A Public Service Announcement: I Go Other Places Online. Don’t Be Alarmed

As advance warning, this entry might be douchebaggishly egotistical, but, well. You should be used to that by now.

Take as given, if you will, that I am a person with a certain level of notability online, both as an author and as a blogger of long standing: I am famous enough that a) I and/or my work are not entirely infrequently discussed online, and b) when I show up to comment on someone else’s blog, either as a consequence of being a subject of discussion or just because I want to comment, it sometimes freaks people out, sometimes happily and sometimes not.

(I am not so famous that c) people simply refuse to believe that I am me when I comment, or d) pretend to be me on other people’s sites, which suggests to me at least that my fame is of the distinctly “micro” level, which is, as it happens, just about where I like it.)

Without commenting on whether this level of notability is a positive or negative state of affairs or whether I should actually merit such a level of notability, if one is in the position I am in, one does recognize that at a certain point you have to decide how to handle showing up and commenting on other people’s sites, particularly if one (or one’s work) is being discussed at the time. Here’s how I personally handle it:

1. By and large I don’t comment when I or my work is the subject of discussion on someone else’s site.

2. But sometimes I do.

In the first case, it’s because there’s the recognition that just because people are talking about you or your work doesn’t mean they actually want to invoke you, and, converse to this, just because you can comment doesn’t mean you should. Most of the time I would have nothing to add to the conversation other than being a disconcerting presence, and there’s no need to do that. This is particularly the case when people post reviews of my books, and particularly when they’re negative: I think in a general sense people should be able to say “I thought this book was crap” without having the author show up to explain in detail why and how they are in fact completely wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. I’ve noted this before.

In the second case, sometimes I just want to comment. Why? Well, sometimes it’s because I think the conversation is interesting and, in fact, I do have something more substantive to add than merely my presence. Sometimes it’s because someone is speculating about my motivations for writing and/or doing something which I know are incorrect, and I think it’s worth giving them additional data. Sometimes people are asking a specific thing about my writing and/or me that I can answer authoritatively. Sometimes I just want to drop in a witty/funny/snarky comment. And sometimes I just like to screw with people’s heads, because there are days when I’m just that way.

(Also, there’s the small matter of, microcelebrity or not, I’m also just this guy who likes doing the same things everyone else does online, and who thinks people occasionally freaking out over his presence is silly. You know, I have to live with me every single day. I can say pretty authoritatively that I’m really not worth the freakout.)

If I had to guess the percentage of times I comment at someone else’s site rather than just reading without commenting, I’d guess that it’s something less than one percent of the time. If you write about me, there’s a very good chance I’ll know about it — my egosurf matrix of search engines is highly developed and tells me of an appearance of my name and/or a link to the site, usually within minutes, because I have just that much OCD — but generally I don’t do anything about it. Highly developed egosurf matrix or not, I don’t have the time, or as noted above, generally the inclination. Yes, that’s right, by and large I’m a lurker.

Likewise I’m more likely to comment on some sites than others. What raises your chance of me commenting at your site? Well, if you’re a friend of mine already, but that doesn’t really count in regards to this formulation, since my friends couldn’t give a crap about whatever celebrity I might have. Likewise, if you’re someone who comments here, I suspect you’ll be less likely to be weirded out if I comment on your site. People in online or real-world communities I’m part of, the same thing, because even if we don’t know each other, we know some of the same people. Finally, if I don’t know you, but have commented on your site before, it ups the chance I might comment again.

Now, I want to go back to a comment I mentioned earlier, which was that just because someone’s talking about you doesn’t mean they’re intending to invoke you, and in fact may regard your sudden presence in their comment thread as an intrusion. I’m of two minds about this. First, well, sure. That makes sense, and people being discussed need to be sensitive to that. Use your judgement. This is a major reason why I don’t comment, nearly all the time.

