What group of blog commenters do you belong to?

Matthew Warner offered this on the site of the National Catholic Register.
After comparing blog comments to graffiti (perhaps he is a facebook devotee with a "wall") he sallies forth to identity 10 types of commenters…. or should it be commentators?  Commenters.

Warner is pretty negative, in the main.

All I can say is that I am glad I have a registration process.

Here are the 10 types of blog commenters:

1) Encouragers – These leave simple, encouraging comments like, “great post!” Or, “wow, this totally changed my life.”  But they don’t instigate further conversation or offer anything additional to the post. (FYI – Bloggers love these kinds of comments.)

2) Non-contributors – These are similar to Encouragers, except without the encouragement. Their comments say I was here and I read your post…like, “I also have a fish named Dorothy,” or “Thanks for this post.”

3) Contributors – Contributors usually leave the best blog comments because they offer something new to the conversation. A new perspective. Additional information. A new insight. They are thoughtful. And they can either respectfully agree or disagree with the post. Overall, they contribute to a healthy conversation and they make the blog post more valuable and helpful for other readers.

4) Destitutes – These are people in need. They might be depressed or struggling with something. They just want somebody to talk to. Somebody to listen. Sometimes their comment is on topic, often times it is not. Many times they have serious questions.

5) Slackers – Slackers are people who don’t read the post. They just read the title of the post and then want to say something. So they write it in the combox. They often strongly disagree with you while making your point. Or they soundly defeat a straw man and feel better afterwards. Or they ask things like, “Well what about X?”  When the post spent paragraphs 3 and 4 answering precisely that about X.

6) Brawlers – Brawlers love to fight and argue. They aren’t interested in learning, giving the benefit of the doubt or considering that it was just an accident when I spilled my drink on them.

7) Angries – An Angry is somebody who is just angry at something. They often take the form of brawlers, but worse. They don’t even want to argue or fight about it. They just want to express their anger about something. Often times it makes them feel better to bring others down in the process. Their comments are often inappropriate and hurtful.  And they usually end up accusing somebody tangentially related to the post of something tangentially related to the topic and then lumping everyone together and concluding that “You people are all a bunch of losers.” They can turn into real trolls too.

8) Posers – Posers pretend like they don’t care about the topic when they really do. Their comment basically says “I don’t care about this, but I still took the time to comment and tell you. That’s how much I really don’t care about this. And now I’m going to get really defensive about something you said…but I really couldn’t care less about it.”

9) Self-promoters – These people range from spammers and link-baiters to honest people just trying to promote something good. But their comment is all about promoting something else, not contributing to the post directly.

10) Aliens – Aliens leave comments that make absolutely no sense at all. It’s like they just landed on the planet Earth and thought they would leave a comment.

I think we need reflections also for "sock puppets", "stalkers", and "rabbits".

Pretty negative, all in all.

Fair?  Unfair?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dauphin says:

    I like turtles.

  2. AnAmericanMother says:

    What? Trolls are merely a tangential link? They’re the most annoying of all!

    I’m definitely a rabbit-starter, but I do try to keep it at least marginally relevant. Sometimes I fail. [ cough . . . cough . . . Waffle House . . . cough . . . cough ] Mea maxima culpa.

  3. doanli says:

    I don’t know how to take this, Father.

    I am not an intellectual (your definition of “contributor”?), but neither were a lot of the saints either.

    I usually don’t leave long, well thought our comments because I work full time and I have a family to take care of. I leave comments in the middle of accounts I am working on.

    I do enjoy conversation because yes, I do feel alone a lot because I work from home and have very little adult conversation. (And I live 8 hours away from my extended family.)

    Sorry for the negativity, but I’ve received some bad news about a friend of mine who I have been praying for and feel very discouraged.

  4. In my experience, Mr. Warner hits it just about head-on! I wish that there were more “Ones” and “Threes” than there seem to be.

    It occurs to me that these categories could be used to describe many of the persons who frequent on-line forum discussions.

