cutting comments, critique, sarcasm, and some silliness

In a quick question yesterday, I piffled and dithered about commenting on a comment of my own; re. the third part of the four-part series on beauty and ethics (first part here). Conclusion to pifflings: comment becomes post. Here it is: The Alternative User’s Guide to MakeupAlley. UPDATE: Followed by an alternative to my alternative.

I’m adding here an excerpt from email correspondence with MUA admin. Edited and recast to anonymise the respondent, and cutting everything except what’s pertinent to [that] post and discussion. With some additions, elaborations, expansions, and gross exaggeration (purely, of course, for comic effect and your entertainment and greater pleasure, O gentle and beloved readers).


1. Have good intentions, to help others.


2. Want to share information and experience and knowledge.


3. Save people from repeating one’s own errors; and save them from wasting money on stuff that doesn’t work or does work but is a rip-off.


4. Set out to bust some of the stupider urban myths around (which often feed into ripping people off).


5. Have some principles and express them, as being as important to product choice as functionality.

This is a problem with many MUA boards, and with the skin care board in particular.

It’s a basic logical flaw. Right now, it seems to be OK to recommend products not only because they work, but because you like them. And it’s OK for that liking to be based on trust, brand loyalty, and price (be that high or low). But other criteria get bashed: notably, ethics. Bashed, declared off-topic, and sometimes accused of being politics. Though there is a difference.


6. Call a spade a spade: point out the differences between fact, argument, and opinion.


7. Be hasty and get irritated by stupid questions by stupid people.


8. Ditto, by lazy people who can’t be bothered going through the wealth of information on MUA (boards, reviews) let alone just Googling.


9. Become increasingly frustrated with such questions and questioners.

A.k.a. be human, instead of being superhumanly patient and tolerant.


10. Answer them either in a rude or in a brusque, offhand manner.


11. Rise to the bait with trolls. Be up for a fight when it comes along.

Many MUAers are women; and women–as we see all too often on MUA–fight way more nasty, indirect, underhand, and below the belt.

Marquess of Queensbury rules it ain’t: this is worse than bare-knuckle prize-fighting… there at least a loser could be knocked out fast. Here, it’s not over till they’ve been beaten to a hamburger-meat pulp and then minute drops of acid have been dripped on, with occasional dabs of (organic manuka honey) soothing salves to cause false hope, create further delectable entertainment, and delay the bitter end for as long as possible…


12. State something that is true–and truth is truth–but bluntly, without first couching it in appropriate rhetoric.

You’ll see plenty SCB regulars and old-timers (haruka, the late lamented skincareman, etc.) who do this. Negatives here: the style becomes associated with being an old-timer, and rather than this being interpreted as a sign of wisdom–”listen up kids”–it’s seen as arrogant: partly as that style can be adopted by anyone, old/experienced/knowledgeable/wise or not.

Also, hastiness can be all too easily misread as tactlessness, unsubtlety, indiscretion, roughness; and an approach which won’t help you win your case… To be honest, I’m kind of used to that and regard it as normal. I’m in a nerdy-geeky line of work, involving a lot of discussions featuring facts and arguments. Colleagues aside, friends who are engineers, IT people, mathematicians, can be at least as blunt (and far more lacking in social skills) than even the bluntest MUAers.

In my line of work (and everyday life), spades get called spades and are used to dig. Spade-fights aren’t of the “mine is bigger/better/prettier than yours and I love it and you suck so there” form, but “mine is made out of Japanese steel, can sever an elephant’s head with one light tap, has 15 patents, is discussed in the following 130 articles, was double-blind-tested against every other spade known to man, was elected Spade of the Millenium by Which? magazine, AND IS MADE FROM SUSTAINABLY-SOURCED MATERIALS BY FAIRLY-TRADED WORKERS USING FAIR LABOUR. And is therefore not only better than yours, but the best one in current existence. QED.”


13. Use humour: sometimes wit, sometimes sarcasm.

That probably goes alongside a number of items further up into a larger category: do not demonstrate intelligence.

Indeed, not even at that lofty a level: be careful not to show signs of active brain function. Do not, on any account, engage brain before operating mouth / fingers on keyboard.



Express the unthinking mechanical reflex-action buy buy buy of gross consumerism, bugger the consequences–personal debt, national debt, planetary destruction.


See also, for a more sensible approach, c/o MUAer Violet912, in response to discussion on The Makeup Board:


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