But second, this goes both ways: folks should not be entirely surprised that talking about someone in a publicly accessible online forum might attract that person’s interest, and that this person might feel free to respond, whether the original conversants intended or desire them to. I recently told someone who thought it was rude that I had popped up in a comment thread in which he was talking about me that I considered talking about me an implicit invitation for me to participate in the conversation. I am, after all, the leading expert in that subject. I didn’t think it was rude to offer my perspective.

Somewhat related to this, someone else mentioned to me that the appropriate way to respond to someone discussing you online was to respond privately, but my response to this is: well, no. You can, if you like, but if you’re being talked about online and publicly, it’s not in the least unreasonable to respond equally publicly. Suggesting a person should respond privately to a public discussion of them is an explicit marginalization of that person, especially when no one else is being told to go private.

All of this, of course, is couched in the usual standards of etiquette when you visit someone else’s site: be polite, move on when asked, and so on. Be that as it may, look folks, it’s pretty simple: If you’re discussing someone online, notable or otherwise, in a place that is publicly accessible, you run the risk of them showing up and responding, and it’s not unreasonable for them to do so. That’s how Teh Intarweebs work.

And in my specific case, I certainly reserve the right to show up and comment, even if I usually don’t, and typically won’t. I think that’s sufficient notice to all and sundry.

71 thoughts on “A Public Service Announcement: I Go Other Places Online. Don’t Be Alarmed

  1. Hey, Scalzi, someone’s been posting on your blog under your name claiming to be you! Just thought you might want to know.

  2. I think on the internet people think they are able to criticize things and people “anonymously” and without response to the criticism by who they’re criticizing. So to have some responsibility for what they write come at them, it might be shocking. I think people will get used to it in time. Maybe people will realize what you say with your keyboard and signals through wires is just as real as what you say with your mouth and sound waves eventually.

  3. This kind of thing is generally why I praise the magic of Livejournal’s friends-locking feature. It might not be the most secure thing on the internet, but it does keep the stuff off Google. At least, if you never make it public to begin with.

    (And assuming, of course, that the person in question is not actually one of your ‘friends.’ That’s what friends filters are for!)

    That said, I have been known to freak out (or maybe just laugh a lot) when it does happen.

  4. To me, it’s a little weird to have this level of accessibility. For most of my life there has always been a clear division between the fans and the fanned. I wrote a letter to Stephen King when I was in college – sending it c/o his publisher, of course – and was astonished to get not only a reply, but copies of articles he had written on writing. (I still feel, deep in my heart, that every day I continue to not write is a betrayal of that thoughtfulness….)

    Most other fan mail I wrote never got answered, so that was really special.

    Now things are so much more democratized, and I get a little shiver of glee when I get a comment from someone whose work I admire.

    I think for a lot of other people, though, it might be seen as breaking that Covenant that’s held for so long – the barrier between the fans and the artists – and I can see how people might not know how to properly react to that. I’ve been pretty good at not losing my shit, but I can see how others wouldn’t be.

    I am still haunted by how I mooned over Terry Pratchett at a con once. So pathetic…. I like to think I’ve grown.

  5. To me, it’s a little weird to have this level of accessibility. For most of my life there has always been a clear division between the fans and the fanned.

    Most of fan mail I wrote never got answered, so the one time when someone (Stephen King) actually wrote back, it was really special.

    Now things are so much more democratized, and I get that little shiver of glee any time I get a comment from someone whose work I admire. Because in my head, there’s still that divide, even though there really shouldn’t be.

    It’s breaking that Covenant that’s held for so long – the barrier between the fans and the artists – and I can see how people might not know how to properly react to that. I’ve been pretty good at not losing my shit, but I can see how others wouldn’t be.

    I am still haunted by how I mooned over Terry Pratchett at a con once. though. So pathetic…. I like to think I’ve grown.

  6. But not enough to not double-comment, it seems. I blame WordPress for making me think my original hadn’t gone up.

    And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the corner….