  5. I think that not giving trolls or spammers their own categories was a political move, not a serious matter of logic. “Don’t feed the trolls” by not giving them any notice… that sort of thing.

    The beautiful thing is that most people take turns fitting most of these categories, from day to day and post to post.

  6. Choirmaster says:


    But I really don’t care, even though this was such a great post, even though you’re all a bunch of losers!

    (Oh wait, I’m registered here)

    Seriously, though, I am surprised that Fr. Z was able to keep this blog running so smoothly and politely for so long without commenter registrations.

    I was here and I read this post. This is my favorite blog and it changed my life (and that is true, to some extent).

  7. Mrs Kate says:

    I try to be a 1), aspire to be a 3)-in my dreams perhaps!, and if I think my comment falls into the other categories, I just don’t hit the post button.

  8. rakesvines says:

    That translation is way too wordy. Vatican II rocks. I think I’ll go and eat worms now.

  9. Pater OSB says:

    How ironic – I’ve just been working on a list of 10 types of people who classify blog commenters! But having said that I know that it was out of blatant self-promotion.

  10. Bornacatholic says:

    Speaking of turtles, during the War for Southern Independence, Lincoln spent an awful lot of time in The Oval Office relaxing by taking his old hickory-handled golf clubs and chipping box turtles into his stove pipe hat.

    Where was PETA back then, huh?

    They were silent because Lincoln was a Democrat; that’s where they were.

  11. Jack Hughes says:

    Used to be a destitue, now a contributer

  12. doanli says:

    At least the good Father here has commenters and has a large blog following. Be grateful for that.

    Maybe Fr Z you should count your blessings; the only people who comment on my blog and give me even encouragement (your #1) are Protestants. I never hear anything from my fellow Catholics.

  13. Thomas G. says:

    No doubt most posters think they’re Contributors.

    Would it be possible to add a little “Rate this Post” app to each post, in which the options are the
    10 categories listed above? Over time, each WDTPRS registered poster would develop a post persona –
    Encourager, Angry, Contributor, Destitute, etc.

    There’s also Lurkers, of course – the non-posting readers.

  14. Thomas G. says:

    Lincoln was a Republican, for cryin’ out loud.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    looks like a list of human weakenesses owing to Original Sin….we are all a little bit of everything,I would think, but perhaps blogging can bring out the best in us…

  16. kolbe1019 says:

    THAT GUY WAS SPOT ON!!!! I love this post! Keep up the great work Fr. Z!

    Type 5… (the Slacker)… Makes my skin crawl!

    I had posted a video series on the Sacrament of Confession and it was separated into 5 segments by topic… I clearly explained contrition and attrition… Then the slacker questioned something that he “thought” I said. So I gave him the reference… the Catechism… Then he disagreed and said that he heard from an apologist whom I will not mention, because he probably heard wrong… that my definition (catechisms definition) was wrong… and that he would go ask another apologist! JMJ Have mercy on me a poor sinner, this guy really got my goat like nobody has before. HELLO DUDE! STOP ASKING APOLOGISTS, GO TO THE CHURCH DOCUMENTS… they speak for themselves! Dear… sorry, I just had to get that out… I guess you would classify this post as… (Wait… quick shout out to one of my video blogs http://www.youtube.com/thechurchmilitant )… Ok now… my post is officially 1-10. SOrry Father. ;D

  17. nhaggin says:


    I now understand why I saw those giant turtles with ray guns over at City Hall the other day. It’s obvious that the Space Turtle Empire is finally coming to exact punishment for Lincoln’s callous disregard for turtlekind.

    I for one welcome our new shelled overlords.

  18. TC says:

    But Father, but Father!
    What about Learners?
    Folk like myself who subscribe to this blog to learn more about subjects they are not terribly knowledgeable about and rarely contribute for fear of exposing their ignorance.
    Besides, by the time I get here a lot of the comments I might have made are already up.

  19. wanda says:

    I suppose I shouldn’t visit Mr. Warner’s site at the NCr. I’m sure I wouldn’t fit in anywhere and then there would be trouble. All that thinking up new categories to put people in and all.

