As Wild Bill might say, there you go again, and indeed, here I go again. There are two overarching groups of people who read SJ, the first being lawyers and the second not being lawyers. They come here for different reasons, read the posts through different eyes.
One of the recurring reactions I receive from lawyers is the appreciation of my riding comments hard. Many sites have shut down comments altogether, because moderating them takes an enormous amount of time, far more than reading some, even all, of the comments posted. I have to read them all, no matter how crazy or wildly off topic. Some are, ahem, long. Some are incomprehensible. Some flow into and out of languages that appear to include English at time and others that exist only in the writer’s fertile imagination.
Some comments are intended as humor, or sarcasm, or snarky references, that no doubt make complete sense in the mind of their writer, but since I have no idea who the writer is, how would I know? The writer may know exactly what she meant inside the secret world of her inner motivations, but it’s just a disembodied random voice to me. And it’s left to me to read a comment, sometimes over and over, to figure it out. Because that’s probably how I want to spend my day, trying to figure out what some random person is trying to say.
Then, of course, some people aren’t nearly as good at expressing themselves as they believe, using words and phrases that may mean a great deal to them but not to anyone else. I read them in order to decide whether you should have to.
It can be too much work, and frankly, most comments aren’t worth that much of my time. At least to me, and since this is my blawg, that’s all that matters. You’re always free to express your deepest thoughts elsewhere, but here, it’s on my dime, and so you can be right, the smartest person ever, saying something totally important, but you don’t get a vote as to what I think matters. I win, not because I’m necessarily right, but because I have the trash button and you don’t.
This past week hasn’t been one of the best for comments, and it’s making me wonder why I allow them at all. When I let commenters stray, whether from the specific subject of the post or into the “non-lawyer chaos theory connect the dots to whatever crap pops into your head,” lawyers get annoyed with me. Why am I letting the people who should shut up and learn ruin the comments with their nonsensical rants.
And then there are the serial defensive arguments, for which my old, now-banned, pal Jake was famous and almost universally despised. Jake always thought it was about his progressive approach. It wasn’t. It was about the cluelessness of his arguments, a reflection of his utter lack of knowledge about law combined with trying to manufacture childish counterarguments that made everyone with a little legal knowledge cringe. Yet he would post comment after comment, fighting by whatever means he could muster, for his right to be the dumbest guy in the room.
Stop putting me through this. It sucks the fun out of it for me, and if it’s not fun for me, why would i continue to do this? And if I don’t continue to do this, there won’t be anything for you to write a comment about. I really don’t want to reach the point of killing comments altogether, as there are fun ones, humorous ones and, occasionally, illuminating ones. But get a grip.
If you say your piece and the reaction isn’t what you hoped for, that’s not an invitation for ten more comments about why you’re not a blithering idiot. You said it. You have nothing more to add. That’s it. If you’re as brilliant as you think, then there will be a Nobel Prize in the mail for you. If not, then that’s that. Either way, stop sucking up my time with your repeated comments fighting for your dignity.
If you’re not a lawyer, there’s an 87.3% chance your legal analysis is wrong, either entirely or in part. Have a little humility and recognize that you’re probably not the most brilliant legal mind here. If all the lawyers seem to find something completely uncontroversial, but it strikes you as improper, maybe the job is for you to figure out why you, the non-lawyer, doesn’t get it rather than mine, or the other lawyers, to explain why your legal acumen is lacking. It’s not as much fun for lawyers to explain law to random people on the internet as you think, and SJ doesn’t exist to teach every dumbass with a question how law works.
There’s a reason they’re called “comments,” not questions.
And then there are those comments adding in that extra bit of information, the factoid, the tidbit of information that may or may not be tangentially (or worse, orthogonally) related, as if the comments exist for you to turn my post into yours, because you think your detail is really interesting or really important. Or maybe it’s just some detail you know and are bursting to share, whether to show how smart you are or just because you decide it’s fascinating.
At some point, nearly every commenter here has decided that I’m a jerk in my handling of their comments. And you may well be right. Much of it has to do with how many nonsensical comments I’ve read, and trashed, before getting to yours. At this moment, there are 579 comments in my trash folder from this past week. Bet you didn’t know that. I do. This is what I deal with.
So much as I may be wrong, a nasty old dick, and needlessly mean, cut me a break, especially if you haven’t bothered to hit the tip jar and at least cover the cost of SJ’s continued existence while I write posts every day. If this becomes unfun enough for me, then where are you going to comment and what are you going to gripe about?
If I’m too horrible for you to take, nobody makes you come here, read, comment or contribute. But if not, then do me one favor. Focus.