  7. I do think it’s amusing that you need to discuss this: ita ll really seems to go without saying. I am not a “young person”- in fact we are the same age, and I never felt any “Covenant” declaring a barrier between fan and writer/artist. Any barrier is simply because I didn’t love meeting strangers and couldn’t imagine the poor writers enjoyed having their good times at cons interrupted by people they did not know to be told how much I enjoyed their work (John Brunner was the friendliest, most outgoing author I ever met- he was never in the room with a stranger, it seemed). And I am not obsessive, but I saw that you had showed up on my blog to take a look just minutes after I posted a comment about you and just admired your coordination- I can only figure out how to do that when people leave a comment. Maybe I will go up a level in blogging next year and getter better analytics.

  8. Raise your hand if you have the sudden urge to go to your blog to comment about Mr. Scalzi.

    For the blogless, raise your hand if you have the sudden urge to start a blog to comment about Mr. Scalzi.

    For the blogged, raise your hand if you have the sudden urge to start ANOTHER blog, just so you can comment in TWO blogs about Mr. Scalzi.

  9. I think it’s rather nice when an author responds in person. It shows they are accessible. I remember emailing an address I found on Robin Hobb’s website about a typesetting error I found in one of her books. Not only did she respond in person, but she even sent me an autographed replacement from the stock of trade paperbacks she keeps in her attic.

  10. I was quite entertained when you commented on my blog (titling the post “A Tribute to John Scalzi” may have had something to do with it). I was positive you’d learn of its existence, thought it quite possible you’d read it, but had no expectation that you’d find it amusing enough to comment. You provided a pleasant surprise, thanks.

    But then, I know how the interwebs work.

    (And I did feel a bit sheepish when installing the LJ crossover plugin unexpectedly pushed a random selection of my posts over to LJ, and you commented again. Oops.)

  11. All seems pretty common-sensical to me.

    The Great Power of instant, shareable global communications comes with corollaries. You can say anything about anything and anyone, and they get to say stuff right back.

    Also, when you use these powers, what you say often can’t be unsaid – you can be quoted, indexed or archived by the time you’ve returned from the lavatory. You’d think I’d remener this more on a Friday night post-pub, but I am only an egg…

  12. Oh yes, indeed. There seem to be a good many people who can’t comprehend that authors ego-surf, and there is this thing called Google Alerts.

    I thought your comments in the thread on Nicholas Whyte’s review of Old Man’s War were a polite and useful contribution to the conversation — and I’ve still have been in full panic mode if you’d shown up in the comments thread on my own review, saying the same sort of things. :-) It’s an interesting problem, which is why I started by apologising the one time I showed up in the comments thread of a stranger’s review of one of my books. (I wanted to ask a specific question about where she’d found the copy of the book.)

  13. Can I ask your opinion on a matter of etiquette I’ve had an argument about recently?

    -If you want them to take something down, perhaps because it’s libelous or something you consider inappropriate or private, would you inform them of this publically, or privately?

  14. My first impression on this post was, “well of course he goes other places online, that’s how he tells us about stuff.” This includes reviews of his own books or other authors stuff and other items like the “Whateverettes” on the right columns.

    My second impression was wondering how much different this is from when we comment here and John answers. I mean, John does comment back into the thread from time to time, even to me. So the big deal is what?

    I’m more amused by those that would be indignant about someone commenting about being commenting on than I am about having it happen on my blog, if I had one.

    Wow, that sentence was cumbersome. Anyway, to me, the people that have the hardest time with this remind me of gossipers when they get caught out. They bluster, and complain, never ever admitting they might be wrong and then try their darndest to make it the fault of the person who caught them.

    If you talk in public, it’s public. The inter webs is public and no amount of bluster can keep ANYONE at all from showing up. Unless you’ve already triggered a moderation cue for trollish behavior it’s the same for all of us when we visit.

    The “how dare you comment about what I said about you” mindset makes me laugh whether it’s here in a comment thread or anywhere else.

