Never Read The Comments!

You should never read the comments,
Comment veterans explain;
You should never read the comments
Cos they’ll irritate your brain
You should never read the comments
It’s too difficult a strain;
You should never read the comments…
But I’m reading them again.

“To the author of the story:
You should probably just quit,
Cos your thinking is atrocious
And your writing’s utter shit;
You’d be doing us a favor
Doing anything instead
If the rest of it’s as dreadful
As the sentence that I read!”

“To the editor who polished this
And tried to make it gleam:
Your efforts weren’t successful—
You’re a moron, it would seem!
By omitting an apostrophe
You used a different word
And it undermined your efforts
In polishing this turd”

“To the site administrator
With the shitty pop-up ads:
If I meet you in reality
I’ll kick you in the ‘nads—
I’ll be holding you responsible
And posting your address;
Don’t delete it, or I’ll scream about
My freedom of your press!”

“To the idiot responding
To my comment seventeen:
It’s your feminist perspective,
Not my comment, that’s obscene;
It’s your own misunderstanding
Which we’ve all come to expect—
Which imbues the views of all of
The ‘politically correct’”

“To the lurkers on your laptops
Thinking maybe you might write:
This is not a game for sissies,
So be ready for a fight!
I can keep your voices silent
Through a verbal show of force
Cos it’s all about protection
For my own “free speech”, of course.”

You should never read the comments,
Comment veterans explain;
You should never read the comments
Cos they’ll irritate your brain
You should never read the comments
It’s too difficult a strain;
You should never read the comments…
But I’m reading them again.

First off, let me thank my own readers for being, largely, the exception to the rule. Hell, many of my commenters write in verse! Practically a guarantee that at least a minimum of thought has to go into a comment.

But yeah. I read the comments. It’s where I get most of my inspiration. And some things are all too predictable. Comments on any article about Gaza. Or religion. Or climate change. Politics. Feminism. Guns.

But… a tree? On NPR?

It sounds like something out of Dr. Seuss, but artist Sam Van Aken is developing a tree that blooms in pink, fuchsia, purple and red in the spring — and that is capable of bearing 40 different kinds of fruit.

No, it’s not genetic engineering. Van Aken, an associate professor in Syracuse University’s art department, used an age-old technique called grafting to attach branches from 40 different kinds of stone fruit onto a single tree. It’s called the “Tree of 40 Fruit.” Weekend Edition’s Arun Rath spoke to Van Aken about the project, and what inspired it.

It’s a nice story, more meaningful than one first expects (the idea was partially inspired by the near-closure of an experimental orchard that contained heirloom trees no longer used in commercial orchards), so it’s not until the second comment that someone gets called an idiot. And I don’t quite know what it says, that my first thought was “I’d expect this on CNN or Fox…”

These comments have a measurable effect on our perceptions of the initial stories. (original study here.) We know that radio call-in shows have used trained callers to pretend to be regular concerned citizens–and that was before the study showed the effects of comments. Astroturfed comments are a thing in consumer goods review; why should they not be in politics?

And, more importantly, would they pay extra to have their astroturf comments in verse?


  1. CatMat says

    An artist is willing and able
    To preserve stone fruits less than stable
    While looking at trees
    Certain commenter sees
    Mostly makings of a coffee table

  2. Die Anyway says

    This blog is almost always calm and polite, and I have no qualms about reading the comments. For some of the other FTB blogs though I use a 5 comment rule…if you read more than 5 comments you will very likely start running into the nastiness. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule and I frequently read up to 40 or 50 comments but I know that by the time I reach that point I will have passed the “fuck you/ asshole” threshold.. Some days that’s ok and some days are already sorry enough that I don’t need any more coarsness.

  3. Joan says

    And never think the subject
    Of an article’s too tame
    To arouse the ire of commenters.
    Your search will be in vain.

    In an effort to escape the hate
    I fled unto the funnies
    Seeking solace from the vitriol
    In something cute with bunnies.

    Located something people-mild.
    “ For Better or for Worse”
    There’s universal humor here
    With nothing very terse.

    A mom, a dad, some kids, a dog.
    Ah, this is just the ticket.
    To salve my wounds from all the thorns,
    Eliminate the thicket.

    What’s this? There are some comments
    Underneath this one as well?
    I’ll pray they’re not the kind released
    From past commenter Hell.

    But no! The trolls are everywhere,
    Their humor cells still missing.
    “These kids are spoiled.” “Their mom’s a bitch!”
    They never cease their pissing.

    And if I don’t agree,
    Well, I am obviously a turd
    And should never be allowed
    To speak another single word.

    Expect some flack from Doonesbury.
    But what the heck is this?
    Can’t the haters do a fly–over?
    Leave something off their list?

    Alas, There’s no relief from them.
    “I’m quitting this,” I pout.
    “I’m done! I’ve reached my limit!
    (I’ll just check this last one out.)”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *