There are worse things than no comments, and that is one pointing out errors in spelling and grammar.
‘Tis a fine line to walk, providing information without being insulting. Expressing an opinion that disagrees while avoiding accusations of malfeasance. Content comments can accomplish that, corrections do not.
Did I tell you that I have been known to use the almost random comma?
A long time ago, more than 40 years as a matter of fact, I was in high school English. Besides studying grammar and diagramming sentences we wrote essays. I used to be good at both of those. In those years, 1960s, there was little call for creative writing in school. In fact creative writing was what we all did on those various exam essays in an effort to fill both time and page when the knowledge of details was a bit lacking.
Now there seems to be in certain groups a conspiracy of complicity. If you don’t agree, you say nothing. Unlike real life, only nice things may be said.
Nice, read it helpful, is in the eye of the writer, not reader.
If you have not read
We will not talk about her Eats, Shoots, and Leaves since I have already acknowledged my lack of comma properness.
I was going somewhere with this? Ah, yes.
How to provide constructive comments without starting a flame war. For those of you who are not old enough to have been on alt.rec.(insert your various groups here or various Listservs, when participant exchanges heated up past the level of discourse and dissolved into nastiness and name-calling, those exchanges were called flame wars.
The basic principle of “disagree with the idea, do not be personal” was forgotten. It is one thing to say “that is a stupid idea” and another to say “you are an idiot for saying that.” The second maybe implied from the first, but it is not explicitly so stated. Political debates in the US have degenerated into name calling and it is not pleasant, seeing it in writing preserved for eternity is not an improvement.
Providing facts and fact checking is more important in these days of unrestrained word flow. I hesitate to call it information flow. Website and blog follow each other. Blatantly incorrect information is passed along like treasure from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Woe to a person who challenges it.
On other sites, corrections and changes are welcomed as the goal is to have the most accurate information possible. As a contributor on Wikipedia, most of the exchanges are polite and simply a request for source material so that verification of corrections and updates can be accomplished. An answer that contains “program guide from the closure ceremony – would you like me to scan it and send it?” suffices.
With our knitting bloggers, email might be a better way to communicate. Most blogging software allows the blog author to delete comments. Facts and figures, along with references are not likely to survive, no matter how nicely put. (Hey, I talk to generals and survive, I can be polite and tactful when it is necessary).
I appreciate knowing when I have made an error or said something quite stupid. Personally I don’t want to be a source of misinformation. And we have all said something we think is fact without double checking our references. So please help me out when I am wrong.
And no, I have not been participating in either side of arguments or wars. But I have stopped reading several blogs because the writers have gone from interesting to personal attacks. Admittedly, several hundred yes comments on any post can be extremely boring, but I find nothing worth reading in paragraphs of personal diatribe.
Unless, of course, I can hand the writer a fistfull of commas and some capital letters.