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Posted in General, Society

What is an Online Comment War?

First off, what exactly is an online “comment war”?

An online “comment war” is when a bunch of people are commenting to each other – usually several times a day – in an effort to “win” an argument. This usually is done by using bad arguments, insults, and faulty logic. “Comment wars” are pretty much useless and go nowhere fast.

I will give my latest experience of a “comment war” I ran across a couple of days ago. Please keep in mind that I was not involved in the “war”. I was just a watcher.

I have changed the names of the main people involved for privacy reasons. I am also just giving a brief explanation of what happened. Too much detail will remove anonymity as well as take too long to write (this post will already be long enough 🙂).

I also will try to keep the paraphrase in context. Sometimes paraphrasing causes the context to get warped.

The last two days I have been watching – off and on – an online “comment war” on a semi-popular news website.

To start, an online user named Betty posted a comment about a controversial video circulating around the web. In her comment, she attacked a whole group of people, which included an accusation that could not be proven just by watching the video. Basically she made a – more or less – useless comment.

Now another user named Greg responded to her and asked her if she was being genuine and why she was being prejudice. Two days later, she never responded to him. This is a sign that Greg was right in his assessment and Betty did not know what to say in reply.

Betty then proceeded to comment to another user making an even more ridiculous claim.

Someone else – named Reed – responded to Betty. He strongly disagreed with her short but inaccurate comment. While he did not do the best job in replying, he did ask her some questions that challenged her claims.

Here is where the “war” begins. Both Betty and Reed start commenting to each other. Now to be fair, Betty did say 2 or 3 things that were logical and most people would agree with. However the rest of her commenting was illogical, insulting, “smart-aleck”, and dishonest.

Basically Reed kept re-asking his (valid) questions to Betty while she continued to ignore them for basically no reason that I could tell.

Around 1 1/2 days later, Betty starts to agree with Reed and act like what he is saying is “exactly” what she was saying.

I suspect that Betty knew she lost the argument (Reed did make valid points), and did not want to admit she was wrong. So instead she decides to try and make it look like she and Reed are saying the same thing.

Another person – we will call her Lucy – responds to Betty and makes a very valid point. Betty, now being calmer and less emotional, responds to Lucy.

Betty’s response to Lucy sounded good, but there is a major problem with what she said. Betty is now claiming to have been arguing for something completely different than what she stated to begin with. In other words, Betty was contradicting herself.

There are two explanations that make sense in this situation. Either Betty did a real bad job in explaining what she originally meant, or Betty was losing the argument and started to lie to hide that fact.

My personal opinion is that she was lying. This is because:

  • Betty ignored Greg’s comment asking about her genuineness and her prejudice. Several people up-voted Greg’s comment, since he made good points.
  • Betty totally ignored Reed’s repeated questioning about the illogical stuff she previously said.
  • After multiple people called on her illogical posting, she suddenly has a totally different argument than what she originally posted.

As you can see, an online “comment war” does not really accomplish anything.

When Betty encountered arguments that made sense and even refuted some of what she said, she quickly “moved the goal posts” – changed her context / main point – to make it look like she did not lose the argument.

These “wars” would not happen if people would just be respectful and admit when they made incorrect assumptions, wrote in a disrespectful tone, etc.

Instead people’s pride gets hurt and they want to “fight it out” instead of being logical and acting like a mature adult. Worse these people end up being dishonest and changing their arguments to prevent embarrassment from losing an argument.

Posted in General, Internet and Servers, Society

Why are So Many Internet Forums Toxic?

I have noticed, off and on, people on discussion boards (e.g. forums, comment sections) seem to have an abrasive, if not downright toxic (hostile) attitude towards people. I know, this is not surprising. There always have been people that have acted this way on the Internet.

However, why do people act this way? While I do not pretend to be a psychologist, I have some ideas of why people engage in this kind of behavior online (or offline).

(Please take note, everything I say are my own opinions.)

  1. Depression

Some people are clinically depressed. They do not necessarily mean to cause anyone problems, but they just see their life as one big mess. They in turn let their feelings about themselves (and their life) bleed into their online conversations with others.

  1. Life Stress

Stress can be the cause of someone being frequently irritated. For example, some guy on a truck/SUV forum has just lost his job and is in danger of losing his really nice truck. He makes large monthly payments each month. He is also struggling to pay his rent. With these life problems, I would not be surprised if he were to get fussy with others online.

  1. Arrogance

Many times people being hostile online is due to arrogance. They believe their opinion is the only correct one, and that no one else can be right.

If they happen to be right, they become even more smug and arrogant. If they happen to be wrong, they will never admit it and unfortunately, most of the time, never change their ways. Either way, not a pretty sight.

This happens a lot on comment sections of websites. There is always someone that wants to ask “smart” questions to other people.

