How did that headline make you feel?
By that headline, I don’t mean to say you’re a moron for starting a blog. I just wanted you to experience being called a moron – because if you have open comments on your blog, you will inevitably receive negative comments in response to your posts – some directed at you personally.
Negative comments can be particularly deflating. As bloggers we spend a great deal of time brainstorming posts, writing, proofreading, and rewriting, all with thoughts of what the reaction will be. Clicking “publish” is essentially putting yourself out there for the entire world to enjoy – but also to judge. After spending much time and energy on a post it can be
particularly discouraging if the first comment received trashes your post and you as a blogger.
But I feel that even the worst negativity can be turned positive. Here are strategies I use to deal with negative comments:
- People are ruder on the Internet. Due to the “online disinhibition effect” people tend to be ruder online than if speaking to you face to face. So know that part of the negativity comes with the territory and has nothing to do with you personally.
- Don’t blog angry. Blogger J. Leroy writes: don’t blog stupid and don’t blog angry. If a comment makes you angry, step away from the computer. Probably the worst thing is to immediately fire off a rude comment in response, starting a flame war that may ultimately reflect badly on you and your blog. After stepping away, return to the comment later. You may find it’s not as negative as on first read and you’ll be in a better frame of mind to answer it.
- Try to see things from the commenter’s perspective. Maybe the individual is just a terse person having a bad day. Consider that the negativity has little to do with you and you’re taking things too personally.
- Try to turn a negative into a positive. A string of negative comments with a bit of creative spin can be met with a kind response. Check out this string of comments on The Apple Blog: Why Not Integrate Safari With Finder? by Louis Gray. Although the vast majority of comments disagreed with his suggestion, he comes out looking professional and open-minded by accepting the criticism and even thanking them for giving him feedback (comment #13).
- Consider every comment as a positive. It’s inevitable that not everyone will agree with our opinions. But any comment, even a negative one, means that someone took the time to read the post and felt moved to respond. I try to remember this and it helps me to thank even the most negative commentator for taking the time out to let me know how they felt.
- Have an objective comment policy that you can consult when you’re feeling unobjective. Think about how you’ll react to negative comments in advance and how to prevent the most negative. You may be able to come up with an objective comment policy that fosters discussion and cuts down on negativity. I strive to leave negative comments up because I want readers to feel I’m open to discussion and not censoring comments that disagree with me, but I do reserve the right to delete blatantly hurtful comments that have nothing to do with the post at hand. Think about your comfort level with discussions. You may want to delete all anonymous comments. Many popular blogs require logins for readers to comment, and others have ultimately decided that comment moderation was too difficult and removed them altogether.
- You may very well be a moron. We all make mistakes, and most commonly I receive comments that point them out – before calling me a moron. I fix the mistake with a strike-through, leave a comment thanking the commentator for pointing out my error, and move on. One advantage of being online is the ability to fix mistakes with readers acting as copy editors.
- If you really screwed up, admit it. Consider the possibility that you really did screw up, and deserve the criticism, perhaps in a follow-up post. The negativity can become a positive for your blog by admitting your mistake and demonstrating that you genuinely listen to your readers.
- Maybe you should just be a moron. Some bloggers thrive on their desire to appear intelligent while commentators consistently point out how stupid they are. I don’t have the desire to run this sort of blog but it does raise another possibility: perhaps the negativity is gaining you readers.
Here are some articles I’ve found on the subject of negative comments:
- Liz Strauss: How To Deal With Negative Comments
- Liz Strauss: Do Not Fear The Negative Comment
- Flyte Blog: How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Blog
- Lorelle: Mean Spirited Comments And Blogging
- The Buzz Blog: When Blogging Goes Bad
- Altyrianview.com: Are Bad Comments A Good Thing?
- John Chow: How To Handle Negative Comments In A Blog
- Flame Warriors
Personally, my ability to handle negative comments was tested with a “digg experience.” Traffic from the social networking side Digg can be transient and rude. My post on James Bond films was met with a fair amount of disagreement. I can revisit the negative comments now and find them humorous, but at the time I just had to let the comments wash over me and respond with “thanks for reading and commenting!”
So how do you deal with negative comments? What sort of experiences have you had? How were you able to turn them into a positive for your blog?
And lastly, am I a moron? Please let me know, and I thank you for your comments in advance.