How Do You Manage Negative Blog Comments?

This post originally appeared at New England Multimedia  on April 19, 2012.

How can you handle conflict while keeping your cool? Michelle Quillin invited me to share how I manage negative blog comments because she believes I do it differently than others. She ought to know, as I’ve never met a woman other than Michelle who reads and supports so many bloggers. She hears voice, knows style, understands professionalism, and is thoughtful in her own blog comments always bringing different insight on a topic.

Apparently, I stick my neck out when I write. I push the envelope of what’s tried and true and thought to be consensus. I like to poke a hole in someone’s opinion and rabble rouse a bit. I think they call me a bit of rebel.

I shoot from the hip more often than not; my opinions are validated from many sources that gel into the writing. I don’t take valuable time to fact find ad nauseum to write the best, most accurate blog post. If I was publishing a daily newspaper, I would take that approach, don’t get me wrong!

So…I’m getting to my point, promise…when you write as I do explained a bit as above, there are bound to be contrary comments. When I’ve been published on a national level, those comments come fast and furious from people who are total strangers to me and usually writing anonymously. I dread those retorts and experience a range of emotion as a result. Regardless, I have to respond for the benefit of others reading and to also defend myself!

Handling Negative Comments

These tips I offer on how to handle negative comments in your community are true and tried. I’ve been in the hot seat (not always) enough to have developed something that works. It took time, mind you! The first time I fielded a negative comment, I nearly collapsed with angst and ended up letting that anonymous person dictate my control in my house. No more! Perhaps these will help you when (because it will happen) you experience a detraction:

1. Never respond immediately. Let that comment sit there until you catch your breath.

2. Be calm because that emotion will direct your writing.

3. Accept all comments regardless of how they’re written. Thank the writer anyway in spite of the tone of his/her comment.

4. Direct people to your blog’s comment policy. If you don’t have one, you should reference the unspoken rule every blogger has calling for collegiality.

5. From your dashboard, locate the url/email from where the commenter wrote. While that may not be the true identity of the writer, you can tap that information and use it in your reply.

6. There are other ways to check identity of commenters and you can do that by the internet protocol or IP address. You can also Google the exact comment to see if it’s spam. Whois provides identity for domain owners, too.

7. When replying, never address the negative points. Skirt them at all costs. If the comment is so highly offensive, delete it! It’s your house, after all!

8. Invite the commenter to write a guest post and express his/her views.

9. Ask your community for support or send a direct message on the Interwebz calling for people to come to your rescue.

10. Most of all learn from the comment. If you’ve done it really well, ahem, you may get more disagreement than just one comment. Rather than being defensive, stop and think how your post was written and regarded by the readers. In your responses, be appreciative, courteous and take something away from the entire experience.

What experiences can you share about negativity at your house in comments?