Ask Alicia: How To Deal With Negative Blog Comments

by Alicia Sparks on November 29, 2011

Oooh, angry keyboard!

Question:

Hi Alicia,

I’ve been a freelance writer for several years now, but it wasn’t until a few months ago when a client asked me to manage his blog that I started blogging.

My question is: How do you deal with negative blog comments?

Heather

Answer:

Hey Heather,

Before I touch the negative blog comments, first let me say: You should blog for yourself, too!

I’m a little amazed you’ve been freelancing for several years, but haven’t started your own blog, yet. Traditional websites are great (in this day and age, there’s really no better way to introduce yourself and get your credentials to such a huge audience of potential clients, is there?), but adding a blog to your website turns the content from static (unchanging) to dynamic (changing), which gives search engines a lot more to pick up on.

If you need help getting started, I highly recommend Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger Blog.

Now, about those negative blog comments…

Because you didn’t explain what you mean by “negative,” I’m going to share with you my three rules of thumb when it comes to blog comments, and hope at least one of them works.

1. Make Sure It’s Negative.

What you’re defining as “negative” might actually just be a different opinion, another way of looking at the situation, or a legit correction to something you’ve posted. You might consider these types of comments “negative” because they’ve made you feel a certain way; keep in mind, though, that how you personally feel about a comment doesn’t necessarily make it a negative comment.

If it’s either of the first two, feel free to thank the commenter for adding a different insight and even engage in further conversation if you want.

If it’s the third, thank the commenter for pointing out your mistake, remind yourself that no one’s perfect, and make the correction.

2. Suck It Up

Not everyone shares the same views or opinions. How boring would that be? Still, some people are blessed with more eloquence than others, so not every commenter is going to express his or her different opinion in…a nice way.

Yet, because most bloggers want conversation in their comment sections, sometimes the best way to handle such comments (and foster a community where people feel free to express their opinions) is to suck it up.

3. Delete It.

I rarely recommend deleting (or not approving) blog comments, but if the comment is profane, uses a lot of curse words, or insults you, your readers, or anyone else, and you don’t feel comfortable with it, go ahead and delete it.

The same applies if you’re pretty sure the comment came from a troll.

Points To Remember

  • Sometimes, these rules of thumb aren’t as easy to follow if you’re blogging for someone else. Make sure you understand any blogging policies (including policies on comments) before you do anything.
  • Understand, too, the kind of blog you’re managing. HUGE blogs (or websites that allow comments under the articles, such as those for magazines) often take an Every Man For Himself approach to moderating blog comments (meaning, they don’t). This ties in with understanding your client’s preferences.
  • Lots of people feel like they’re 10 feet tall and made of 500 pounds of pure muscle – when they’re behind a computer screen. Keep that in mind when you encounter rude, snarky, or genuinely negative blog comments.

What do you say, readers? Any other bits of advice you’d offer for dealing with negative blog comments?

This post is part of the Ask Alicia series at WritingSpark.com. Learn more, or shoot me an e-mail directly at alicia [at] writingspark [dot] com (or click here) with “Ask Alicia” in the subject line.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Terrance November 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I think you’re right, Alicia; I think there are times when we (as bloggers) are a touch oversensitive to certain comments, and immediately label them “negative.”

To Heather: Give it a few months, and you’ll toughen up. It gets easier – sometimes even entertaining! 🙂

Sarah November 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I’m also a little hesitant when it comes to moderating comments (specifically, deleting a comment or allowing it to go through), but I agree 100% on the profanity, offensiveness, etc.

I manage a blog in the politics industry, so you can imagine the kinds of comments that come my way. If the person is trying to make a legit point but using all sorts of cuss words, etc., I’ll let the comment go through after editing it (putting asterisks where the cuss words were) and noting that the comment was edited (so they public knows; I’m not trying to be “sneaky about it”). However, if it’s nothing but garbage (“You democrats are nothing but pieces of **** and deserve to *** and blah blah blah”), I just delete it.

Tania Dakka November 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Good advice, Alicia:) I agree and look forward to the day that I have enough traffic to put these rules to use! LOL Thanks for the advice!

Alicia November 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm

@ Tania – Thanks!

Re: Enough traffic to put them to use – oh, girl, that’s a topic of a whole ‘nother color, ha! Even blogs that get lots of traffic can suffer from lack of comments/conversation. Check out this article from Problogger – it gives some ideas on how to get more blog comments: http://ow.ly/7KAin

Tania Dakka November 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I will check it out! Thanks for the link! I have my call to action at the bottom. Try to use grabbing headlines, etc. But I know I have a lot left to learn and execute! We’ll see if PB can help:)

Katherine December 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

“What do you say, readers? Any other bits of advice you’d offer for dealing with negative blog comments?”

— Be a critical thinker and open-minded when it comes to reading and giving your thoughts. Use logical or Reason, if they are not comfortable with it then It is better to delete the comment. The worst scenario is that you confront the TROLL! Stop dealing those bastard or else it will swallow you! ^_^

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