Questions to ask before posting a comment online

What should you consider before posting a comment online?

Womans hand using phone social media

We’ve all seen it happen: a comment is made on Facebook and someone jumps in to oppose it. Suddenly, a rude statement is made and things rapidly escalate. Next minute, the insults are flying.

At any one time, there are a million conversations occurring in the online world across a broad range of topics, issues and themes. Everyone wants to have their opinion heard, especially on issues about which they feel passionate. People from all walks of life contribute to these conversations on social media, blogs and website message boards. Sometimes, in our efforts to express ourselves and have our opinions heard, we make the mistake of devaluing someone else’s contribution. Sometimes, it’s our opinion that’s been devalued.

Here are three questions to ask before making a comment online:

Why am I adding my comment?
Remember that the internet offers everyone an equal stage from which to voice their opinion. This means that while you’ll find people who share your views, you’re also likely to come across people with ideas that infuriate you. Ask yourself for whom you’re adding the comment. If it’s not for the other person or for other people’s benefits, there’s a chance that your comment won’t be a welcome contribution. You don’t want to appear self-serving so unless your aim is to provide useful conversation, step off the soapbox.

Is my comment helpful?
As the phrase goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Before reacting to a comment online, ask yourself if you have something helpful to contribute; not in a passive-aggressive or backhanded way, but in a genuine sense. Perhaps you disagree with a statement that was made. Can you do this in a way that neutrally challenges the concept without implicating the person’s opinion? You want to weigh up whether adding your comment will benefit the conversation or simply add fuel to the fire. Using evidence, such as reputable news articles, can help.

Am I willing to be proved wrong?
If your comment is helpful and warranted, the final question to ask is whether you’re prepared to be challenged. The internet is a wonderful place to engage with new ideas and have your opinion shifted. If you’re unwilling to see another’s point of view, you may find yourself in some tense situations. Remember that anything you post is immediately open to interpretation. You have to be ready to either stand by your claims or back down when you’ve been beaten. Sometimes, when things have become too heated or you’re outnumbered in the conversation, it may be time to back out gracefully. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.

Which considerations do you make before posting a comment online? Are you ever dissuaded from participating in online discussions because of the potential backlash?

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    COMMENTS

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    biddi
    5th Oct 2016
    11:31am
    Reserve some verbal armoury. You may need it to counter some comment/s.
    And yes, you don't have to answer/reply.

    5th Oct 2016
    12:11pm
    Weak forum moderation is a major issue.

    Facebook cares more about bare nipples than it does about comments that are abusive, racist and homophobic.
    Anonymous
    5th Oct 2016
    5:30pm
    I agree Barak. This forum has very weak moderators.
    Rosret
    5th Oct 2016
    12:36pm
    Actually I think this site is quite good. There are a few "out there" political and moral issue comments but at our age I hear unguarded comments from the oldies most days. Hopefully it bounces off when its not aimed at the individual but rather a conceptual belief or ideology.
    dougie
    5th Oct 2016
    12:37pm
    Just to read some of the comments made on your own pages without any governance, means on that I no longer contribute as I do not wish to have my postings derided or put down. Such postings were made with sincerity and thought and hopefully did not offer offence to any other contributor. I wonder why you do not remove some postings as abusive or offensive and why you do not sanction some contributors. Still it is your page and you will set the standards that you feel are appropriate to allow those who wish to submit postings to self regulate.
    Anonymous
    5th Oct 2016
    1:15pm
    Not matter what kind of comment you make you must be ready to be questioned on it's content. If you do not like to be "derided or put down", as you say, or hear other peoples' thoughts or attitudes to what you have posted then don't post anything - simple as that! Then you won't be offended, derided, or put down. Easy? Yes!
    dougie
    5th Oct 2016
    4:33pm
    Fast Eddie, I am always prepared to debate a post and my reasons for such thoughts unfortunately some do not know the meaning of respect for others and are just plain rude.
    Rosret
    5th Oct 2016
    12:39pm
    Actually, I would like the ability to edit or delete my own comments on this site as an option.
    Anonymous
    5th Oct 2016
    12:51pm
    That would be great.
    Anonymous
    5th Oct 2016
    1:19pm
    Some articles have a "remove" option and others have an "edit" option, both will a limited time provision, so if you don't reacting a timely manner you are S.O.L.
    Anonymous
    5th Oct 2016
    1:51pm
    Thanks. It's always good to learn something new.

    :-)

    5th Oct 2016
    5:29pm
    Forget Facebook, sites like this are a disaster area at times. I don't object when somebody disagrees with my comments with sensible rebuttals but I get heartily sick of the name calling and wrong assumptions. What exasperates me more is when I report an offensive comment, nothing is done to remove it. I don't object when comments are made against me but I do object to threatening or racist comments which should not be allowed on any sensible site.
    dougie
    6th Oct 2016
    8:43am
    I support you wholeheartedly. Where are the site Administrators - a few deletions and withdrawal of posting rights for a period my help with this problem.
    Anonymous
    6th Oct 2016
    8:54am
    So true.

    The forum rules need to be made clear, AND enforced.
    Judith
    4th Mar 2019
    11:16pm
    youtube youtube [url=www.youtube.com]youtube[/url] www.youtube.com [linked text](http://theurl.com)


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