  15. So have I detroyed your deep respect of me as an internet commentator by concluding an otherwise intelligent exchange with the following:

    OMG! OMG! *running, armwaving, and fangrrlish squeeing*

    That’s just me being pleased and surprised to see you. A couple of years ago I offered to become Tim Powers’ official stalker for the con we were at. More recently I got to play with Elizabeth Moon and was always pleased to see her and we had long chats in stairwells. It’s just me being happy to interact with people whose work I admire.

  16. I generally think of being online as like having a conversation with a colleague, whom I like very much but am not close with, in the middle of a room full of people. So I don’t say anything that I would mind being overheard.

    Now, if I were doing this in real life, say at a convention, and someone in the group next to me said my name, I’d probably respond in ways almost exactly analogous to how you handle online invocation.

  17. I would just like to say, in as rueful and yet friendly a manner as possible, that I find it hilarious and somehow reassuring that you’re still thinking about this too. Thanks, man. Honestly.

    I’m going to go watch the last five hours of Band of Brothers now, and hopefully when I’m finished my brain will be my own again. *g*

  18. dsudis:

    Heh. You’re welcome. All of this actually comes at the end of a bunch of stuff that’s been causing me to think about this particular subject; it’s come up a couple of other times in other places. It gets to a point where writing about it helps me organize my own thoughts on the subject. So thanks back.

    stephbg:

    You’ve definitely not destroyed my deep respect. I am not so humble that I cannot admit enjoyment out of a good squee that my presence has caused. One of my points, though, is that one should not comment elsewhere just to get a “squee” fix.

  19. Not to mention that I don’t have a set IP; my provider changes it each time I restart my DSL modem. But generally there’s no need to block me; a simple “please don’t comment here anymore” works just as well.

  20. I am croggled that people are still surprised when known internet-active people show up in response to being talked about online. Search engines are very good these days.

  21. Well, if people think the interwebs are private, all I can say is, ‘huh?’ To me, the fact that you are a Famous Author ™ isn’t all that relevant, although it adds a twist. But I’ve been blogging for something like 6 years now, I think, and blogs/bloggers form networks. I thought that was part of the underlying purpose: we read blogs, comment, and sometimes take the conversation to our own blogs, where the original poster often comes to comment. Given that so many blogs have trackback functions, it seems that things are supposed to work that way.

    So if a person comments on a Famous Author™, and that author has a blog presence, it seems sensible to expect that the author will know about a post re his work, and maybe even comment. When such a thing happened in my corner of the blogosphere a while back, there were fangirl squees galore — Tony Grafton, Famous Academic ™ left comments at a couple of the sites I read — and then wrote about what blogs he reads regularly in the professional journal of the American Historical Association. In so doing, he redefined what many of us had thought was a covenant — junior academics don’t admit they blog, EVER — and offered arguments for our legitimacy. It sounds like you are running into something similar: in a different venue, rules shift and relationships are redefined. The part where I think it might get interesting for a Famous Author™ is that commenting on other people’s blogs, even in response to something they’ve said about you or your work, often conveys an impression of “this guy knows me” that could translate to interactions at cons, etc., that you might not expect or want.

  22. MRK@17 exactly!

    Common courtesy and tact. What a concept!

    Your description of a conversation in public or at a convention is apt since in my mind the web, blogs in particular, are a very large convention hall with fans, vendors and GOH’s. The tact is sometimes missing because of the anonymity the web provides. That contributes to the gossipy nature I alluded to up thread. No matter what analogy one uses, it’s better to behave as if everything can and will be used against you if you make statements in public. so as Wil says, “Don’t be a dick.”

    With the Thanksgiving family gatherings coming up, I’m hoping no one hears “Now what was that supposed to mean” and the unpleasant scene that usually occurs right after that. I try to keep my aunt and my sister from having any conversations at all, with varying levels of success…

  23. I patiently read through the first three paragraphs, got impatient waiting for the point for maybe another three, then was somewhat surprised when I got to the end and there *was* no point.

    Blah?

