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