Thursday, May 12, 2011

Praises for and Pitfalls of the Combox

There are days when I know I am blowing-off every important activity in which I should be engaged.  Those days are marked by the number of times I write in a comment box on a favorite blog.  I comment because I want to be a part of the conversation, feel sassy, want to promote my blog, have something funny/mean/irreverent to say, or any combination of the above.

The internet makes commenting very easy.  Just imagine if you had to stop with a screaming toddler in a public place, to write something by hand, and put it in this thing every time you wanted to respond in a snarky way! 

Notice that I include three of them.  Comboxes multiply like rabbits on the internet.  I can, and sometimes do, comment on the site with the article, and referring site from which I arrived at the article, and any links sites at which I arrived because of the article.  It's like repeating to my son seven times that he needs to let the dogs outside, brush his teeth and put on his best clothes, before he actually does it.  Or more likely, before I can be certain that all steps have been followed.

There are also times when I'm certain that I am writing in a combox so I don't feel compelled to argue with my husband, a colleague, neighbor or friend.  Those of you who do the same know who you are.

And there are also the sentimental comments that fall into the category of, "I think you are really smart.  I wish you were my neighbor, colleague, or friend.  Will you like me as much as I like you?"  I fall into this sometimes by leaving my blog-link in a combox.  I always feel dirty when I do it.  It's too much like being one of the cranks at www.theblaze.com. 

Such are the pitfalls of comboxes.

But what is worthy of praise in comboxes must be the information shared by those who actually know something.  It happens all the time.  I read an article, and then the combox discussion.  I notice that people who offer real information that is relevant tend to use something close to a real name. They are not ashamed or afraid to be known. 

Sometimes they seem to know the person.  Granted, sometimes  when a commenter seems to know the person writing the blog the comments are complimentary.  When that happens I often think they must be friends.  The whole thing seems to reek of face-book and starts to violate my trust in the blogger.

But overall, when a great combox discussion gets started, I feel like I'm at a fantasy cocktail party.  Everyone is engaged.  You may have to leave the conversation to say hello to the schmo that has a cubicle next to yours, but you make a point of spending time with the people who excite your intellect and stir the conversational pot.  Even the cranks at  the Blaze are like the crabby uncle in the corner that somebody felt certain it would be rude to exclude, even though he doesn't contribute more than the occasional request for someone to refill his drink.

So fill those comboxes.  Look for me at the party.  I'll be looking for you!

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