Does The New Evan Marc Katz Site Need A Comments Section?

Does The New Evan Marc Katz Site Need A Comments Section?Popular Science recently shut down its comments section, and, I have to admit, it made me think. Now, to be fair, they are a science blog and science has an impact on policy.

But I’d like to think that in this small corner of the internet, we’re helping to impact the way people perceive dating, online dating, relationships and men. And that’s where I’ve always questioned the way comments can skew perceptions of the original content.

According to Popular Science, in one study, “1,183 Americans read a fake blog post on nanotechnology and revealed in survey questions how they felt about the subject (are they wary of the benefits or supportive?). Then, through a randomly assigned condition, they read either epithet and insult-laden comments (“If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these kinds of products, you’re an idiot” ) or civil comments. The results, as Brossard and coauthor Dietram A. Scheufele wrote in a New York Times op-ed: Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.

Sometimes the best writing takes place in the comments section when I’m forced to look at things from a new angle, or dig deeper to defend my original position.

In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology. Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.”

If you’re a longtime reader here, you know that the comments below (49,000 and counting) are both my favorite and least favorite parts of blogging.

I love the conversation that I have the opportunity to stimulate.

I love the positive feedback I get from readers who feel I’ve helped them find happiness.

I love the healthy debate between smart people who deal in facts and shades of grey. Sometimes the best writing takes place in the comments section when I’m forced to look at things from a new angle, or dig deeper to defend my original position. This, to me is fun, constructive and entertaining. But it’s also only half the story.

Many comments just plain suck. No, not many, but enough that every post I’ve ever written was nearly hijacked by someone who clearly doesn’t get it.

Listen, I’m the first to admit that just because I say something doesn’t mean it’s right. I also feel very strongly that when I offer advice in this space, it’s coming from a place of great experience, compassion, and a clear-eyed understanding of the world. You may disagree with what I write for YOU, but that doesn’t mean that I’m “wrong”.

And the “you’re wrong” comments are the ones that just drive me up the wall. They tend to be of two different types:

1. The commenter who tells me I’m wrong because my comment doesn’t apply to HER. “Some of us aren’t difficult, opinionated women, Evan. Why should I have to tone down what I say to appeal to a man?!” or “I don’t want to get married or have my own biological kids. Why do you assume that I do?” I hate these types of comments because I have to either ignore them as if I don’t have an answer (which I do), or waste my time addressing them, only to remind the reader that if my advice doesn’t apply to you, IGNORE IT. If you don’t want to be married, don’t worry about my advice on marriage. If you don’t believe in premarital sex, then skip my stuff about premarital sex. Arguing with me about things that don’t apply to you is like going to a steak-lovers blog and complaining that they don’t write about how to cook bean sprouts.

If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to largely trust the crowdsourced wisdom and let the brightest commenters (you know who you are) act as my proxies.

2. The commenter who sees everything thru a one-sided, largely black-and-white worldview. You know who they are. They are the men who do really poorly with women, think that being “nice” is their problem, and conclude that women are bitches and that men should look in the Philippines for a bride. They are the women who have been so hurt by men (largely due to their own insecurities) who get angry when I give constructive feedback on how to change, adjust or understand men. The only advice they want to hear is validation that men are the problem. These people are really easy to dismiss intellectually, but they’re hard to ignore in the comments section because they usually write the longest, angriest, worst-spelled posts with the most capital letters. When you try to point out that they’re expressing only their narrow feelings, they feel attacked, and quickly attack back. Then I find myself in a pissing match with unhinged strangers who don’t like me, don’t agree with my advice, and will never buy my products.

And what for? To set the record straight? To be right? God only knows. All I know is that I HATE being misrepresented and defending myself against things that I’ve never even said. It’s like Obama with the death panels. You don’t want to get drawn into the fight, yet you can’t just let a false statement stand. And if you read over those 49,000 comments, there have been a tremendous amount of false statements directed towards me over the years: How I don’t believe in chemistry at all. How I think online dating is perfect. How men never need to change anything and it’s all women’s faults. How my wife is a Stepford Wife-type doormat for accepting me in full. How I’m a misogynist for offering constructive criticism to women. All false. All a waste of time. All stuff that I feel the need to defend because it’s on MY website. Can you imagine going to a desk job where every morning, there are post-its on your computer from strangers telling you how much you suck? Yeah, it rocks.

But despite it all, I’m keeping this comments section when I launch the new Evan Marc Katz site on November 1st.

If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to largely trust the crowdsourced wisdom and let the brightest commenters (you know who you are) act as my proxies. In doing so, I can largely remain above the fray instead of being drawn into a no-win battle again and again.

I sincerely thank my regular readers for participating in this ongoing dialogue – not just when you agree with me, but especially when you don’t and you make a compelling case that I hadn’t previously considered. I’m always doing the best I can to be authentic and truthful – even when it doesn’t make me look good – and I appreciate you sticking with me through it all. Can’t wait to see you on the new website.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Karmic Equation

    I’m in Web Operations and had to do some research on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when we relaunched our company website.

