Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Roundup

Favorites and duds from Tuesday's commenting.

, in no particular order:

Hit Bull Win Steak brought the house down with this loud contribution to the Outtakes post. Obviously the caps serve to impart tone to the joke, and that's at least half of the humor here.

Also in the Outtakes post, dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac cracked me up with this simple one-liner, reworking the notion of "stars" into a clever dig at Bart Calendar. Nice work.

And finally (that's right, only three), Eddie Murray Sparkles contributed this hysterical recontextualization to the LeBron's Decision post. I'm still chuckling about this one.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter EsotericPopCulturePun was viciously mocked by the comment_ninja for this wholly worthless contribution to the Derek Jeter post. I was recently engaged in a conversation about this kind of commenting, and it's worth getting into a little bit: there seems to be an entire group of [mostly] unstarred commenters who fundamentally misunderstand what Deadspin commenting is all about. Way back in April, we ran a piece entitled "It's as if you don't even know what we do around here.", wherein we tackled this apparent misunderstanding. I'd just like to tack on a little frustration and hostility: Deadspin is not a chat-room. It's not a community forum, at all. It's absolutely not a place where you write things because you like to be read. It's not an open-mic, it's not a conversation, it's not an exchange of ideas. No matter how much you may want it to be those things, it is never, under any circumstances, any of those things. Your attempts at usurping Deadspin's comment privileges for things other than making strangers laugh are glaring and boring and wholly unwelcome. We make jokes here, and that's it. Jesus, that should be so simple and so so so fun. Why in God's name would anyone ever deviate? Why would anyone ever feel compelled to write "durrr I hate the Yankees and Derek Jeter durrr" when they could, instead, make jokes and be funny and laugh and have a good time? This astonishes me.

Guvmint_Cheese missed the mark badly with this miserable, joyless, dead-on-arrival offering in the Toe Sucking post. At least it's an attempt at humor, but look; farting out some wholly unoriginal version of a roadkill meme is virtually as hostile to Deadspin's standards as flouting the rules altogether. Most new commenters have been guilty of this at one time or another. Here's the thing: at best, Guvmint_Cheese was shooting for a C+ with this comment. Don't ever do that. Not every comment has to be sophisticated, but every comment should be shooting for an A.

And there it is. Before I send you off to DUAN, I just want to say this, and some of you will no-doubt disagree strongly with me, but remember: I can delete your comments:

In my opinion, the quality of Deadspin commenting rises and falls along with the amount of feedback commenters get for their work. I have observed a marked decline in both the funniness and the creativity of Deadspin comments recently since a DUAN thread convinced everyone to stop throwing +1s around. There are those among you who will cite any number of opposing ideas, such as: +1s should only go to the best of the best; +1s create and enforce a herd mentality; +1s lead to unspoken quid pro quo arrangements between commenters; etc. Okay, fine. My retort is this: +1s lead to better jokes. All you need to consider for this to hit home is the notion of a stand-up comic delivering a routine to a room full of perfectly silent observers, versus delivering a routine to an approving, engaging crowd. Performance and energy and humor thrive on encouragement. When a commenter leaves a good joke and it echoes in an empty chamber, his confidence suffers. It does. Not one Deadspin commenter who I have ever observed can claim to regularly experience anything different. On the other hand, a good joke that is affirmed by another or a crowd of commenters emboldens the commenter and helps create the kind of fun, joyous, supportive environment where humor thrives.

So, admonitions from dour, joyless, pinched-sphincter types notwithstanding, fucking engage your fellow commenters. If you like the joke, if you laughed, if you think it's worth a +1, fucking give it a +1. It may not look pretty on the page, but goddammit, if Deadspin aspires to have the funniest comments section on the internet, shelve all the other crap and recognize that the quality of commenting is served by this kind of feedback.

So there. Happy fucking DUAN.


  1. WashingtonForeskinsJuly 6, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    This is all a clever ruse to make us think that you, Hatey, the ninja, and lauren_jo are not one in the same, isn't it?

    This is my first time commenting on here. I just wanted to welcome myself.

  2. I feel I should respond since it was my comment referenced. +1's should be reserved for the best of the best. They just should be. Otherwise, they begin to lose any meaning. No one wants to make the person who laughs all the time laugh. They want to make the sour puss laugh. There's a challenge in that. It makes you want to be better. Funnier. More creative.

    All that being said, it wasn't my intention to have people stop it all together. Or to not give a +1 to a comment they felt deserved one. I didn't have any intentions, really, I just thought it should be something people think about. Specificially in re: friendships. If it was just some random unstirred commenter they didn't "know" would they still have given a +1?

    In the end everyone wants the same thing, I guess there are just philosophical differences in how to achieve that.

    Feedback is wonderful, but only if it means something to you. If it becomes normal or routine, no matter how good it used to feel, it's still normal and routine. That's all.

  3. @WashingtonForeskins

  4. I think the whole plus one argument really just boils down to varying personality types, in that who's giving the plus one has a lot to do with how "valuable" it is.

    For example, I think we all know that getting a +1 from someone like cheese-mac or Hatey is much bigger deal than getting one from someone like me or Sharting because they give them out so rarely and we know exactly how they feel about them.

    Personally, I agree with Shitehawk. I enjoy giving and receiving +1's and I do think that I make much better comments when I'm receiving more encouragement.

    I feel like having an awareness of personal taste is enough to maintain the value of the +1. We should all just acknowledge that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to receiving and giving them out, and we shouldn't try to stick to some unifying code.


  5. You gus remember the Deadspin comments before Cheese Mac ruined them?


  6. Hey damn it, my +1s are worth more than my checks.

  7. Truly, my rant was not directed at any one dour, joyless, pinched-sphincter type in particular.

    But I stand by what I said. Whatever meaning you may take from one +1 versus another, I have observed what I would consider at least a strong correlation between the interactivity of commenting and the quality of commenting. A person's aesthetic preference may be for fewer +1s, but if you like Deadspin commenting and especially like it at its best, you ought to take a close look at the way positive feedback effects the general mood of the commentariat. It's not about the pride or relative meaning of an individual +1, it's about the overall spirit of the place and the way that spirit influences commenting.

    Deadspin commenting is many things: it's self-serving and ego-boosting, it's social, it's mildly competitive, it's stressful. But at its very very best, it's about laughing and having a good time and forgetting that it's an activity with rules and standards and promotions and bannings. We could argue back and forth about how the +1 plays a role in each of those things - it is the ultimate Deadspin ego-stroke, after all - but I tend to think the real value of the +1 is the way it loosens people up and encourages their efforts.

    I'm not an active commenter, but it seems to me that pretty much any time a comment on Deadspin gets a handful of +1s, it deserves the praise. I can't remember the last time I've seen a comment on Deadspin that for one second made me suspect favoritism or quid pro quo or anything else untoward. And anyway, if one comment in twenty gets an extra +1 because hey, I'm a huge sucker for dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac's particular voice, what the hell, who exactly does that hurt? We all have our favorite commenters, and if those preferences inform your distribution of +1s now and then, at least that preference was likely hard-earned with wit and skill.

    I of course suspected there'd be some disagreement on this topic, but ultimately, I see it as boiling down to an aesthetic concern versus a quality concern. +1s are devalued, every half-decent comment gets a half-dozen +1s, +1s are given out in the overabundant spirit of revelry, etc, etc, versus hey, the fucking comments are just better when people get feedback for their good stuff. Not for the one comment a day that is deemed COTY worthy, but for a comment that draws a genuine laugh or genuine appreciation. Now, if you the commenter only laugh at 1 comment a day, you should only give out 1 +1 a day. But I write this blog, and I usually see 7-10 comments worth mentioning each day. In my mind, each of those comments is worth a +1, absolutely, no questions asked. That's why they're mentioned. So that's 7 +1s I'd be giving out between 10:30am and 6pm five days a week, and that just doesn't seem excessive to me. Now multiply that by however many active commenters there are on Deadspin . . . let's just say 30 active featured commenters . . . that's 210 +1s between 10:30am and 6pm each day. Seems totally fair to me, and is almost certainly more +1s per commenter than we were seeing at the peak.

