I’m going to do something a little different today, and talk about blogging in general and internet discourse in particular. Perhaps this information will help you if you intend to become a successful blogger someday (which many of you should and learn how).
Over the last eight years, I have read and commented on many blogs and forums. I have also run several blogs as well as a forum that I co-managed with some other talented guys. Today I have three blogs (this one, a business blog, and a personal blog) two of which are real money makers.
If you start a blog (or forum), then over time, as your site gets more traffic, you will start to see the appearance of several predictable types of commenters. I’m going to run you through all these different commenter types, and what to do with them when you encounter them in order to ensure maximum efficiency and rational discourse at your blog or site.
My recommendations on what to do with these types of people are, of course, my own opinion, and opinions may differ. For example, if you wanted to start a blog in order to really piss people off and stir up a lot of drama, you may disagree with some of my recommendations. That’s fine; everyone has their own goals when they start a blog. I’m just giving you this information as I see it.
I will list the personality types going from the worst to the best. Here we go:
Drive-By Trolls – These are people who stumble across your blog, really don’t know what it is beyond its title, read a few sentences, get pissed, leave a comment insulting you with no other content, then leave and never come back. They aren’t interested in reading your stuff or making any actual points.
What to do with them: Delete their comments and move on.
Psychos – These are the paranoid, psychotic internet crazies whose comments would be very funny and interesting if they didn’t derail conversations so often. These guys will always derail any conversation on any topic into a hysterical rant about chemtrails, death camps, jews, nuclear war, gay people, bankers, guns, Hitler, or any other topic they’re hopelessly addicted to.
Vast experience in this area has shown me that 99% of the time, these people are current or former drug addicts or alcoholics, or people who suffer from aspergers or some extreme version of ADHD and are currently off their meds. They’re pathetic, though often entertaining.
What to do with them: Block/ban them, delete their comments if they ever get through your filter, and move on. However, save their hilarious comments and show your friends for a good laugh. Some of their stuff is really funny.
Haters – These are people who have permanently decided they don’t like you for whatever reason. It’s usually because of a position you hold or because of your communication style. Once these folks make this decision, they automatically hate almost everything you say. Like the drive-by trolls, haters have no interest in actually having a conversation or making any actual, rational points. They’re only interested in launching personal attacks, and their two favorite words are “liar” and “narcissist.” They will go out of their way to try to convince everyone that everything you say is a lie.
One of the most interesting things about haters is that they don’t just hate you. Haters always hate lots of people. They like to hate. It turns them on. This is why Amazon authors know that when you click on someone who gives a one-star review to a book, and look at their other reviews, they one-star just about everything else they’ve reviewed. That’s how haters work. They hate everyone, again using the words “liar” and/or “narcissist” to describe everybody.
You will always have haters, even if your topic isn’t controversial. It’s part of internet life. I know a sweet little old lady who has a blog on gardening. Gardening! And she has haters! Per the hater playbook, they call her a lair and a narcissist. You could start a blog called The Sky Is Blue, and just talk about that, and if you got enough traffic, you’d have haters. Accept in advance that about 2% of your audience will be haters no matter what you say, so don’t worry about it. Outcome independence. Haters also make you money because of the exposure, SEO, and links they provide you.
What to do with them: Block/ban them, delete their comments if they ever get through your filter, and move on. Do not attempt to argue with them. They’re not there to actually debate points, even if they pretend to (and often they try). They’re there to be mad, insult you, and/or dodge your points by attacking you (“You hate women!”) or your communication style (“Just because you bold your sentences doesn’t make you right, Blackdragon.”). You’re wasting your time by discussing anything with them; just chuck them and move on.
Nitpickers – Nitpickers are interesting. They actually like your stuff and often contribute good information on their own. Sometimes they make some great points. They aren’t trolls or haters by any means.
The problem is that these dudes are so anal they have calculators shoved up their asses. They honestly like your stuff, but they read everything you write with narrowed, suspicious eyes. It’s almost like they believe that you’re constantly trying to lie to them, and it’s their job to catch you. Any time you make a claim, they’ll take two hours out of their day to re-read a bunch of your past posts to make sure you’re consistent. Any time you state a number, they’ll whip out a calculator and double-check your math. Any time you discuss any dates or facts, they’ll whip up Wikipedia and make sure you’re not trying to “lie” to them.
These are guys who read a five-page blog post, love it and agree with its main points, but then see one sentence they don’t like, then their heads explode. They’ll post long, angry comments about it even if it’s not even relevant to the point of the article.
