If there is one thing which really characterises Web 2.0, it’s the ability to comment on people’s work. Commenting is what can, or at least should, make a conversation possible. In this article I’d like to look at comments from both an educational and an etiquette point of view.
I’ve been to several presentations in which the speaker shows a screenshot of someone’s MySpace page indicating that they’ve received 1500 comments about something they’ve posted. My take on this is as follows:
- How can anyone read, let alone respond to, 1500 comments?
- If most of the comments are ‘Wow’, or ‘Cool’, how does that benefit the originator of the post, except for giving them an ego boost?
I have used these posts at various times so just because I'm not commenting on them doesn't necessarily mean they weren't useful.
I’ve sometimes had people say to me, months after I’ve written an article that nobody commented on, that they found it useful.
Also, it’s now possible to read an article in one place and comment about it in another. I typically see comments about my articles on othert blogs, in Twitter and on Facebook. It’s possible, through the magic of RSS feeds, to collate various streams into one place and display it on your website. I find that looks a bit too messy for my liking.
Something I have done in order to keep track of when I or my articles are mentioned anywhere is to set up a Google Alert and a Twitter alert. These let me know, by email, whenever my name is mentioned on the internet.
It seems to me that used wisely, comments on students’ work could form part of your assessment for learning approach. The key to success in this respect is as follows:
- Be aware of when comments are posted.
- Discuss the comments, and what might be learnt from them.
- Work out suitable responses whilst taking into account e-safety and time management issues.
I have set myself the following rules:
- I always try to respond to comments. If someone has gone to the trouble of making a comment, the least I can do is acknowledge it.
- I never post anything which is likely to offend people, such as swear words.
- If someone makes a sensible-sounding comment, but has a website like ‘easyescorts.com’, I won’t publish it.
- If someone tries to advertise their services in a comment, when the service has nothing to do with the subject in hand, I won’t publish it. Sometimes, I’ll even report it as spam.
- I never respond to trolls, which is the name given to people who are just plain nasty. They have no interest in furthering the conversation, and usually hide behind a wall of anonymity. If you get targetted by a troll, it’s a compliment in a way because these people only attack those who are patently better than themselves, ie more educated or more informed. The common advice is: don’t feed the trolls. That is, don’t give them any attention. Here is a great post on this subject:
I like this video too:
That video is a good thing to show to pupils to convey the effects of cyberbullying (because that’s what trollism is) on people.
I also love this feisty response to troll comments. Go to the YouTube site itself for the lyrics.
I found this on the Grammar Girl site about making comments online. It’s a great post and you should definitely read it with your students.
I’d love to know what you think of my comments on comments – but nice ones only please!