Black Hat Commenting

Filed as Features on January 17, 2008 11:30 am

When I brought up the subject of whether or not journalists should be required to comment on their team bloggers’ posts, I had a problem writing about it and I’m so glad that readers helped me think this issue through. I agree with most of the commenters. Journalists should not be forced to comment when there is nothing to say, but they should also support their team bloggers when and where they can. Forcing comments is so ugly.

Still, this issue plagues my spirit. Trying to understand this issue more, I was delighted to find an interesting twist on the subject from Mihaela Lica of Pamil Visions’ eWritings in the article, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:

Imagine the following scenario: you are a faithful reader of a high quality blog. It’s a multi author blog and most of the articles are brilliant. The blog is more of an online magazine – a news source of sorts – and it is also one of the few you read periodically. Suddenly the quality drops. The authors become lazier, the comments start dancing in front of your eyes and you wonder why.

The story here is a sad one. When a multiple blogger blog gets lazy and tired with their own writing, why not put the entertainment in the comments between some of the team bloggers? Pit the bloggers against one other for show.

The author describes this as patting. I’d probably call it comment padding, padding the comments with content for entertainment value:

I’ll call it patting. Comments patting, to be more specific. This is when the authors of the same blog comment on each other’s entries and engage in internal debates to make the comments box look busy. In my dictionary that translates:

“Look, I wrote another piece of bad literature. But if you pat my shoulder and you make it look interesting, I’ll return you the favor my dear colleague when you screw up.”

Then you assist to the whole process of patting, teasing, taunting, scratching each other’s back. Full comment madness.

Here on the , we look out for each other, but as I explained in my article on journalists commenting, not every post deserves a comment, and not every blogger is expert enough on the subject to respond to comment inquiries.

However, playing one off the other could be interesting within the post comments, if done well. If not, it’s old, been done before, and we’ve watched enough bad television and lived through high school to recognize when people are putting on an act just to get attention.

Yet, like a traffic accident, the reader is often compelled to look, just in case they miss something.

The author admits this reminds her of one of the tips offered in my “alter-evil” Lorraine’s post “10 Really Rad Righteous Blogging Tips. “Lorraine” says that the best way to get a blog conversation going is to sign out and login as someone else and leave a comment on your own post, just to get the ball rolling but also to say something nice and complimentary.

The parody was definitely a send-up on bloggers who resemble ambulance chasing lawyers, but the point is valid. How far, or low, are you willing to go to keep up the entertainment and attention-getting value of your blog? Would you resort to “comment patting” or forcing or faking comments? Is this a sign of a trend in black hat commenting?

What do you think about bloggers “faking it” for the attention like television wrestling?

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  1. By Adam posted on January 17, 2008 at 2:05 pm
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    Not sure that justified the black hat title?

    Reply

  2. By Mihaela Lica posted on January 17, 2008 at 4:15 pm
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    Lorelle – I understand in rare occasions exchange of ideas between the authors of the same blog happening in the comment box (although I am sure that the chat can better serve the purpose). What I don’t understand and will not tolerate anymore is when the authors are offending each other for the sake of the show. Or they ask some “commentators” to offend one of the authors who doesn’t play their game. Now that’s too much. It’s like stabbing in the back.

    People like you hold high standards in the blogosphere. The blogherald was always a resource for me and for any serious blogger. The black hat commenting, as you call it, is a problem. It’s an offense to readers’ intelligence and a waste of time.

    Sadly we cannot stop the practice. But we can talk about it, to let people know that the quest for quality blogging is not over and that popularity doesn’t always mean quality.

    Reply

  3. Heaven's Blogging Angels DecendJanuary 17, 2008 at 7:59 pm
  4. By sir jorge posted on January 18, 2008 at 2:53 am
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    if a comment isn’t genuine, that’s just not cool anymore

    Reply

  5. By Chris Marshall | Martial Development posted on January 28, 2008 at 6:25 pm
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    Lorelle, you’ve just revealed the secret of how amateur bloggers write great posts :)

    Reply

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