Comment stalactites

Conversations want to happen, and so they will happen just about anywhere people come in contact. As a case in point, the comment threads on this blog sometimes take on a life of their own. I’ve had a few spectacularly long comment threads. The one that’s been cooking most recently is the Goth-related thread over here (if you’re unfamiliar with the whole Goth cultural phenomenon, here’s the gospel according to Wikipedia).

Nearly five years ago, I posted something about a mildly funny Goth parody site that has since disappeared (Am I GOTH or NOT). Because it had the word Goth in it, people started finding it via Google. Because it had a comment field, people started initiating conversations with provocative comments. Whenever you post a comment, it’s human nature to check back and see how people react to what you said. If someone else happens to reply before you come back, BANG, you’ve got a conversation rolling. Then you get a search engine pile-on effect, and more and more people arrive. It’s a self-feeding system; the conversation thread grows like a stalactite from the ceiling of the blog.

Here’s a (stalactite) histogram of when comments appeared on the Goth thread

There are different kinds of comment stalactites. The most annoying kind is the parasitic stalactite, like this Goth thread. It really has nothing to do with your post, your site, or anything you’ve ever said. It’s just an opportunity to loiter and chat. The Goth folk were well-behaved by and large, but I eventually got tired of supporting an endless tedious chat room. Other stalactites are more welcome. This thread on the Tsar Bomba (the largest nuclear weapon ever exploded) is long, but it’s on topic and people are bringing new information to it. God bless them. Another example is the me-too/me-three variety, like this thread about performer Ferenc Cako’s sand paintings. People are really impressed (watch it and you will be too), and they’re all just saying “wow” one after another. Fine by me.

The last stalactite example I have on my site is the one that convinced me this Elvish writing thing was a force to be reckoned with. I mentioned that I do Elvish writing, and people piled on asking for me to write their names, despite the fact that there was no evidence I would do it based on their comment. These comments were on topic, but basically misguided and growing without bound. But I was happy for the attention, and I did learn that there was a market for Elvish. Failing that stalactite, I never would’ve known.

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