Via The Browser, the blogger and writer Baldur Bjarnason reflects on the lessons he learned as a writer in 2012. Among them:
18. There is absolutely no correlation between how much work you put into a post or a piece of writing and how much attention it gets.
19. Nasty people are incredibly persistent while nice people go off having lives of their own (they have lives because they are not nasty).
20. The only thing people like more than a post that states the obvious is an angry post that states the obvious. Angry and unreasonable will easily get ten times the attention of even-handed and rational. It doesn’t matter if they agree with you or not, they will still flock to your cuss-filled rant.
21. Communities get the discourse they deserve. When either the inane and obvious, or frothing lunacy are all that get attention, then that’s all you end up getting. Moreover, it’s your own damn fault. People may well instapaper the good stuff fully intending to read it at some point in the future (hah!), but bile is the stuff they actually read and it certainly is the only thing they respond to.
22. The ones who do read and respond to the more thoughtful stuff are glorious angels to be treasured forever and ever.
I would add the following, from my own experiences in this space:
1. Posts having to do with homosexuality or race are always going to be the most popular (i.e., most commented on) posts, no matter what.
2. The chances that anybody will have anything fresh t0 say, or will give any indication of having had second thoughts in any respect about either issue, are vanishingly small.
3. Even in a highly curated commenting community like this one, a surprising number of people don’t give evidence of having read the post they’re commenting on. My favorite one this past year was the reader who started his comment with, “I didn’t really read this post, but here’s what I think,” or something very close to that.
4. Many commenters assume the very worst about their opponents; this is, however, a sound assumption more often than one wishes.
5. Some people tend to bring their idées fixes to every discussion, in the “if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” sense.
6. When commenters don’t do these things, and rather see things I post, and that other readers post, more as invitations to a civil discussion or respectful argument, and respond in kind, that’s the kind of thing that makes doing this worthwhile.
7. And even when they don’t, not a day goes by that I don’t realize what a great job I have, and am thankful for it. My job is to wake up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee, sit down at my computer, survey the world, think about it and write about it and talk about it with interested strangers on this blog, which means that every single day there’s a chance I might learn something new and marvelous. What’s not to like?