An Embarassment of Riches, or Dross? A Comment on Comments, the Dark Underground of Blogging

{This has turned out to be like another “Dissertation upon Roast Pig” (Charles Lamb. 1822), in which the townspeople believed they had to burn down the town in order to enjoy roasted pig because in a town fire a pig got roasted and it was discovered that a pig roasted tasted pretty good. Only my discovery is that my essay has expanded to become a “Dissertation on Roast Spam” (JFD, 2011).}

Flattery is a compliment with ulterior motives.

A compliment is a reward given with the only motive being to pay a dividend for something pleasing having been given.

Nothing is gained by the giver of a compliment, except to see that the one complimented is pleased and delighted at being liked or admired for some appearance or performance. Complimenting is a one-way street, and those giving compliments should give satisfaction that they know that, and should take satisfaction that the receiver of a compliment overtly feels rewarded.

It is very difficult to determine in some cases what is compliment and what is flattery.

One burden on the giver of a complement is that there can be no doubt, making the complement pure as the driven snow. Any compliment should be, prima facie, sincere. Freely given.

One burden on the recipient of a complement is to discern the sincerity of the compliment. Most people would not want to have toadies around them, except those kings and princes and queens and celebrities who surround themselves with, or even hire, sycophants, lackies, adulators to feed their praise-starved highnesses.

When I write an essay for my blog, the first thing I want is “hits”, a sign that people are reading what I have written. The “hits” are recorded for each blog essay. Every writer of blogs wants to be read because they have motives that must be reinforced (or punished). Like Pavlov’s dogs, they salivate by responding first to the food reward, and then to the “ding” without the food. The first is the compliment of being “hit”. Because I am not a dog, I can discern compliments that have, perhaps, ulterior motives, the clicking on a web site URL. Then I am suspicious of the “comment”. The hits with comments condition the behavior of writing more essays if sincerity is detected. So here I am this dog with the suspicious “dings” so, in many cases, I go around salivating for nothing.

I have a “Comment” problem. It requires much valuable time to deal with. The comments on my blog essays are very flattering. I succumbed to the complements. I thought they were sincere, at first. “Sincerity” means “without wax”.

In the ancient marble quarries, people would come to buy chunks large and small of marble, for sculpting and other carving uses. Of course, they would prefer to have a piece without cracks and other blemishes. So the seller would doctor the cracks and blemishes by filling in and smoothing over the impurities with wax. The quary operator would call each piece for sale “sincere”, without wax, a perfect piece of marble. His way of saying “guaranteed”.

HOWEVER, the etymological dictionary says this: “There is no etymological justification for the common story that the word means ‘without wax’ (*sin cerae), and the stories invented to explain that folk etymology are even less plausible.”

(I have always thought that story made snse, so I believed it. I forget where I first read it, although I believe it was a reputable source. So I continue to stick with the “truth” of that story. I CAN BELIEVE WHAT I WANT! SO THERE!

The flattering comments are sort of like sugar coating the pill. What is the pill in some of the comments I have received? The pill is that particular author of the comment who has something to sell and advertise. If a lot of sincere people are reading a blog essay of mine, then it may occur to some in the entrepreneurial spirit to put up their web site on a comment to have a lot of people to go to the web site. Perhaps I should feel privileged, like one of those trees where huge flocks of birds gather to socialize of an evening. (I remember that phenomenon vividly.)

Here is an example:
Submitted on 2011/06/03 at 7:28 am
“The comments expressed in this article are very organized, well-researched and very easy to read. There’s no mistaking the points you are making. I agree.”
That comment was attached to an article I very clearly did not write; it was written by George Bernard Shaw in 1905, and so described by me at the beginning of it.
Now why would someone do that!?

Another example:
On May 25, 2011 at 7:28 am whiplash compensation said:

“When I read good content I like to make sure I thank the writer, so thank you. Your article is well-written (of course) and just what I like to read.”
That was attached to this article I put on my blog:
Sen.-Elect Jim Webb’s Wall Street J. Op-Ed: CLASS STRUGGLE

NOTE: John Deethardt, the administrator and author of this blog (The Deliberative Mind) thought you might be interested in this article from OpinionJournal, The Wall Street Journal

NOTICE THE “whiplash compensation” web site being touted. Is that stealth spam or not?
I erased the comment on that web page. If I have to do that on 60 comments per day, I have wasted a lot of time.

As I said, some legendary kings and princes “hired” flatterers, or could depend on toadies to do it regularly. Flattery can be addictive. Sincerity is hard to detect.

Other bloggers may have the same problem. I’d be happy to hear how they deal with this embarassment of riches.

BUT, in fact I have.

To wit:
“evolution travel lavoro said 10 hours ago:

Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any help is very much appreciated.


“[JFD responds: Yes, I do. I just trash those that make little sense, or that merely want to post advertising, or that are not relevant to the blog essay to which they have been attached as a comment. The process takes a lot of time away from my writing. However, the comments mean a lot to me; they are goads to continue, rather than whips that would make me stop. I can imagine the unhappy opposite, the hate mail, and would not like it and would cease writing. I cannot help you. I have the same problem. But I feel responsible.]

“Sincere” does mean candid, single-minded, frank, plain, flat smooth, even, level, as in
“Come on, level with me!”
And that is what I say about the comments by my writers-of-comments. Here, I am looking a gift horse in the mouth. (You all have heard that expression, haven’t you?) In all sincerity, are you pushing your product and sugar-coating with your comment the web site you want to advertise?

With my frustration in trying to judge whether or not a comment is flattery (talking nice with ulterior motives), or sincere, I have deleted a whole page of sixty comments today, one of them from “Madonna”.

I just went crazy, for a moment.

P.S. There are no answers here. I just wanted to get this weight off my chest. Thank you!

P.P.S. I think there is something fishy to have embedded in a post, “I’m gonna be careful for brussels.” Code words for something to somebody. Eh? Who knows? And another fishy thing is this: THE GREAT COMMENTS ARE NOTHING BUT “BOILER-PLATE” COMMENTS; THAT IS, THEY ARE DEFINITELY “CANNED”, “CARBON COPIES”, “NOT ORIGINAL WITH THE AUTHOR”, “CRIBBED”, “BORROWED FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE”. Fishy! Fishy! Fishy! Meaning, they have the stink of being copied and inserted automatically. I think you will find the same comments entered on other blogs, WORD FOR WORD. Fishy, eh?

Please! Somebody! Say it ain’t so! But my detective work, the way a historian works to apply internal criticism to documents tells me it is so. Good readers and writers know what I am talking about because they, of all people, would know about the “internals” of self-criticism and criticism in general.

P.P.P.S. I am sensitive to, and fearful of appearing as a narcissistic blogger. (Is that a redundancy? Could be!) Complements, to me, tell me I am on the right path and capable of continuing on. So I intend to keep on keeping on, by the friendly advice of my readers, to whom I am very thankful.

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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