The lynch mob in blog comments

Robert Scoble, who blogs for Microsoft, has been blogging about his mother recently dying from a stroke, and how that’s changed him. In addition to being a superb post, he touches on the unfortunate amount of hostility sometimes found in blog comments.

I’m glad I went through this personal time after my mom’s stroke. It helped me refocus on what’s important and what my blog means to me. This blog is mine. It is what I’m thinking about, and what I’m seeing in my life. It isn’t a news article. I am not vetted. It isn’t done by a committee. I am not being held to any standards.

On the other hand, I don’t like the lynch mob. It’s going to take a strong blogger to stand up against hundreds of blogs who are urging action one way. But, we need that kind of diversity of ideas if we are going to make this a truly strong media.

The lynch mob. Maybe it’s because I’m an antiwar organizer and more used to such things, but they’re just part of the background. You don’t have to focus on them. And don’t take it personally either.

There’s something about posting comments on blogs and boards that brings out the worst in people. They’ll say things they’d never say in person to you. That fire-breathing dragon in the comments sometimes turns out to be an introverted nebbish in person.

You can, of course, delete comments. I deleted a multitude of them recently on an immigrant rights thead. There’s no need to respond to attacks either, unless, of course, you want to or have a witty putdown for them.

At antiwar protests, some will go up to counter-demonstrators and try to convince them to change their mind. Why bother? If they’re hardcore enough to be there, you won’t change them. Work the middle instead.

Best advice: “Talk to those who want to listen.”