I’ll never forget my first negative blog comment. It came one year into my blogging adventure, and even though it was just a bit of snark, it really hurt. Until then, the only comments that had been left on my blog had been glowing with praise. I was upset and angry that someone had left something so nasty and stupid, on my blog.
The truth is, negative commenters are just a part of blogging. That fact doesn’t make it any easier to swallow when you get one, but it can help you to brace yourself for the troll comments that are pretty much inevitable.
Here are a couple of things that I’ve learned which might help you to deal with negative commenters.
Learn to recognise the difference between disagreement and a negative comment.
The fact that somebody disagrees with you doesn’t necessarily make their comments negative. Sometimes, you might get a well-written and reasoned response which disagrees with the point of view that you’ve expressed. So long as the person has treated you with respect, I believe that you should leave their comment be. You might like to write an equally-respectful reply, thanking them for leaving their point of view and encouraging them to keep visiting.
On the other hand, there are other comments which are neither well-thought-out nor respectful. They might be a nasty reply to an opinion piece, a snarky comment about your outfit post or a racist or sexist comment. These types of comments are what I would call ‘negative comments’. They don’t add anything to the argument that you’re trying to make, they don’t contribute to the discussion and they really don’t do anything but make you feel like crap.
Realise that certain types of posts are more likely to attract negative comments.
If the subject matter of your blog errs on the controversial side, you are more likely to spark heated debate amoung your readers. If you’re writing about topics like religion, politics or body image, you’re likely to get some negative responses. That’s because these topics tap into people’s emotions, and readers tend to have very strong views about these things.
I’m not saying that you should avoid writing about controversial topics. By all means, if there’s something you’re passionate about, go forth and write about it. However, it does pay to be prepared for some negative or nasty comments if you are going to write about such topics.
Adopt a commenting policy
You might have noticed that I have a page on my blog labelled ‘Commenting policy”. This is a little document that I drafted a while back to help readers to understand what I expect from them when they leave a comment on my blog. It outlines the types of comments that I will and will not tolerate, and sets out the consequences for breaching the policy. While having a commenting policy won’t stop people leaving negative comments, it might deter some of them. Writing it will also give you an opportunity to think about what you expect from your readers, and how you can handle negative comments.
Turn off comments
If you want to head of negative commenters altogether, you could opt to turn off the comments on your blog. Plenty of well-known bloggers have made this move, and you can follow in their footsteps if you want. Personally, I like giving my readers the opportunity to leave feedback, engage in debate and discussion and offer their own viewpoints. However, one sure-fire way to stop negative commentors in their tracks is to disallow comments altogether.
My personal strategy for dealing with negative or troll comments is to simply delete them. I don’t leave a reply, I don’t engage, I just hit delete. Occasionally, a troll commenter will continue to leave comments asking why you’ve deleted their comment. If this happens, I keep deleting them, but I might leave a comment stating that some comments have been deleted because they violate my blog’s commenting policy.
I know some bloggers who have responded to negative commenters, and have done a brilliant job. While this can work, it can also add fuel to the fire, and encourage them to keep baiting you with more troll comments. I think it’s better to just play it cool and hit the delete button.
Keep a record.
Before I hit ‘delete’ on a negative comment, I save a copy of it, along with any details of the person who left it. I do this because if a person starts harassing me by leaving negative or threatening comments constantly, I will have all the information I need to make a formal complaint. I’ve never actually had to do this, but it’s nice to know that you’re prepared if someone is harassing you so badly that you need to go to a higher authority.
Don’t take it personally
The most important advice I can give you is to not take troll comments personally. Most nasty comments are completely untrue. I’ve been called all number of things in the comments on my blog: ugly, dirty, fat, anorexic, stupid, retarded and class-less to name a few. None of these things are true, and I know that. The fact that somebody took the time to visit your site and leave a false, horrid comment about you speaks volumes about the type of person they are. I can’t imagine how unhappy you would have to be to waste your precious free time poking fun at strangers on the internet.
When you get a negative comment, do try hard not to take it personally. Remind yourself of all the amazing talents and qualities you possess, and let the negativity roll off your back.
While negative comments are never fun, there are plenty of ways they can be dealt with. Keep your chin up, take the high road and try not to let the sour-pusses ruin your love of blogging.