Katja Grace asks: Commentary on blogs usually comes in two forms: comments there and posts on other blogs. In my experience, comments tend to disagree and to be negative or insulting much more than links from other blogs are. In a rough count of comments and posts taking a definite position on this blog, 25 of 35 comments disagreed, while 1 of 12 posts did, even if you don’t count another 11 posts which link without comment, a seemingly approving act. Why is this?
I don't know why this doesn't spread. Slashdot with the ratings filter set to 4 or 5 is so interesting!
The problem with comment ratings is that they're inevitably biased towards how popular the view is among the blog's readers. This is especially noticeable on politics posts. For example, look at fivethirtyeight's top rated comments: inevitably pro-Democratic cheerleading. You could argue that it gives people what they're likely to want to see - but maybe not. There may be a significant gulf between what the regular comment reader and the marginal comment reader wants to read. There may be benefits for the blog's brand for having a reputation of constructive discussion, but commenters are focused on partisan scuffles.
Yes, it occured to me that the obsession with sports actually is strong evidence for Hansonian cynicism.
Tiger Woods for instance, whacks a small object (ball) with a stick (club) into a hole and gets millions of dollars and woman and praise, all because he can do it better than other people (higher status). The upcoming soccer world cup will see teams running up and down fields in a distant country (Africa) essentially kicking the living daylights out a plastic object (ball). Those who do this better than the others will get all the praise, girls and cash. This event will be focus of global attention with billions of viewers, and special attention in sports media will center on who got praised (scored goals) and who got shamed (issued 'cards' - red card for sending off), especially who is best (has higher status). Those who kick the plastic object up the field best will win more money and praise in a few hours of play than a scientist in the lab will make in their lifetime.
Doubtless it is true that many commenters, unaware that Robin towers over them intellectually, mistakenly believe that their contributions point out things that he missed. But this is equally-well predicted by supposing that they are lovers of truth who mistakenly think Robin is in need of enlightenment, as by supposing that they are after status.
A commenter seeking status will not be more inclined than anyone else to offer Robin a "correction" that he plainly does not need. After all, if he were to do so, that would lower his own status.
We should hardly be surprised. People who seek status seek the approval of others. Others approve of people who do the right thing. Therefore the assumption that people are motivated by status-seeking will predict the same behaviors as the assumption that people are motivated by the desire to do the right thing.
There are some situations where "that which gains status" and "the right thing" do not match. This is not one of those situations. Those useless commenters that Robin is here complaining about, are also not gaining any status from their efforts. The uselessness of their comments is to be blamed, not on their seeking status versus seeking to do the right thing, but on their underestimation of Robin. Given that underestimation, even someone pure of heart seeking only to do right, would produce the same useless comments.
Not abnormal, or at least I also have a strong preference for blogs with good commenting communities.
However, you're mistaken if you think being anonymous means that you're immune to status. If you keep using the same pseudonym in the same communities, it will acquire a reputation.
*giggle* All too true.
Very few people are willing to admit how much of what we do every day is done for the sole purpose of attempting to prove we are of superior status to potential mates. Everything, from Corporate level greed to trolling can be, if you are willing to actually break things down far enough, done for no other purpose but to improve our chances of mating and passing on our genes.
There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
Heinlein. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
You only need apply the 'social signaling' theoy to get the answer - blog comments on the internet are 'social signals' by people trying to boost their status by projecting some trait important to their target audience. For instance, transhumanist blogs are mainly filled with wannabe-intellectuals so the goal of comments is to try to sound as clever as all-knowing as possible. But comments are of no use if no one notices, so snark must be added as an attention grabber. All this is done for the sole purpose of getting status in order to get laid.
That is funny.
Search for it.
TANSTAAFL. Some help here please. What is this?
Positive and negative are too constraining for comment categories. Is a comment that accepts the post but points out its limitations positive or negative? Is a comment that lays out the post would be right if the assumptions were reasonable but most likely aren't, negative or positive? Is a comment that broadens an argument but leads to its rejection positive or negative? Is a comment that narrows an arguments applicability but clarifies it negative or positive? Is a comment exposing a flaw negative or positive? Is a comment exposing a different value judgment positive or negative?
Since I'm commenting I ought to disagree with your description of the ideal scope of ratings :-) Unfortunately I've trapped myself by proposing much the same idea on hacker news
The "yes men" effect.
I didn't say you 't think comments are unimportant, but Robin implies that traffic is driven by the original posts, whereas I think in many blogs it is driven by the quality of commentary. And commentary is more valuable when it includes a lot of disagreement. The same can't be said for other blogs--that is, the traffic of blog
A is not strongly influenced by disagreement on blog B, except perhaps in highly partisan political debates (which neither of you typically engage in).
Also, I doubt your cross-blog agreement stats would hold up in partisan contexts. For example, The National Review's blog often refers to The New Republic, but almost always to disagree.