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.

Join our conversation (52 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Maxine

    Probably Still need a comment section.

  2. 2
    Karl T

    From a purely business standpoint, the comments section will attract more business for you.  Many people do web searches and come across your site due to words matching words in your comments section.  So, people who have never heard of you sometimes just randomly find your site and perhaps need your services.  Picking up some business by paying no money and putting in no effort- can’t ask for more than that!!

  3. 3
    WaterDragon

    Thanks Evan.  From my unscientific personal observation, it rings true that comments can skew readers understanding of the original material. Nonetheless, there are some blogs, and this is one, where I derive a lot of additional information and perspective from the comments.
    Oh, yes, there are irrational, unhinged posters, but over time I’ve learned to simply skip whatever they post.  Because, on the other hand, there are some really bright, thoughtful posters.  And I look forward to their thoughts.  So, yay, to keeping the comments.

    p.s. OT: Can someone please tell me how to create paragraph breaks? Thanks!

  4. 4
    judy

    Hi Evan and yeah, I’m number one in the comment list.  Yoopie! The comments section is helpful because you get to hear your input first, and then hear what others are saying.  I ignore the ones who are embittered by life because it just doesn’t ring my bells.
    Your site is very constructive and very addictive too.
    Since reading your site, I have not been dating but am in a more serene state of mind – I will resume dating when I feel like it.  Sometimes a breather is necessary.
    Keep them coming!
     

  5. 5
    Pauline

    What did Voltaire say, something along the line of ‘I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’.
    it doesn’t mean someone is ‘wrong’ for what they think or feel if it’s different to what you believe, that’s their truth and you have to respect that. 
    Blogs like this are public forums and there are going to be comments from bad, sad, mad, good, clever and intelligent people. I love reading the comments after reading the latest post, some of them are very insightful, some very funny and some are just plain crazy to my way of thinking.
    Evan, you’re not banging your head up against a brick wall, it’s very hard for people to change and I think you hit a lot of nerves when you get negative feedback, they might not like what you say but they are thinking about it. Changing thoughts, beliefs and habits of a lifetime is a gradual process and it takes time as it has done for me, I’ve had to come to grips with many things including my attitude and beliefs  after reading WHD as I’m sure many women have also done. You don’t pull any punches, tell the truth and are the best coach around. 
     
     
     

  6. 6
    Susan Pratt

    Yes…yes…yes!!  Not only have I enjoyed reading your posts, but the comments are about real life situations, and always interesting!!
     

  7. 7
    David T

    The study about the nasty comments making the readers more polarized in their perspectives is one to take to heart. You already have a fairly well enforced standard of courtesy;  sometimes you allude to posts that you did not let go through and when you let one that is marginal into the world, you will often call them to the mat.  I think as long as you keep up filtering the true trolling, the comments section will be educational and a business draw. 

    The ones that you don’t want to answer because they are essentially saying “la-la-la I can’t hear you” might be annoying, but if the study is believed not very destructive to the message of the post. Printing those does have one bonus; it lets people see that you are open-minded enough to tolerate dissent.  For me that is huge in accepting what someone (you) has to say. Even when I disagree with you, I can’t ever dismiss you as a knee jerker, who, like the proverbial broken clock, is only correct by accident.

  8. 8
    Jenny

    Hi Evan,
    I have never written in but today’s message moved me to write. I LOVE the comments section as much as your blog posts. I find them SO HELPFUL. I have picked up great tips from so many of the wonderful people that write in.
    Im a 51 year old, 2 year divorced women and yes, many times your posts dont pertain to me. I see the title, read a line and maybe skip it. Sometimes I do read it and then just sit with it. Take it or leave it. I have forwarded this site to many women friends of ALL ages, who are in the dating world. A few of them like to write me too and complain about some of the posts. So your not alone.

