A commenter over at bradwarthen.com brings to our attention this helpful test for blog commenters, courtesy of one John Scalzi, who has blogged since 1998 — which is sort of like having written books before Gutenberg. Before leaving a comment, one is urged to consider the following:
1. Do I actually have anything to say?
2. Is what I have to say actually on topic?
3. Does what I write actually stay on topic?
4. If I’m making an argument, do I actually know how to make an argument?
5. If I’m making assertions, can what I say be backed up by actual fact?
6. If I’m refuting an assertion made by others, can what I say be backed up by fact?
7. Am I approaching this subject like a thoughtful human being, or like a particularly stupid fan?
8. Am I being an a**hole to others?
9. Do I want to have a conversation or do I want to win the thread?
10. Do I know when I’m done?
It’s a good test. Maybe too good. Almost no one on this planet would always be able to honestly and accurately say “yes” to every question. Especially on that “want to win” thing, which trips up most of us.
In any event, it’s a good set of stretch goals for all who want to engage constructively in lively blog discussions.