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How to Deal with Negative Comments On Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of April 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Gala-Darling-9In 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.

“Hi, cutie!

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.

Big kisses,
Gala.”

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!

Take-home points:
* 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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. No one will piss in my Cheerios…again.

  2. Very wise words. Self defense in any forum is never enhanced by escalation and kindness always comes back to you!

  3. I guess this doesn’t apply where nobody leaves comments.

  4. completely agree with you on this one!
    I emailed someone who was leaving nasty comment with

    “Heya, Thanks for reading the blog!”

    They had no response, and stopped leaving hateful comments.

  5. I had a cluster of comments one day all slamming me in regard to my company’s unique marketing philosophy and calling my pissy and passive-aggressive. I felt like I had been hit by a drive-by shooting! I read through every word of the posts I had written, trying to understand what the commenters were seeing. I let the comments sit for a couple of days and then decided they were an opportunity for me to further clarify my points. I responded in the comment section stating more clearly our philosophy that not every customer will enjoy our business (and that’s OK) and that the comments came from the very same people that we are trying to discourage from coming through the door.

  6. Some very good points. I find it’s always best to first take a step away from the situation when you get a negative comment. It’s all too easy to just start whacking away defensively at the keyboard in retaliation!

    In the same way as when you prepare an email or a blog post, take a think about it first and then perhaps respond if appropriate.

  7. I agree with you. This method not only works with blog comments, but emails too. I used to get all bent out of shape when someone posted something negative on my blog, but I found it’s much better to kill ’em with kindness. Most people either never respond to my “nice” reply or they apologize and admit they were having a bad day. So true!! Good post.

  8. I read elsewhere that deleting negative comments is cowardly, but I agree that if the negative comment does not address an issue but rather attacks you or your blog, it is perfectly acceptable to just delete it.

  9. I have written some intentionally controversial articles in the last week or two because I was trying to drive home a point. The direct feedback on my blog was positive, but I saw a few pings where my article was discussed negatively in forums and on other sites. I resisted the urge to defend my own honor, because then it would be me who appeared a troll! Great advice here – I especially like the idea of making positive contact when negativity is detected.

  10. I love this!

    Great advice – especially the bit about not feeding the trolls!

  11. A very insightful blog and I was glad to see how you concluded it. I was thinking as I read that the answer is what the Bible says – return evil with good. Since you’re a former minister, Darren, I was glad you kept to that principle.

    If only we could teach our politicians and governments to act this way instead of bombing “our enemies” back to the stone age.

    R

  12. Negative comments are just cool and i love it when some one posts a negative comment in it. But the negative commentators should have a point of justification with their comments.

    I too leave negative comments to some posts where i visit, but only if i feel that there is a need of it. And i feel that negative comments lead to discussions ;)

  13. lol man… none of you guys will every experience the true “Trolling” that started in the gaming world. Some may get truly shocked the same way as seeing a child get murdered on TV for the first time.

    I wonder what a Troll on a make money blog would be like? “Your blog stinks”

    Actually there was that one lame blogger that stole some other bloggers theme, but I guess that is about as bad as it can get in the mature reader blogging scene.

    – good post

  14. Bruno Ribeiro says: 04/19/2008 at 1:28 am

    Very good advices. I’ve only deleted comments on my blogs a couple of times, mainly because of rudeness. Last week I deleted one, not only because it was rude, but also, as you say, was just someone who was looking for a fight.

    I don’t have any problem with negative comments, because they can be valuable, with three exceptions: 1) I don’t tolerate rudeness, specially when it does not contribute anything to the discussion; 2) when third parties who are unable to defend themselves are attacked; 3) when they come from anonymous commenters (if you want to attack me or my ideas, at least you should have the decency to identifiy yourself).

  15. This is a great post. I definitely like the idea of sending a positive and friendly email to the commenter. Actually it would be a good idea to do that to everybody that’s negative like that. After all it’s their problem, not yours. So spreading a positive vibe will probably help them see that their word were inapropriate!

  16. Great points Gala..
    Me personally, practice the art of replying positively to everyone. My Blog tagline shouts that: “Every +vity blogged” !!

    And I today felt the same thing you mentioned in the first paragraph. Many just dont understand, what is our blog to us. And they never understand how much work goes into it.
    It’s very painful, when you receive such responses from your family itself. :(

    But, whatever anyone might say, I’m there to stand for positivity. Yes till the very end.

  17. Doug Rosbury says: 04/19/2008 at 1:53 am

    As soon as you give your opinion you ought to understand that
    it will attract flies. They will buzz around you and take from you
    whatever they can get in the form of ego food. Your truth to them only tends to justify their suspicions that anyone with a
    blog is pretending to be superior. You know better. but what these people see as being shit will draw them to you. Anyone in your work should develop detachment and never justify their suspicions with reactionary comments. Every situation we find ourselves in life is designed to teach us patience, long suffering
    compassion and understanding, to name but a few qualities necessary to qualify us for higher states of consciousness and responsibility. Let the flies buzz around you, while you
    smile, knowing that you are being true to yourself, which is
    really what counts most in life. “To thine ownself be true and
    as the night follows the day, you must be true to others”.
    Love and good luck——Doug Rosbury

  18. I’d like to point out, as it’s not made entirely clear in the article, that you shouldn’t delete every single negative comment you get. It’s fine to delete hate posts against you, the person, but when someone makes valid or opinionated responses that conflict with what you say, you shouldn’t just delete it because they disagree. Same if they point out a mistake you made.

