With more and more articles going viral each day, some getting tens of thousands of comments, it seems like a good time for a little refresher course on how to comment like a pro—and how not to. At HelloGiggles, we’ve always tried to promote a positive, supportive environment in our stories and comments alike, but things can still get really heated, really fast. We are all for healthy debate and strong opinions, but when things get vulgar and cruel, when folks say things online that are baiting and abusive—just, you know, fighting’ words—it just bums everyone out and ruins entire days. To avoid the trolls or getting labeled as one, here’s our humble cheat sheet to the rules of online commenting.
Do state your opinion
You don’t have to agree with every article, Facebook update or tweet you read. And by all means, share why you disagree! Just remember to be respectful. Don’t say something you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Trust me, if you say something in a calm and constructive way, your adversaries are much more likely to listen.
Don’t call anyone names or hurl insults
No matter how much you disagree with something you’ve read, no matter how much you detest the point of view someone is sharing, squash the desire to lash out. Don’t be insulting or rude or mean. You can totally share your side of the issue, just do it in a non-threatening way. Personal attacks only instigate.
Do use your real name
Don’t hide behind anonymity if you feel strongly enough about something to comment. If you’re going to engage in the conversation, feel confident enough in your opinion and point of view to use your own name.
Don’t engage with trolls
They’ll try with all their might to make you mad and get you to bite. No matter how close to home they get as they try and antagonize you, it’s really best to ignore them.
Do stay on topic
If a blog post or Facebook update is about a recent local election, don’t post a comment describing why you hate Cameron Diaz’s jean jacket in The Sweetest Thing. You’re only taking up bandwidth and confusing people.
Do keep it short
Keep it short and sweet! The more concise your comment, the more people will actually read it. If you write a novel, people will dismiss it and skip to the next one.
Don’t self promote for the sake of self promotion
It’s best not to include links back to your own content when leaving a comment—especially if it has nothing to do with the conversation or blog post topic. It’s very obvious to the blogger (and other readers) that you’re just trying to increase links back to your site. That said, on occasion, it’s okay to link to your own content if it’s relevant and truly adds to the conversation.