On restraint in commenting

I must note once again that some commenters are taking up an inordinate amount of space on threads, sometimes making 20 comments or so in a 60-comment thread.  While I like readers to comment, dominating threads in this way is something I speak about in Da Roolz:

9. Try not to dominate threads, particularly in a one-on-one argument. I’ve found that those are rarely informative, and the participants never reach agreement. A good guideline is that if your comments constitute over 10% of the comments on a thread, you’re posting too much.

Well, I’ll extend that to 15%, but that’s still almost one comment out of six, and that seems a bit domineering to me.  I also don’t like one-on-one arguments if they extend beyond a couple of exchanges, as they constitute a derailment of the discussion onto one’s own personal track.

Ask yourself this when you’re poised to comment, “Does this remark advance the discussion, or bring up some new or interesting point, or does it just allow me to flaunt my own views?” If it’s the latter, restrain thyself!


  1. Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Most bloggers would give their molars for your problem. (Which is real, I know.) An overabundance of comments? You made me smile, and the original Roolz are great.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Not really an overabundance of comments (well, yes there is), but an overabundance of comments from some individuals. If people don’t think that’s a problem, let me know. I always thought that would be off-putting to readers who didn’t like people dominating threads, but if they don’t mind then I don’t care much.

      • Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        FWIW, I don’t see it as a problem, as long as the discussion is civil and not repetitive.

        But whatever you say.

      • Doug Knauer
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        I’m with you, Mr. Coyne. Following Da Roolz! is the implicit agreement we all make when we join in. Besides, I get much more enlightenment from commenters who make a point, but don’t feel it necessary to ‘win’ that point.

      • Steve Gerrard
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        I find it pretty easy to skip over the ping-pong style arguments. I could complain about having to scroll to find the end of them, but that’s a pretty minor complaint.

      • Posted July 17, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        I get it. I feel free to edit a comment once every few years.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I believe the one on one discussions tend to get a bit much by some. There gets to be an argument between two or three and everyone wants the last word. I don’t see the need for that. There was a fellow here some time ago who had a tendency to get carried away. Maybe he burned out.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      No, I’m still here. 😉

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        I think you know who I mean, but I’m not saying.

  3. Posted July 16, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    HA! I write for various places, but mainly themoderatevoice.com and democracy chronicles.org as they let me scream my inner atheist. They’re medium sized sites – a few hundred thousand a month each, but BOTH would love to have your problem.

    Heeeeey. Maybe I should be commenting where I work rather than here?

    Nah. For my reading pleasure I prefer it here.
    D.A. NYC
    Oh – I’m not above a plug for my own writing though. 🙂

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 17, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Whew! When you said “restraint,” I was afraid you were fixin’ to break out the straitjackets and flex cuffs for some of us here.

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