    Im super optimistic. But trying to remember that Mr. Soulmate may just  not happen after 3 or 4 dates online. Which seems to be the biggest issue amongst my girlfriends.  Enter in your many blog posts on how to be pro active in the process. Sometimes tips for men as well. Get out there, keep trying.I say thanks for the common sense ideas/tips.
    I have spent a few nights reading all 100 comments on a few hot topics.
    Please don’t remove the comments. Please keep keepin’ on. Your a GEM!

  9. 9
    Zann

    Evan — Because of your experience and informed, thought-provoking posts, you attract readers who are consistently articulate (if at times challenging) and intelligent in their comments. In essence, they enhance the message you are delivering. Sure, there are always going to be commenters who completely miss the boat, but I believe your core readers are discerning enough to see that type of feedback for what it is. I’m extremely glad you are keeping the comments section. While I’ve learned a lot from your commenters who offer a different perspective, I’ve never felt that a comment changed my understanding of your original post. As for aggressively negative commenters who believe it’s all about them 24/7, well….sometimes the wisest thing to do is to say/do nothing. I’m looking forward to continued reading on the new site.  

  10. 10
    Jane

    Evan, 
    I always read your comments because it is interesting to see what experience others have had.  It is not to find agreement but to simply read amplification of the issue laid before us.  
    I think you commenters are usually polite enough and I really like it when a man joins the conversation.  

  11. 11
    judy

    Evan – another thought that just occurred to me.
    When someone posts something, and you don’t agree, this is really thought-provoking.
    And yes, I like to read what the men say.  I have my own “favourites” on here.  Hey, what did he say? How did he read that?

  12. 12
    JB

    EMK = World’s best dating coach and blog. Thanks for keeping the comments section. Even though all of mine aren’t perfect I know women appreciate hearing from a few of us men on here that help keep the place a little closer to being balanced.

  13. 13
    Christina

    I think its best to delete the misguided ones so you don’t get dragged down by them.

  14. 14
    Sparkling Emerald

    Christina 13 – Actually, I am glad when the posts from men, who openly admit that they are calculating the “cost per lay” when out on a date,  or the men who admit that they will fake wanting a relationship to get sex, are allowed to stand.  It reminds me that my mother was right when she warned me about men like that.  And that is balanced out by the other men who post who AREN’T like that.  So while most men aren’t just calculating the cost of getting into my pants or lying for sex, I do need to be reminded that they are out there, and to exercise some caution.  (although there is no 100% guarantee of anything) 
    I like the comments section, the good, the bad & the ugly.  Glad they are going to stay.

  15. 15
    Steelheart

    #3 WaterDragon: You have to hit enter twice to get a paragraph break. It’ll look funny in the comment box, but it’ll come out right when it posts.
     
    I’m glad the comment section will be staying. For every jackass who doesn’t get it, there are 3-6 people sharing valuable experiences, asking more questions, and otherwise exploring the topic further. It’d be a terrible shame to lose all of that. There will always be trolls and people who just can’t handle anything that doesn’t agree with what they want to hear, but I’d hate to let them win yet another corner of the internet.
     
    Also ditto the good points by #2 Karl T (comments drive hits and encourage people to linger on your site, thereby helping your business), #5 Pauline (sometimes people DO need to hear something a thousand times before they’re actually ready to listen — and some of those will kick and scream through all the 999 times prior), and #7 David T (allowing dissenting posts only increases your credibility).

  16. 16
    Peter 51

    I wanted to comment on the low libido thread.  
    The blog generates SEO keywords, fresh, every day.  Increasingly, Google is weighting on site quality rather than links.  It would be foolish to lose it.  Even if we are all somewhat deranged and aggressive.
    Low Libido – Men who suceed can recover.  Men who exercise can recover.  Men who feel loved can recover.