    Google says they use over 200 parameters for SEO, but they don’t disclose most of them. However two of them are #Hits to a site and the relevancy of indexed words to a users search. Which means if Evan gets 10,000 hits daily AND the words dating and love are indexed to occur over 1000 on his site, based on these two paramaters, Evan’s site will come out ahead of another dating coaches site that has either less hits or lower counts of the words in the users search.

    So, having the comments section drives up those hits. Those fights that detract from the topic drive up both hits and indexable non-relevant words. Which helps get people who may have questions on “players” but not seeking a dating coach to end up on his site…and stay to drive up more hits. It’s how I ended up here.

    Popular Science may end up regretting shutting down their blog because their hits are bound to go down eventually (if not already precipitously – and they may not figure out why) and they may not come up high in searches in the future because their hits dropped due to people no longer posting/reading comments.

    Keeping the comments alive is a great business decision.

  2. 32
    Fusee

    Evan, thank you for keeping the comments section!! And much gratitude to all the free advice you provide. This is truly generous of you!
     
    At this point of my EMK blog addiction (Yep, I’m Fusee and I’m a EMK blog-aholic ; ) I especially benefit from comments shared by married and divorced folks. As I embark on the crazy adventure of marriage, I can really use the wisdom of more experienced folks about what to do and not to do to grow and nurture a solid, healthy and happy marriage.
     
    I can’t wait to see the new website, read more excellent advice, and continue coming back to read the comments section!
     
    Me still wants a comments section meet-up though… Any chance you’d consider giving new directions to your business?

  3. 33
    Aisling

    @Tom10:  You, Karl R, and a few others are welcome male viewpoints without the misogyny that serve no one, male or female.

  4. 34
    josavant

    Tom10, you wrote, “Why would women get annoyed when men explain how they think, as that’s the whole point of the blog?!”
     
    The “whole point of the blog” isn’t to hear male commenters explain how they think. It is to hear how Evan, one rational and sympathetic DATING COACH, advises.  This doesn’t mean we don’t welcome your explanations or those of Karl R (two rational men among many). But it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that women get annoyed at men who take the opportunity to come on here and snipe at women, like the guy that was going after Goldie for no good reason on another thread and just wouldn’t let up. 
     
    Evan, sounds like you already made the decision to keep comments. If it were me, I would have said it was a tradeoff. I like reading the comments of others and like being able to comment myself. But it is more about you. Comments may generate more hits which mean more business for you, but you may be already happy with the business you have generated without having to deal with the drama of comments, which costs emotionally.
     
    Thanks for your site and what you do.

  5. 35
    Tom10

    @ Fusee #33
    “At this point of my EMK blog addiction (Yep, I’m Fusee and I’m a EMK blog-aholic: )”
     
    Ha I like it.
     
    @ Aisling 34
    Thanks again – it’d be great if could do tea and a chat sometime :)
     
    @ josavant #35
    “The “whole point of the blog” isn’t to hear male commenters explain how they think. It is to hear how Evan, one rational and sympathetic DATING COACH, advises”
     
    Yes that’s a fair point. I’ll remind myself of that when commenting again.

  6. 36
    Fusee

    Hey Tom10, no need to worry about how you comment. You’re one of the most pleasant, interesting, and respectful male commenters. I also find Karl R, nathan, David T really insightful and respectful in their comments. Unfortunately they do not comment as much as I would like to : )
     
    What triggers some female readers are comments from snarky guys whose intention is to twist the knife in the wound, under the pretense of “helping us understand how men think”. I personally pass and send them silent well wishes on their dating journey : )

  7. 37
    Lia

    I love this blog and I love the comment section.  I am glad that you are keeping the comment section.  I would miss some of the people who post here very much.  I have commented several times on their post and they know who they are.  (Karmic Equation, Fusee, Goldie, Sparkling Emerald, Karl R, Tom10, and so many more) Yes there are people who are annoying and those who obviously do not like the opposite sex and believe the worst of people and they are usually taken down pretty quickly.  Karl R usually takes them down and it is quite amusing.  He has even slapped some sense into me.   
    Evan, Thank you for doing what you do, it is so needed!  To all of you whose comments have made a difference in how I see things and to those who have offered wisdom, support, and humor I say a heartfelt THANK YOU!

  8. 38
    judy

    Tom 10 – 31
    The point of view of the men is more than welcome.  It kind of adds to what Evan is saying. 
    Selena 30 – yep, agree with that. 

  9. 39
    Peter 51

    The comments section doesn’t just generate page rank.  (BTW, the to and fro arguments and the monologues generate more page rank than short pithy single comments).
     
    The comments section also shows something of EMK’s personality, both in the questions and his occassional interventions and self revelations.  In terms of offereing a personal coaching service, these will lose some clients, of course but they will make other clients more motivated to use his particular services.
     
    A new debate twice a week is probably unnecessary though.  

