Some stretch goals for all of us here on the blog

Steve Gordy brings to our attention this helpful test for blog commenters, courtesy of one John Scalzi, who has blogged since 1998 — which is sort of like having written books before Gutenberg. Before leaving a comment, one is urged to consider the following:

1. Do I actually have anything to say?

2. Is what I have to say actually on topic?

3. Does what I write actually stay on topic?

4. If I’m making an argument, do I actually know how to make an argument?

5. If I’m making assertions, can what I say be backed up by actual fact?

6. If I’m refuting an assertion made by others, can what I say be backed up by fact?

7. Am I approaching this subject like a thoughtful human being, or like a particularly stupid fan?

8. Am I being an asshole to others?

9. Do I want to have a conversation or do I want to win the thread?

10. Do I know when I’m done?

It’s a good test. Maybe too good. I know almost no one on this planet who would always be able to honestly and accurately say “yes” to every question. Myself included. Especially on that “want to win” thing, which trips up most of us.

In any event, it’s a good set of stretch goals for all of us.

27 thoughts on “Some stretch goals for all of us here on the blog

  1. Steven Davis II

    You’ve said it, we’ve read it… now honestly, how many people do you expect to follow it? Sometimes I think people who talk to a brick wall actually think it’s listening.

  2. Brad

    Mark does very well, too.

    I was thinking about some of my MSM colleagues while perusing that list as well. Cindi Scoppe is so extremely scrupulous and exacting in every word she writes that she’s like a machine, but she wants to win the argument at least as much as anyone.

    Mike Fitts and Warren Bolton are both very good at something Cindi and I have never been good at — being self-effacing, and never getting arrogant or up in people’s faces. Especially Warren. And Mike knew the facts of anything he discussed, cold, without looking it up — you’d never want to play him at Trivial Pursuit for money.

    My point is that professionals who have had to pass many challenges to earn the right to have their opinions published in print, where the barriers are much higher than on the Web, would have trouble passing all those criteria, all the time. It’s an even higher bar for people who aren’t being paid to do it. But it’s laudable to try.

  3. Doug Ross

    The first rule should be: use your own name.

    If you can’t be associated with your comments, why should any of them be considered valid?

    I haven’t written anything I wouldn’t say in person.

  4. J

    Doug, don’t be a #8. I’d like to meet you in person as we’re about the same height according to your pic that was posted here with another whom I’ve met in person. Then, maybe we could see eye to eye on a few subjects. You went to Clemson, right? If so, maybe not.

  5. Brad

    OK, guys, keep on keeping it light…

    J, Doug’s right that real names are preferred here — and I allow people using their real names more latitude.

    Doug, as much as I don’t like it, sometimes people have good reasons not to use their real names. But I’ll allow it only as long as they stay civil.

  6. Doug Ross


    Once again, you have me pegged incorrectly. I didn’t go to Clemson, I graduated from Purdue. I couldn’t go to Clemson because my family didn’t own any farm animals and had all their teeth.

  7. J

    Steven, thanks for your humor – my keyboard is bigger! I’ll add more letters to the single initial on Jan 20 when BHO is inaugurated. I want more latitude!

  8. Mab

    I’ll second Kathryn’s ‘No comment’, as I grossly and routinely violate principle #8 — almost as if with special intensity.

    And I dedicate this to my mother, who did, in fact, bear me and is partially (primarily) at fault:

  9. Steve Gordy

    I try to stay within the boundaries of a thread, but sometimes fail, particularly in regards to # 3, #6, and #8. It’s almost impossible to meet all these checks every time, but it’s stil worthwhile to try.

  10. bud

    Brad, not sure you fail on number 8. Just offering the opportunity for those that disagree with you the opportunity to vent pretty much innoculates you from the charge of being an asshole.

  11. Brad

    Well, I enjoy a good digression more than anyone else on the planet — and this was a good digression.

    But I’ll confess that on some occasions, when I’ve taken time to craft what I think is a particularly thought-provoking post (something I occasionally do, but not often enough), and immediately my commentariat goes off on a lengthy rehash of some completely irrelevant topic that we’ve already discussed here a thousand times, I get kind of peeved.

    That doesn’t happen all that often, though, since I started moderating. Back in the ollie-ollie-in-come-free days on my old blog, when threads sometimes ran, wild, to 300 unregulated comments, it happened all the time…

  12. J

    SD II, No BHO wont have any input. Unfortunately, I’ve had them since FDR and the family hasn’t used them since I was 5 weeks old. That’s why I said if anyone knew my real name they wouldn’t know of whom you were talking. “Now you can call me Ray, or you can call me J, or you can call me Johnny, or you call me Ray J, or RJ, or RJJ, or RJJ Jr., but you don’t hasta call me Mr. Johnson!” Your call as I’ll answer to any.

  13. bud

    Doug that reminds me of this old joke: What does USC’s head cheerleader and the Clemson cheerleading squad have in common? They both have the same number of teeth.

  14. J

    Speaking of jokes that Doug might like:

    Did you hear about the Purdue fan who was asked by his professor what would happen if we didn’t have electricity?
    He said we would probably be watching TV by candlelight.

    The recent budgetary cuts are taking their toll at Purdue. Just last week they announced the discontinuance of all driver’s ed and sex education classes. The mule died, and there was just no money with which to replace her.

    How many Purdue programmers does it take to change a light bulb? They can’t, it’s a hardware problem.

    Why are rectal thermometers banned in Purdue’s campus? They cause too much brain damage.

  15. Steven Davis II

    Best joke I heard in a while is “Why can’t you call Marines jarheads anymore? Because they’ve proven you can put a brain in a jar.


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