna

      I my role as an Unacknowledged Expert:

      it seems that some British studies have shown that tinfoil hats, counterintuitively, actually increase and focus the alien thought control radiation…

      • oowawa

        I’ve often noticed that! I’m glad to find confirmation from an expert!

        (here we have an example of a “Droll” working with an “Unacknowledged Expert” in a symbiotic relationship)

    • Ferd Berfle

      There’s also the sniper, posting some cockamamie bs and then running. Little Debbie was good at that one.

  • Portia Elizabeth

    What about us Clueless ones?
    I read the first part and immediately recognized myself as one of the crazies he wrote about.

    Since I’m obviously not a Pwn3R, can someone explain what Pwn3R stands for? (Hence, clueless.)

    • James

      Short for “Owner”

      The poster that utterly embarrasses someone with a clever and devastating response that they usually go away for a while and come back with a different user name.

      • Portia Elizabeth

        Thank you.

  • arran

    The “clique leader” who makes sure newcomers are ignored or given a barb or two.

    The “non-stop arguers”–those who argue ad infinitum (for years)with the same troll.

    • Portia Elizabeth

      Hey, I get my amusement where I can.

      • http://noquarter foxyladi14

        me too!! I love this site,been coming here every day for a year now.
        HAPPY EASTER ALL!!!!

    • DAB

      The “clique leader” is a good one — along with the person who has to answer every comment i.e. that obnoxious kid in class who perpetually has his hand up.

      After all, isn’t life sort of like an extended stay in High School anyways?

  • Pat Racimora

    Fun read–I know them all, sometimes the hard way.

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

      hehehe i hear ya! ;O)

  • Tuppence411

    Aliens are my favorite, love the laughs! I am partial to Dads in disguise. Nothing pisses me off more than a Parser,they are more annoying than trolls. Parsers are just passive-aggressive Dismissers (or anal retentive school teachers.) Martians scare me, obviously not enough Prozac is leaching into our water supplies. I am in awe of Mystery Geniuses and Pwn3R.

    • sowsear

      or anal retentive anybodies. Why just pick on school teachers, she says?

  • Patrick Henry

    Yeh…and I still Love Freedom of Speech..even tho it gets Abused at times…

  • Ferd Berfle

    Have you ever noticed that when you give someone an exhaustive list of items, that at least one more can be added to the list? (snark)

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

      hehe yes, but the more the merrier! he came up with a LOT though!

  • oowawa

    Well, I don’t see a category for “The Pleasant Wise Person!” I’d cop to that! (Okay, I’ll confess to being a “Droll,” aka “Weisenheimer.”} But under the clowny guise, I’m crying!

    Really good post, American Girl.

    • Ferd Berfle

      And a great song, too. Tears of a Clown.

      • oowawa

        Yep. just a candy-colored clown they call “the sandman.” Sniff.

  • I’mFedUp

    Where’s the angry, bitter white person?

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

      well, that is all of us, isn’t it? haha

      On the original story the guy asked for people to list their own. I maybe should have included that, but it looks like people are, so this could be quite funny! :O)

    • Diana L. C.

      All of us who supported Hillary are the racist posters, aren’t we?

  • Ferd Berfle

    Where’s the curmudgeon?

    • imustprotest

      Where’s the narcissist?

      • imustprotest

        I’ll answer my own question: IN THE WHITE HOUSE!! Haha! I crack myself up!!! opps….

      • Ferd Berfle

        Hogging the nearest mirror, I’m afraid.

    • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

      that’s me, when i get followed by a nasty bot! haha

  • arran

    I disagree. I enjoyed your post, AGII.

    “The Defender”–haha

  • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

    V – you have been placed in pending status. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO POST USING MY EMAIL ADDRESS.

  • http://sarainitalyblog.blogspot.com/ American Girl in Italy

    thanks arran! :OD