    Hey you turtle promoters, you fail to mention frogs. You must all be haters, or somethin..

  20. Bornacatholic says:

    Thomas..that was part of the numor.

    Nhaggin. Oncet, in Rome, I stayed at The Donatello Hotel (Up by The Termini). That Hotel, as you well know, was named after one of The Ninja Turtles.

  21. Charivari Rob says:

    We might need another category – harpists.

    As in – those people who harp on a particular subject. No matter what the actual subject is and where it’s coming from, they will insist that the root problem and/or solution is one thing – be it illegal aliens, Vatican II, gun control, gregorian chant, or whatever…

    Worse than encountering them in a combox is be captive in their presence at a cocktail party.

  22. Stirling says:

    Hot chocolate tastes good.

  23. Elly says:

    Hm, I’m probably a destitute since I leave more questions than comments. But I learn so much! Sometimes I start to type my thoughts about something but I decide not to submit it because I realize I’m not saying anything intersting.

  24. momaburke says:

    lurker. that would be me. I. That would be I.

  25. Jono says:

    While I think it’s pretty fair, I think that the categorization is rather to the types of “comments,” rather than “commenters”. Depending on the post, I think I’ve found myself fitting into the categories of 1, 3, 5, 6, and could probably even fit the category of 9 on a couple of occasions. People aren’t always consistent, and I suppose neither are our blog comments always consistent.

  26. Christina says:

    Excellent post! Spot on! I tend to be an Encourager.

    I think his assessment is very fair! The comments sections on most sites all together (I want to say ALL secular ones) are nasty places. I try to avoid them at all costs; they get me in a bad mood and I’m allergic to conflict.

    Things are pretty civil around here, though…but I am allergic to conflict, so I might just be saying that.

  27. Eric says:

    Great post Father! I saw it over at the Register website earlier.

    There needs to be some more types or maybe some “sub-types”, I’m thinking “wise-aker.”

    I’m also wondering how this topic gets me out of debt.

    What about “sock puppets”, “stalkers”, and “rabbits”? Got a problem with that? then you’re probably one those pediphile protectors.

    Not that I blog much but, if you want more info click here

    I’d like to conclude by saying toad the wet sprocket.

  28. Yikes, I think I’m an angry, non-contributing, destitute!

  29. Sure, what about people who don’t even read posts before commenting on them? Are they not even going to get a mention?!!! Not that I could care less.

  30. Orate Fratres says:

    What a great post! You should check out this blog! Especially this post, it’s really good!


  31. JohnE says:

    Great post, but I’m really not that interested, unless you wanna say otherwise trad-man?! Anybody think that was funny? Speaking of funny, check out these comics: http://www.thedoghousediaries.com

    Glad to contribute, or not, to the discussion.

  32. Mitchell NY says:

    For what it is worth I think it is hard for many people to see themselves as they are. For example I would like to think I am a Contibutor, but if someone points out differently it will force me to review my perspective. Anyways after reading these that is what I will strive to be. It looks like the best option to be. However the range of topics topost on may actually evoke differnt reactions, sometimes tapping into some of the more undesirable facets of our personalities, thrusting us momentarily into another category.

  33. IL Catholic says:

    I think he’s pretty accurate. A lot of comment boxes are so infested with snakes that Indiana Jones would run away in terror.

    I wish there were waffle houses up here :(

  34. tzard says:

    What an interesting sociological topic we have here.

    I think it’s useful to look at #3 in more detail – the contributors. These can be further divided a few other categories: 1)the one who expands the original topic, usefully corrects and error or answers a question. 2) Those who expand on the discussion that ensues rather than the original post, and 3) Those who like myself add a new perspective but tend to do so in an annoyingly erratic direction, so much that nobody really knows how to respond, ignore it and hope he goes away. =)

    So, back to Fr. Z’s comment – negative, perhaps, but I think it’s because the contributor aspect hasn’t been expanded to it’s full potential, or at least as much as the negative ones have. All-in-all it seems spot-on.

