A sizeable number of GPers recently attended SB’s 60th birthday bash and they came and went over three days, some attending the whole bash, some just an afternoon or evening. This convergence of puffins in a peaceful garden in Wiltshire is remarkable in itself and testimony to what SB has achieved with Going Postal: he has given us a space to comment below-the-line to our rant’s content, but also above-the-line for publishing our articles.
I remember the first dinner SB organised. There were gasps on the site – GPers are going to meet up!! For the attendees it was very exciting – we were going to see each other’s faces, reveal our first names perhaps, probably more. Would we even like each other? Would it be the start of something or an ignominious end?
Several years on and numerous dinners, drinks sessions, demos and Summer bashes later, going to one of the events is now doubly exciting: We go to see friends again AND we go to meet GPers we’ve never seen before. It works because we know that we agree on the fundamentals, that we are among our people, and this is one of the rare occasions where we can be ourselves without hindrance. We won’t be shot down or shunned for GP is indeed a community, a people that sense we are at last among our own.
At SB’s b’day bash, at the Saturday afternoon session, a couple came. They were not commenters but she wore a puffin badge and they brought a tray of home-made muffins. They both mingled as regular puffins even though, amazingly, neither had ever commented or even upticked. They are the ultimate lurkers, who decided to join us as they lived nearby. This is a truly new development in the life of the GP community – for lack of a better term.
So, for you A and M, to encourage you to choose some screen names and avatars and to dive into GP instead of remaining on the surface, SB has kindly agreed to republish my article of 2018 in an updated edition!
© S&S, 2021
In Praise of The Uptick
According to dictionaries, the word “uptick”, an Americanism, means “a small increase or slight upward trend.” I could not find a definition in an online context, i.e. “uptick a comment”. That surprised me because I am a great supporter of the uptick and would like it to get the recognition it deserves!
The proper word seems to be “upvote” and the definition is: “(in an online context) register approval of or agreement with (a post or poster) by means of a particular icon”, or, in other words, “The action of giving an article, post or video on an internet forum or website a positive rating, such as a “thumbs up”.”
Well, I prefer “uptick”, I find “vote” a bit strong, and as for “like/unlike”, I don’t like. The new DT comments section has little hearts that turn red when you click on them. The Guardian calls them “recommendations”, so does the Times with a little star. With Disqus, you just click on a little arrow that turns blue when you “vote up”.
I remember my first comment, but not my first uptick. I must have been really p*ssed off that day and went off and created my Disqus account! Enough is enough! Let battle commence!
Paradoxically enough, I hate this new mania of asking for our opinion every five minutes. You buy some aspirin in the shop and you’re asked to rate your experience. You and your baggage proceed through the x-ray machines and you’re asked if you enjoyed it. Pleease! You really don’t want to know what I think half the time, and I am not that important that my feeeelings should be recorded at every opportunity. That does not seem to be the prevailing sentiment though in this me me me world.
And still, I like to uptick.
I was an upticker before I was a commenter. I am still an upticker, i.e. I uptick generously. Some GPers are more commenters than uptickers, I am the other way round. I find that you lot say a lot of things much better than I could, or at least you get up before me and have read the papers before I have, or watched the news channels and checked your twitter feed before me! Also I am in awe of your diverse knowledge. So I uptick and nod.
There was a notorious upticker on GP. What happened to that nice mekusacuppa? She was the most generous upticker. She only made one comment as far as I know, a cracking one, on Christmas Eve 2016. But many of us by the end of the day, day after day, found that she had upticked our comments, dutifully, discreetly. She hasn’t done so in quite a while. I hope she’s OK.
Now, back to the uptick. I don’t know about you, but I think an uptick means several things and I don’t always uptick for the same reason:
- I approve – I agree with what you said, no point in replying with a comment, it would be the same, I have nothing to add, so I won’t be a bore.
- I thank you – You replied something, suggested something, added something. I could type “thank you” but instead of clogging up the thread I uptick you.
