Is there any word referring to people who sit and comment rather than act.

Example: Reading morning newspaper headline, sad news and discuss over tea rather than act and do something toward it.

  • 3
    Is it always possible to something about it?
    – David Pugh
    May 2, 2015 at 14:35
  • 2
    all talk (and no action) ?
    – ermanen
    May 2, 2015 at 17:02
  • 3
    People are always complaining about the weather but they never do anything about it.
    – Mitch
    May 2, 2015 at 17:55
  • 1
    My favorite portmanteau word for this is "slacktivist"
    – keshlam
    May 2, 2015 at 19:31
  • 2
    I think "Back-seat driver" might fit here. Someone who constantly makes comments, but never "takes the wheel". May 3, 2015 at 0:28

8 Answers 8


If they are reading and commenting about it after the fact, I’d call them “Monday-morning quarterbacks.”

If the event is still occurring and they don’t have the skills, means, and/or opportunity to do anything except comment or complain, I’d call them “Armchair quarterbacks/generals" or perhaps even “kibitzers.”

Finally, if it’s still occurring and they do have the skills, means, and opportunity to help but lack the enthusiasm or concern to extend their involvement in the issue beyond that of merely commenting on it, I’d call them “apathetic/complacent/indifferent (and/or if the consequences of their inaction so merit, even)/depraved-heart/heartless observers.”

  • 2
    My +1 is specifically for kibitzers, which I think is precisely le mot juste. May 2, 2015 at 21:22
  • Another common phrase is Armchair doctor, armchair psychologist, etc. I would also use bystander, slacktivist, or keyboard activist if we're talking about the internet. May 2, 2015 at 22:43
  • 3
    For a more pop-culture twist on the same theme, South Park took the Monday-morning quarterback to an extreme with their parody reporter-turned-superhero Captain Hindsight. His only power is to tell people what they should have done to prevent whatever disaster he shows up to. Oh, and he can fly, but he only ever uses that to arrive too late to provide useful advice.
    – Patrick M
    May 3, 2015 at 18:00
  • I've never heard of any of the phrases or terms in the first two paragraphs here in this context (AmE, Northeast US), except possibly "kibitzers" once or twice in jest.
    – Jason C
    May 3, 2015 at 22:11
  • 1
    The only real clue that I see for guessing the context here is “sad news” in the morning headlines, which for some might include the “sad news” of their [sport] team’s recent defeat (Monday-morning) or news of some sad, on-going issues involving their team or their military (in case you’re saying that the phrases have no expanded, figurative validity) (armchair); but yeah, in contexts where “sad news” means (as it should) “more than 6,000 perish in Nepal,” the suggestions in paragraph 3 would be much more appropriate. @JasonC
    – Papa Poule
    May 3, 2015 at 23:31

Slacktivist seems to fit (especially online), if their comments are intended to get people to agree that something is bad but they don't actually do anything about it or contain a "call to action" besides "Like this post".

  • Cool!! +1 So does watching PBS daily without ever contributing (‘Celtic Woman’ nearly got me once) make me a slacktivist? (I sure hope so, because regardless of how pejorative it sounds, it sure beats ‘deadbeat’ or ‘ingrate’!)
    – Papa Poule
    May 2, 2015 at 22:16
  • If you watch it and then you're in Facebook like"omg so sad someone should do something like if u agree", sure :P May 2, 2015 at 22:43
  • 2
    But a slacktivist is taking action, it's just online and in a way that is perceived to be ineffective or lazy. So it doesn't seem to fit.
    – Qubei
    May 3, 2015 at 3:00
  • A slacktivist's only real action is talking about the issue, which seems to fit perfectly. If they actually do anything about the problem, then they're not deserving of the derogatory term, and are just your everyday good-intentioned activist. May 3, 2015 at 7:53
  • @gatherer818 I agree with Qubei. For example, Wikipedia's take on it is "... "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little physical or practical effect, other than to make the person doing it feel satisfied that they have contributed." That is, an action is taken beyond talk -- a pointless, feel-good action with no consequences, but an action nonetheless. Urban dictionary has a similar view of taking a useless action to satisfy ego.
    – Jason C
    May 4, 2015 at 3:00

A possible description is passive spectator:

  • a person who looks on or watches; onlooker; observer.

  • not active, but acted upon; receiving impressions or influences; not actors in the scene.

The Free a Dictionary


An obvious candidate is kibitzer; "A kibitzer is a non-participant person, offering (often unwanted) advice or commentary."

The term is standard in contract bridge.

And yes, the verb is "to kibitz".


You can try these words:

Unconcerned: not worried or not interested, especially when you should be worried or interested


Bystander: a person who is standing near and watching something that is happening but is not taking part in it


Uninvolved: Not connected or concerned with someone or something, especially on an emotional level


One expression is the "peanut gallery" which means "A group of people who criticize someone, often by focusing on insignificant details."


It's not perfect, but this is what I came up with:


From oxford:


chiefly North American- Criticize (someone or something) with hindsight:

no one should second-guess police officers whose lives are on the line


In a workplace, if it is negative unhelpful comment, we call these dementors. They tend to swarm and suck the life out of situations.

  • Welcome to the ELU :-) Dementors are nasty, but they haven't made it into dictionaries yet. Until they do (and J. K. Rowling joins Shakespeare, A. A. Milne and others who have enriched English language) this is more of a comment-like remark.
    – Lucky
    May 3, 2015 at 11:36
  • Ha, ha. Fair point. Just dictionary words - got you.
    – Jonny
    May 4, 2015 at 18:41
  • In full answers, yes. It would be a fine comment, though (and reputation of 50 comes more quickly than one would think in the begining). Btw, not my downvote
    – Lucky
    May 4, 2015 at 23:22

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