Comments are very powerful and can be benefit your blog. Regardless of your niche or your intent when publishing a post sometimes discussions can give rise to unexpected controversy and it’s important to keep a safe environment for discussion on your blog. Knowing how to deal effectively with spammers, annoying subscribers, negative comments and trolls comes with the territory of becoming a better blogger.
Spam And Libel
Everything posted on a blog contributes to its brand and the blogger’s reputation either positively or negatively. Posting spam comments and/or troll comments and/or libelous comments reflects negatively on a blog’s brand, authority and page rank, deters other commenters from submitting legitimate comments, encourages the submission of more spam comments and posting libel can result in a legal suit.
When it comes to comments posted on your blog, it’s your contractual obligation to remain within the Terms of Service you agreed to as set out by your blog host. Beyond that the choice of whether or not to set rules of engagement for discussion on your blog is yours alone to make and to express in your commenting policy.
We all love receiving comments and may not be inclined to moderate comments at all until we know that over 80% of all comments, trackbacks and pingbacks received on the WordPress.com site daily are spam. Spammers become more inventive every day. Robotic spam used to be all bloggers had to cope with but these days legions of humans are paid to submit spam comments to blogs. That’s why blog comment moderation is a good thing. It’s also why you must learn how to use the Akismet spam filter appropriately. Mark only spam as spam, so you don’t pollute the spam filter with false information by marking dissenting comments or troll comments as spam.
Expressing a dissenting opinion in a comment is not the same as trolling.Trolls have no true interest in the subjects they comment on. They derive pleasure from baiting bloggers into highly charged emotional states and attempting to make them look stupid. Trolls want you to completely lose your cool and your ability to sound like an intelligent person who knows what you’re talking about. On one hand, engaging a troll can have a negative impact on your online reputation. On the other, refusing to engage by deleting their comments prompts trolls move on and find another target. Hence, the maxim: Don’t feed the trolls.
Ouch that hurts!
Blogging is a means of obtaining recognition and validation for your creations, interests, causes and/or opinions ie. your passions.Whether or not blog monetization is your long term goal, we all blog:
- to be heard and receive responses to what we publish;
- to engage in interesting discussion in blog commentary;
- to form relationships with like-minded people;
- to build a growing reader community of online friends.
Regardless of what your topical content is or what writing style you use to deliver your message receiving differences of opinion will arise and receiving negative comments is inevitable. Dissenting comments can be helpful or hurtful. How you view them is up to you. How you deal with negative comments is equally important as how you deal positive comments, because constructive criticism provides what you need to know to improve your blog and blogging technique.
We can’t control what other people will say to us. But we can control how we internalize it, respond to it, and learn from it, and when we release it and move on. If you’ve been having a hard time dealing with criticism, it may help to remember the benefits of criticism.
When things get hot chill out
When you receive a negative comment be mindful that no one can trigger your emotions, unless you allow them to do so. If you have a strong emotional response to any comment then be sensible and delay responding to it. Don’t lose your blogging cool.
Reacting is Not Responding
Instead of reacting to criticism immediately and defensively or offensively taking a time out to get an accurate read on the situation is a wise move. If you don’t chill out first you will be inclined to react emotionally rather than responding logically.
When you are done fuming carefully read what the commenter has to say more than once. Make the effort to objectively examine the points raised from his/her point of view. Then ask yourself these questions:
- Does this dissenting comment contain constructive criticism?
- Does this comment include anything that my readers and I can learn from?
- How can I address this comment in a way that will provide value to my readers and not harm my reputation or my blog’s brand?
Blogging provides ways to make a difference in this world by learning and growing through reader feedback. It’s important to recognize that different readers can best understand different messages. Offline you may find your best friend’s dissenting opinions contain truth despite the discomfort they evoke. Likewise you may find the positive in negative comments submitted to your blog. If so then to communicate clearly with your readers you may need to adjust your message, how you say it and what information you include in it.
Responding to negative comments
1. When responding to comments that conflict with your own opinions keep you blogging cool, knowing that the more emotional you become, the more clouded your thinking will be. Focus on the issues, not on personalities.
2. To refute an argument, you have to understand it and argue convincingly against it. View the other side and make honest efforts to understand where the commenter who disagrees with you is are coming from. Determine the facts. Isolate the key concerns. Identify fallacious arguments and weak points.
3. Look for common ground but when you cannot find any then express your point of view agreeably – agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
4. Present good reasons why the reasoning and conclusions are wrong.
5. Put a positive spin on your conclusion as the commenter is providing you with an opportunity to discuss the topic in greater depth.
6. There is a downside to reacting emotionally and it’s loss of control that can damage your blog’s brand and your online reputation. Before you publish your response take an emotional temperature reading. Ask yourself: Am I reacting emotionally or am I responding intelligently?
7. Keep your blogging cool. Edit your response with impunity knowing what you publish will be available to everyone on the internet for years to come.
You can handle serious online attacks effectively. When things get hot chill-out. Take out the trash. Delete troll comments and mark spam as spam. If you must respond to a dissenting comment do so calmly, without losing your blogging cool. Acknowledge the positive and be gracious enough to thank any commenter whose feedback helps you improve your blogging.