Felix Salmon

The upside of being flamed

By Felix Salmon
June 30, 2009

The Cajun Boy hits the nail on the head when he describes one of the biggest upsides to opening oneself up to the crazies of the internet by blogging:

After a while, writing on the internet thickens your skin to the point where you’re easily able to easily differentiate between valid criticism and hateful venom-spewing. At some point, the hateful venom-spewing fails to even faze you any longer, while the valid criticisms are accepted and processed rationally and learned from.

This has certainly been my experience, and I’ve seen it in others, too. Bloggers in general are pretty sanguine when it comes to being flamed on the internet or in their comments sections, while non-bloggers tend to get much more exercised when people criticize them online. I’ve lost count of the number of journalists who have put up a blog entry or two and been shocked and excited at some of the comments they got in response; eventually, of course, you just tune that kind of stuff out altogether.

That tuning-out makes bloggers much less defensive when it comes to their work — which means that a thoughtful and pertinent response is more likely to be taken seriously, even to the point of the blogger happily admitting that he was wrong. Blogs are tentative and conversational things, and just as a well-informed interlocutor can make you change your mind on an issue in conversation, a smart commenter can do the same thing on a blog.

12 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Stupid post from a stupid blogger.

Posted by Stan B | Report as abusive

I can’t wait to see the comments posted to hardcore Republican blogs.

Unfortunately, Mankiw disabled comments on his blog years ago.

Posted by Unsympathetic | Report as abusive

Funny you posted this. I was just thinking a couple days ago that I couldn’t recall ever reading a blog post where you unequivocally admitted you were wrong (though I wouldn’t limit this critique to you when it gomes to finance/econ bloggers).

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive

Adam, just off the top of my mind, try here or here. There are lots more.

Posted by Felix Salmon | Report as abusive

I think just as was pointed out by Unsympathetic, those who can’t handle comments end up turning them off. Which always leads to me not bothering to read their blogs anymore, since then I know they’re just spewing and not listening. So, thanks for still listening.


I wonder why notorious comment deleter J Brad Delong hasn’t grown this thick skin yet.


Carney is still a moron. Please don’ engage him or that thick as a brick Frommer.

Posted by CarneyRat | Report as abusive

Frommer? No way.

Carney. No comment.


One certainly learns spewers speak volumes, about themselves, and are best ignored since nothing you say can top what they have already said about themselves.


It’s good that the bloggers develop a thick skin (or stop blogging or turn off comments).

But it’s still tiresome and annoying for most readers to have to see it.

Posted by Steve B | Report as abusive

Of course, this is assuming the blogger actually checks their facts. More often than not, bloggers tune out things that they disagree with, not just flames.

And god forbid you should get bloggers to ever publicly admit a mistake…say…Megan McArdle for instance.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Loved this post; my co-blogger and I recently ran into this debate on our relatively new blog. My co-blogger tackled the issue head on in a post: http://blog.beliefnet.com/everydayethics  /2009/06/blog-commenting-courtesy-do-bl oggers-have-a-right-to-expect-it.html

I’m learning to respect the constructive thoughts, and thicken my skin against some of the nastier comments.

One memorable comment was in reply to a post I wrote regarding the Palin vs. Letterman feud. The comment, to summarize, called me a woman who is loose with physical affection and also had some things to say about my genetalia. I was confused and slightly horrified by the connection, to say the least!


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