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The rules of etiquette apply to commentors, too


As a brand new denizen of the Blogosphere, everything has been a learning experience — from the nuts and bolts, back-end stuff to this latest discovery, which is how snarky and downright rude some commentors can be. My friends who preceded me to blogging warned me, but I have to say, I wasn’t really prepared for some of the angry, ill-tempered comments I’ve received. Not too many of them, mercifully — only a handful — but enough to alert me to the existence of some angry, and possibly mentally unbalanced people out there. Now, having vented, let me say that I am not afraid of criticism. Believe me, in my job as a wine critic, I’ve had plenty of it! Nobody likes to be criticized, but I’ve learned to look for the lessons that constructive criticism has to offer — and plenty of times, I’ve found it. For example, I am learning to take a different approach to Paso Robles red wines due to some feedback I got from Matthias Gubler, the winemaker at Vina Robles, who presented a strong case for his region. I think that wine critics should be able to learn and evolve in our tastes and preferences. I’ve heard winemakers say they value consistency in wine critics, and I’m sure consistency has its place. But just as Emerson said, A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Humans evolve in their understanding of events and issues — at least, I hope they do — and I would also hope a wine critic’s tastes would evolve over a period of 15 or 20 years. (Do you still like the clothing you wore in 1982?)

Anyhow, all this is to point out that I don’t mind being held to account if somebody feels like doing that, and I certainly don’t mind explaining myself. When you’re forced to explain yourself, you have to be more exacting in your own thinking, and that’s a good thing. What I DO mind is criticism that’s ad hominem and personal in nature — as if to say, if I don’t agree with you, then I’m bad, stupid person.

So this is a request to would-be commentors: I welcome your remarks, I really do. But please, keep your comments civilized. Criticize me all you want — I’ll reply — but if your comments are nasty, they’re automatically going to be deleted.

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