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In our continuing series of diaries on interacting with commenters in your Daily Kos diaries, today's installment focuses on disagreement. If you've posted a theory, an opinion, a belief, or a perspective, chances are that some people here can and will take issue with it.

As we've discussed in Part One and Part Two of this series, it's certainly possible to disagree without being disagreeable. It's also possible to take issue with a particular viewpoint without maligning the diarist. Disagreement can stimulate spirited discussion, raise points that you and your commenter might not have considered, and inspire folks to explore and write about these issues in subsequent diaries.

The dark side of disagreement is that it can bring out the worst in us. In the safety of our anonymity, we may find it hard to resist the temptation to lash out at those who question our viewpoints, our qualifications, our honesty, or our integrity.

When someone posts a critical comment in our diary thread, it can feel like an intensely personal attack. For the most part, that's not the intent. On rare occasions, you will encounter a commenter who really is just causing trouble. Maybe they're like this all the time; maybe they're having a bad day and just taking it out on you. Maybe there's something in your diary that strikes a nerve in a reader, triggering an inappropriate comment or reaction.

If you suspect that's the case, you can do a little sleuthing to see if they're behaving this way in other people's diaries. Simply click on their username to open their "Profile", then scroll down to "Comments Posted" and click on that to view their comments. All their comments. You can click on and read any comment you'd like. You can scan the left-hand column that provides the number of "recommends" for each comment.

If your research suggests that your "problem commenter" is always like this, there'd probably little point in engaging them in a battle of wits in your comment thread. Remember: you're under no obligation to respond to every single comment. You can direct your energies to interactions with folks who appear genuinely interested in discussion (whether or not they agree with everything you've said).

Daily Kos is home to all manner of commenters, and by considering which sort of commenter you're dealing with, you can bring out the best in them and ensure that, to the extent possible, your diary thread will be productive, informative, and enjoyable. As the "host" of your diary, part of your job is to welcome your commenters as customers or guests, ensuring that the time spent in your thread is a positive experience.

Follow along below the little orange welcome mat for more...

Here's your Field Guide To DKos Commenters - feel free to use the "comments" section to tell us about any other species you've encountered:

Gratitudinus concurrus - this commenter will begin by thanking you for posting your diary, as they were thinking along the same lines, but hadn't gotten around to writing their own diary. Most welcome in the thread, there critters are your allies. A great way to bring out the best in them is to thank them for their comment, and ask them about a particular issue in your diary. What do THEY think? If they agree with you, that helps amplify your points. If not, chances are they will explain their view politely and constructively. Some of them may become your "followers' if you treat them nicely.

Bloviatus expertus - unconcerned with your viewpoints (or you), this pompous critter posts comments primarily to underscore their own worth to the planet. After all, they're an expert, based on their degrees, professional experience, research, and credentials. Your diary just hapens to be their soapbox. Chances are they're not looking to engage you in a back-and-forth argument because - no offense - you're just not in their league. Best bet for dealing with B. expertus is to let them comment, and let other commenters deal with them. You can even thank them for taking the time to share their perspective. That costs you nothing and perplexes them. A two-fer.

Hijackus tangentialus - unable or unwilling to target their comments to the subject at hand, this pesky critter aims to divert the discussion to "their" topic du jour. Some manifestations of this behavior are clearly mischievous and malevolent; some are well-intentioned in the mind of the commenter, but not helpful to you as the diarist. Best bet? Ignore them, and focus on commenters who are interested in discussing your diary.

Notextus LOLus - these generally friendly and harmless critters may be among the most prolific commenters in your diary while adding virtually no literary or intellectual value. Typical comment will be "LOL!!!!" or other brief pronouncements. On the plus side, they do elevate the comment count, and they're not doing any harm. You can "rec" their comment, but don't get into a back-and-forth with them.

Interrogatus perplexus - these critters could be helpful or detracting, and much of the outcome depends on how you as the diarist interact with them. A typical comment begin "sorry, but I don't understand/agree with [some point] or [your entire premise]. To determine whether you're dealing with the "malevolus" subspecies or someone who is genuinely in need of clarification, your best bet is to ask a question in reply. What specifically don't they agree with? Do they mean [whatever you think they mean]? Done with diplomacy, this will either cause the "malevolus" critter to slink away and try their gambit on someone else, or encourage the truly perplexed critter to explain themselves, allowing you to interact constructively. Remember: some people really do seek enlightenment, and if you can provide it, you can gain a worthy ally.

Lastwordus 'yeahbutus' - some commenters just have to have the last word, and answer every comment or with yet another question. While ostensibly agreeing with you, their comments will typically begin "Yes, but..." and go on to raise one more issue, objection, or contention. Some of these critters may be classified as the Bloviatus expertus, and engaging with them in a battle for the last word will waste your time and wear out your patience. Others in this species simply need to have the last word in order to be At One With The Universe. Let 'em. It won't cost you a thing, and will stop them in their tracks.

There are surely others, and I have the feeling that you, most excellent reader, will help build out this list in the comments section. As always, thanks in advance for your contributions!

Originally posted to cassandracarolina's fossil record on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 08:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by New Diarists and Courtesy Kos.



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