Guest Post: Muhammad Saleem is a social media consultant and a top-ranked community member on multiple social news sites.
Over the past couple of years I have had many dozens of incredibly negative comments on my posts which I have often marked as spam and not posted. After I do so, I often receive a follow-up comment from the same person saying ‘I’m sure you will censor this comment too,’ which I usually do. This is not because I don’t like people disagreeing with me, but it is because most of these people who are ‘disagreeing’ usually say things in their comments such as ‘shut the %#@! up you terrorist’ or use different words to the same effect.
This phenomenon can easily be explained by the following graphic from the penny arcade:
That said I really appreciate anyone who takes the time out to comment on my thoughts (regardless of whether they agree or disagree with me), and think that we should never underestimate the importance of truly legitimate dissent for the following 4 reasons:
1. Disagreement makes you a better writer
If your community continues to agree with whatever you say, you don’t grow as a writer and don’t get exposed to other ideas or different views on matters. By giving serious consideration to other people’s disagreements with you, you can broaden the scope of your writing, incorporate multiple viewpoints, write more thoroughly, and ultimately improve your unique value proposition to your audience.
2. Disagreement makes your community think
A group of sheep is not a community. Most of us write because we want to comment on new ideas and have conversations rather than simply have people agree with us. By encouraging dissent on your blog you are encouraging each community member to think for himself or herself and write their opinion on the matter rather than just echoing your thoughts. Eventually you help your entire community’s intellectual capital grow.
3. Disagreement makes for better conversations
One-sided conversations are no fun for the author and they are no fun for the community. If everyone is agreeing with you, you might as well turn the comments off and call it a day. Multiple, opposing viewpoints offer colorful conversation for everyone and ensure that there is enough debate for people to want to come back for more. This not only gives people to return to the same post again and again, but these opposing viewpoints also create opportunities for further posts and more conversations on previously covered topics.
4. Disagreement increases engagement
Quite contrary to polarizing people, disagreements can be a very powerful tool that can draw an even larger audience in. When people realize that there is room for them to have their say, be heard, and be correct in their own right, more people are likely to participate. People are often hesitant to do so because either they feel there is no room for contrarian viewpoints, or because they feel that if they disagree, they must be wrong.
Ultimately, by encouraging and fostering dissent on your blog you can improve conversations and increase community engagement, and by making your community think and harnessing their collective power you can improve your own writing as well.