    Of course, it still comes down to how they say it, but there’s a difference between negative posts and trolls. It’s nice to go through your comments and have nothing but praise or people agreeing with you, but discussion and community only really spark when there are differing views and opinions. Don’t kill your budding community by deleting every post that has a negative connotation.

  19. I recently wrote something similar on the mean-spirited blogger or commenter. I don’t encourage malicious comments in my blog. I always assume my readers are intelligent and the mean-spirited don’t belong to my blog.

  20. Perry says: 04/19/2008 at 2:21 am

    Here’s some thoughts & questions:

    I get 100,000 comments a year! (on top of 8-10 new posts a day) I’d never be able to moderate them all… Nothing would ever get accomplished.

    Also, what is your position on when two commenters become nasty amongst themselves? Not directed at the blog owner?

    I’d have to say my blog moderation is spotty at best, because I spend all my time creating good content, and less about worrying what they’re saying. Let’s say I have a “thick skin.”

  21. I have an indie music blog. I put up a post one day for a list of the top 100 metal vocalists of all time that I heard on the radio. It was controversial because Rod Stewart was in the top 10.

    It’s received hundreds of comments, so i just stopped paying attention until a few weeks ago. I started reviewing them and I’ve never seen so much profanity, insults, poor grammar, gay-bashing, violence and negativity.

    It was out of the norm from the rest of the blog comments, so it was definitely unique to the metal crowd. I was actually getting concerned that they were going to track one another down in the real world and cause harm.

    I only deleted the really negative comments and I did my best to add @*& to replace the letters after ‘f’, but it still feels like a Jerry Springer episode.

    If it’s a negative comment toward you, the blogger, I’d never delete it. Your loyal readers usually will get your back or you can just rise above and add a mature response.

  22. I agree with your post to a degree, but I have learned things from negative comments. Whenever I do get one, I first don’t get on the defensive, but rather try to look at the situation from their point of view. Is the comment valid, is there a problem that needs to be addressed? Do I need to change my point of view?

    If the answer is no, then just chalk it up to experience and move on. Unless their post is radical conversation or a personal attack, I will leave the post, as I feel that this is being true to the medium that contains the good, bad and ugly.

    If you sanitize your blog message by choosing to just post rosy comments you seem less honest and less forthright. Remember sometimes controversy drives traffic. You just simply do not need to choose to respond to every comment if it does not deserve your attention.

  23. I think there is a fine line between negative comments and criticism or disagreement. I guess the negative ones for me would include anything with profanity, or anything that said untrue things about me, personally.

    Great post!

  24. Doesn’t it depend on what your blogging about? I blog about politics and I expect, in fact I want, negative comments. I only remove the profanity and let it go.

  25. Its a nice way to get close to readers who commented. Some i think for me, would actually treat it as a compliment. :) It is also a nice thing that we can moderate for some part before let the comment live.

  26. “Urinating all over your new-born”… A priceless, and most vivid piece of imagery!

  27. Nice to see more people believing in the Power of Nice, even in the face of negativity.I’ve seen some well-known bloggers F-off nasty comments, and I didn’t think it said anything positive about them. Take the high road!

  28. I guess I’ve been lucky. The closest I’ve ever come to a truly negative comment on my blog was one reader who told me how much he liked my blog, and that he was adding me to his blogroll, and that my writing was “not great. But it has a workmanlike quality to it.” I still don’t have a clue what he was getting at.

    There was another post where I asked readers to give me an opinion on a banner design, and there was all sorts of (constructive) criticism in that one, but I don’t consider those negative comments.

  29. Pour on the love…sounds like a good plan to me. :-)

  30. I wish I read this post months ago! Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is a topic so present yet not talked about on blog mentor sites. Like the elephant in the living room. Finally I have a tool on how to deal with this!

  31. Negative comments are different form critics. A negative critic points your mistakes. But a negative comments as rightly said is more out of frustration and jealousy (if i may say).

    What i believe is, as long as your blog is not subject area specific (like blog on English literature) having comments like bad grammar is absurd. As long as the communication is clear and the message is understood by the recipient, their should not be any problem.

    I have seen people comments like bad grammar, get your English correct, that spelling is wrong. What they need to understand is the effort behind the post that author has taken.

    Speaking of which, having a commenter with local/nearby IP… hmm…. that’s so Mr. Jealous.

  32. Great advice. I find it so much easier to just moderate all my posts from the getgo. I deal with this on a pretty regular basis with my site’s blog, but all is good with my personal blog.