    Is this one of those passive agressive high school moments when someone says something to upset you, so you indirectly comment back on your own blog? If so, put a disclaimer at the TOP of the post so I can move on to the next post.

  24. ADM:

    “The part where I think it might get interesting for a Famous Author™ is that commenting on other people’s blogs, even in response to something they’ve said about you or your work, often conveys an impression of ‘this guy knows me’ that could translate to interactions at cons, etc., that you might not expect or want.”

    In my own experience, this has not been too much of a problem — I think most people get that a comment or two on a site does not equal familiarity, and those that don’t are the sort that would have boundary issues anyway. The real interesting “first contact” is between you and someone who comments frequently on your blog, or on whose blog you’ve commented more than a few times. You’re in the position of having had conversation with someone, but still not knowing really who they are as people, and that’s kind of a fascinating middle ground.

    Emmy:

    Well, there was a disclaimer at the top of the entry. I can’t be blamed if you missed it.

    Also, I’m not sure where I’ve ever made the promise that what I write here will meet your personal definition of having a point. You take your chances like everyone else.

  25. I agree wholeheartedly with Mary Robinette Kowal’s comment about “being online as like having a conversation with a colleague…in the middle of a room full of people. So I don’t say anything that I would mind being overheard.”

    I was always taught don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you would not say to their face.

    I’ve also taught Netiquette out in the corporate world, so am very aware of the damage an errant email message can cause (ie: remember, with email, everything you type on a computer can and will be used in a court of law).

    As a relative newbie to the blogoshpere, I generally lurk for awhile before I post to a blog the first time. And I use that same rule when responding in threads. I’ve found the blogs I frequent fun, informative and generally run by like-minded people I could easily be friends with.

    Unfortunately, out here on the interweebs, many people take advantage of the anonymity of posting. Secure in their knowledge that the offended party will not show up on their door step and bitch-slap them for their nastiness, they let anything fly off their fingers. Hence the massive need for moderators, filters and other policing measures.

    Growing up in NYC and living now in Atlanta, the rule has always been don’t pester the celebs or other notable folks, they’re people too with their own lives to live. If you did make eye contact, you’d smile knowingly and respectfully nod, most often they’d nod back in response. So with the informality of the net, it’s still a real thrill for me when someone notable out in the real world responds to me in a comment thread.

    And John, should I ever get off my lazy butt and put up my own blog, you are more than welcome to comment when I mention you and your work.

    Wow, all that and I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee.
    Now I really need some caffeine!!

  26. “I have to live with me every single day.”

    Well, that’s your cross to bear. It doesn’t seem to have done you any harm though, so I doubt your momentary presence anywhere else is going to hurt anyone. If what someone has to say is so private, let them say it on the phone, or text or e-mail it. But to post it in public, and then get testy because the subject of the conversation took notice, is just irrational.

    Speaking of irrational, how is The High Tower coming?

  27. John said:

    The real interesting “first contact” is between you and someone who comments frequently on your blog, or on whose blog you’ve commented more than a few times. You’re in the position of having had conversation with someone, but still not knowing really who they are as people, and that’s kind of a fascinating middle ground.

    I swear, I didn’t mean anything about the tentacle sex.

  28. I guess if you’re an artist, in any field, and you put your work out there, you’ve got to be prepared for some people not to like it (You can’t please everyone all of the time). As long as you’re armed with that thought in your back pocket, when the nay-sayers come along you can kick back and say “Meh! I knew that was going to happen sometime.” Like you said John, rising to it only fuels the flames of their fire (or ire).

    I read LKH’s blog post from the link you gave. Seems to me that was one of those posts you should write just to get all that anger out of your system and then hit “delete” instead of “post” Like she said, she’s got the sales figures, no need to stoop to that.

