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Damning with faint praise. December 7, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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As faithful readers of our blog know, we get some pretty wacky blog searches (aka search engine queries) on our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac. We also get a fair amount of spam, which is usually auto-deleted by our blog host, WordPress’s, spam filter, Akismet. Thanks, WordPress!

Still, there are times when Akismet becomes confused. Is it spam, or a legitimate comment? In these cases, it’s marked as spam but filed so we can read it and see if we agree. Often, we can see the reason for the confusion. The comment seems reasonable, but on closer inspection, it bears no relation to the post it’s attached to. Most of these comments manage to be both generic and fawning, various versions of the “Love your blog!” category. We wish they did, but when they link back to a site selling discount drugs or foreclosures, somehow we doubt it.

Today, however, we received a priceless comment in our Akismet spam folder: “I’m happy to report this most recent posting is in reality somewhat good and extensively more desirable than 1/2 the various spam I read today.” 

Harrumph! What do you mean, “somewhat good”?!! And excuse us, we’re trying to write legitimate observations here, not spam, various or otherwise. Not to mention that half the spam you read was better than our post?!!! GRRRRRRRRR…

We actually loved this comment, since it embodied the very definition of “damning with faint praise.” (Well, actually, we think the bar was set for this when Dorothy Parker said that Katharine Hepburn’s emotional acting range ran the gamut from A to B.)

We were raised in households that measured accomplishment by expectation: If everyone knew you could make straight As, a B+ was every bit as humiliating as an F (which was, of course, unthinkable). No one handed out rewards for making As; it was simply expected. So a post of ours that’s “in reality somewhat good” lays the lash pretty heavily across our shoulders. We’ll try to do better, we promise. And maybe, if we work really, really hard at it, we could even beat the other 50% of the spam that you’re reading…

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