Hanging out in enough discussion forums, from LinkedIn to the AdAge Small Agency Diary blog/forum, I enjoy the generally good discourse that takes place between people. Opposing views can be great for the conversation. But what I can’t stand is when someone takes over the discussion with what can be only described as the equivalent of a filibuster.
I’m talking about the dreaded Comment From Hell.
You know what I’m talking about. The CFH is not a few paragraphs. It’s a 10-paragraph-or-more “look at how intelligent I am compared to everyone else here” comment. And it’s like tossing a grenade into the room. I’m exhausted trying to read the point, whether it’s good or not. Recently in LinkedIn, I had to power my way through a guy’s lengthy diatribe over why he wasn’t convinced on the power of social media. He didn’t think he’d seen enough proof that it worked.
Great. I respect your viewpoint. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it. But when your Comment is that long, there are a few things you should ask yourself.
1) Is this my blog? My website? My Facebook page?
No. You’re a welcome invited guest into a conversation with others. You’re in someone else’s “house.” If you want to deliver a speech, go deliver one. Elsewhere. If you want to have a conversation, have one that doesn’t consist to grandstanding and shameless self-promotion. Show you care about what other people have to say other than the voice in your own head.
2) Is there another place I could be posting this opinion?
Yes. Your blog, your website, your Facebook page. Just for starters. Even there, you should be inviting commentary back. Which I do here, by the way. Nobody is telling you not to share your thoughts. But could you apply that energy to a place where it is better suited?
3) Is it taking me longer than 4-5 minutes to make my point in the Comment area?
That’s right. Time yourself. How long is it taking you to get the words out? I can recall writing an radio spot for my boss with entirely too much copy – no wonder his response back to me was, “This screenplay sounds great, but what I’d really like is a 30 second spot.” You can write something impactful and compelling in fewer words. I guarantee it.
4) Do people have to scroll down very far to read my comment?
Let me be very clear. When I see an ocean of words associated with one person compared to everyone else who can generally make comments in 2-3 paragraphs or less, my first thought is: Angry? Frustrated? Egomaniac? Not interested in having a real conversation in a place where conversations are supposed to occur?
Of course, maybe this isn’t you at all. But think about the impression and effect you have on the rest of the discussion.
So what to do to be a Conversationalist and not a Buzzkill via a comment manifesto?
Simple. Imagine yourself at a party where you join an ongoing conversation. Are you going to listen first? Hopefully. Are you going to enjoy the conversation more if there’s a bunch of give-and-take? Probably.
Or are you going to just butt in, interrupt everyone and start talking about what happened to you today on the way to work, regardless of whatever else the rest of the group was talking about before you got there?
Unless it was a laugh-riot, they’re probably going to look at you funny with an expression that says, “Who invited this guy?”
Embrace the dialogue in these groups and the genuine opportunity to build relationships by self-editing. If you want to promote the heck out of yourself that badly, provide a link at the end and if you’re at all interesting, we’ll go there. If you’ve bored us to tears, we won’t.
I see I’m approaching a word count that would be totally unsuitable for a Comment Area. But not bad for a Blog. So I’ll wrap it up here.
Comments welcome. Seriously.