In this post Gala Darling from iCiNG tackles the question of how to handle negative emails on your blog.
“How do you deal with hateful comments? For my blog I keep all comments moderated so I get a chance to see what people say on my site. I’m glad I did this because I got a rather rude comment mainly saying I have poor grammar for an English major. Oh and that I’m ‘pretty down on the world’. I tracked the ip address and realized it’s someone from my area! How awkward.”
Negative comments are a funny thing. I’ve noticed that on iCiNG, typically the rude comments come from someone who’s never commented before. This tells you something about them — namely, that they never contribute anything positive & are really only interested in pointing out a flaw or perceived problem. With these people, I say, have no mercy! Delete their comment & if what they’ve said is really nasty, just ban them. You don’t need the strife!
The way I see it, having a blog is like giving birth or doing a new piece of art every day. People don’t realise how much work goes into them — how much we love them, sweat & toil over them, & analyse everything about them. So when someone swings by & tries to take a shot at you, it’s kind of like them urinating all over your new-born, or slashing at your painting. It’s rude & vulgar, & not to be tolerated. They can say what they like, but not on your site. If they want to spew vitriol, they can do it somewhere else. I mean, would you invite someone like that into your house? To my mind, it’s exactly the same thing.
Another thing to keep in mind is not to feed the trolls! When someone comes by & tells you your blog sucks, you suck, your dog sucks & man, has anyone ever told you you suck?, don’t take the bait! Most of the time, these are just bitter people looking for a fight. It’s just like with bullies in school — all they want is a reaction. So don’t give it to them. There is nothing more infuriating than going out of your way to annoy someone & getting no response. They will fume like mad, & might have another go, but then they will go away. The game gets old. & you can do a little celebratory dance in your living room.
I guess what happens is that people’s egos get in the way, so we feel like we have to defend ourselves, or make the troll look stupid, or something like that. How many of you just love to have the last word? Yeah, I see a few bashful hands raised in the back! The thing is, having to have the last word just creates drama. If your life is boring & you love turmoil, then go ahead, be my guest. Have a flame war with a 14 year old kid in Hoboken. Enjoy! But mostly, it’s a waste of time & energy, & detracts from what you’re trying to do with your blog. (Plus, if your name is attached to your site, or you want to turn it into a business some day, it’s about the most unprofessional thing you can do.)
But it’s not all trolls & hormonal teenagers. Sometimes a long-standing reader will take a turn for the worst. Someone who was initially supportive & friendly might start leaving more & more negative comments, or being downright angry at other members of your community. When this happens, it can be tempting to be intolerant; to be negative in return & slam the door — but it’s not always the right thing to do. I have had this happen to me a few times, & after the initial confusion & annoyance, I start to feel more compassionate.
A Good Rule of Thumb
A good rule of thumb is that nasty or negative comments are never about you or what you’ve written, they are always about the person who wrote them. (Even if people disagree with what you’ve said, most of them can do it in a sane & respectful fashion.) So, when one of my regular commenters starts to go down a less happy path, I take notice.
I’ve written a few emails that go like this.
I hope everything’s okay with you. I noticed that your most recent comments have sounded a bit negative, & I wanted to check that you’re alright. Let me know if you’d ever like to talk, or anything like that.
Want to know what happens? Every time I do it, I get an email back that includes the following pieces of information.
1) They are amazed I emailed them, & incredibly grateful.
2) They’re sorry for their negative comments & start leaving happier, more positive messages.
3) Their negative comments were a symptom of their mood. They have been feeling absolutely, mind-blowingly miserable — often my email arrives as they’re bawling their eyes out — & don’t know who to talk to or what to do about it.
Making kind, compassionate contact is 100% worth doing. There is always something more going on than you might initially think.
Sending a sweet email where you treat them as your friend, not just an anonymous reader, works absolute wonders — & helps people feel less alone. Might be something to try!
* Your blog is like your home. Don’t invite anyone angry to tea!
* Realise that comments are always about the person who left them, & not you. Don’t be tempted to take things personally.
* A little care & love goes a long way.