Comments on 2018-06-09 On Commenting

@strypey reopened the discussion and claimed that the medium is the message and that it affords commenting on the posts of strangers and thus that’s just is it should be. I continue to disagree with this line of argument.

Why force your will on them and insist that you are right and they are wrong? What purpose do you achieve except pushing them away? They still don’t want to talk and now the world has more unhappiness than before. The smart thing to do is to tread (thread?) carefully.

We can’t continue prescribing the metaphor, the purpose and the social norms of a platform. That’s exactly the problem. We need to find ways for multiple metaphors, purposes and social norms to be acceptable without leading to expectation mismatch.

My point is that this has to be navigated. Starting conversations with strangers is not as simple as you two would make it seem. In my case, right now, your approach is fine. But we all need to keep in mind that not every conversation is the same. Some people in elevators like to stare into empty space and others don’t mind a little chat. To know the difference and act accordingly is how we increase good times in elevators.

Let me rephrase that as a choice. I see there are two ways the situation can develop: those who don’t want to read your comment can go somewhere else, or you can take your comment somewhere else. One way it could develop requires you to change, the other requires the other to change. One way this could develop leads to less people being in this community (them, and eventually their friends). Clearly the other way this could develop offers better outcomes, and is entirely up to you.

I understand the point about “the medium is the message,” about the affordances the current user interface provides. I just don’t see the benefit of chatting up people at bars when they are grumpy and clearly not interested. There is nothing to be gained. A thumbs up might be appreciated but more than that? Dubious. But much also depends on sending the right signals, of course.

I also don’t like this. Which is why I support the adding of a checkbox or some other kind of UI feature to make this more explicit, be it “no comments” or whatever.

I certainly know the exasperation when I perceive somebody as friendly and inviting and then I start commenting on their stuff and they suddenly turn around and complain about it. “WTF!?” But even then, it’s best to just move on. Insisting on my right to speak but they’ll just say I have no right to be heard and we’d both be right to no avail.

Hence in following is my favourite conflict handling technique. 😀

I do agree with the assessment that by putting things on the platform, these people expose themselves to just the kind of drive-by comments they then object to. And while I respect their wish to not get comments from me, I do roll my eyes in these situations. Perhaps we’d all love to see a certain kind of public and are sometimes disappointed in the actual people we do meet.

And the thread keeps on giving. @karl joined! He said „it should be easy,“ every public post must accept public responses.

I argued that the possibility of public response does not invalidate other wishes. You definitely have the right to write a comment, referring to their public post. But do you have a right to mention them, to direct unwanted attention on them, to appear in their threads? I want to move beyond a legalistic argument (yes it is legal) or a UI argument (yes it is afforded) to a culture of politeness and appropriateness. How appropriate is it? It depends!

So yes, it should be easy, but homo sapiens developed a huge brain just to deal with other humans, and that’s because it isn’t easy.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-06-11 07:58 UTC


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