  35. LouiseA says:

    1) Encourager: Keep the Faith, Father Z!
    2) Non-Contributor: I wish today was Friday already.
    3) Contributor: I believe that what drives people to form a virtual community and form virtual friendships via blogging and commenting is because the desk chair has replaced the porch chair and sadly real communities no longer exist in neighborhoods today.
    4) Destitute: I’ve had a really difficult time lately dealing with my relatives who don’t understand my Faith. I feel so alone!
    5) Slacker: He should have included Slackers as a type of blog commentator.
    6) Brawler: Labeling commentators into categories is judgmental and un-Christian!
    7) Angry: All you people think you are so clever with your comments! Why don’t you get off the internet and get a REAL life!
    8) Poser: I have better things to do in my life than read these 10 categories and the 30+ comments. That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back! Thanks a lot.
    9) Self-promoter: Please attend! http://www.angeluspress.org/conference/
    10) Alien: Genetically Modified Food. GMF = God/Male/Female. GMF is the food of The AntiChrist.

  36. lacrossecath says:

    Yikes! Remind me never to post on Mr. Warner’s blog .

  37. New Sister says:

    I think a slew of us have been #9 – when Fr diverts us towards a liberal “Poll Alert”!

  38. coletmary says:

    “Sock puppet” and “stalkers” I can guess at, but what is a “rabbit”?

  39. Scott W. says:

    My guess is rabbit is someone who gets people to chase him down a rabbit trail. That is, diverting from the topic at hand and keeping the diversion going and going and going….

  40. Scott W. says:

    P.S. This subject is extensively covered at Flame Warriors: http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/index.htm

    My favorite: Ferrous Cranus

    Ferrous Cranus is utterly impervious to reason, persuasion and new ideas, and when engaged in battle he will not yield an inch in his position regardless of its hopelessness. Though his thrusts are decisively repulsed, his arguments crushed in every detail and his defenses demolished beyond repair he will remount the same attack again and again with only the slightest variation in tactics. Sometimes out of pure frustration Philosopher will try to explain to him the failed logistics of his situation, or Therapist will attempt to penetrate the psychological origins of his obduracy, but, ever unfathomable, Ferrous Cranus cannot be moved.

  41. doanli says:

    Okay, I made a mistake. I thought this was Fr Z’s writing and I flew into a rage. I apologize.

    Like I said, I’ve gotten bad news on several fronts today and did not see, or really understand, Father’s real comments in the beginning.

    Now I should take my rage over to Mr Warner, someone getting paid full time to do what he does.

  42. chironomo says:

    I made a blog post about this exact same thing…if you want to read it go to….Ooops! I forgot, I don’t really care about this topic, but I do have an interesting anecdote about the homilies the one priest at our parish gives….

  43. Meredith says:

    There are also people I would classify as “Marx Brothers”: witty folks, usually two or three at a time, who start joking about the post (or some unrelated tangent, more likely) and get a little game of humorous tennis going. I love it when that happens. Especially when they sidestep the Angries and keep on playing like nothing is wrong.

  44. Random Friar says:

    No, really. My sister was bitten by a m00se once.

  45. Geoffrey says:

    I’d like to think of myself as a “defender”, though to many I probably appear as an “offender”, lol!

  46. Bressani56 says:

    No. 8 reminds me of Paul Inwood, who to this very day claims he’s never visited WDTPRS (not even once), yet often spends copious amounts of time ‘responding to’ (read as: ‘denigrating & insulting’) Fr. Zuhlsdorf on ‘Pray Tell.’

  47. wanda says:

    coletmary, A rabbit..wabbit..was on the menu last Sunday at Fr. Z.’s place!

  48. Dr. Eric says:

    I try to be an encourager and a contributor.

    Also, “My cat’s breath smells like cat food.”

  49. Thanks for the link to my post, Fr. Z!

    I don’t think the list is “negative” or positive anymore than the various colors of the rainbow are negative or positive. It’s simply a fun list of different kinds of blog comments (or commenters…or commentators if you prefer) characterized by their function and/or motivation – not really groups we would belong to or exclusively identify with. It’s just a tool to then further analyze how to respond to or process such comments in an effort to promote the good, effective use of blog comment sections – which I’m a big fan of.

