Posted in acceptable use, digital citizenship, digital photography, parent child conversations, parents and technology, writing for the web

Conversations About Commenting

If you have ever written a comment at the end of an article or blog posting, you have surely read more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously. Posted by folks who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — indiscretions waiting for the whole world to discover.

Read a short post and watch a video on newspaper comments, uploaded by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. Some newspapers sites, such as the Boston Globe, post a short and succinct comment policy.

Helping your child avoid public website blunders is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette. Often children don’t know or forget that their comments leave a digital footprint trail that will last much longer than their per-adolescent and even teenage years.  Often confusion arises because many children first encounter commenting opportunities in places where adult supervision is scarce. As a result an impulsive idea can beat out good common sense even when a child knows better. Bottom line — response and commenting areas are not places to leave nasty, rude, and hateful conversation.

As a part of the ongoing family conversations on digital life issues, a focus on appropriate website feedback will help children develop website “street smarts” and help them to grow into more perceptive judges of what is appropriate (and what is not). Moreover children (and adults, too) need to think about writing well, because their comments will be posted on a public website and available for years to come. I found The 10 Commandments of Commenting at the computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR closed down in 2013).

Leaving Comments: A Few Etiquette Pointers to Remember

  1. All comments leave digital footprints — any comment posted at a website will be accessible for years.
  2. A comment should be specific and demonstrate that a genuine interest in the topic
  3. A comment can indicate disagreement and include constructive criticism.
  4. Comments are not the place for blatant self-promotion.
  5. A comment requires a writer to stay on topic.
  6. Comment sections are not the place for obscene or foul language or rude and disrespectful information.
  7. Comment sections should not be used if you just want to say you like the post. Instead, use the like or share link.
  8. A comment is a piece of writing and the writer is the author.

Check out my updated, positive language 10 Commandments of Commenting.  A 2006 blog post at the Cool Cat Teacher blog, How to Comment Like a King (or Queen), is still relevant, nearly seven years later.

Finally, Grammar Girl has a detailed post on writing  good comments, focused on blogs, but good advice anytime a person leaves remarks in a public place. Grammar Girl ends her post with an interesting rap YouTube video, an interesting tool for middle or high school students, with a focus on strong comment writing. The video, Yo Comments Are Wack (also embedded below), is great fun, but watch the whole video before sharing it with your children, just in case any parts make you uncomfortable. Read my MediaTechParenting post on Grammar Girl.

7 thoughts on “Conversations About Commenting

  1. Reblogged this on Media! Tech! Parenting! and commented:

    Are we surprised that people and their comments know few limits in the 21st Century online world? We keep hearing about awful language, trollers, at least some of whom are real humans, and increasing numbers of hateful comments. This post about teaching children to comment was written several years ago is still relevant in 2016

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