Lifting the Comment Ban and Imposing a Ration

At around the same time that I started Accidental Shelf-Browsing, I banned myself from commenting on any blogs or articles except my own.


Source: Rico S at

I did this for two reasons: first, I did not trust myself to represent myself in public to a standard high enough for my tastes (especially as I’m coming into the job market looking for a career); second, I could tell that worrying about discussions in comment spaces had a negative impact on my productivity and mental health. Of course, I have replied to comments here and in specific social media venues, but those were not part of the problem.

So far I think this has been a good decision; with the exception of a bit of foolishness on Twitter, I have not had to gag on the foot in my mouth quite so much as I’m used to. Moreover, I still consider those very good reasons to back away. Know that I have broken the habit of frequent commenting, however, I think I should reconsider my self-imposed commenting ban. Simply forbearing from commenting is not going to improve my ability to comment in a way I find acceptable. Further, if I believe in discussion online—this blog suggests that I do—but I am not participating and contributing beyond my own space, then I am not being neighbourly or acting in keeping with my beliefs.

Therefore, I am going to replace the commenting ban with a commenting ration: I will limit myself to three comments per month. Once I have used those three comments, I cannot comment until the next month. What I hope is that I will be disinclined to get into arguments and that I will focus on issues or problems I feel are at least two of a) worth addressing, b) likely to resolve fruitfully, and c) enjoyable to me. I had considered putting a waiting period on commenting—24 hours or something like that—but that might exacerbate the issue of worrying about comments for days at a time. I am therefore going to stick with the ration and hope that I won’t need a waiting period to prevent obnoxious or unconsidered commenting if I want to save my comments for exchanges I anticipate will be worthwhile.

Let me know if you have any further recommendations and tips.

2 thoughts on “Lifting the Comment Ban and Imposing a Ration

  1. Okay, you made me think…
    and I remember what has been possibly the best help to me in online conversations when I’m all tied up in knots. (I get “tied up in knots” most commonly because I feel I -must- speak and fear to be disliked, or because I want to speak and fear what I will say will be ignored.)

    And it’s talking to people in real life about them.

    Here are some of the best things I’ve gotten:
    Once I called one of my best friends IRL, and was whining because I was worked up about someone being like, “well we should obviously engage in self-worship.” (and I knew it was kind of the prevailing view-people-admit-to in that context.)
    She was like, “If you want to say something, you could, you know.. say something.”
    (her peace and complete un-worriedness gave me confidence. plus I think I no longer felt super-pressed to comment on the I was worked up about, and instead made a comment in some complete other place, but about something where my heart was -really- in it… but where I’d been timid and putting off responding.)

    Once I showed another friend the progression of things on a conversation I cared about, but was disappointed with.
    And he read the posts, and was like, “Why’d you sabotage your own thread, down there?”
    My instant answer, lol: “Well, I thought I had to because (so-and-so) is higher status than me!” (so I thought I “had” to talk about the digression he was bringing up.)

    One time I talked to my husband about a post I was writing and re-writing, asking him about his opinion of if my re-write was better, (lol) and he had this observation:
    “You’re optimizing for the wrong things.” (my “optimizations” flowing out of self-protectiveness rather than trying to be effective in my argument / be courageous and loving towards the people I was talking to.)

    And then there was the time I was miserable because felt I was morally required to respond to a new thread on a forum I frequent. And he pointed out some of what was going on with me, and pulled me away from the edge. And maybe… 2 years later(?) ..some great good came that likely would not have if I’d held silence.

    I am actually now wondering, “Have all times where I’ve blessed others in my online conversations recently been linked to getting wisdom from someone who know me?”
    Because so many things that are obvious to others about how I really am are compleeetely non-obvious to me.

    Also, I notice I’ve not really been talking to IRL friends about online posts in the last couple of months, though I still have PLENTY of stuff I am unsure or intimidated or obsessive about saying/not saying.

    (sooooo long! online conversations about online conversations: the perfect topic?)


  2. Pingback: Rescheduling the Apocalypse and Other Housekeeping Matters | Accidental Shelf-Browsing

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