There is strategy involved in giving and interpreting compliments.
Let’s say you hear someone play a difficult –but not too difficult–
piece on the piano, and she plays it well. Is it a compliment if you
tell her she played it beautifully?
That depends. You would not be impressed by the not-so-difficult
piece if you knew that she was an outstanding pianist. So if you tell
her you are impressed, then you are telling her that you don’t think
she is an outstanding pianist. And if she is, or aspires to be, an
outstanding pianist, then your attempted compliment is in fact an
This means that, in most cases, the best way to compliment the
highly accomplished is not to offer any compliment at all. This
conveys that all of her fine accomplishments are exactly what you
expected of her. But, do wait for when she really outdoes herself and
then tell her so. You don’t want her to think that you are someone who
just never gives compliments. Once that is taken care of, she will
know how to properly interpret your usual silence.
In the world of blogs, when you comment on an article on another
blog, it is usually a nice compliment to provide a link to the original
post. This is a compliment because it tells your readers that the
other blog is worth visiting and reading. But you may have noticed
that discussions of the really well-known blogs don’t come with links.
For example, when I comment on an article posted at a blog like
Marginal Revolution, I usually write merely “via MR, …” with no link.
That’s the best way to compliment a blog that is, or aspires to be,
really well-known. It proves that you know that your readers already
know the blog in question, know how to get there, and indeed have
probably already read and pondered the article being discussed.
Pretty excellent, no?
Addendum: An explanation, from the one you would expect.