Please Don’t Take My Words Out of Context: How to Avoid Becoming A “Gap Hunter”

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Maria Diaz of Inkspeare.

When I started writing, I kept most of my writing to myself. Then, cyberspace introduced another dimension to my writing:  blogging. Blogging takes your writing out into the open for others to read, comment and offer their feedback on. Blogging has been a blessing, and it has helped writers from all corners of the world to be able to help one another, to inspire one another, and to share their work and knowledge with fellow writers. However, this environment has also given birth to what I will refer to as “Gap Hunting.”

What Is A “Gap Hunter”?

A Gap Hunter reads your post, not with the purpose of sharing it, or of gaining insight or information from it, but for the purpose of searching for a “gap” in your words, a slight bent of interpretation, that can be used to throw your entire post back at you.

Unfortunately, Gap Hunting is becoming a very common phenomenon in the world of blogging. Often, “The Gap Hunter” will twist your words, and therefore your message, and will do so by letting you know this in public (usually in your comments section). Gap Hunting is usually not a typical, respectful disagreement between bloggers, but it is more of a systematic, personal attack on you, using your own words, so that The Gap Hunter cannot be disproved.  Often, there is no other point or purpose behind “gap hunting” other than to grab attention and to discredit you.

The danger with Gap Hunters is that they not only cause chaos as they infiltrate your blog–they also infiltrate your emotions, and they may even cause you to doubt your writing. If you are a beginner writer, this can be devastating. As writers, we get used to receiving criticism, constructive or not, but Gap Hunters, with a malicious intent, go beyond constructive criticism or disagreement: they go straight for the writer’s soul–a move that may rupture a writer if their confidence isn’t strong enough to handle the unfair attack.

How Do You Recognize A Gap Hunter?

So, how do you recognize a Gap Hunter? A Gap Hunter will most likely use your own words, not to argue with them and spark a healthy exchange of ideas, but in order to twist the meaning of your words to convey the opposite of what you were trying to convey in the first place. For beginner writers this may be a very traumatic and confusing encounter, especially if the Gap Hunter is a pro at what they do.

How Do You Handle A Gap Hunter?

How do you handle a Gap Hunter? There are three ways to approach them:

  • Acknowledge the Gap Hunter politely and don’t feed him/her. This only means that you thank them for sharing their point of view and leave it at that. End by reinforcing your own premise in a brief way. For example, “So-and-so, thank you for stopping by and sharing your point of view with us; ____________” then fill the blank with a brief reinforcement of the purpose behind your blog post.
  • Clarify your premise through elaboration. Here, you are adding to your premise, with the intention of not engaging with the Gap Hunter, but clarifying any points that may have become confusing to your readers.
  • Lastly:  you always have the choice of ignoring a Gap Hunter.  Even so, ignoring a comment may appear rude to others, so your best bet is to agree to disagree in a polite manner with the Gap Hunter and then thank the Gap Hunter for participating on your blog. When you don’t feed a Gap Hunter he/she will most likely go away.

The most important tool or weapon against a Gap Hunter is keeping your cool, maintaining your professionalism, and remaining open to your readers.

How to Avoid Becoming A Gap Hunter

Most of the time a Gap Hunter knows what he/she is doing; however, there are times when even people with good intentions may fall into “Gap Hunting” without intending to.

It’s always good to make sure that we don’t fall into Gap Hunting by mistake, as we may hurt someone’s feelings (or someone’s career) without intending to. We may, for example, accidentally become a Gap Hunter when we are eager and excited to give our opinion. In our excitement, we may read a line wrong, or we might respond so quickly that we didn’t notice we had not worded our comment correctly.

Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t unintentionally become a Gap Hunter.

  • Read the entire post and take your time digesting its meaning. Reread as needed. (It is polite to the blogger.)
  • Before you comment, pause and see if you got the essence of what the writer was trying to convey.
  • Take your time to write your comment and enjoy it; there is no need to rush. Review your comment and the way it is worded before you hit the send button.
  • If this is the first time that you visit the blog, familiarize yourself with its purpose–this will help you construct a better response to the ideas in the post.
  • Read the thread of comments that follow the post. It is common to go off topic this way as comments influence one another and readers will interact with one another. Review your comment and ask yourself:  “Am I commenting about the post or about the thread of comments?” It is best if you keep your comment directed to the content of the post. This also helps to bring readers back to the initial topic of the post.
  • Overall, be humble. When you approach a blog post with the desire to learn and share, you avoid lecturing and falling into “Gap Hunting.”