  10. 40
    faded jade

    Fusee said (#37)   “What triggers some female readers are comments from snarky guys whose intention is to twist the knife in the wound, under the pretense of “helping us understand how men think”. I personally pass and send them silent well wishes on their dating journey : )”
     
    What a very lovely idea !  Perhaps the most imbittered posters just need a hug.  Send a silent prayer up to the Universe to ease their sorrow.  Show them some LOVE!

  11. 41
    Henriette

    @Selena 30:   :)  Alas, if I leave and come back after 24 hours, I still have to wade through the excessively-frequent pontificators and the back and forth sniping when I read through the comment section.
     
    I agree that reading comments even from men who are hostile makes me thankful for all the kind, affectionate fellows I’ve dated through the decades and also for the numerous thoughtful contributions submitted here by many male writers. 
     
    I also used to fret about how many men went out of their way to pursue poor women from 2nd and 3rd world countries because Western women are so horrible and entitled.  But now, having read so many of their comments here at EMK, I wish them luck and feel little but pity for their future brides.
     
    @Judy 39: LOL Yes, of course You do!!

  12. 42
    marymary

    I enjoy the comments. My reservation is that the anti men and anti women diatribes can give the wrong impression that the site is about pitching men against women, rather than bringing us together.  I think it’s well worth getting the material to read away from the “noise”.  

  13. 43
    Diana W

    “you always side with the same people (those who agree with your opinions)”
    this might be the most commenty-comment I’ve ever seen in my life.
    I wouldn’t blame you for shutting down comments. They mostly suck. Especially if your job is talking about the realties of love! You let a lot of stuff in so I can’t imagine what gets rejected.
    If you want my expert opinion (which you do because you left comments open): I hate comments. People who aren’t authorities are allowed to anonymously comment on a piece and it’s f*cking disturbing. Nothing’s as weird as seeing a well-researched piece of work next to everything everyone can sh*t out.
    Anyway here’s a comment about how I hate comments.

  14. 44
    Sparkling Emerald

    Diana W -  Thank you for your comment on how much you hate comments :)
    I have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of the blog.  There are comments that I LOVE, and comments that I love to hate.
    I get annoyed with the anti-marriage, anti-love commenters, especially the women who come on here and say things like “UGH, why does everyone always assume that women want to be with a man, etc, etc.”  Why are they on a blog run for a personal trainer in love, if they are so against it ??? Or the women who come here to brag about their multiple sexual conquests and to lecture the women who desire relationships that they have been “brainwashed” by society into wanting one.
    I get annoyed with the men who come to hear just to gloat at love lorn women, or to get pointers on how to map-quest the route to a woman’s bedroom. (As if dangling the hope of love, in front of woman to get into her pants is breaking news :) )
    There are plenty of anti-man femi-nazi message boards for the man hating women, and plenty of mysogynist blogs for the men who only want to hump, dump and brag to the whole world about it.  (The internet has created the world’s largest locker room).
    However, there are plenty of good comments that I enjoy reading, they give me ideas that resonate with me, but I just hadn’t thought of yet.
    I think it was Fusee (not sure) who said just wish those nasty commenters well.  In reality, they probably just need a hug.  It’ probably more a case of sour grapes than true hatred for the opposite sex or disdain for love & marriage that drives the nastier comments. 

  15. 45
    Diana W

    “especially the women”
    “Or the women who come here to brag about their multiple sexual conquests”
    ” anti-man femi-nazi message boards”
     
    oh my what the f*ck.

  16. 46
    judy

    Sparkling Emerald 25 – thank you for that comment.  It really made me laugh.  Most of the comments are pretty good, I think, apart from the one or two sourpusses who just have to put a little vinegar into the honey!
    Any luck with your new profile???

  17. 47
    aded jade

    Diana W @ 26 – I noticed that you ONLY responded to my criticisms of women, and said nothing about the comments that annoy me from the men.  I suppose you are OK with criticism of men, but women are sacred.  You also took my comments out of context.  The point I was trying to make is this blog is SPECIFICALLY for women who want to fall in love, with a big emphasis on helping women find husbands and start families.  If some women are so against that, go to a support board for that.   Why come to THIS board and tell us women that we are wrong and brainwashed ?  I am a heathen, and I may comment on a website for non-believers,  but I certainly don’t go trolling on Christian chat boards to rant at those bloggers that they are silly and brainwashed for their beliefs.  However, if they come to a blog for skeptics, non-believers etc. to tell us how wrong WE are, then I let them have it !
     

  18. 48
    Sparkling Emerald

    PS – Faded Jade & Sparkling Emerald are the same person, FJ is from my other e-mail acct.  I want SE to be my DEFAULT moniker, but I can’t seem to make that happen on the new blog.  Also, I have NO IDEA why my last post showed up under “aded Jade”.

  19. 49
    Sparkling Emerald

    Judy @27 – Haven’t rolled out my “new profile” yet.  I got new pics taken, they came out GREAT, but I am waiting until my D is final before going back online.  I want to be able to say that I am single in every sense of the word.  Also, my Dad is in a nursing facility due to a broken shoulder, so I am going back and forth to his house & his facility,  I have THREE jobs going right now AND I am painting my living room, no time for OLD at the moment. 

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