Mind Your Social Media Manners: Facebook Commenting Etiquette

Last week I tackled how to write a Facebook status update without looking like a passive-aggressive, attention-seeking, over-sharing Debbie Downer.

This week I’m tackling how to leave Facebook comments without looking like an over-commenting, over-liking, offensive Creepy Stalker.

Should be fun! 🙂

Before getting into the ins and outs of Facebook commenting, let’s start by saying that it’s possible and easy to let relationships get askew, out of balance, and just plain *different* on Facebook.

See, there’s that Almighty Screen between “friends,” and some people use it as a shield to take liberties they wouldn’t in real life.  Would you monopolize a dinner conversation with friends? Would you peek into someone’s windows late at night? Would you constantly invite the same person over for dinner if you never got a return invite?

While most people can navigate Facebook with the same social graces as in everyday life, there are a few who Simply. Don’t. Get. It. Like the dinner guest who lingers long after dessert was served and the last drink poured.

It wouldn’t fun if we just left at that, though, right? I once again turned to my TKG coworkers for their thoughts and observations on Facebook commenting. Here are some specific behaviors that really creep us out, tick us off, and/or sometimes even make us want to block/unfriend someone:

THE CLASSIC OVER-COMMENTER: – The hands-down #1 offense when it comes to commenting is good old-fashioned over-commenting. You post a status, your pal comments 2.27 seconds later. EVERY TIME. Or worse, you post a status, and they comment many hours or even a day later, as if to freely admit they 1) have no life or 2) are trolling your profile page.

  • OVER-COMMENTER SUBTYPE A: The aunt/mom you desperately wish would stop commenting so to avoid general embarrassment. All I can say is: good luck on that one. I told my mom (half-jokingly) it was really unnecessary for her to comment on everything I post. She laughed, said, “I guess I just don’t get Facebook,” and has kept right on commenting. 🙂
  • OVER-COMMENTER SUBTYPE B: The guy or gal you desperately wish would stop commenting so to avoid your significant other asking, “Who’s she?” or “Why is he always commenting on your posts?” As a friend of mine observed, no one talks about it, but everyone makes a little mental note when that’s going on. Go under this general assumption: frequent commenting = close relationship.

Exceptions to over-commenting: immediate family and BFFs can generally do whatever they want. You’re pretty much stuck with those people anyway.

THE OVER-LIKER: Not nearly as bad as the over-commenter is the over-liker. You post it, they like it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s
not so much that this is offensive behavior (after all, it’s only a “like”) but it does make you wonder if they should be more discriminating (on Facebook and perhaps in life), and also if they need some offline hobbies.

NEGATIVE/OFFENSIVE COMMENTING – A good guiding principle for all commenting is to use respect. Before making a negative comment on someone’s status, remember that your comment will be attached to THEIR name/status. How would it make you feel to have negative/possibly offensive comments attached to your status?

  • OFFENSIVE COMMENTING SUBTYPE A: Using bad language in your comments. Never a good idea to do this, unless you’re 110% sure it’s OK. Even then, tread carefully.
  • OFFENSIVE COMMENTING SUBTYPE B: Using lewd/sexual language in your comments. NO, unless you enjoy looking a major creep.

HIJACKED COMMENT THREADS – This is when two commenters start having a conversation on a thread that belongs to someone else. Should you want to converse with this person, limit it to one comment, send them a private message, write on their wall, etc. Having a conversation on their post discourages other commenters and is rude to the person posting.

COMMENTING ON SOMEONE’S POST/PHOTO THAT’S NOT A FRIEND – This usually occurs when a mutual friend is tagged in a photo or a mutual friend comments on a post.  It’s usually a good idea to avoid commenting if you have no idea who the person posting the photo is. They’ll be confused, and again, it comes across as a little bizarre. If you feel compelled to comment because you love that mutual friend so much (i.e., you just have to say “Rachel, you look gorrrrrgeous!!!”) just don’t do it often.

LIKING A SPECIFIC COMMENT –If you don’t know someone at all, don’t know them well, or aren’t involved in the thread, avoid liking any comments on that thread. It gives a perception that you’re just sitting around reading comments, and even if you are, best not to own up to it with a “like.” A way less creepy thing to do is like the original status or post your own comment.

LIKING EVERY COMMENT IN A THREAD: A new-ish phenomenon is for the poster to “like” all the comments left on their status. This annoys some TKGers – Is the poster liking each comment to show they read it? Are they just being nice? Do they think all comments are equal? Perhaps it’s best to NOT like all the comments; it also saves you the embarrassment if there’s one you simply cannot like.

LONG COMMENTS – Don’t use someone else’s status as a platform to write an essay. Again, it’s their status; you’re just there to add your two cents.

HOW TO COMMENT THE RIGHT WAY

Sooooo, yeah. I guess we have a rather extensive list of Facebook commenting pet peeves. Want to leave comments the right way? We’re way less help on that one, but here are some questions to ask before you comment:

  • How well do I know this person? If it’s a best friend, chances are it’s hard to over-comment. As a general rule, comment frequency should mirror the closeness of the relationship.
  • How recent is what I’m commenting on? There is nothing creepier than when someone posts on a comment on a pic from 2009. Bikini pic: quadruple creepy.
  • Is the commenting relationship reciprocal? If you’re not getting a similar amount of comments back, perhaps you should tone it down before you go all-out stalker on someone.
  • What kind of perception do I want to put out there? If you’re commenting a lot on a person’s updates, people are going to naturally assume that there’s a closeness there.
  • How is this going to come across? On Facebook, people don’t often think outside the context on their own head. That snarky comment you want to make? Just make sure it comes across the way you intend and can’t be misinterpreted.
  • Am I being respectful?
  • Am I adding anything to the thread?

Final advice: Remember that the thread belongs to someone else. It’s not yours! You’re just a commenter. Not sure if you should comment? Eh, do yourself a favor and skip it. No one ever looked like a Creepy Stalker for not commenting.

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