Now then: I rarely read the comments sections on the news stories I talk about here. There’s generally nothing to be gained from doing so. (I do read all comments that are posted on this site, and I have to say you True Believers are several cuts above average.)
But if one does choose to comment on a news story, and I sometimes do, I have a few tips for would-be commenters to help avoid being dismissed out of hand.
Bear in mind that, on the intarwebz, the only thing we have to judge you by is your presentation of the written word. Some really dedicated critic might look at your posting profile if the site uses something like Disqus (which we use here) to get a better grip on your positions, but that rarely happens. The words you post are what people judge you by. So pay attention to a few simple things.
Punctuation. It matters. Not only should you use it where appropriate – and remember, a question should be noted by use of a question mark (?) but don’t abuse it. Don’t put a space between the last word in a sentence and the punctuation. Don’t indicate a pause by a string of periods – or commas, which I find very baffling. You were all taught this stuff in grade school, folks. And when you use an exclamation point, use only one.
Capitalization. The first word in a sentence and proper nouns. That’s all. (And no, “black” as applied to people is not a proper noun, and I will not capitalize it, and you shouldn’t either; I don’t give an ounce of rat’s pee what the Washington Post says.) Proper capitalization is important. It’s the difference between helping your uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse. And ALL CAPS should never, ever be used. If you want to emphasize, italicize.
Spelling. You’re writing your comment with the world’s largest dictionary at your fingertips. Use it. If you aren’t sure how to spell something, it takes literally seconds to look it up. Also, learn the difference between you’re and your, between it’s and its, and so on.
I’m fond of pointing out that stupid people should be conspicuous. But some of this is just plain carelessness, and some are bad habits that need to be unlearned. But it’s simple enough to not look like a dope on the internet. Unless, of course, the quality of your argument does so – but I can’t help you with that.