However when the person they asked the “smart” question to is able to answer their question, they typically either insist on a stupid “comment war” that leads nowhere, or they sneak out like a thief in the night, never bothering to give a reply for courtesy.

  1. Insecurity

Someone being insecure (not being sure/confident of themselves) can drive someone to get frequently defensive (usually without justification). They also show signs of paranoia and maybe even arrogance, since someone telling them they are wrong causes them to become even more insecure.

  1. Pride

This one is similar to arrogance. Someone being prideful online is not hard to spot. Usually it is recognized by the “tone” of someone’s message.

For example, someone who has lots of money (e.g. a rich businessman) writes an online article. He says that he is of the opinion “poor” people either cannot or have a very small chance of becoming rich like himself.

Now most people would read his article that think “Wow! That guy is a jerk.” Well they would be right. A prideful online post, as mentioned before, is not hard to spot.

I believe people who post similar to my example above, are insecure, and need to put other people down to feel better about themselves. In my experience, they will even act as if they are being sincere, when they are not.

Also, their entire post does not have to be putting someone down. Just one or two sentences will give away the author’s true intentions.

  1. Trolling

As everyone knows, there are people out there who cannot rest until they have caused someone trouble. The Bible talks about these kind of people (Proverbs 4:14-16 *). When it comes to online conversations, they will give pointless talk with little to no technical arguments, wasting everyone’s time in the process.

They also semi-frequently say something like “I’m done with you.” and stop responding, as if you were the one being ridiculous. However, they are just projecting their own ridiculousness onto you, in an effort to coverup the fact they are the troll (troublemaker).

I am sure there are people out there paid to troll comments sections. Unfortunately, while you can suspect someone of being a paid troll, you cannot easily – if at all – prove it.

Basically trolls are losers who have nothing better to do than act childish to random strangers on an online comments board / forum.


* Proverbs 4:14-16   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.

For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.

Posted in Christian, Computers, General, Internet and Servers, Society

What is the Difference between Facts and Opinions?

This is a short blog about the differences between facts and opinions.

I am writing this because I have noticed, over the last several years, people tend to confuse facts with opinions and opinions with facts.

What is a Fact?  A fact is something that is either true or false.

  • For example, the color of the sky (on a clear day) is blue. That statement is a fact.
  • For example, the outside temperature is 90 degrees. That statement is a fact.
  • For example, my dog is a husky. That statement is a fact.

While someone can challenge an established “fact”, this person would have to show proof that the “fact” is not correct.  Sorry, but just saying, “You’re wrong!” or mocking what the person said does not cut it.

However it is wise to treat things like “scientific facts” with skepticism, since not everything we are told (especially online) is in fact true.

For example, someone online makes a bold claim about a particular topic. You go to a friend of yours who has 20+ years experience in that same area. The issue? Almost everything your friend says contradicts what this online “expert” tells you. What does this tell you? Well at the very least, the online “expert” does not know what he is talking about.

So what are opinions then?  An opinion is either something that someone believes to be true (has not yet been proven to be a fact), cannot be proven at all for some reason, or something that could have more than one answer.

  • The color tan looks good on that wall. That statement is an opinion. Why?  Because something that looks good to one person may not to another.
  • That little dog is cute! That statement is an opinion, because while this person thinks the dog is cute, someone else may not think so.
  • Large smart phones are better than smaller ones. This too is an opinion. Some people may prefer smaller smart phones to larger ones.

Here is a real life example.  A friend of mine (we will call her Grace), posted a YouTube video showing some inaccuracies in another YouTube video she found.

Someone eventually posted a “rebuttal” comment showing why none of her corrections was “correct”.  The funny thing is…this person did not use logical arguments in most of his comment.

He was triggered, and wanted to trash Grace’s video using emotional (mostly non-factual, opinionated, weak) arguments.

Interestingly when Grace responded back to all of his arguments, he never did reply.  He just dropped himself from the debate that he had started.  I suspect he could not reply, because he was mostly arguing from his emotions and not from established facts.

Another thing that I found interesting, the owner of the video Grace responded to found out about her rebuttal video, and claimed that he watched about a “minute” of her video and found it “boring”.

The entire video was almost 8 minutes long.  How does he know the whole video is “boring” when he didn’t even give it an honest review (per his own admission)?  He too, was triggered (based upon his online responses) and could not even give a mature response to her video.  Yikes!

Now to be clear, I have no problem with people giving their honest opinions.  What I do have a problem with is people who try to pass their opinions off as facts, when they cannot provide proof.

Worse these people will usually (in my experience) insult you for your opinion, just based upon the fact that you said something that they did not agree with.  That is uncalled for and definitely disrespectful.

Posted in General, Society