Tuesday, February 5, 2008


This happened a few days ago. It’s quite embarrassing, I’ll say that up front. Fortunately, there are gradations of embarrassment, the most embarrassing, for me, being this. When I was, maybe, five, my parents had a party and at bedtime, my older brother and I were brought downstairs to say goodnight to the company. As I was about to say my “Goodnight”, to a crowd of about thirty people, my brother pulled down my pajama bottoms.

That stands at the top of the embarrassment pole. In a way, I should thank my brother, since, by comparison, every other embarrassment has been….no, I don’t think I will.

So okay, this is less embarrassing than having my pajama bottoms pulled down. But it’s still pretty bad.

If you’ve been following my, to date, two-week blogging adventure, you’re aware of the fact that technologically, I have no idea what I’m doing. I mean, look at my blog. No “About Me”, no pictures, forget about sound – I don’t even know if you can do sound. I write, I post, I publish, and that’s it.

Here’s the problem. Sometimes, I get comments on my postings. That I get. What surprised me, however, was that those comments also showed up on my e-mail. How does that happen? The same message in two places? How does it get there? The first time I noticed this, I stared at the duplicate e-mails in caveman bewilderment, like a monkey staring at his reflection in a puddle – “Oooh, this is me, and that’s me.” Later, it was explained to me that when I get a comment on my blog, the “Comments” area automatically triggers an e-mail. Somehow.

Okay. I don’t need the same thing in two places, but I’m not paying for it, so fine.

The problem occurred when I tried answering those comments-slash-e-mails and I couldn’t. They wouldn’t go through. I got mailer-daemon, the international signal for e-mail disappointment. “Huh”, I thought, stymied in my efforts. “E-mail no good.”

“What’s going on?” I wondered. I know how to answer e-mails. How come I can’t answer these?

Once again, it needed to be explained to me. What I learned was, “These e-mails aren’t really e-mails, Earl, they’re transferred comments, which are different. Therefore, Earl, even though you’ve mastered the ability to answer e-mails, since these are not actual e-mails, you are not able to answer them, okayyyy?”

That was my inner voice talking. It thinks I’m an imbecile.

Okay. I can’t answer the e-mails because they’re not really e-mails, they’re transferred comments. I got it. But how do I tell them apart? How do I distinguish between the e-mails that are e-mails that you can answer and the e-mails that aren’t e-mails that I can’t?

Here’s where the embarrassing part comes. Try not to get ahead of me. I feel stupid enough as it is, and if you get ahead of me, I’ll feel even stupider.

At the place where the e-mails come, that rectangle that pops onto your screen when you click on “Read”, I noticed a designation on those e-mails that were actually transferred comments that said “Noreplay.”


Hm. Must be some kind of computer program, I thought, a program that sends the e-mails that aren’t really e-mails from my “Comments” place to my e-mail place. Okay, got it. I just have to remember that when I receive an e-mail that says “Noreplay”, I won’t be able to respond to it, because it’s not really an e-mail. Great. Lesson learned.

“Noreplay” is not e-mail; you can’t answer it back.

But it still bothered me. Blog visitors were asking me questions, or making comments I wanted to respond to, and I couldn’t do it. Maybe the commenters thought I was being rude when I didn’t respond, when I wasn’t, I was simply in “Noreplay” mode. Not that I want to respond to every comment – I do have some kind of a life, though, when the Writers’ Strike picketing stops, a huge chunk of it will be over. It’s just that sometimes, I wanted to write back, and I had no way to do it. Yes, some comments include this blue writing you can click on. But when I do that, I’m invariably transported to some website with graphics, music, dancing, a light lunch, everything but an easily locatable instruction for writing people back. Meeting with frustration, I do what I usually do. I give up.

Stymied again. I wanted to respond and I couldn’t.

I started to hate “Noreplay.” And, being a grownup – at least the grownup that is me – my characteristic response is to whine and complain. Incessantly. When I was four, Mr. Rosen, who drove my classmates and me home from Nursery School announced to my mother, “You’re son is a chronic complainer.” Never mind that, as is usually the case, my whiney observations were correct, a complainer is a complainer, and I’ve been one since I was four.

Characteristically, I complain to my sensible stepdaughter Rachel about “Norplay” and how it’s thwarting my desires. I go into detail about how sometimes, some blog viewer makes a comment that I want to respond to but “Noreplay” won’t let me, because…Rachel stops me right there. With these words:

“It’s not “Noreplay”, Earl. It’s ‘No Reply.’”

Okay, how far ahead of me were you on that? Like a lot? Maybe from the beginning? Exactly how embarrassed should I be on a scale of the bottom being “Not at all”, the highest being “pajama pants on the floor”?

It wasn’t “Noreplay.” It was “No Reply.”

Got it.

Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem. I still don’t have a way to replay, I mean, reply. Tell me what to do, will ya?

You gotta be smarter than me.


ebuzzmiller said...

You don't necessarily have to reply directly to the sender, you could simply post a comment like I am doing right now with a header that says, "Thanks for your comment ebuzzmiller" then go on with your response to the original poster.....or not.

S. Rice
Mt. Pearl, NL, Canada

Anonymous said...

You don't reply to the email. You go on your blog, hit comment and then do a comment that answers whatever the person asked. Your comment might not be right next to the original, so put that person's name in so they;'ll know it's for them. That's it.

Oh, one thing more: big fan! Post about the fun stories from your work I'd love to read it.

Zach said...

I agree with the first two commenters, you can just post in the comments. This works best for small comments or quick notes.

Another option is to compile a list of the comments you want to respond to and do another blog post responding. It could be the equivalent of a mailbag session where you respond to a bunch of comments that were interesting but off topic for the original post and had short answers. You could even make it into a regular feature, like Friday is respond to comments day. Or something. A comment could also just be the jumping off point for a new post unto itself. Ken Levine does this frequently, people will ask about something in the comments on one of his posts and he'll ues that as the basis for another post. This one for instance: (there shouldn't be any blinking picture in that link) http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2008/01/overcoming-writers-block.html

That's all I have. I'm sure you'll find your feet. Most of my favorite blogs have a very low key sparse look. The content matters more than the bells and whistles.

Willy B. Good said...

I'm dumber than you Earl so can't help with any tech advice but I think your blog is great as it is and very funny.

ps- happy belated birthday eh

Webs said...

I'd put "Maple Leafs fan" at the top of the embarrassment list.

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