As a geek I have long held the “lover not fighter” philosophy. I am just not well equipped for a fight. Even in martial arts classes I wasn’t the one to volunteer to get “physical”.
One thing I have learned from my writing career though is there are times when you have to not only face conflict, but to meet it head on.
Online there is often very little required to turn a discussion from a happy chat into a full on flame war. Going nuclear has long been a part of internet tradition from the earliest days of bulletin boards and usenet. Now blogs get a good portion of the flaming heat. Are you prepared to deal with the attacks?
There is a perception that any criticism you might get is “trolling”. There certainly are people out there who take enormous glee from causing others discomfort or embarrassment. Every walk of life has those, from the playground bully to the pub “prankster”. Those are better left ignored. Not all criticism comes from trolls though.
A great deal of your negative feedback will come from people who misunderstood you, in which case all you can do is try to explain, make yourself clearly understood or know you did your best. What about the people who did understand but take offense or forcefully disagree?
Those people, once calmed down, are extremely valuable to you. They are a chance to see another side, to improve what you do, to clarify your thinking. This is why you must always mean what you say and say what you mean.
If you really believe in what you write then you can welcome the chance of debating your point. That is not to say you should go looking for a fight, but if a fight finds you then you can be prepared for it.
The key point is to only deal with the issues or ideas. Do not stoop to making it personal and ignore anyone that tries to do that to you. If the other party insists on bringing it down to name-calling then you know what their intentions are and you might as well walk away.