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. 21
    Marie

    @Ruby – thanks that makes more sense!

  2. 22
    Henriette

    I very much enjoy the Comments Section.   i agree with Sparkling Emerald #14; I appreciate hearing even from men whose comments repel me because they expose me to thought processes that I don’t often encounter so openly-expressed in my day-to-day life.   I love reading stories of other interesting, vibrant women who feel beaten down by the dating process but keep going anyway and I also love reading about long-term posters (like Fusee and Karl R) who migrated from daters to happily-marrieds.   And I’m fascinated by how seemingly straight-forward blog posts can illicit such a variety of responses that I’d never have entertained, myself.
      
    One suggestion I have is that you please consider limiting any one person’s comments to, say, a total of 3 within any given 24-hour stretch.   When I see that 7 of the past 10 blog comments come from one individual, I generally roll my eyes and leave your site.   I come here for The Evan Insights, complemented by a variety of other perspectives, not one reader’s wind-bagging (and yes, I’ve been a multiple poster myself, at times, so I understand the desire to share and share and share what I’m always sure are my brilliant thoughts LOL)   Also, I suspect that limiting daily posts would rein in some of the tedious p*ssing matches between posters that tend to derail entire threads and eventually require your parental intervention.  
      
    I look forward to seeing your new site.   May it roll out with minimal glitches and   maximal fanfare!

  3. 23
    J

    Henriette- that is an awesome suggestion! I bet it would cut down on a lot of the unpleasant back and forth that can hijack a post- hard to stay riled up over a blog post and continue a fight over 24 hours! Lol

  4. 24
    Selena

    When I first found this blog I was captured by the humor found in EMK’s posts.   I got involved in the comment section because I like looking at different angles on situations. So I’m glad you decided to keep the comment section in your new site Evan. Thank you. 🙂
      
    In the last year or two I’ve noticed there are alot more men commenting compared to previous years.   This is good because it gives us all a chance to see different perspectives – that not  all men  think alike on particular issues. And I know that some of the comments from males are not much appreciated by some of the females.   When I  read posts  I feel are inane, or bitter, I feel grateful I never went out with guys like this.  
      
    I missed out on the dude who seeths with resentment paying for his date’s glass of wine and shared appetizer. The fellow who believes only schmucks date single mom’s made room for the loving men who didn’t care I was raising a child. To those men who think American women are…(insert derogatory comment), and those who will only date women 10-20 years younger than themselves, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for avoiding me. Likewise you fellows who believe women in general are gold diggers/dinner whores/ future alimony leeches…I’m so glad I only came across you on the internet and not in real life.
      
    Keep writing guys. 😉

  5. 25
    Tom10

    @ Selena # 25
    “I know that some of the comments from males are not much appreciated by some of the females”
      
    I’ve noticed this too, which I’ve always thought is bizarre. Why would women get annoyed when men explain how they think, as that’s the whole point of the blog?!
      
    Until I flipped the situation in my head and imagined it from the other side. Let’s say there was a blog run by an attractive woman, who helped men understand the female mindset so as to get easy sex (there probably is one). Can you imagine what the tone of from female contributors would be? It’d probably be along the lines of: “forget about looking for one-night-stands with models, get realistic standards and start treating women with respect” etc. Although these comments would be useful they obviously wouldn’t go down too well with the intended audience. So although I understand the discomfiture shown by women here, ultimately it’s futile, as a blog where only women could contribute (as proposed by someone here) wouldn’t be useful and would be, eh, boring.
      
    “When I read posts I feel are inane, or bitter, I feel grateful I never went out with guys like this
      
    I suppose under the guise of anonymity some of the male contributors feel free to exact a kind of ‘revenge’ for all the times they’ve been ‘wronged’ by women in the past. But I reckon if we met these cantankerous contributors in person they’d actually be quite pleasant, as they’re probably just hurting from their dating experiences.
      
    “Keep writing guys”
      
    On balance I think most of the men here are reasonable and do a good job of explaining the male mindset and how we experience dating. We don’t say it to annoy you – just tell you what we could never say to your face.
      
    @ Evan
    “But despite it all, I’m keeping this comments sections when I launch the new Evan Marc Katz site November 1st
      
    I’m glad to hear it Evan – I’m looking forward to the new website. Best of luck with it, and many more years of continued success.

  6. 26
    Selena

    Tom10- #26
      
    I suppose under the guise of anonymity some of the male contributors feel free to exact a kind of ‘revenge’ for all the times they’ve been ‘wronged’ by women in the past. But I reckon if we met these cantankerous contributors in person they’d actually be quite pleasant, as they’re probably just hurting from their dating experiences.
      
    This is an interesting POV to me because I’ve always kind of figured cantakerous contributors -either gender – ARE cantakerous in person which  contributes to  their dating experiences. 🙂
      
    I’ll venture that nearly everyone reading this has been both rejected and the “rejector” in their dating lives.   Yet despite this common ground we still have people making some pretty nasty comments about their opposite gender.
      
    All men are not users. A woman who thinks that  way may be better served by examining her early expectations in dating. They may be too high for someone you’ve spent a short amount of time with.
      
    Most women are not golddiggers.   Most of us are quite pleased with inexpensive dates if you make them a little fun. Half price happy hour/ice cream in park/ free glass of wine in art gallery = fun. Even if it turns out we’re not a match.
      
      
    On balance I think most of the men here are reasonable and do a good job of explaining the male mindset and how we experience dating. We don’t say it to annoy you — just tell you what we could never say to your face.
      
    Agree. And I also think it goes both ways. There are women who write things  here they would probably be uncomfortable saying to a man on date. At least early on.
      

  7. 27
    judy

    J 24 – I agree with you that Evan could take out any deliberately unpleasant or nasty comments, unless they add something to the topic.
    Whether the number of posts should be limited per 24 hours per person is something worth thinking about, in view of the freedom of speech (or words).
    Sometimes, one person’s view of another’s input isn’t the same as another person’s view of it.   (And may I add, thank God!)
      
      

  8. 28
    Karl R

    Selena said: (#25)
    “When I read posts I feel are inane, or bitter, I feel grateful I never went out with guys like this.”
      
    I feel the same way about some of the female posters:
    – The women who try to “win” relationships against their partner.
    – The women who think all men are cheaters.
    – The women who use sex for leverage.
      
    The inane comments generally crack me up.

  9. 29
    Selena

    @Henriette #23
    One suggestion I have is that you please consider limiting any one person’s comments to, say, a total of 3 within any given 24-hour stretch.   When I see that 7 of the past 10 blog comments come from one individual, I generally roll my eyes and leave your site.
    You could leave the site and return 24 hours later Henriette. Then you wouldn’t know how many times a given person commented and might miss out on p*ssing matches entirely. Just a thought. 🙂

  10. 30
    Tom10

    @ Selena #27
    “This is an interesting POV to me because I’ve always kind of figured cantankerous contributors —either gender –   ARE cantankerous in person which contributes to their dating experiences”
      
    Actually on second thoughts the way you worded it makes more sense. I suppose my point is people behave differently behind a mask, hence explaining some of the more vitriolic comments.
      
    I’ve seen a few people arrested where I live, for internet harassment/bullying, and they always  seem so, well, normal.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 33
    Aisling

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 : )

  17. 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!

  18. 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.  

  19. 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.   

  20. 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!

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