I've been meaning to post about this for ages (sorry, folks, about the long hiatus, if any of you noticed) and fortuitously, or not, the competition opened yesterday. Paul in Lancashire (not Lincolnshire, as my ignorant Southern fingers once typed) has opened a competition that not even he can boycott. It's about blog commenters.
This is a subject I've written about before, but has been on my mind with some of my recentish posts getting a fair amount of comment traffic, such as this one (still going on) on left antisemitism, this one on Vietnam, this one on the Propagandist, and this one on decentism. Though Cowards Flinch has always been a blog worth visiting for the discussion, and exemplary in the tone of the debate there. I'm less optimistic than I used to be about the potential of blogs to create genuine interactivity and dialogue, but I like to think that we have a bit of it here. Certainly, I feel like I have made friends in the comment boxes, and have gone on to meet some of them in the meat world. I think of myself as existing in an unusual political space, so it is nice to find other people occupying that space.
Other blogs where you get this really good, respectful but not toadying author-commenter engagement include Bob from Brockley, Harpymarx (a little intermittently), 21st Century Fix (though sparsely), Duncan’s Economic Blog (often mind-bendingly), The Third Estate and Paul Sagar’s Bad Conscience, though Paul’s exponentially increasing popularity (well-deserved) may make that difficult to maintain.That point about Paul's popularity is crucial. There is an optimum size for good commenting: too many readers means too many trolls and oddballs.Three blogs I visit and stay for the comments are Shiraz Socialist, where the tone is not always as polite as I (being overly decent) like but is always interesting; Engage, where comments are heavily moderated, but this allows for some, er, engagement among discussants (I particularly like Brian Goldfarb's intelligent thoughts); and Dave Osler's place, which should by law be too big for healthy discussion but isn't (despite the best, and often enjoyable disruptive efforts of Jimmy Glesga).
I'm going to nominate ten commenters from this blog, although I realise most are also bloggers, which mean they don't count. Use the comment thread to vote, and then I'll submit the results to the jury in Bickerstaffe.
- Waterloo Sunset: a heavy commenter at Osler's place, Socialist Unity and elswhere, WS went and spoiled it by finally getting a blog of his own. I feel, given the overlap between our political pasts (AFA, levitating the houses of parliament, etc), we might recognise each other on sight.
- Noga, the Contentious Centrist: more or less Waterloo's polar opposite tempermentalyl and politically, Noga is a fine blogger, but a far more prolific commenter, here, at Mick Hartley's, at TNR and elsewhere.
- Modernity: also a blogger (or should that be a Wordpresser?), but my best ally in my harshest battles in my comment threads, with the Elfs and Games and our other common enemies. I feel a certain kinship because we were both added to the Drink-Soaked Trot blogroll on the same day, but he was ex-communicated quicker.
- Entdinglichung: rarely actually comments in his comments, but provides fascinating links to things I'd never know about, in a very non-sectarian way. Which is also his MO as a blogger.
- Renegade Eye: Stylistically almost the exact opposite of Ent as a commenter. He tends not to actually argue anything out, but simply drops assertions and opinions in and leaves. But these assertions and opinions are generally fresh and unpredictable in a nice way. Jams once told me that Renegade Eye was one of the bloggers who really encouraged him in the early days, and I too have found him a generous presence in the blogosphere, despite obvious political differences. Renegade Eyet blogs here.
- Jams himself: who blogs here is also a generous presence in the 'sphere, and
- Snoopy the Goon: funny and to the point. Blogs here.
- Migreli: our residentJabotinsky-ite, who I appreciate even more having just read a John Le Carre novel set in Migrelia.
- Morbid Symptoms: always says very concisely things I wish I'd thought to say myself.
- Will Rubbish: for old time's sake.