Clue Number One: The comments responding to the post are longer than the post itself. Any time someone has to try to bolster his or her counter-argument by either over-explaining or craploading, he or she has a weak case. Either that, or he or she has way too much free time and needs to put down the Cheetos and Mountain Dew, turn off the computer, and get out of the basement more often.
Clue Number Two: Name calling. If a critic has to indulge in ad hominem attacks on the writer, whether it’s to refer to the writer as a rightwing nutjob or a bleeding heart liberal, instead of addressing the substance of the post, that critic has a problem. Regardless of whether or not the argument being made is sound, the personal ideology of the writer is irrelevant. If you don’t agree with the writer, point out the problems with the argument instead of being intellectually lazy. Counter arguments lead to discussions and the possibility of finding commonalities; name calling just builds walls.
Clue Number Three: Comments pointing out the obvious while ignoring the actual content of the post. “You used biased sources.” Well, duh. There’s no such thing as an unbiased source, especially if a topic is at all controversial. What’s your next stunning revelation going to be? Water is wet? Snow is cold?
Clue Number Four: Seizing on a phrase or a sentence that has little or nothing to do with the actual point of the post and attacking it like a starving weasel that’s just spotted a particularly fat mouse. Either the commenter doesn’t have an effective counter argument to propose, or he or she is lacking in reading comprehension. If the writer begins by saying, for example, “I saw X recently and it reminded me of Y” and then writes a post about Y but your comment is a lengthy crapload about X, then you’re not paying attention. And you’re also way too sensitive about whatever X might happen to be.
[h/t to Bad Tux for getting me thinking about deconstructing craploaded comments. It’s never been a problem on this blog, but it is in another place I write.]