Do You Avoid a Fight?

Filed as Features, Guides on February 6, 2008 4:46 am

fight!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.

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  1. By ian in hamburg posted on February 6, 2008 at 8:19 am
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    I left some comments at a blog by some guy calling himself a citizen journalist. He could neither spell nor do basic research – got his facts wrong, couldn’t even spell the name of a well-known serial killer, basic words spelled wrong, even in the sidebar. I pointed out to him some of his mistakes, whereupon he changed my comments completely, turned abusive even. What a horror show. All I can say is, if you tangle with a pig, you get dirty.

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  2. By Chris Garrett posted on February 7, 2008 at 10:23 am
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    Yup, sometimes people do get defensive. Personally I like it when people point out problems. I have learned more about the English language from being edited than I ever have from school. Not everyone appreciates criticism though.

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  3. By Webomatica posted on February 7, 2008 at 7:25 pm
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    Flame comments are definitely one of those unavoidable negatives with blogging. But ultimately I leave them up on my blog, as I value open discussion of topics over my own annoyance.

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  4. By Chris posted on February 9, 2008 at 3:59 am
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    “The key point is to only deal with the issues or ideas.”

    That is a very good point. I saw the MP, Tony Benn, at a conference some time ago and he refused to criticise anybody individually, he would only go after their policies. Made him seem like a true gentleman and won him many more friends than he would’ve got had he resorted to cheap personal attacks.

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  5. By Martín Bolívar posted on February 10, 2008 at 5:43 am
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    An excellent post, interesting, I learnt a lot about how to write a blog. Thank you.

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  6. By AKOYA SMITH posted on July 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm
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    i do try some of the time to aviod such action but it comes to me

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