Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nanny-Nanny Boo-Boo

Or, The Problem With Me Having The Blog and You Not Having The Blog

In Friday's Roundup, I included in the duds this comment, from unstarred commenter JohnCandysAppendages. In the comments section of the Roundup, an ugly conversation ensued wherein JohnCandysAppendages defended his comment and asserted that this blog is somehow a lazy rehashing of the activities of the Comment Ninja Squadron. I have deleted all those comments from my blog. I can do that.

Perhaps it was the off-hand way I dismissed this comment that drew the response. At any rate, rather than continue the snarky internet back-and-forth, I'm going to use this opportunity to address a couple of things.

When I include a comment in a daily Roundup, it's because I thought the comment was either good or bad. It's entirely subjective. At one point in the past, I bothered to include in the Duds section any comment addressed in any way by the Comment Ninja Squadron, but anyone who's been keeping up with this stuff will know I have given up on that task, in no small part because, by by-and-large leaving ninja victims where they lie, I can lessen the burden of chronicling the day's helping of bad comments. The daily Roundups take an unreasonable amount of time to assemble as is. I am, after all, a gainfully employed adult, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. So when the comment_ninja or FAILBOT slap someone, I tend to assume that particular dud needs no further attention.

On Friday, Emma posted her Serena Williams piece and Drew posted his Drunken Hookup Failure piece. If you follow commenting (and since you're here, I'm going to assume you do), you know both those posts were absolutely begging for bad comments. I essentially flipped a coin and took Emma's post, because there was no way I was going to do both. Besides, there's a Drunken Hookup Failure post every week or so (right?), whereas a genuinely provocative post from Emma is more of an event.

With that view in mind, I took in more duds from this "event" post than I might have otherwise. So, even though the ninja mopped up the contribution from JohnCandysAppendages, I included it. I included it because I thought it was bad. In general, I hate photo-jokes, and this was just another lousy photo-joke.

In his vigorous self-defense, JohnCandysAppendages pointed out that I didn't understand the punchline. Furthermore, he asserted that he was suspended because apparently he'd posted the comment multiple times in an effort to achieve functionality, and that I've fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the conflict between his comment and Deadspin's commenting system.

With the benefit of his explanation, I can summarize the joke as boiling down to this: Richard Jefferson is gay. I'll go ahead and wait a minute while you double-over in hysterics.

Now, I'd like to suggest the following points, and if anyone disagrees with me, I invite your reasoned arguments in my comments section:

First of all, taking a few whacks at one joke on the same day is probably not a great idea. If nothing else, your punchline will be sucked dry of all humor by the time you finally get the one you want out there. That said, if I'm going through the day's comments and see an outrageously funny comment, it will not matter to me that the author may have failed at making the same joke down the thread. It may matter to the comment_ninja, but I doubt it. The rule is be funny. A great joke is a great joke. That's not me endorsing taking a second or third swing at your goofy one-liner in the Wake Up Deadspin post. Get the joke right before you post it. Posting it a second or third time will significantly decrease the likelihood of there being any juice left in the punchline. But if you do pull it off, everyone will forgive you. We all like to laugh.

Photo-jokes are different, because functionality is part of the trial-and-error efforts of those folks so inclined to make them. But photo-jokes, in general, are less likely to be original and creative and genuinely funny anyway, and frankly, a photo-joke that boils down to "Richard Jefferson is gay" is fucking doomed. JohnCandysAppendages made my duds list not because the comment_ninja didn't like his joke, but because he failed to deliver a compelling punchline, plain and simple. However, JohnCandysAppendages did get suspended because the comment_ninja didn't like his joke, and because he was so committed to such a bad joke in the first place. The comment_ninja did not say "you're being suspended because your very funny joke was submitted one too many times." What he said, in fact, was this: "I promise you it wasn't funny the first 6 times."

So there. Let that be a lesson to everyone. This seems to happen often: someone gets de-starred or banned or suspended and comes away with a fundamental misunderstanding of why it happened. It's never as simple as "I shouldn't have snarked that one dude" or "I shouldn't have used the slashies" or "I tried that joke more than once". No. Be funny.

Second of all, when I refer to a comment as being "lazy", I'm generally not saying you failed to carpet-bomb it enough times in enough posts, or even failed to spend a few minutes working on it. I mean, sometimes that's what I mean, but more often than not, I'm referring to the ambition of your comment. It's a total impression of the joke as a whole. Usually, it's the intersection of what your joke boils down to and how you delivered it. If your joke boils down to "Richard Jefferson is gay" and your delivery system is an unadorned photo, you're probably going to make the duds. I can't say that for sure, but it seems likely.

In all cases where I use the word "lazy" to describe a comment, the phrase that pops into my head (and usually winds up in the Roundup) is "try harder." I see a comment and it just jumps into my mind - something could be done with this idea if only [some guy] had tried harder. That's an oversimplified bit of advice, but doesn't this joke give you that same idea? Hell, I'm willing to consent that someone could use a visual joke to make us all laugh very hard about rumors that Richard Jefferson is gay. This comment, in the Serena Williams post, just didn't do it.

Again, it's subjective. Many will probably disagree with my assessment. But it's my blog, I get to pick on your comments whether you like it or not. The last thing in the world I want, though, is for Mad Bastards All to be the big comment bully, where commenters have to worry a lot about being shamed in front of fellow commenters. There's absolutely no way in hell I would ever write an entire post about a single comment if not for this kind of argument. I often use strong language to criticize a comment or commenter, but in general, I hope the Roundups are both instructive as criticism and useful as an accountability/feedback system. I'm not interested in humiliating anyone, which is what makes this particular conversation so annoying. Ah well.

It just so happens, we have a pair of pieces coming down the pike that deal with issues directly applicable to this very type of comment. Hopefully, they'll be a hell of a lot more interesting and instructive than this mess.

Hey, have a great weekend (even you, JCA).


  1. +1. Perfectly said.

    I will say this about repeated postings, though: they almost without fail make the commenter look like a chump, regardless of content. I once had a response that I thought was positively COTY-worthy, but I abandoned it after a few comment save fails. The thought of waking up the next morning and seeing it there 60 times was just too much to bear.

  2. i know you won't allow this post to show, but STOP degrading yourself at the end of your posts. This stuff IS interesting and instructive.

  3. I don't know why you wouldn't just move on to another joke. There are millions of different things you can say in any given post, why not spend the energy thinking of something different rather than mixing and matching different pieces of the same joke?

    If you can't seem to think of anything new, leave your comment and sit that one out and wait for a new muse.

    No one wants to see the same thing 5 times within the same thread. No one wants to see the same thing twice in one day, even. Or at least, I don't.

  4. Someone else who is committed to a joke? Todd Palin.


  5. I was approved as a commenter, did what the website allowed for an approved commenter, then was subsequently suspended. It's a learning experience, and I'm fine with the suspension. The horse is already dead, I checked.