    It’s interesting, when I go on Amazon to look at a book I generally read the five star reviews to see what people loved about it, and then I’ll look at the one star reviews to see what people hated about it. Hate is such a strong feeling, I like to see what provokes people into posting a review about a book they hate (If I hate something I’ve read I want nothing more to do with it. I’m not expending the energy to review it!). Typically I’ve found many of the five star reviews are quite eloquently written and informative and the one star reviews degenerate into ranting diatribes that really don’t tell me much about said book. I’ll add that reading Amazon reviews has never turned me off buying a book that I’m genuinely interested in. I’ll click on the “Look Inside” and read a few pages – and that’s the litmus test for me.

    That said John, I did like OMW. I loaned it to my mother-in-law as an example of what is good, current, SF. I was going to write a review for you over on SFreader, but I see that someone beat me to it. Ho Hum.

  29. I hear that, if you look at a mirror and say Scalzi’s name five times in a row, he appears on your blog and makes a comment.

    I heard that it happened to a friend of a friend, so it must be true!

  30. It’s true, but if you don’t have bacon and Coke Zero ready for him when he appears, TERRIBLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN.

    It happened to a guy I heard about. It was horrible.

  31. Eris Esoteric @ #9,

    Raise your hand if you have the sudden urge to go to your blog to comment about Mr. Scalzi.

    LMAO,

    That’s exactly what I was thinking about before I got to your comment. I was mapping out in my head a really snarky post about how to reel him in…various strategies involving obsequiousness, double reverse psychology and/or easily correctable obtuseness.

    Now, I feel the shame of your finger pointing straight at me while you tell me how vapidly predictable I am.

    Rest assured. I’ll now refrain.

  32. John said, “The real interesting “first contact” is between you and someone who comments frequently on your blog, or on whose blog you’ve commented more than a few times. You’re in the position of having had conversation with someone, but still not knowing really who they are as people, and that’s kind of a fascinating middle ground.

    That’s so true. I have close friends who are people I met through blogging, but that first meat-up is really interesting. I think so much has to do with the kind of blogger a person is, though. Which is probably an obvious statement. And hmmmm, having said that, from all those weird blog typing algorithms, people who meet me should be expecting a man …

    I’m really glad that there have been only a couple of times when I’ve met somebody in person and not clicked the way we have online.

  33. Sometimes people are asking a specific thing about my writing and/or me that I can answer authoritatively. [citation required]

  34. What a pile of horseshit. Talk about ego. Writing about writing about yourself. I guess Mrs. Scalzi didn’t teach humble.

    Yeah, the books are pretty good compared to what passes as SciFi these days, but come on. How can you fit that massive ego into your tiny head?

  35. @nathan & @eris esoteric:

    Raise your hand if you’ve mentioned John (because you link to whatever, etc) plenty of times in your blog already… and are currently experiencing fanboy glee because that means he probably read it.

    I end up name-dropping authors, web-celebs, etc, in the sense of the hat-tip. Something they said makes me want to add in – or disagree. In one post, I mentioned four different authors who, each in their own blog, ended up triggering a cascade of thoughts and a post of my own. (I’d met all of them IRL earlier this year at a con.)

    But with them – and with John as well – I’ve also read their blogs or met them personally. I still have fanboy squee moments when they comment or mention they’ve read my blog. I rarely comment on their books on my blog, though.

    Maybe that’s the difference – I’m viewing it as part of an ongoing ancillary thread instead of a reviewer/reviewed relationship.

  36. Happytroll:

    I use nuclear-powered shoehorns.

    Complaining to someone about their ego on their own site, in a post in which there’s a disclaimer about massive egotism, shows that Mrs. Happytroll didn’t teach “don’t be a moron.”

  37. I’m tempted to dust off my barely used blog and mention John, just to see if he’ll comment. Of course I must add bacon and Coke Zero first. I used to google my name and only get results related to me specifically (because I was running a business and was trying to get my name out there for the business). Now there’s all these other Andrea Crowleys, and I want them off my interwebz! Its MINE

    I am happy, however, that when I googled “andrea crowley rn”, the first result was about me, and it was something I’m very proud of :)

  38. I get “Underworld” e-mail sometimes. It’s died down now, but I expert a surge when the next film comes out and searches turn up my LiveJournal review of the first film–proving the power of Google, I suppose.