- You made me laugh – it is also a thank you uptick in a way, but one is always grateful to a commenter for making us laugh amid the endarkened mood.
- I didn’t know that – Wow, that was interesting, I learnt something new with your comment.
- You got me thinking – this one could be misinterpreted as it does not mean I agree with you, not yet anyway, or maybe never, but you had an interesting angle and I need to think about it / gen up / come to my own conclusion.
- Hello good morning how are you? – especially in the direction of the GPers I have met.
Sometimes I’d like to uptick in bold, or in double, so powerful is the comment or so indignant I am! I press hard on the little thingie but it’s only one more blue uptick!
An uptick is a crucial part of the dialogue. At times they fly, you can see the number increase by the second. It’s really like an animated discussion, you can hear: yeah yeah / too right / hear hear! you said it… You can feel the presence of the other commenters, it’s like being in the same room. It’s very exciting!
They serve also a very important function in the context of thousands of comments, impossible to search for: the more you uptick a comment, the easier it is to find it by sorting by “Best” and therefore these comments tend to be read by more people and for longer than the others.
Now, it’s not scientific, as Disqus plays up and whole chunks of comments disappear, or half the conversation only appears, and no amount of refreshing make them re-appear, so I am sure that some very insightful / important / sublime comments are overlooked.
I also like the fact that a much-upticked comment allows me to assess the support the idea it expresses has. I don’t know about you but before I started all this upticking / commenting business, I was beginning to feel something was wrong with me. It was lonely seeing the resentment, the anger, the contempt swell inside; it was scary to see myself turn into the only reactionary right-wing bigot! I was thinking, what’s happening to me, I was not like that before. Discovering BTL (below the line) comments has been a liberation for me and seeing how popular some of them are. I am not alone! By that token, being upticked gives a nice sense of vindication and helps to carry on!
I often don’t even bother reading articles that are not open to comments. We know they know what the comments would say if they allowed them! But I also like the possibility of replying to the commenter without replying, by upticking, or at least by seeing how many people have upticked (on a site where I don’t have an account). For example, I don’t like the fact that on the ukipdaily site all the comments are equal, the brilliant as well as the whacky and the uninteresting. When there, I often think “I wonder if many readers agree with that one”… It is a dialogue there too, since one can reply, but not as lively as with Disqus, which allows us to all speak at the same time as it were!
I started as a lurker and quickly felt the need to be an upticker, on the Daily Telegraph, BBL and guido; when some of my favourite commenters disappeared, I followed them to their new haunt – GP! In parallel, after the DT closed down their comments section, just as the referendum campaign was hotting up, some of the DT Letters commenters created Not The Telegraph Letters and I also upticked there. I could feel that the need to dip one toe in the water was growing. Then, one day, a couple of very kind people on NoTTL thanked me for upticking them and encouraged me to post. This very kind NoTTLer / GPer started it:
“O/T I am often up voted by a user called (let’s say) S&S. I just wanted to say thank you to that person and to encourage him/her to post a comment, we won’t bite, and you might enjoy joining in the conversation. :-)”
“I posted a thank you for all the up votes and thought that someone who agrees with me so often, might also have something interesting to add to the conversation. I lurked in the background for a long time before I jumped into commenting and thought a little bit of encouragement wouldn’t hurt.”
Having committed the cardinal sin of reading the comments, and so kindly encouraged, I replied.
Well, 70’s girl/y, what did you start, eh? Your gentle outing has led to today, when, on the verge of my 1,500th comment, I go Above The Line! … I upticked, then I commented, then I became addicted to both and to cap it all I need my regular fix of GP meet-ups! Thank you for the little push, have a yuuuge uptick, and thank you to all GPers, I can’t imagine life now without your comments, have an uptick too! And the biggest uptick of all to SB, in bold, in lieu of a hug! ü
© text and photos Sunshine&Showers 2018
PS 10/2021: Mekusacuppa is alive and upticking.