    In other words, I'm right, everyone else is wrong, thus it was, thus it ever shall be.

    [laughs maniacally]

    [sits in silence]

    [sobs violently into sleeve]

    Hey, goodnight everyone. Know that I, your obsessive stalker, marvel at the lot of you. Even when I'm calling you names and denigrating your efforts.

  8. Awesome work. I agree completely on the +1s. I think cheese mac introduced the +1:economy analogy, and I think it's valid. When people stop spending, the economy suffers. Sure, I understand that double digit +1s doesn't mean what it once did, but that's a product of a larger, more active commentariat (and also some systemic issues brought about by the redesign, that further underscore particularly well-received comments). Is it perfect? No, of course not. I'm not suggesting commenters should be in the business of bolstering the egos of other commenters. But I think the quality of commenting improves across the board when there's a more feedback about what's scoring laughs. And I think they encourage creativity, even if the overall number of +1s goes up, as long as they're still going to worthy comments, they're just further underscoring what is appreciated. (By the same token, if there were an easy, ninja-approved way to -1 lazy comments, it would probably help separate the wheat from the chaff.)

    Anyway, +1 on your outstanding efforts. No amount of them could ever sufficiently express our appreciation.

  9. I enjoy getting and giving +1's, too. I mean, I wrote that whole thing about searching out for the +1 on this very blog.

    As for any correlation thanks to the +1 debate, I think it's dangerous to make that assumption during the height of the summer season when many people may have better things to do than sit inside at a computer hitting refresh 10000000 times a day. I've noticed that my activity, for other reasons, has declined of late and I can promise you it has nothing to do with "well deadspin doesn't seem as collegial as it did two weeks ago..."

    I laugh plenty of times a day reading these commenters. That's kind of the point. If I started giving out +1's every time I laughed, I wouldnt have time to comment myself. To me it's understood that most comments are funny, and then when they go above and beyond, that's when you +1 something.

    All I'm saying is: reward funny shit. Don't reward things for other, non-funny reasons. Be discerning. I think I've been pretty clear about that from jump street and it has somehow turned into this whole big thing about how the comments have suffered since. I just disagree, for any number of more logical reasons than one guy said something in DUAN and now everyone is sucking because their feelings are hurt? Or the place is less cozy or inviting?

  10. Oh, cheese-mac, my darling, who stole his name from a porn video ... didn't you complain that the +1 system seemed to be creating a Deadspin clique, which I said was already being created by MadBastards? Yes, there is an Old Boys Club at Deadspin. That is bound to happen, and I'm okay with it.

    We agree that some things are just not funny. But which world do you want -- comments that are funny to you, Hatey, MKM, MadBastards, etc, or comments that are funny?

  11. @Anonymous

    While I agree with part of what you're saying, I don't quite understand how this site is creating a clique. It's not like people are getting to be close friends over in the MBA comment section, so I'm not sure how this is making commenters more clique-ish. I would think DUAN or Twitter would be more of a culprit than this place.

    God dammit, why am I thinking about this stuff so much?

  12. Anonymous,

    1. I don't think I've stolen anything. Been pretty up front about that. Tommy Lee is my avatar as a matter of fact.

    2. I didn't complain about a clique. DUAN, by its very nature is a clique. Just keep it out of Deadspin, that's all. I complained about a devaluing of the +1 that could be attributed to friendliness rather than off-the-wall funniness.

    3. I want comments that are funny to me, because they are funny comments?