  39. Internet Challenge!

    Need to get that receipe sent to John 1 million times by Thanksgiving.

    Internet. You have been Challenged!

    FIGHT!

  40. It seems to me that it’s just common politeness to refrain from showing up and commenting on someone’s discussion of you unless they’ve been foolish enough to say your name three times. Like Hastur, or Chrestomanci, or Beetlejuice.

  41. Mr. Scalzi:

    I teach HS English, and can tell you it’s amazing the number of people who don’t understand that the ‘net isn’t private. They seem to be under the mistaken idea that others (and particularly stranger-others) require an introduction and invitation before they can gain access.
    Which is really odd, since obviously it doesn’t work that way for them …

    Obviously, as this is the second or third post on this beneral topic in a week or two, this is an ongoing concern at the moment. I hope it resolves itself well for you. Regarding your final point, I’d say the difference is whether they’re discussing “you” or “your stuff.” If they discuss your books, or even your blog or website (“gee, what a crappy background” type of thing) then they are commenting on you indirectly, and I can see the logic of a private response [so you don't look like the "everything's about you" guy. I mean, we all know it really is, but no one wants to look like that guy, right? ;) ] But if someone is talking about you on line, then they are putting stuff out their that’s either a personal attack, personal misinformation, or a personal compliment (and aren’t those unexpected!), and then I’d say you are required to respond in kind (by which I mean publicly, of course, not to hurl mud back. Unless this is a wrestling site, but I imagine that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

    Thanx
    -pp

  42. This post, and the one about the Law of Internet Invocation, are now making me think about Derek Smart.

    And that’s a terrible thing. Thanks a lot, Scalzi.

  43. One thing that bugs me is this: If I type out a post about someone’s book, detailing the parts that didn’t work for me, whatever, I don’t like having the author drop in to say something like “Sorry you didn’t like it!”

    Nobody needs to tap my shoulder and say “I can hear you, you know.” I know you can hear if you want (why you would want to is beyond me, but whatever).

    But don’t jump in to a conversation with a content-free ping. Have something to add.

  44. “I am not so famous that … people … pretend to be me on other people’s sites”

    C’mon John. You’re so famous, people pretend to be you on *your own* site.

  45. It’s always a little bit jarring when I blog about someone semi-famous online (which as you note is completely different and more insular than being famous offline) and he or she shows up in my comments section and responds. On the one hand, yes, it’s in a public forum and so they’re certainly not out of bounds for commenting. But at the same time they’re famous enough that you expect discussion of them to be kind of lost in the noise, something that’s semi-unrealistic if you really think about it.

    I mean, I think most web savvy people will take at least a cursory look at every blog post or article that has their name of it, so it should probably be assumed that at the very least, every person you write about on the internet will read the headline of your post, if not the article itself.

  46. Ok. I read this yesterday and thought of a way to beat the spy programs that you egocentric bloggers use to detect when someone is invoking your name. Try this: )0#^ $c@:2! or some silly combination of Webdings that makes it clear you are talking about John behind your hand. You would just have to make sure that all the others involved knew to scramble the name, or he……he might…. Arrrr! it is too terrible! He who is not to be named might find your comments and read them!

  47. comics geek-out

    There’s a plot development midway through the (excellent) Lucifer series where it becomes briefly about an odd assortment of characters sent of in Nagalfar to enter the “Mansions of Silence”. The conceit being that Lucifer cannot enter the Mansions himself as their existence is so delicate that his very presence risked destroying them.

    You made me think of that, oh plenipotent one. Glad you’re consious of the effect you might have ;)

    /comics geek-out

    Also, Heisenburg.

  48. Off. Sent off in Nagalfar. Also, “conscious”.

    Damn the lack of preview (and my spelling)! At least the html tags worked ok. Sorry.

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