Saturday, November 23, 2013

About commenting

So I really do crave comments and wish there were more of them -- in fact, let's break that sentence there.

It's basically impossible to read this blog without knowing that I have money troubles and could really use donations.  My boring asking for donations post was a mere nine days ago and a few people were able to step up and donate and of the three looming not-good things on the near horizon one is effectively dealt with so "Yay!"  (And thanks.)  But for everyone who couldn't/can't donate, which I totally get (I intimately understand having no money to spare), if you're wishing for a way you could help: comment.

Seriously.  I crave feedback.  Without it there's just a void.  It's like no one read the thing or no one cared.  It's complete emptiness.  Comment on new things, comment on old things.  Say, "I liked this part," or, "I didn't like that part," or, "This turn of phrase was neat," or, "This feels like it was influenced by [X]," or, "Was that a [Y] reference?" or, "I think [this] should happen next," or, "I don't understand [Z]," or, "I don't know why this makes me think this but: Lobster," or whatever the hell comes into your mind.

I will appreciate it.

That being said, let me return to the first sentence and actually finish it this time:

So I really do crave comments and wish there were more of them, which makes me wary of saying anything that might discourage them.  However, if you're saying something that is contingent on certain details that you don't know I'd appreciate if you didn't just pull random assumptions of of your ass.  Yes, I'm talking about the Avengers plot hole thread, yes it is entirely possible that this entire post has only one person to whom it applies and that person will not read it anyway.

But for general consumption, there are things you can do when you don't have all the details.  It is a mistake to think that you need to have all the details to respond, you can totally respond it just needs some precautions.

Consider all of the people who have never read Left Behind but follow and comment on Fred Clark's deconstruction of it over on Slacktivist.  They bring valuable insights and have created a vibrant community, this in spite of the fact that most of them have no idea what's said in the sections Fred doesn't excerpt and could thus be missing critical details.

Just because you don't know doesn't mean you shouldn't comment.  What it does mean is that if what you're saying depends on something you don't know you should take that into account in your comment.  Absolute simplest way, which requires almost no effort: "If [thing I don't know] then [comment]."

You've made your comment and contributed to the conversation without asserting that a potentially false thing is true.  If the thing is true, then we can move on from there, if the thing is false perhaps it will start a brilliant tangent about an alternate universe in which it is true, if it's unclear then you've provided your opinion on one of the possible cases.

Very, very easy.  Of course it also means that you might make a comment that adds little.

For example, using the above the comment that got me to write would have started, "If Jane Foster's usefulness is dependent upon direct access to the tesseract..." and since Foster's usefulness is not dependent on access to the tesseract (direct or indirect) it would still be the case that nothing in the post applied to the movie as it exists in real life.

Of course, maybe phrasing it that way would kickstart a discussion on the difference between characters that are useful in themselves and characters that are useful only in relation to a certain thing and who knows where things might go from there.

But the point is, maybe you don't want to go the, "If ... then ... " route but you still have a comment or argument whose truth value is dependent upon information you don't have.  In that case one thing you can do is to look it up.

This is not always as easy or as reliable as it may seem.  I remember at one point I had to look at every reference to the word "hair" in Twilight (using searchable version of the book online, cross referenced with a physical copy of the book where I could actually READ ALL THE WORDS for context, which had inexplicably mashed the text with that of a completely different novel) just to see if my comment would apply.  I definitely should have just If-Thened there.  Way too much work for the pay off.

On the topic of reliability, recently --this month I think-- Ana Mardoll pointed to a Wikipedia description of an event in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that was wrong in every important respect.  Someone using Wikipedia to look that up would thus be led astray.

But, in general, looking up details you're not sure on is either pretty fast and not that unreliable (any even marginally accurate description of the movie Thor would have revealed that Jane Foster's usefulness was not dependent on access to the tesseract, for example), or quick to let you know that the information you want isn't easy to get to.  So it's a relatively safe route.  Safer still if you point out, "Wikipedia tells me [X] so [comment]."


The point here is that not having all the details of the source material is not a barrier to commenting on something here, but if you don't know please don't pretend you do know.  Comment, but either If-Then your comment, or try to look it up, or do something else so that you're not asserting as facts things which may or may not be true.


Also, it's perfectly valid to disagree with me, but if you disagree with me by basing your argument on things that are not actually true I'm going to have a hard time taking you seriously.


  1. I know the desperately craving comments feeling. I'm that way about my art and writing. Unfortunately, I'm terrible at thinking up anything useful to say to other desperate for comments people. :( I keep saying I'll work on it and then continue to fail at saying anything.

    1. That would be exactly my situation.

    2. I probably worry too much about the "useful" part.

  2. So I went and checked to be sure it wasn't me who said something that set you off. Not me, I didn't even comment there.

    I doubt you'd appreciate a comment like "sorry, it didn't make me feel anything, because I'm currently too angry/sad/scared about completely unrelated things". I wouldn't. But then, I'm a bit scared of other people commenting on my stuff. And when I *do* want them to talk to me, they usually don't. I'm trying to comment on Slacktivist when I feel like I have something to say, but most of the time no one reacts, so whatever I have to say isn't very valuable, I guess. I try to leave comments in other places too, but mostly silly ones (silly comments, not silly places). If it's fandom-related, I become more talkative... usually.