  17. 17
    Jenn

    I’m not sure why you respond to comments on the blog. That seems to be a big part of what motivate you to have this blog–wanting to take people on and defend your world view. This behavior on your part, in my view, contributes in a big way to the conflicts because you always side with the same people (those who agree with your opinions) and cut down the people who disagree with your opinions. On most other blogs that I read regularly the owner of the blog hardly ever comments, and in general those blogs tend not to have the conflicts that go on here. I mean, you have your blog policy, you screen out the posts that don’t meet it, so beyond that, you can just let people talk and not argue with people who “don’t get” your POV. Maybe they do get it and simply disagree with it. But I don’t know. Maybe you only want to have commenters on here who 100% agree with you, and if so, just say that and punt any and all that don’t conform.

    1. 17.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Jenn

      1. I assure you: I don’t have this blog “to take on strangers”. I have this blog to give free dating advice to strangers. When you give something out for free, you hope for more appreciation than scorn, as you can imagine. I get a lot of it, and it makes all the B.S. worth it.
      2. You make what I do sound so sinister: “I side with people who side with me.” Doesn’t that describe everyone on earth? Thought so.
      3. “On most blogs, the blog owner doesn’t post. On this one, he does.” So is that a strength or a weakness of this blog? One can look at that in either way. I would assume for the readers, it feels good to know that I’m listening as opposed to ignoring the hundreds of comments you post. I could be wrong.
      4. I arrived at the same conclusion you did, Jenn. “Let people talk and don’t argue with people who don’t get my POV”. I’m doing that more and more and it feels better that way.
      5. “I only want commenters on here who 100% agree with me”? You HAVE read this blog, right? How much do you think I censor comments? Virtually never. I delete questions that hijack the forum “Hey, guys, tell me what to do with my boyfriend…” and I delete posts that are directly insulting to me or other readers (although some occasionally get through). But every opinion – no matter how misinformed – gets on here. Have you seen the thread with 200 Christian virgins who tell me how awful I am for advocating for premarital sex? Yep, I let ’em through, because I want to be seen as fair, first and foremost. And on a blog with primarily thoughtful, reasonable, moderate people, this is a blog where bad ideas generally go to die.

      But of course, Jenn, I’m clearly not very good at this new policy of staying above the fray, because here I am responding to you, even though you largely misrepresent my commenting policy by painting it as if I censor dissenters, and act like I’m doing something unusual by appreciating those who agree with me. I wish I could stop correcting such mistakes, but I cannot. I’m not saying this is a great way to be, but I have to guess that if a reader knows she is going to be called out on her ignorance or willful misrepresentation in the comments section, she will either a) learn a lesson about reading comprehension and logic (I know: a fantasy), or b) stop posting on this blog altogether. In other words, I will never censor your right to be wrong, but I would prefer it if you were wrong somewhere else.

  18. 18
    cat

    HI evan
    I love reading the comments. keep ém in.

  19. 19
    Marie

    Hi Evan!  I used to not read or comment in the comments section because it stressed me out but now that I’m happily married (thanks to you) I’m getting fond of trying to pseudo Monday morning quarterback other people’s problems.  I think you should keep the comments section as long as posters are respectful of you and each other because its always interesting to see how others approach dating and relationships.  I don’t know a whole lot about being married obviously so it’s interesting (though a little scary) reading posts from divorced people although it gives me insight into what to avoid doing.  The only suggestion I would make is if you could please step in more often when online fights get out of hand and go way off topic (like you did recently).  This isn’t something that other posters can police or want to get in the middle of several angry posts.  Otherwise I think you do a fairly good job of trying to be fair while still maintaining your point of view.  Too many angry/negative posts in a row can really detract from the message, as you say.  Not sure if there is any good way around this though.

    Also one thing if you can please clarify – are the posters with the names in red those who are posting as extensions of you and we should always listen to them if you post their comments? I think that can confuse people because sometimes those comments are on topic and sometimes not. Why are certain people always highlighted and others not? I noticed that long time posters like Sparkling Emerald are not highlighted in red but others are even though she has been posting on here for awhile.

  20. 20
    Ruby

    Marie #20
     
    Those names in red are “clickable”, and link to a website about the poster, usually something promotional. When you leave a reply, you have the option of listing a website along with name and email address. They are not “extensions” of EMK!

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