It’s not a matter of if a blogger will blog bad things about you but when.
It’s going to happen. It may have already happened. It’s happened to me plenty of times. So what do you do when someone makes fun of you, pokes at you, says hurtful or harmful things about you or your blog on their blog?
Have We Forgotten We Are Still Human?
For a while, the natural tendencies towards evil in humans appeared to be suspended in the virtual world of the Internet. During the beginning years of email, Usenet, and online forums, people realized that what they were experiencing was precious – life changing – connecting with people of all ilks around the world from the comfort of their home or office. We treated each other, and this new technology, with respect. Sure, there was always porn and advertising scams in the background, but they were in the background and consumed little of our energy. We thrived on high moral values and self-confidence through this new medium of communication. It was special.
Somewhere along the line, we lost the special. The masses started to show up and brought their nasties with them. Long time web users were stunned, and new web users were often angry and humiliated, feeling helpless against the bullies.
Well, guess what, folks. Bullies have always been around. They are not a new phenomenon on the web. We had bullies in the playground and now the playground is virtual, bullies will be found.
I’m not talking about opinionated folks who love to shoot off their mouths on our blogs. I’m talking about downright mean – purposefully mean – folks who just get a thrill out of saying something nasty when silence or “thank you” could be their better part of valor.
A lot of bloggers who blog about blogging and speaking out about the “meanies” on the web, acting surprised and shocked that people would be so vicious. Where have you been? Have you forgotten that the web was created by and used by humans? Humans bring their nasties with them no matter where they go. The more gather, the more nasties.
Since being mean is part of human nature, don’t be surprised when it appears on your blog. Be prepared.
Preparing for the Nasties in Your Blog Experience
As the web became more accessible and easier for anyone and everyone to get online, anyone and everyone did, and moral values seemed to fly out the window. Today, it’s not just typical to say nasty things about other bloggers and people, it’s expected. People get traffic for taking competing bloggers on, and some even win big when bashing celebrities, if they play the game right.
Here are a few things you need to know to prepare your blog for the nasties.
- Have a Solid Comment Policy: Have a comments policy in place that sets the ground rules. Put a link to it near your comments form. Anyone breaks the ground rules, the policy establishs the consequences. Respond accordingly, and consistently.
- Be Prepared to Edit Comments: There are a lot of reasons to edit blog comments, and editing nasties is your right. If what they say is valid, but you feel they are abusing your comments by soliciting or comment-link-bait, such as putting nicknames and search term keywords in the comment name and links in the comment area, edit the comment, change the name, and remove the link but leave the words. If they are being really abusive, delete it. If they are using swear words or language you do not allow, edit it with asterisks (f***) or dashes (s—) or use a synonym. It’s your blog, edit the comments as suits your comments policy because comments are content, and you have as responsibility to your readers.
- Nasites Brings Traffic: It’s an old ploy. The Hatfields and McCoys for bloggers. Two bloggers battle each other on their blogs all to drive traffic. Sometimes it is planned, sometimes not. Either way, both parties can benefit if they play the game carefully and right. If you think another blogger is abusing you to drive traffic to or from your site, carefully consider how far you want to play their game. It could help, or hurt, you and your blog. Your blog reputation is at stake and if your readers detect that this is a game, you can lose some serious credibility.
- Prepare Your Response: There are many ways to comment, and many ways to respond to comments on your blog. You can choose to say nothing, say something, take an aggressive stance, or defensive, or say thank you – at least you got a comment. Think back through your life on how you responded when someone was nasty. How did you respond? Did you wish you had responded differently? A blog comment doesn’t need a response NOW. It can wait. Put it in moderation and think about it for a while until YOU are ready to respond.
- Prepare for Opposition: If you put an opinion out there, someone will have the opposite opinion. Be ready for it. Some may feel so strongly against your stance, they will challenge you on their blog. Be ready for it. Let this evolve into a debate of ideas not a bashing of heads. Be willing to let your views be known and to argue and defend your point, but keep your temper in check. Sure, there are dummies out their, ignorant fools who don’t see the world as we do – which is the ONLY way to see it, of course – so let them have their day in the sun and you can have yours, and let the world judge you by your behavior, as well as your opinion, fairly.
- Prepare for the Pain: The nasties hurt. They can hurt really bad. They will come. Are you ready? Remember, these are just words – think sticks and stones may break my bones – and it is up to you to control how much influence they will have on you. Be strong. Resistance is not futile.
- Seek Support Privately: You are not alone. I do not recommend blogging about the specifics of a blog bully attack, as that often feeds their need for attention, justifying their continued bulling. If you must blog, blog carefully. Or talk to your blogging friends privately, asking for support. Many of us have been through blog bullies and know how you feel.
- Don’t Misinterpret Zealous for Nasty: It is easy to get over-sensitive to comments and misinterpret too many comments or a zealous commenter as a spammer. Slow down and check things out. If you are still in doubt, contact the commenter and say thank you, asking their intentions or if they need help. You might find a bully lurking, but more likely someone who doesn’t know they did wrong.
- Not Every Copyright Violator is a Criminal: The first time your blog content is ripped off, it’s a stunner. You feel violated. After the sixth, tenth, twentieth time, you want to hit back. Yes, content theft is becoming rampant but not every blogger who abuses your copyright is a bully. Some of the time they are just naive people who don’t know any better. Be careful in your initial approach to test the waters before you bring in the big guns. And remember, content theft will happen. Be prepared.
- You May Be The Bully: Have you thought about how your blog’s opinions, your blogging voice, how you respond in comments, or how you comment on other blogs could be interpreted as bullying? Maybe you might be the blog bully? It’s hard to play nice-nice all the time, and sometimes we let our emotions move faster than our brains. Never forget that once it is on the web, it’s there forever – well, almost forever. It’s really hard to take it back. Think first, type second.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.