scholars and rogues

Threadfuckers, and sundry other denizens of the online underworld

By Ann Ivins

Taking a hiatus from posting has allowed me the opportunity to more fully inhabit the comment threads of the bastion of progressive genius that is Scholars and Rogues… and I’m ready to go home now. While there are many, many marvelous commenters here, every now and then one of the less desirable sorts takes up residence – or a worthy citizen or regular poster (!) has a moment of weakness, succumbing to the temptation of an all-out online brawl, becoming for a moment one of my least favorite types to run into in a dark thread late at night. Such as:

The Blog Stalker

Believe me, I feel your anger. Some of the posters on this blog are, to say the least, inflammatory. Argumentative. Pit bulls of the blog world, and your original disagreement with one of those savage animals became… rancorous. Heated. Things were said. You will probably not be taking a villa together at Biarritz any time soon. Entirely understandable.

Let me gently suggest, however, that trailing that poster through his blogular ramblings and leaping on every single utterance with a reference to your previous fracas might reflect poorly on, well, you. For example, if he remarks, “I, too, enjoy growing roses in my spare time,” and you respond with, “Oh, do you fertilize them with the noxious excretions of your half-digested elitist social Darwinism? Or with the emaciated corpses of the uneducated masses you don’t give a damn about?” not only have you dangled a preposition, you have let your emotions dominate your obvious intelligence, undoubted eloquence and undisputed moral authority.

Now please go away. And that’s not my real name.

The Sorrowing Saint

Here’s the thing: by the standards of any religion you might follow, I can guarantee that you are, in fact, holier than this particular thou. The moral high ground? Take it. In fact, I’ll box it up and giftwrap it for you, along with the missionary position and unflavored rice cakes. Pointing out and insincerely pitying my un-Christian pettiness, sarcasm or bitterness is not only an ungallant and transparent retreat, it’s like accusing the sky of being blue. Not. Going. To Change. Unless, of course, your laser-sharp evaluation miraculously breaks through my wall of psychological defenses, engendering a frenzy of revelatory self-loathing and my ensuing suicide.

Which would kind of make you the bad guy, wouldn’t it?

The Extrapolator ad Absurdem

Let’s say (hypothetically of course) I make an offhand comment about my desire for stricter gun control laws. Leaving an anxious nation awaiting more, I fail to elaborate. What can you, the reader, reasonably assume from this trenchant statement? I want there to be stricter gun control laws. That’s it, bubba. That’s all you’ve got. Unless you ask me to explain and I oblige, none of the following assumptions about my beliefs make any logical sense.

“This bleeding-heart liberal:

  • hates guns;
  • is afraid of guns;
  • believes guns should be illegal;
  • cannot shoot a gun;
  • does not own a gun;
  • would not be tempted to shoot me if we met in person;
  • and could not figure out how to dispose of my bullet-riddled corpse.”

Don’t bet on it.

The Dying Hamlet

Unless you are, in fact, a character in Shakespeare, announcing your exit from any public arena is not only generally unnecessary but also very often rather… anticlimactic. Unfortunately for the fragile human ego, it is highly unlikely that anyone else is weeping salt tears into the keys of a laptop, quaking with terror at the high dudgeon of your departure or gratefully humming “Ode to Joy” because their nemesis is gone. Dignity sometimes demands silence.

You’ll be back, anyway. Hamlet managed it four times.

And finally,

The Threadfuckers

When a comment thread leaves the original topic gasping faintly in the distance and becomes a war between two equally stubborn, angry and/or compulsive strangers; when sanctimony, swank and sniping take the place of any kind of rational conversation; when two (presumably) adult men begin hurling serious insults about the relative size of their respective genitalia and it’s not even funny… Jesus, people. Get a room. Whether it’s unacknowledged foreplay or a preliminary to murder, the rest of us don’t have the energy to scroll through it.

Ah. It’s good to be back.

Categories: scholars and rogues

14 replies »

  1. This should be put into handbook form and be made required reading for all blogs as well as sports related message boards.

  2. I’m pretty sure I’ve been all of the above at some point in my Net career. I’m trying hard not to be anymore.

    Wonderful reality check, Ann. I tend to believe that, in general, we have the best comment threads in the blogosphere (although that’s an opinion I can’t prove statistically). Still, there’s room for improvement, huh?

  3. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Thanks, sweetie. 🙂

    (And I know I’ll pay dearly for the term of endearment …)

  4. I’m sure some people here put me into several of Ann’s categories. On the speculation blog that I write for, we encounter the same dynamics. You get yours from the right, we get it from the left.


  5. Thank you. We should write as the well-dressed woman accessorizes. She may put on all the jewelry she owns, but she takes most of it off before going out the door. Write, then edit. And edit again, until what is left is pure, to the point and germane. For all the other ranting and raving, I’ll just go to the local bar. I do enjoy Scholars & Rogues!

  6. This piece is hilarious and enlightening. The entire site is excellent and fresh! I hope you don’t mind, I intend to link you to my blog in a little story. Can’t wait to share you with my readers!
    Gettin’ my Scrogue on!

  7. Back on the Prozac, Michael. And Savantster, we’ve all done at least three of these things… except of course when I do them, it’s justified.