This is a rather serious debate I just got into with a friend of mine, on the subject of comment etiquette.
I am of the realization that not everyone likes the same dolls I do – which is fine, because if everyone liked the same things, the world would be a dull place. I suppose, however, that it would make things a lot easier for the doll manufacturers!
Most doll collectors these days gather online to chat with one another and show off their darlings, on boards and forums, such as Prego, Riley Hugs and Kishes, MEF Forum, Zone of Zen, Den of Angels and many other such internet gathering places. Some boards specialize in a specific doll or type of doll, such as Den of Angels, which is dedicated to BJD enthusiasts, or The Studio Commissary, which is dedicated to Gene Marshall and her friends.
Doll boards and forums are frequented by doll collectors, most of whom are very kind, well-mannered and generous folks. There are moderators, however, who keep an eye on things, to make sure the board experience remains a pleasant one. Scammers or unpleasant types are blocked from cheating the other members or causing trouble.
But the debate with my friend started with regards to comment etiquette. As mentioned, not everyone collects or likes the same kinds of dolls – and there are a lot of dolls waiting to join someone’s collection.
That said, when going through the posts on a board, looking at the messages and the images posted by other users, the etiquette question comes up – how do you comment?
Lately, I have been a lurker on the boards I belong to, because I don’t really have anything to say. There have also been times when I haven’t taken any new pictures of my dolls that I feel are particularly noteworthy enough to post on a board or forum.
However, since I am a member of these boards and forums, does this mean I am obligated to comment, just because I happen to be there? If I dislike a particular doll, do I say something anyway to the person posting it?
My friend and I were debating about a particular doll I have taken a fancy to, that does not find favor with him. That the promotional pictures are not overly flattering does not help. I tried again, posting real life pictures from another friend who has the doll, and is a more skilled photographer than I am, and my friend who dislikes the doll made further comment that he did not like her.
I said that was fine, I knew the doll wasn’t for everyone, and if or when I got her, I would not post pictures of her. He said that I should post pictures, and he would say something nice about the doll.
This is where I am confused – I don’t comment on each and every post on the boards and forums I belong to, because I would get nothing else done during the course of a day. And sometimes, frankly, I dislike the doll or dolls the other collector has posted. On the larger forums, this is easy to avoid doing, since there are so many other members that what I might have to add is superfluous anyway.
Then, too, if a comment in response is negative, such as, “I dislike that doll,” or “the clothing is unattractive,” or any other negative thing that might be brought to bear about the post, the original poster, in some cases, is offended, and responds in an unkindly fashion. Sometimes, the other commenters will also chime in. Flame wars have started in this fashion, and sometimes, the moderators have to close the thread or even remove it from the board. I have started a few controversies, however inadvertently, and I know others who are smarting from the flames they received from upset posters.
So, does this mean the only thing we can post are accolades about whatever it is that takes a person’s fancy to post on a board or forum? I have made it a policy, at least on the smaller board and forums I belong to, which only have a few members, to try to comment on all the postings, because with the smaller communities, it is hard to avoid commenting about a post or posts. The few people there know you have not said anything, and wonder what is going on.
In that case, I try to comment on things about a photo or photos that I did like, such as congratulating someone on acquiring a much desired doll, how well the photo is focused, the surroundings – anything but say, “I hate your doll, but I love everything else about the photo.”
Technically, we are in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. We should be able to say whatever we like, but we are bound by cultural restrictions and expectations – religious beliefs, politeness, awareness of hate or racist speech and so on and so forth, influence what we say, not only to one another’s face, but also to our fellows on the internet. At least, if we are wise, we remember to be polite.
But I still wonder, just because someone posts a message and pictures on a board or forum are we truly are obligated to not only comment, but comment positively? For myself, I would appreciate someone commenting in a positive fashion about a message and pictures I have taken because they truly enjoy what I have posted, rather than feel obligated to say something nice, especially if they dislike the doll.