Nitpickers are masters at using too much logic to the point of stupidity. Once, when I said my mom had five kids between 1972 and 1979, a nitpicker called me a liar by saying that it was impossible, and that my mom would have been pregnant through the entire 70s. Well, that was exactly what happened and she was. Another time a nitpicker called me a liar when I said I had a high sex drive. His logic? I was lying because I was overweight, and overweight guys must have low testosterone, and guys with low testosterone must have low sex drives, therefore I couldn’t have a high sex drive and was “lying” and “bragging” about it.
I could give many examples of nitpickers throughout the years but I think you get the point.
What to do with them: Engage them in rational conversation as long as they’re staying on topic. If they keep going crazy with the nitpicks, especially the inaccurate or off-topic ones, politely but strongly tell them to knock it off, either via a public comment or private email. They usually get the point and calm down, seething behind their calculators.
Jekylls (as in Jekyll and Hyde) – This is another interesting category. Jekylls are usually forum-dwellers, but you’ll occasionally see them on blogs too. These guys are extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, and articulate. They have good information and advice to share, and are valuable guys to have on your site.
The problem is if you disagree with them in any strong way, their heads explode and they suddenly transform into the Hulk and go insane. They start making bizarre, deranged, attack-statements that make absolutely no sense. If you call them out on these statements, they ignore the call-out and just keep screaming their heads off. It’s almost as if they become a completely different person, one far more dumb and crazy. Once they calm down, they’re cool, calm, articulate guys again. Jekyll and Hyde. I’ve run into a large number of these guys over the years in the PUA world and it is really fascinating to watch.
What to do with them: When they’re happy and making good points, let them, agree with them, and encourage them. When they go into insane-mode, clearly and rationally call them out on their insane statements. They’ll probably ignore you and keep screaming, but at least you’re demonstrating to all the readers that they’re all bark and no bite (or should I say, no point). If they keep screaming, give them a warning to calm down, then ban them if needed.
Happy Dissenters – These are people who regularly read your content and enjoy it, but they completely disagree with most of what you say. Why do they keep reading then? It depends. Perhaps they like to hear opposing arguments, or perhaps they find you entertaining or interesting. They will sometimes make comments disagreeing with you, but do so in a very supportive and polite way. They will also make it clear that they don’t want to argue with you, but simply enjoy reading your opposing viewpoints.
What to do with them: Engage them like adults and enjoy them. Often they’re fun.
Defensive Newbies – These are guys new to your blog and/or the topic of your blog who make arguments that you have clearly addressed in very obvious ways many times before. An easy example would be a person at this blog making a comment that lifetime monogamy works great as long as you find the right girl. They’re obviously new to the blog and the topic, they have not read the stats and facts in this area, and they have more reading to do.
What to do with them: Be nice and polite, no matter how ignorant they may sound at first. It’s not their fault. Keep a set of handy links nearby to quickly post whenever you get a defensive newbie comment. Usually, they’ll go to those links, read, and learn. Other readers will also make use of those links for a good review session.
Half-Fans – These are regular readers who strongly support / agree with you in one core area, but disagree with you on all the others. Whenever you talk about their area of interest, they’re your biggest supporters. Whenever you give an opinion on any other topic, they grumble and complain. They tend to come from other similar blogs in more close agreement with their worldview, but still agree with you just enough to keep reading your stuff. An example from this blog would be readers who come from the more angry manosphere blogs.
What to do with them: Be cool with them. Enjoy it when they agree with you, but when they grumble, and they will, let them say their peace. You won’t be changing their minds, so let them vent when they need to (as long as they stay within the rules of your blog and don’t derail conversations).
Regular Fans – This will be the vast majority of your regular readers. They love to read your stuff and agree with most of what you have to say. However, they don’t agree with all of what you say, and will occasionally disagree with you in a rational and engaging way. They often have great points, and will often help other commenters. They are fantastic contributors and make your blog a better place.
What to do with them: Be cool and supportive. These are your buddies. Support them when you agree, debate them when you don’t, all in the spirit of collaboration and education, not just for the both of you but for the readers as well.
Hardcore Fans – These guys are just like the regular fans, except that they also think what you have to say is extremely important and should be strongly promoted and propagated all over the internet. They will recommend your blog and your products to others, link to you often, make positive web sites about you, and work very hard to get the word out. Hardcore fans will only be a small percentage of your readership, but they’re extremely important and will create a much bigger, positive impact than any other category of commenter.
What to do with them: Support them, give them whatever they ask for (within reason of course), always answer all of their questions, reciprocate their efforts, then get out of their way and let them do their thing.