    1. My dying computer cut out the internet just as I was trying to post and the only part of my response I had on the clipboard was from making a list of things here that no one reacted to, so basically all the substantive parts of the comment were lost. Here's the quick version:

      So I went and checked to be sure it wasn't me who said something that set you off. Not me, I didn't even comment there.

      Pretty sure you have NEVER made a comment here that I didn't appreciate.


      I doubt you'd appreciate a comment like "sorry, it didn't make me feel anything, because I'm currently too angry/sad/scared about completely unrelated things".

      You're right, though I do want to know how you're doing in general (even if my response is usually to wish you were doing better and that there were something I could do to help.)


      I'm trying to comment on Slacktivist when I feel like I have something to say, but most of the time no one reacts, so whatever I have to say isn't very valuable, I guess.

      I've been mostly absent from Slacktivist, especially the comments, for a while now. So I don't actually know if what you have to say there is "isn't very valuable" but there are two things that I want to say.

      First, from what I know of you I feel reasonably safe assuming what you have to say is valuable.

      Second, responses can prove value, but a lack of responses in no way disproves it. Sufficient but not necessary, as it were.

      If I were making the same assumption here there are times I would have abandoned the blog entirely and I'd presently assume that, even though the entire reason the blog was created was to put all my stuff in one place, reposting the Narnia stuff here isn't very valuable.

      Here are the most recent fiction posts with no response AT ALL. See if you can spot a pattern other than the fact that I don't consistently label Narnia posts "Narnia":
      --Snarky Twilight: Jealousy
      --Narnia: If the heroes did their jobs
      --Narnia: If I could turn back time
      --Narnia: If I could turn back time
      --Narnia: Grab bag of other things from the Serpent Scene
      --The scene from The Last Battle if Edmund Got His Wish, Version 2
      --The scene from The Last Battle if Edmund Got His Wish, Version 1

      All but one of the no response things are Narnia. Does that mean that reposting here instead of leaving it only where it was originally posted (Ana Mardoll's), isn't very valuable? I hope not.

    2. The second "If I could turn back time" should read, "Let us never speak of this again".

    3. Well, if you don't repost here away from Disqus, I won't see them at all. But if they're being posted to ana's blog, in the context of other stuff said there, it seems that that's where discussion of them would make sense too.

  3. I read your blog regularly and love most everything you write and think you are amazing. I am also horribly internet shy. I have been not-commenting, not because you aren't cool, but because you are so cool.

    I will try to comment more from now on. You deserve it.


    1. Thank you for commenting now, and welcome here, and stuff. Much stuff.

      It is nice to meet you. Or internet-meet. Or however you say exchanging words with a new-to-you person via text.

  4. I comment every now and then, usually just to register appreciation your writing. I'm usually reading any time from a few days to a few months after things are written though (my life operates a bit like that), so I'll have to remember that it's still ok to comment even if the post isn't current or I don't have anything to say other than 'Shiny!'

    1. Yeah, let's all do that. I've only been reading here comparatively recently, and when I have time I go back and read older posts. I especially like the story ones, and I'm hoping feedback will lead to new content for at least some of those posts.

  5. Comment/question/thing:

    Is there something your appreciative public could fundraise for that would lead to you having better regular internet access?

    I realize there are tons of other things you need money more desperately for, and yet... That seems like a thing that could lead directly to having more of your work and more interaction with you here and on other blogs, some of which are easier for some folks to access.

    1. The only thing I can think of would be a new computer (specifically laptop.) An actual new computer.

      I've had used computers donated which is definitely helpful but they can't replace slowly dying primary. They can, and do, make it so that I rely on slowly dying primary less, but they aren't able to replace it.

      Right now I have:

      Primary computer:
      More or less bottom of the line when I bought it yet still the most powerful one that I have access to. Falling apart. Finding new ways to fail every day it seems.

      Secondary computers:
      -A very old computer that I repaired to gain access to one program because buying a new licence would cost $1,000 or so. Has various problems of it's own, probably at least in part because it's bashed together from the parts of two different computers.
      -A gift because of the knowledge that I was having computer problems, which works nicely except that a) it has no CD/DVD drive so no .hack//sign or Deus Ex and b) the battery is spent so it needs to stay plugged in if it can be used.
      -Another gift because I was having computer problems, this one has a CD/DVD drive which is good, and has moments where I feel like, "This can totally be new primary," but in the end it doesn't have enough working memory and very quickly runs into, "I ... can't ... do ... anything," if I try to use it like I use a primary computer.

      A new laptop would not be cheap and considering what people are able to contribute, I think that's out of the range of possibility.

    2. And for whatever it's worth I've tried to think of fundraising ideas but there's not a lot I could do.

      (I'll write a story with a character with your name in it, except that I can't reliably write stories for myself, never finish them, and stuff. So basically give me money and I'll maybe someday do part of something for you. Maybe.)

    3. Additional RAM card? External CD/DVD drive that attaches via USB? Replacement battery? (Replacement batteries are so dependent on laptop model that I don't know what would make a good example.)

  6. Well, if I give you money can I get you to sign my copy of Shifting Hearts (that I don't have yet)?

  7. This is a very thoughtful post. Thanks for writing it.

    Since I know nothing about the Avengers plot hole thread and don't feel like looking it up, I will practice the recommended technique:

    If the person who did not know the facts followed your excellent advice
    then the Avengers plot hole thread would be less annoying.

    Do I win a prize?

    - DawnM