Put It at the Top of the Guardian Football Pages. In Bold.

If you're on a webpage that allows for comments and you have absolutely nothing to say except that you didn't like the article, please don't bother. Others must read through your stuff to get to the interesting bits, you know.

But if you absolutely must, and you know for certain that the piece was written by someone who earns his living doing this, do not, under any circumstances, use the phrase "Did you get paid for this???" That's irrespective of how many question marks you use.

More generally, I wish people were a bit less expressive and a little more considerate.

P.S.: On the other hand, if you're really bored, there is a little game you can play. You can go to the Guardian football pages, click on Richard Williams' latest blog and guess which will be the first comment that suggests that all of Mr. Williams' work is crap and he shouldn't be allowed to write about football. If you can't come up with a number yourself, a dice will help.

P.P.S.: I've long harboured the secret hope, which I'm now going to reveal, that one day I will sleep with Natalie Po someone will come to this blog and comment, "Did you get paid for this???" That comment certainly wouldn't be deleted.


Political Scientist said...

I think anonymnity is to blame. People feel free to be spectacularly - and unimaginatively - offensive in a way they wouldn't if you were having a conversation in a pub.

I also think criticism are more satifying, as well as more productive, if they actually identify what is wrong with an article.

LemmusLemmus said...

Yes, anonymity definitely plays a role. There are even social psychological lab experiments from the 60s and 70s in which anonymity was varied and researchers looked at whether that would have an effect on the level of aggression displayed. The hypothesis was confirmed. (And, not to be overlooked: On the Internet, nobody's going to punch you in the nose.)

With respect to the specific example, there are at least two different factors:

1. People get very passionate about football. Writing about Liverpool v ManUtd is a bit like writing about Israel v Palestine in this respect.

2. Football culture doesn't exactly put a lot of emphasis on politeness. I remember once leaving a comment at a different football blog that said something like, "If this were my blog, I would have deleted many of the comments above due to impoliteness. Software problems? Policy?" The blog author later answered that question, saying that he had been away from the computer for a while, but now he had done what had to be done. The funny thing was that most of the comments I would have deleted were still there. I think even the one that said, "We know where you live".

LemmusLemmus said...


just to clarify in response to your second paragraph, I'm absolutely up for criticizm - in fact, I consider myself a fan of debate - as long as it's polite and contains actual arguments.

Political Scientist said...

"ust to clarify in response to your second paragraph, I'm absolutely up for criticizm - in fact, I consider myself a fan of debate - as long as it's polite and contains actual arguments."

Yes, it's the mindless critism I can't stand. I don't know why people would bother to write something that was just insulting - life seems a bit short.

Regarding anonymity, I note our undergraduates can be remarkably rude in the anonymous comments they submit to the lecturers at the end of their courses. I can understand they feel let down - but wouldn't it have been beter to let the lecturer know during the course, when it could have dealt with?

As someone who doesn't really "get" football, I take your points about footballing culture. People do get very worked up about it :)