Sunday, 14 August 2016

15 types of internet commenters

Since the interwebs was created, women have really come to the fore in online forums and comments boxes.  There are three reasons for this female-forward phenomenon.
  1. we are very opinionated
  2. we like to talk
  3. in the digital space, we won't get talked over by a man
Personally, (notwithstanding what follows here)  I prefer a "lean back" sort of judgement, with my hands behind my head and not on the keyboard. But I do enjoy the spectator sport of perusing the comments boxes every now and then.  Who doesn't?  If nothing else, it's always surprising how many people don't know the difference between "your" and "you're."

In my internet surfing travels, here are 15 types of commenters I have seen A LOT:

1. "All about me" commenter


As in: enough about this post, here’s a story about me and how good I am that is in no way related to the post above.

2. "Random activist" commenter 


This commenter has an agenda and will find any way they can to shoehorn in their pet protest topic.  For instance: on a post about brownies that happen to be made with Tim Tams, they will write something like …

“Buy Tim Tams and you’re supporting the use of Palm Oil and an unethical company”

I have no argument with this commenter. It’s a valid point, but if she’s serious about her protest, she should perhaps take her case further up the chain, like say, to the Arnott’s website.

3. LOL passive aggressive patroniser


This is a digital pat and slap manoeuvre. While pretending to be friendly as denoted by the use of ‘LOL’, in truth, they are pointing out to everyone else what an idiot you are.

Case in point: I once wrote a very compelling post for about how to poach the perfect egg (I know, Walkley Award, here I come.) I was thrilled that someone had bothered to comment and assumed it was because they were thanking me for some really useful tips .  Then I realised they were just laughing at the fact that I had specified the use of an 800g egg (not realising that the 800g on the pack referred to the ENTIRE weight of all dozen eggs. Mea culpa):

“LOL are you using dinosaur eggs?”

(Maybe I was. You don’t know the truth about my egg supply sources.)

Then there were these recent comments on a post about what to cook for dinner if you forgot to defrost the meat:

“Who needs meat for dinner? LOL. Hardly a big crisis!”

“Microwaves have a ‘defrost’ setting for a reason. LOL”

It has become clear to me that sometimes,  LOL is just code for, "YOU STUPID FOOL."  In which case let's all just be straight shooters and type, YSF instead of LOL wherever applicable.

4. Shoehorn self-promoter


These are the people who shamelessly post links to their own piece or links to their latest self-help book in the comments box in the guise of selfless altruism.

"My new e-book, available here, How To Stop Buying So Many Tins Of Tomatoes  may help you with this."

5. "Random sentence" commenter


These commenters are my favourite. They sort of relate to the post, but mostly that person just wants to say something ‘out loud’ and get involved. For instance, on a post about "10 quick things to cook for dinner" this commenter will type:

“I'm making fish for dinner!”

I love this commenter, she’s like the friendly person at a party who will burst into your circle and say something like: "I just ate three of those prawns on sticks!" Whilst everyone else is deeply engaged in a conversation about the state of the economy.

6. "Personal attack" commenter


The funny thing about the internet is you can’t always see the person you are attacking, so you have to have a bit of a "paint a word picture" stab if you want to have a really personal go at someone. This comment below was seen on a post that made fun of Kim Kardashian's latest red carpet outfit (a dress made out of string, just so you know.)  It gets 10/10 for visualisation effort.

“And this article comes from some chick sitting back at her desk wearing her Supre pants and Portmans blazer.”

I didn’t even know you could get pants at SUPRE!!! I thought they only sold crop tops and oversized t-shirts with "RELAX" printed on them.

7. "I’m not laughing and it’s making me angry" commenter


Ironically enough, humour posts are the most divisive of all.

After all, not everyone finds the same things funny. And the more everyone else is laughing and having a good time in the comments box, the more the person who doesn't share the mirth feels compelled to sh** all over everyone else’s good time.

“This is not funny AT ALL!”
"What a stupid waste of time this post was!"

I get it. I do.  I was once at a comedy club when an older male comedian came on stage and started doing some very sexist, “women on their rags” material.  Worse still, everyone was laughing their heads off and it made me FURIOUS.  So I  "booed" him - I opened my mouth, cupped my hands in a makeshift megaphone and went "Booooo!" Like I was at a pantomime and he was the villain.

So I do understand the impulse to let your feelings be known. I guess these people are just exercising their right to "boo". But I should point out that as soon as the "boo" sound left my mouth, I felt inordinately silly and ineffectual in the face of all the laughter.

But the far end of the humourless spectrum is the person with no sense of humour at all: this person cannot comprehend that some posts are just flippant listicles. From what I’ve seen, the problem seems to be a lack of awareness of "tone".

For instance on a post titled "Supermarket Rules" someone wrote:

“Who are you to tell us what we can and can't do?"

I felt compelled to let this person know that the rules were not legislated in parliament and so there would be no charges laid if they chose not to comply with rules like: "Don't bend your arse halfway out into the aisle when reaching for something on the bottom shelf."

8. The hijacker


These comments box terrorists take control of the comments box and steer it in a hitherto unforeseen direction: a place where no one could have predicted things would go.

And that place is: a comments box bunfight.

This is the person who, when faced with a news item about say, a missing woman, will say something like:

“She looks like a botox whore!”
To which someone else will reply:
“Shut up, I know her and shes (sic) not a botox whore. YOUR (sic) a Botox whore!”
To which the original person will reply
“YOU are!”

And so on and so on until a post about a missing woman becomes more about the pros and cons of Botox, who has it, who doesn’t and how people who have Botox should die anyway.

And just to clarify, to my knowledge the woman had not had Botox.

Which brings me to ...

9. "You're/your what's the difference?" commenter


You're -  a contraction of "you are" e.g: You're an idiot.
Your - possessive pronoun e.g:  That's your problem.

10. "Alarmed by sugar" commenter


“OMG! One and a half cups of sugar!”


11. "Wrong gender" commenter


These are the men who complain bitterly when a women’s website is not speaking directly to them, including them or considering how they feel. Boo hoo middle class white man, this corner of the universe is not calibrated for you.

12. "Random bad experience" commenter


For instance: This person once had a really bad experience with an umbrella and so posts about umbrellas really upset her and should be banned from all websites so as not to upset her further and cause her flashbacks. Posting things about umbrellas is just plain INSENSITIVE!

13. "Responds at length to the headline" commenter


This is the commenter who responds at length to the header but doesn’t actually read the article wherein they might find a more nuanced exploration of the topic that negates their need to rail against the header alone.

14. "Pro capital punishment" commenter


E.g. “This person should be (insert violent method of extermination here)"

15. Parenting choices militants


Breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, co-sleeping, control crying, sugar, no sugar, attachment parenting, nude parenting …

What are they vehemently opposed to? What’ve you got?


  1. I just had strawberries and thick custard - yum!

  2. So now you know about my umbrella thing ������

  3. I kinda feel like you've been stalking my use of social media. Damn you Kitty. You've called me out on way too many of these things.

    (Do I write LOL here?)

  4. I think I liked number 7 the most. So true. I love the 800g egg story. It sounds like something I'd write but I probably still wouldn't have twigged at the dinosaur comment.

    1. it's true. Kidspot ed had to explain it to me.

  5. You should see what Supre sells these days! $60 denim jackets!!! I am with you Penny I thought they just sold really loud cheap oversized t-shirts. Apparently not.
    I know I have at different times been guilty of some of these. But I really try to not do it.
    You mentioned cake - where is the cake?

    1. I know. Supre is really up itself these days. Be careful not to brush past all the polyester too rapidly though, you'll go up in a puff of smoke

  6. Zoe searched for the most eloquent way to explain how she felt about the post, then finally came up with 'LOL'.

  7. Thanks Penny, I'm going to PDF this list and whenever I fall into existential despair about some really stupid stupid comment I will use the Flanagan Not Quite Decimal system and classify the commenter or even the whole list. I don't have to tell anyone but it will make me feel better and it will stop me ghost commenting.

    1. I am just happy to be useful in some way, as always.