html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: So it shall be.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So it shall be.

I am announcing a new comment policy, at least until I regain some tolerance for critical analysis. I’ve started dreading comments, not ‘cause they’re wrong, but because I can’t stand to read another version of “well, but this aspect of what you wrote”, no matter how kindly put. I am as prone to this as anyone, so I’m doing an experiment.

My first thought was: well, if the people who take to blog commenting are the same people who live by analytic thought, then we should see what the other people are doing. I debated asking the regulars to refrain to see if we could lure the lurkers into commenting. Lurkers, won’t you please comment? This isn’t a private conversation we’re having here, me and my friends. This is an open conversation, for you guys. Sometimes you write me and say wonderful things, and then I’m all, but why wouldn’t you say something so observant where everyone could admire it? Don’t stop yourself because you feel like you cannot write anything as trenchant and pointed as the others do. I am sick of trenchant and pointed. I’m looking for different stuff, at least until I fall back into old habits.

My second thought was: well, if I believe my model, that the aggregation of commenters reflects the blogger, and I don’t like that mode of commenting, then I need to fix the blogger. Maybe I should change the ways I communicate. But that’s just wild crazytalk and a dead-end.

I only got as far as a third thought. Here it is, and the new policy. If you MUST make a critical observation (I don’t mean critical in the sense of negative, I mean critical in the sense of analytical.) because you MUST or you will DIE, then before you do, you must tell me about something affirmative. You must tell me about a feeling you had, or something you built or cooked or improved. Counter your relentless thinky-ness with a genuine experience of some sort. Something you saw. Something that actually happened and changed the world or moved you. Criticism is second-hand evaluation of something a different person did or felt or thought or made. No more of that unless you compensate by offering your own creation.

UPDATE: I'm serious. FROM THIS POINT ON, comments that violate this policy won't get through moderation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a good idea. There is much in neuroeconomics to support it. It limits commenting to people who are able to get themselves, if only temporarily, out of a foul mood.

5:53 PM  
Blogger asymptote beagle said...

genuine experience: i baked cookies today, and had the courage to take them out soft, so that they finished cooking while cooling down.

critical comment: your blog is wonderful.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Tyler!! You owe me an experience!

a b: Hey, I liked that so much. Maybe this will work. Oatmeal raisin? Molasses?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

I read your new comment policy. It reminded me of an experience I went through many years ago. A whole bunch of us went to train as rape crisis counselors at a community organization and a culture class ensued. We were berated for being too intellectual in our responses, for being inauthentic.

It was a deep and profound invalidation, one which made us feel very much disempowered, and it led to a loss of trust and respect for a facilitators because they had created a narrow standard of authentic experience into which they wanted to fit us, and they dismissed anything other than what they were looking for.

The net result was to deepen resentment between the community leaders and the students in the classroom. After that the organization only let in student volunteers in very small numbers because we were culturally inappropriate.

I don't think those are the sorts of feelings you wish to engender in your readers.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

WAIT, a b!! Who are you?! Your blog is SO excellent! Come back and set awhile!

8:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

First off, you owe me an experience.

Secondly, at this point, FUCK 'EM. Right now I'm so sick of this dynamic that if I lose readers who can't get out of their heads, I surely won't miss them.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I walked out this morning, I took a deep breath, and I felt... spring. The smell, the change in the light, the temperature, all said it.

Interestingly, she's probably just about here, by the time you read this.

So... in this arena of disconnected voices, we meet only by writing. We can't see each other, so there are no visual cues. Cannot hear, therefore, no verbal cues. Everything I want to convey to you, must be in words. Not words said on the fly, but words I think of before I write. The conversation takes place over hours or days, so I want to put together a reasonably good argument. Trying to imagine in advance counter arguments, or holes in my thinking wastes less time on both our parts, in some ways. The downside, is that I become so invested in an argument I already believe, that I may not be able to see the other side. I rely on you to present your view equally so that I can see it.

If we were sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a glass of wine, the conversation would be much more fluid, but alas this is not the case.

at least this is what the voice in my head says...


10:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Shit! I lost two or three comments. Shane and HC, I think. You experiences were making truffles and trying to code while on fire. Would you post them again? There may have been another as well. Sorry, y'all.

Feeling: contrite, but not devastated or anything.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Louis said...

