Blogging? You’re A Moron

Filed as Features, Guides on July 18, 2007 12:25 am

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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:

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.

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  1. By Patrick Curl: Millionaire by 2009 posted on July 18, 2007 at 1:10 am
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    Great Advice… I sometimes take things personally, luckily I haven’t had too many mean commenters, but if people are commenting, they’re visiting. Visitors equal more ad revenue. So you may lose some dignity, but in the end you gain more money, and exposure. It’s kind of a Win/Lose Relationship.

    Reply

  2. By Nancy posted on July 18, 2007 at 2:06 am
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    You make a good point with #5.

    Reply

  3. Linker Barn: Hump Day July 18July 18, 2007 at 4:34 am
  4. By Yoshi posted on July 18, 2007 at 5:02 am
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    Right on. This is a good thing.

    Negative comments can be handled so many ways, and a lot of people ignore them. I take every comment I get with grace.

    I had a user that kept coming back, always making rude comments, and a lot of times, having nothing to do with a blog post at all. I thought about banning him or deleting his posts, but I kept them up.

    People would comment along after him and then there would be conflicts, but I tried to calm people down, he’s only expressing his opinion after all. Eventually, he just stopped. I guess he realized that his comments didn’t really mean anything if he had nothing constructive to say. If he had a suggestion, I would listen.

    I think that it just all depends on the types of negative comments you get. Great tips.

    Reply

  5. By Lincoln posted on July 18, 2007 at 5:48 am
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    I’m a moron? Yeah, well you… oh he’s right. :-(

    Reply

  6. By Dominik posted on July 18, 2007 at 10:56 am
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    Yeah, good and bad comments are useful for owner of website. I like to see good comments on my site http://www.ad.com.hr but I like to get some critique (note: not flame, but critique).

    Reply

  7. By SandraR posted on July 18, 2007 at 2:20 pm
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    I found the below on the net for an extremely adequate reply to moron comments:

    The above material has been thoughtfully considered, astutely worded and meticulously edited and states clearly and concisely all pertinent information. Should there be any difficulty in clearly understanding any part of this message, its intent or its purpose, then there is every reason to believe that you are a blithering idiot.

    Reply

  8. By Joe Clark posted on July 18, 2007 at 5:38 pm
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    Maybe you should just *not allow comments*. It’s your site, not theirs.

    Reply

  9. By Webomatica posted on July 18, 2007 at 5:59 pm
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    Thanks for the comments. Yoshi I find your strategy a good one. I guess if the negative commenter doesn’t get the desired effect of anger perhaps they will tire and move on.

    Sandra that is a pretty funny paragraph!

    Joe, not allowing comments is a strategy I have considered, however I still get many more constructive comments than negative. And then 98% spam comments but that is another story altogether. I feel that as long as the majority of comments are constructive there is a reason to continue with them. However I haven’t hit the level of traffic where moderation or negativity is a chore.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Reply

  10. Sick Day, Feeling Like A Moron » Webomatica - tech, movies, music blogJuly 18, 2007 at 6:04 pm
  11. By Ross posted on July 18, 2007 at 7:10 pm
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    Before I started a blog, I was prepared for the negative comments. I’d read enough of them to know that (some) people just seem to love being negative. So I just sort of repeated to myself “thick skin, thick skin.. don’t let them bother you”. It has pretty much worked.

    The first time I had an article make it to the front page of digg I was actually a bit nervous to read the comments (on digg itself). I was shocked to find them all positive. So the second time I was on the digg front page I jumped right into the comments prepared for some more love. Instead I found myself being called every bad name in the book :)

    For those of you who have trouble developing thick skin (or just don’t want to) – create a text file or print out some of the really positive feedback that you get. Keep it nearby and give it a read any time someone calls you a moron.

    Reply

  12. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 18, 2007 at 8:01 pm
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    Excellent coverage of this very challenging subject to tackle. Thank you!

    I was raised to believe you attract more bees with honey, but I’ve since learned that a lot of vinegar attracts bugs and low life creatures from everywhere. As much as the honey does. :D

    Reply

  13. By Tony Hung, ed. posted on July 18, 2007 at 11:21 pm
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    Some great advice from Ross above. When I was starting out with DJI (http://www.deepjiveinterests.com), I kept a text file of every mention, every in-bound link so I could remind myself people were reading what I was writing.

    And I learned to love feed back — all of it. If you learn to relish the negative ones, and be prepared to defend your points in a legitimate and constructive way, you’ll find that the conversation that ensues is often more worthwhile than the original post.

    Cheers
    t

    Reply

  14. By jessica posted on July 22, 2007 at 2:38 am
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    I wish I had read this months ago.

    I personally have been riled up several times by comments people have left. The most painful was a person accusing me of using an anti-semetic picture, which was absurd. My instinct was to attack back. I recall being upset all day about it. Ever since then I’ve been making a concerted effort not to let the haters get to me.

    I am convinced, though, there are a select few of people who just live to write a crummy comment. But then, there are jerks in real time as well.

    Anyway, I’ll be printing this out & tacking it up in front of my computer.

    So now my rules will be:
    a)No drunk blogging
    b)Ignore the a-hole commenters.
    c)TBA

    Reply

  15. By Matt posted on July 23, 2007 at 12:19 pm
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    Hi,

    Great advice, especially as I have had the odd bad comment recently. (Mainly from competitors).

    I think the main thing is not to get wound up be negative comments and agree that you must seem courteous and greatful for comments (as good or bad comments attract more readers!)

    Besides most seasoned bloggers appreciate that we are all human and mistakes happen, with the pressure we are all under keeping our own blogs, guest blogs, diggs, technorati, wikis and facebook up to date. Let alone keeping the day job going!

    Here’s my recent bad blog experience and how I delt with it…. http://www.connectingbristol.org/2007/07/05/who-is-the-biggest-social-networking-site-of-them-all-in-bristol/#comments

    Reply

  16. Sick Day, Feeling Like A Moron : Wonderful ThoughtsJuly 25, 2007 at 8:02 am
  17. Structure How You Deal With Comments to Find the Right Response » Circular CommunicationJuly 26, 2007 at 5:19 pm
  18. Navigating The Five Stages Of Blogging Fatigue : The Blog HeraldAugust 8, 2007 at 8:42 am
  19. By J.D. posted on August 8, 2007 at 10:48 am
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    Well if you’d just learn to FIGHT instead of curling up into a tight little ball of fear and anger…

    You wouldn’t believe the amount of negative and outright threatening comments I hear every day I work my day job.

    Reply

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