As a blogger, and a reader, remember that most people try their best, and no one is perfect. Mistakes happen and, sometimes, we may fall into Gap Hunting by mistake.

Maria Diaz is a Freelance writer/Real Estate agent who enjoys many artistic venues. Her company is The Owl, Book, and Candle. Between her love for writing, Real Estate, and Art, she finds herself searching for more hours in the day; however, she managed to complete her first novel and is in the process of writing a second. She keeps a blog, Inkspeare, in which she tries to capture all the facets of her life and work. She describes herself as a student of this Universe, and a Master of none.   

Can you think of other ways to avoid “Gap Hunting”? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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10 comments on “Please Don’t Take My Words Out of Context: How to Avoid Becoming A “Gap Hunter”

  1. Ollin says:

    Thanks Maria! Believe it or not, I need to be reminded of that last bit. If your’e busy and trying to do so many things at once, sometimes it’s easy to just skim a post and type in a half-hearted comment. I’m guilty of that in the past, but as I move forward, especially because of your post, I will be a lot more thoughtful with my commenting and give the blogger more of my time. It’s only fair.

  2. inkspeare says:

    Thank you for having me; it’s been an honor. On that last one, we all have been there at one time or another; however, mostly because we are busy and want to share our interest and thoughts, well intentioned many times, but in a hurry. I made a deal with myself – If I cannot read it in its entirety, I refrain from commenting – it works for me 🙂

  3. This was a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this! I know I definitely benefited from the knowledge you shared here. I see this kind of thing all the time everywhere! Another name we have for these people are “Trolls” but of course “Gap Hunter” is a bit more polite and less derogatory I feel. So thank you again for sharing this! I think I will be sharing this with my friends and readers as well if possible. 😀

  4. A great post Maria, your tips for dealing with gap hunters and for avoiding inadvertantly becoming one are excellent. Having a label for these kind of things helps you be aware of them too. There is a real skill in dealing with people in a way that is polite, that honours their right to say what they want, but that doesn’t engage with them in a way that will feed their issue and taint or destroy your comment thread.

  5. inkspeare says:

    I am glad you enjoyed it gw3n4th3pe0ple. It was my pleasure contributing to C2C.

  6. inkspeare says:

    Hi Thalia, I am glad you enjoyed the post. Sometimes you may encounter a comment that hurts, especially when you know that it has been due to intentional misinterpretation of your words; however, I always picture my computer monitor as a mirror – it will reflect back anything I type. It helps.

  7. Tammy says:

    I like this post Maria and although I haven’t been the victim of “gap hunting”, I think you’ve given some wonderful tips on dealing with it. I believe that in the world of blogging there can be so much pressure to read and comment that it reduces the effectiveness of the comments sometimes. I see it even from well-intentioned folks.

  8. I had never heard of gap hunting until now. I guess my blog is too obscure to have a gap hunter seek it out. But I had my first instance of not having a comment approved last week and couldn’t figure out for the life of me why — until I remembered the author could have taken offense in two ways. First I mentioned that I checked every blog before following on twitter. The man has around 50,000 followers and probably doesn’t check, so my comment came off as superior. Then I posted an invitation to read a story on my blog which happens to have a title that sounds like a horror post. The man’s blog was about family & pets, not a horror connoisseur. I should have explained the story was about my marriage anniversary fiasco & our family, similar to his own post except from a humor perspective. All told, I was an accidental gap hunter. I apologized via twitter & no response. I guess I Burned that bridge. Groan. Keyboard in mouth. I have been more careful ever since.

  9. inkspeare says:

    Hi Tammy,
    I am glad you liked the post. I think most people mean well when commenting, even if sometimes it doesn’t come across well expressed. Gap hunters look for the opportunity, unlike the accidental comment. This is why we have to be careful and not read more into the accidental comment. Blessings.

  10. inkspeare says:

    Hi Sher A Hart

    Gap hunters is a term that I conjured up to refer to this kind of blogging behavior, which is very particular on its intention. Oh, don’t feel bad, you had good intentions, it was accidental. After your apology, I am sure the person will realize it.

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