Anatomy of a Comment

Blogs provide a useful forum for readers to interact with blog authors and with one another. There are many different kinds of blogs, however, and there is no single correct way to post a comment. Different kinds of blogs engender different kinds of comments. The primary purpose of Ex Post Facto is to promote discussion of history, and many historical issues are complex. A constructive comment, then, may be fairly complex while still being concise. When making comments here, please consider including the following elements:

  1. Opening: Start by making it clear, somehow, what you are responding to. Are you responding to an idea or question in the original post? Make that clear. Or, are you responding to a comment left by another reader? If so, use the person’s name in your opening sentence.
  2. Main Point: A solid comment often consists of a single paragraph. In most cases, you should use this paragraph to make a single main point, and you should state that point as clearly as you can. If you have multiple, separate points to make, it’s probably best to post more than one comment, simply to make it easier for others to respond.
  3. Explanation and Evidence: After you have stated your point, you will probably need to explain it a bit. In many cases, you will need to give evidence to support your point. Why do you believe your position to be true? Feel free to include links to any evidence that exists online. (See the second comment below.)
  4. Further Questions: You may want to conclude by asking a question or two of the blog author or of other readers. If you do ask a question, or if you just want to follow any subsequent discussion of the post, you can click the checkbox to sign up for comment notification for the post that you are responding to.

When commenting, there are a couple of other things to keep in mind. First, remember that your comment will be published online. You are making a public statement, and you should therefore be civil. This site will not publicize your email address, but whatever name you enter will be public. You may use your first name and last initial, rather than your full name — it’s up to you. Second, if you are making a substantial point, you should use standard written English. (Write in complete sentences and use proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.) Finally, if your comment is very specific, you can add a title at the top in ALL CAPS in order to make your topic clear, visible, and easy for other readers to refer to.

I have posted a sample comment below to illustrate the points that I’ve made here.

2 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Comment”

  1. INCLUDING LINKS IN A COMMENT

    If you want to include links to other webpages in your comment, simply paste in the URL or web address.

    To avoid posting a lengthy link, you can visit http://tinyurl.com/ to create a custom, short link.

    You can also use HTML code to create linked text in a comment. Use the following code:

    <a target="_blank" href="INSERT URL" rel="nofollow">INSERT LINKED TEXT</a>

    So, a link to Google would appear as:

    <a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/" rel="nofollow">Google</a>

    p.s. — I added underlining to the title by enclosing it as follows:

    <u>text to be underlined</u>.

  2. ADDITIONAL EXPLANATION

    Please note that the suggestions above are suggestions only — not rules poured in concrete. These guidelines are specifically tailored to the discipline of history, which places great emphasis on argument and evidence. Additionally, I recommend “standard written English” because I believe that it facilitates clear communication. It’s very difficult to carry out a complex discussion in broken sentences! Having said all of this, there will be situations in which you may want to ask a simple question or add a quick comment — feel free to do so.

Comments are closed.