Politeness counts: A Q&A with Reddit’s POLITE_ALLCAPS_GUY

A Q&A with POLITE_ALLCAPS_GUY.

 

Kevin Morris

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Published Jul 20, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 3:55 am CDT

We had a digital sitdown with POLITE_ALLCAPS_GUY, a notable Reddit figure who disproves the commonly held notion that people who write in all capital letters online are virtually yelling. Here’s the result. Not to be rude, but we edited it slightly — but only for the sake of brevity.

Who are you?
I GUESS I’M JUST A PHILOSOPHY GRADUATE STUDENT WITH ENTIRELY TOO MUCH TIME ON HIS HANDS, FRIEND!.

Why are you so goddamned polite?
I’VE BEEN ON REDDIT IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER FOR QUITE A WHILE, AND IT’S SAD TO SEE HOW ANGRY, UPTIGHT, RUDE OR SIMPLY MEAN PEOPLE CAN BE TO ONE ANOTHER THESE DAYS! HOWEVER SMALL OF A GESTURE IT IS, I GUESS I JUST WANT TO TRY TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT THERE’S ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE.

Where did the idea come from?
I JUST THOUGHT TO MYSELF, “WHAT IS A WAY THAT I COULD POST THAT WOULD MAKE A FEW PEOPLE SMILE MORE THAN AVERAGE?” AND BEING POLITE WHILE TYPING IN ALL CAPS SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA. IT’S NOT SO MUCH ABOUT LAUGHS AS IT IS THAT SMILE. FRANKLY, I WASN’T EXPECTING IT TO TAKE OFF LIKE IT DID. SOMETIMES PEOPLE CRITICIZE ME FOR MAKING “NORMAL” COMMENTS WITH THIS ACCOUNT, BUT I THINK THEY’RE KIND OF MISSING THE POINT (NOT TO BE RUDE); ULTIMATELY, THIS HAS JUST BECOME THE GENRE IN WHICH I COMMENT ON REDDIT.

Can you think of a moment when your politeness has been most tested? Is it ever tested?
PEOPLE CONSTANTLY TRY TO RILE ME UP, BUT IT’S PRETTY EASY TO IGNORE; IT IS, AFTER ALL, JUST THE INTERNET, CHAMP! ONCE, SOMEONE MADE AN ACCOUNT ON YOUTUBE WITH THIS SAME NAME AND MESSAGED ME DEMANDING TO SEE MY WANGDOODLE IN EXCHANGE FOR THE PASSWORD. NOT THAT I’M ASHAMED OF WHAT GOD GAVE ME, OR SOMETHING, BUT I TOLD HIM TO ENJOY THE ACCOUNT AS BEST HE COULD WITHOUT PICS OF MY D!

There are rage comics made about you,  multiple novelty accounts based on you and when you comment on some Redditor’s posts, they seem to do a Reddit version of squealing in delight. Are you a celebrity?
I’M HAPPY THAT I MAKE SOME PEOPLE GET EXCITED WHEN I COMMENT ON THEIR SUBMISSIONS OR REPLY TO THEIR COMMENTS, BUT I HOPE THAT THE WORLD HASN’T GONE SO TOPSY-TURVY AS TO HAVE THAT QUALIFY ME AS A CELEBRITY! I JUST SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON A WEBSITE, AND MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO LIKE THE WAY I POST (QUITE A FEW MORE SEEM TO HATE IT, OTHER REDDIT “CELEBRITIES” INCLUDED). I GUESS THIS INTERVIEW COMPLICATES THINGS SOMEWHAT, BUT I JUST DON’T THINK IT MAKES SENSE TO TALK OF A CELEBRITY OUTSIDE OF A MEDIATIZED PROFILE AND IMAGE; ON REDDIT, NO ONE ACTUALLY KNOWS WHO I AM BEYOND “POLITE_ALLCAPS_GUY” – JUST A NAME – WHICH MAKES THE KIND OF IMAGINARIES THAT ATTACH THEMSELVES TO TRUE CELEBRITIES MORE-OR-LESS NONEXISTENT. NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT MY LIFE IN THE WAY THAT PEOPLE IMAGINE THEY KNOW ABOUT ACTUAL CELEBRITIES’ LIVES.

How do you feel about this reaction?
HONESTLY, I AM FLATTERED BY IT UP TO THE POINT AT WHICH PEOPLE STOP PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT I’M ACTUALLY SAYING. “UPVOTED FOR BEING POLITE AND ALLCAPS” DOESN’T REALLY DO A WHOLE LOT TO DRIVE THE CONVERSATION FORWARD (EVEN LESS, IN FACT, THAN SOME OF MY POSTS, WHICH I WILL ADMIT OCCASIONALLY CONSIST OF LITTLE MORE THAN “GREAT JOB!” TO THE OP). I WILL SAY, THOUGH, THAT I’M GRATEFUL FOLKS LIKE ME ENOUGH (OR AT LEAST THOUGHT IT RIDICULOUS AND FUNNY ENOUGH) TO HAVE VOTED FOR ME AS A MODERATOR IN F7U12; THE OTHER MODERATORS THERE ARE A PRETTY GREAT BUNCH OF FOLKS, AND I ENJOY HELPING THE COMMUNITY.

Can you go anywhere on Reddit and be treated like a normal pseudonymous redditor?
PSEUDONYMOUS? RARELY; NORMAL? FAIRLY OFTEN. I THINK THE LONGER I’VE STUCK AROUND THE MORE OF A BACKGROUND PHENOMENA I’VE BECOME, AND PEOPLE ARE OFTEN PRETTY WILLING TO JUST ENGAGE ME AS A NORMAL REDDITOR. PARTICULARLY IN RELATIONSHIP_ADVICE AND F7U12 WHERE I MODERATE, FOLKS GENERALLY TAKE WHAT I’VE GOT TO SAY AT FACE VALUE (EXCEPT, OF COURSE, WHEN THEY DON’T – AS IN THAT RAGE COMIC YOU MENTIONED).

Do you speak in ALLCAPS in real life? And are you polite?
I TYPE IN ALLCAPS WHENEVER POSSIBLE, BUT I’M SENSIBLE ENOUGH TO NOT LET HOW I BEHAVE ON THE INTERNET INTERFERE WITH MY NORMAL TONE OF VOICE, LOL! THAT SAID, I ALWAYS TRY TO BE KIND, OR AT THE VERY LEAST POLITE, IN MY DAY-TO-DAY LIFE, BUT I GUESS I TAKE IT A LITTLE OVER THE TOP ON THE INTERNET SOMETIMES; I DO, IN FACT, CURSE IN REAL LIFE FROM TIME TO TIME, FOR EXAMPLE.

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*First Published: Jul 20, 2011, 10:26 am CDT