    And you’re so right, it’s rarely, if ever your fault as the author…it’s their shit as the reader and they’re just taking things out on you. It happens.

  33. I rarely get nasty comments but when I blogged about the Steak ‘n Shake incident–

    http://putzworld.blogspot.com/2008/01/steak-and-shake-denies-service.html

    I let all of the comments go through except one that was so filled with expletives that I couldn’t let it go through. I knew that teachers were sharing the blog in their classrooms. So what I did instead, was turn the extremely negative comment into a blog post in my favor.

    If people can’t play nice on my blog, then they have no place on it. Contribute to the conversation or your comments won’t see the light of day.

  34. Wow that has to be some of the best advice I’ve gotten on that topic. Smart move on the guest post Darren. And Thank you Gala your info was incredibly useful, the best on the subject.

  35. Sorry, you’re on the internet. You can’t hide from criticism for the rest of your life.

    I know I’m not the best writer. . .they can bash me all they want.
    :p

  36. I agree with you 100 percent. Also, I like to promote positive things, not negative things. I have no compunction about deleting a rude comment (they happen rarely, but do happen). After all, would you leave grafitti spray-painted on your house, because it’s more “authentic” to leave it? Of course not. Your blog is the same.

    Madame Monet
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine
    winewriter.wordpress.com

  37. thanks for these tips.. I’m receiving tons of negative comments on my blog.. hehehe :D

  38. What a sweetheart! I wish everyone in the world reacted this way. Why battle back when you can reach closure simply by extending an open hand?

  39. @No one will piss in my Cheerios…again.

    lol nicely said.

  40. Though negative comments upset bloggers, they provide us the time ponder on a point which the blogger might’ve ovelooked or taken for granted.

  41. I wrote about “Hate Negative Blog Attitudes” because of one “popular blogger” today wrote how bloggers should not earn ANY money etc…

    I agree with you Gala very sweet post !!!

    Here is mine if you are interested!

    http://www.bontb.com/2008/04/hate-negative-blogattitudes/

  42. I’m always surprised at how many regular readers will chime in a defend me after a negative comment. And the negative commenters rarely leave a website link. Cowards.

    I just switched hosts from GoDaddy to Media Temple, and I blogged about it. Someone from GoDaddy left a comment saying “We don’t want your jankedy site on our servers anyway.”

    Classy.

  43. Good to see your responses!

    One thing I think people are misunderstanding what I said, which is not “delete every comment where someone disagrees with you”, rather “delete nasty malicious comments”. Disagreement is 100% fine, of course — there’s just a huge difference between negative & constructive, & negative & pointless.

    Most people, I’ve found, have the ability to disagree with you in a respectful & even charming (!) manner. But it’s when those doom merchants come on & start spouting rubbish that I pull the plug. I’m just not interested ;D

    xxx

  44. Oh, & perhaps this is something I should have mentioned in the article, but I also think that we, as bloggers, set the tone. If everything we write is angry or hateful or negative, we are going to attract people who love that stuff. So you’d be a lunatic to expect anything different in the comments.

    If you treat your readers with respect, they will treat you with the same, I think. There are odd exceptions, of course, but on the whole, what you get is what you give.

    Mwah!

  45. derren if you emailed to any of my rude comment with ” Big kisses, – derren ” i swear i wont read your blog again : P

  46. Great answer. Your post reminds me of the book by Terry Whitaker entitled: “What You Think of Me is None of My Business.” What freedom if I can honestly let go of what other people may think of me.
    I certainly “get it” that we don’t want verbal diarreha insulting our readership and demeaning our efforts, so delete the comments ….
    but when the deleted comment still haunts you when you are writing the next one…
    I like to think, “what they think of me is none of my business.”
    OH PS…I checked on Amazon to see if the book was still available, and saw the subtitle…”Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” Maybe there is hope for me yet!
    Harmony

  47. Darren, I hope you will allow me to leave a little link here, so your guests can learn about The Dark World of Wikipedia.

    http://www.igorthetroll.com/blog/wikipedia-igorberger-mediation/

    Regards,
    Igor

  48. I got a cranky comment from someone not long ago and after stewing a few minutes I handled it exactly like you siggested above. I wrote a nice email asking the person if all was okay with her these days….very soon I got a friendly apologetic reply with some explanation about some ‘stuff’ in her life at the moment….

    So it was nice to hear that kind of response might not be a fluke and that it might be a valid way to respond to other negative commenters as well….thanks for sharing!

    Mary, mom to many

  49. Hello
    At the moment i still learning how to make good income from internet, searching for great tips and advice to help me successful.
    I found your articles very help me to get an idea about how to make money online.
    Thanks once again.
    JBiggs :)

  50. personally I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Thats why I like blogs as well. I do not mind the negative comments on my blogs at all. I encourage them. If someone has to say something, then let them say it. My problem is with the negative comments that do not have a link. The anonymous ones. I refuse to allow a comment, especially if it is negative by someone who wants to do leave it anonymously. Anyway, thats what I think. Nice post by the way.

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