I'm probably going to be analytical here so here's my experience :-)

We had 2 ice storms this winter and I was all worried about the two little cherry trees that I planted. They just started to bud and it made me sooo happy :D
The lady that owned the property before me also hid flower bulbs all over the place, so it's kinda interesting to see where flowers are popping up.

I'm not completely a wallflower, I do occasionally post. Here's how it goes for me (with this and other blogs)...

If you write a nice informative article, I read it and enjoy it, and, usually, have no reason to comment. I may comment if I have a question that I think that you can answer, or if I feel that I have something to add.

If you write an opinion piece and I agree, I don't usually see much point in posting.

If you post an opinion piece and I am inclined to disagree, but it's not a matter of (reasonably) objective information, or it's something that I either don't care much about, or that I don't know much about, or I don't see any point in posting a disagreement, I won't comment.

If I am inclined to disagree because I think that you have made faulty assumptions or that there is faulty logic involved, then I'm more inclined to post. If you post about a problem that seems to occur, I feel compelled to analyze it and may post. (Hey, I'm an engineer, I almost can't help it)

I very much enjoy reading your blog, honestly. Maybe I should post more when you have a nice article about water management that I enjoy, or about something in your life that I sympathize with.

In any case, I hope that you enjoy writing your blog, because I enjoy reading it.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous HC said...

I'd spent the day making truffles - milk chocolate ganache, dark chocolate shell, rolled variously in powdered sugar, hazelnuts, and pecans. Fortunately(?), they're all for other people.

Among other things, it reminded me of how much you miss modern conveniences when they're not around - chopping large quantities of nuts is ample reason to acquire a food processor.

I'd concur with Louis' analysis about why most posting ends up as nitpicking - what else is there to say, usually, but either "what about..." or "amen"? The latter has long been nearly foreclosed by your prior comment policy, and not all of the former will be substantive inquiries for further detail.

Incidentally, does this new policy extend or supersede the previous one? Asymptote beagle's experience, above, suggests that it supersedes, but I'd rather have an authoritative declaration before testing the limits.

I'd miss your analytical posts, if you chose to take the blog in another direction, but I do think that experiential posts are more likely to attract the kind of comments you presently seek. Personally, I have always appreciated the water policy and engineering posts, as well as the stories from your life. Perhaps a feature on the greatest hits of Anand's debauchery, if the delicacy of his present inamorata permits?

I have enjoyed the blog, and do hope that you find a way to again enjoy the writing of it.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Generic said...

Hi, there. Long time listener here, first time caller. (Well, not first, but first of any real substance).

Genuine experience: I've been intermittently following FTA since back in the day, but your recent move to the biggety-O has left me anxious. It's like worrying that you're going to run into Atrios or Digby at the Starry Plough with nothing pithy to say. (The Make-Out Room? Totally one of my haunts. After the last show you linked to, I was wondering if you were the girl in the corner not laughing. My g/f was doubtful. If it was you, then why weren't you laughing O Curly Haired Lady? The routines were mucho divertidísimo, I thought.

Re: the latest entreaty "Don’t stop yourself because you feel like you cannot write anything as trenchant and pointed as the others do." Well, no, we will stop ourselves. And for good reason. We're just not as smart as some a yous guys. Intellectual voyerism is no small part of the appeal of blogs like these. Don't be cruel and make us limp into the spotlight when we have little of worth to contribute. Either Yglesias or Ezra remarked that a perfect post was one upon which nothing further needed to be said.

For what it's worth, this post was your bestest post ever ever ever. World-view changing for me, in fact.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Megan said...


I didn't make it out there that night. You would please, please, please introduce yourself if you saw me, right?

You have things to say; you just said really interesting things.

Not even "run into me". You could deliberately invite me to stuff. I would love that. I like meeting people and there are way too many nights in Oakland where I sit home blogging and wishing I had local friends I could call up.


My room is cold, so I'm under the covers. My sister and the boys are asleep. It is nice to have my cat tucked next to me, but I wish I weren't out here alone.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

I don't comment much because I'm usually weeks late.

I made myself pancakes for dinner tonight. The first ones kept dripping out as I flipped them and tasted thin and icky. I added more mix to the bowl and the rest of them were full and wonderful and flipped perfectly.

Have you ever considered having a policy that requires all comments to start with something affirmative (generative?).

Also, so, you've totally gotten over the period where you are super excited about the fact that strangers are actually reading your blog? That's kind of sads.

6:02 PM  

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