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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Comment Type #35

FALSE START

Recently, the Super Bowl was played, the ultimate National Football League game for American Football. Not everyone is completely familiar with the rules of this game, my British friend is baffled the name is called "football" when the ball rarely comes in contact with any feet. There is a rule that requires all players lined up at the line of scrimmage to begin play that all must start at the same time. If the offense (the side with control of the ball) takes off too soon, there is a penalty called "False Start" that is assessed. It basically means that no one player gets an unfair advantage of motion and momentum before play starts.

In the context of commenting, a False Star has a different sort of meaning. This happens when you read only part of what the blog entry said and respond. Sometimes this can be an embarrassing experience where you rant and rave about how the blogger is such an idiot for missing the point, when he actually covered it in the part you didn't bother to read (for example, my article on a suit against the US that was attempted in Germany and the ensuing comment).

Sometimes this can be a kind of Ditto comment, where you simply repeat what the blogger already said as an attempt to add to his or her thoughts on the subject. And sometimes the False Start comment can be all about a long, involved topic that you thought the blogger was writing about, but you misunderstood by not reading the entire article.

Bloggers generally will use parts of articles, statements, or essays to give an example of what they are talking about. These parts are used judiciously by a good blogger, to tease readers with just enough to get the general idea, but leave enough interest to check the initial source. Fair use copyright laws also have to be taken into account - you cannot legally quote an entire article, for example, but you can quote several paragraphs. This quote is generally called a pull quote and in my blog they are set in a smaller block with a smaller font to set them apart from my comments. For example:
A false start occurs when an offensive player moves before the ball is snapped. This penalty is not called if a player is in motion, but that player must either be moving parallel to the line of scrimmage ( a receiver in motion ) or set before the snap to not be in violation. Motion is a common tool used by coaches to try to free up a receiver, or confuse a defense and is simply a player changing their position on the field before the snap. Only receivers, running backs, and the quarterback may be in motion.
This use of pull quotes can lead to a False Start comment based on the pull quote rather than the original article. Reading what the article said in its entirety rather than simply the quote given not only assists the writer by honoring him or her with actually perusing their work, but it will keep you on topic. Chances are, the point you bring up is covered by the article, or questions you had are answered. Go read what is quoted and you usually will not be sorry.

A False Start is easy to do because like a Ditto, it can result from being in a hurry to get to your comment or just not being willing to read all that someone has to say. Just be a bit more patient and willing to read what both the blogger and his sources have to say and you can avoid the humiliation of a False Start.

*This is part of the Profiles in Commenting Series
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