    Also, the list is representative of kinds of commenters, not at all the degree with which they are present. I would hope most comments are “Encouraging” or “contributing.” But those are easy to deal with. It’s the others that can create a challenging environment for a blog’s community. So they naturally need more attention in the context and purpose of my post. Unfortunately, I know I’ve probably been every one of these “types” at some point. And even more unfortunately, though we may not see it as often on great blogs like Fr. Z’s, the average blog comment section is often more negative than positive. So there’s room for improvement. Especially as we take our faith out into the world.

    Oh, and yes, I do have a “wall” on Facebook. :-) And, as I indicated in the full post, I meant “graffiti” in a very broad sense with both positive and negative connotations.

    Anyway, I’ll be doing my followup post to it next week at the Register if anyone is interested.

    Thanks again and God bless yas.

  50. TonyLayne says:

    I’d like to be 1) and 3), but more often than not I think I fit under 5). (Sigh.) What can I say, but “I’m Irish”?

    Speaking of encouragement, one of the reasons I like commenting on this blog is because you, Father Z, have managed to gather together quite a diverse collection of followers who know how to dispute without getting into ad hominem attacks. It’s nice to go into battle without wading into snark-infested waters! Keep up the good work … and ad multos annos!

  51. SPWang says:

    Great post.

  52. It’s a pessimistic analysis to me. Using the 80-20 rule, 80% of the blogger types are expounded versions of various vice oriented behavior of various degrees, while only 20% of more virtuous oriented posters are lumped into 20% of the categories: Encourager and Contributor. The glass is half-full.

  53. Mrs. O says:

    I think it is overall a fair assessment.
    The groups are similar to conversations we have in real life too.
    Although I would hope that some would not say things they say in the comments or on the blog in real life, some lack discretion and prudence regardless.

  54. irishgirl says:

    I vary between 1 and 3 in the categories.

    I’m not ‘smart enough’ to get into a real deep discussion.

  55. doanli says:


    I don’t have the gift of pretty language nor of deep intellect. I think it was uncharitable. I don’t delve deeply into the conversation for the simple reason I have an active life right now. I consider myself an ‘encourager’, but did you really have to add “but they don’t instigate further conversation….”

    I don’t because I am on the computer only during certain times and my job and family life simply suck the life out of me.

    I’d love to carry on a conversation if the author of the blog is willing which I rarely find. (And I’ve been reading the blogosphere since 2002.) Plus, I got tired the nastiness from others that don’t agree with me though I see that on secular blogs more.

    I got the impression that I am not good enough to comment on your blog. This is what I got out of this post simply because I am living my state in life which is what God wants me to do.

    So yes, I was highly offended as one can see.

  56. AnAmericanMother says:

    I think going into the details of the naughty bloggers is just because bad bloggers are bad in more and different ways, while good bloggers are just . . . good.

    Was it Tolstoy who said happy families are all alike, while every unhappy family is unhappy in its own unique way?

  57. Andy Milam says:


    They don’t have ultramontanist, with monarchical tendencies. Darn….I can’t respond.

  58. Oh shoot…call me a “child of the ’60’s”, but “people just wanna be free!”…couldn’t remember the rest of the song or the group if a gun was put to me head! (Sorry).
    If people are sincere, admit their thoughts.
    If they are obviously nuts, delete them.
    If they’re in between, wait and watch…give them a chance and then deal with them.
    It’s much like discernment of a religious/priestly vocation, yeah?
    You just give ’em a chance to hang themselves!!:<)…I’m just bein’ a bit snarky, here.
    Really, if someone is obviously “off”, deal with it. Otherwise, let them say their piece.
    These “pigeon holes” are just nasty, as far as I’m concerned.
    But that’s just me.

  59. Personally, I break it down into two categories:

    1) People who have something to say.

    2) People who have to say something.

    Works for me.

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