How to handle negative comments

It seems that many bloggers fear that if they restrict commenters, they’ll lose readership. Well, I would prefer to lose the the bad actors and preserve as safe and comfortable environment for all.

Question: What do you do about negative and nasty commenters?
Answer: I moderate all comments and I have a comment policy.

blogoffThis clause in my comment policy would be applicable:

* Personal attacks: Comments that stray from addressing the published topic and venture into the inflammatory and/or defamatory realm will not be posted.

If a commenter violates ANY of my policy guidelines I delete their comment and that’s that. The bottom line is that it is your blog and it’s your call. If you do not want nastiness posted on your blog then delete the comment and get on with your life.

There are nut cases and trolls in the blogosphere and IMHO the best way to deal with them is to shun them. Once you have set up your blog and published a couple of dozen posts it’s a good time to develop your own comment policy. Sooner or later you will get a negative comment and it’s best to have a comment policy in place to deal with it.

Elise Bauer, Publisher of Simply Recipes states in her Problogger guest article:

How you choose to moderate the comments on your site will affect who feels comfortable to participate on your site, and who will want to come back again and again. If you let rude, obnoxious, spiteful comments persist on your blog, you are basically telling all of your commenters that it’s okay with you to behave badly on your site. This covert permission can act like a magnet, drawing in hooligans and bullies, making the reading of and participating in your comment section uncomfortable for many. I learned long ago that people will give you as much crap as you are willing to put up with. If you tolerate abusive commenters, they’ll just keep coming back. Source

In his post Blog Comment Policy Lee Odden presents five very sound points to consider when developing a comment policy including: Comments are welcome and encouraged, Comments should add value, Keywords in the “name” field are spam, Links must be relevant, and No signatures in blog comments.

Lee says:
One of the most satisfying and useful metrics for a blog is whether posts generate comments or not as well as the quality of the comments. With increased traffic and visibility comes increased interaction but it also attracts comment spam or comments of no value.

Technically blogs are designed to be freedom of expression for the blogger. The ability to comment can be an enhancement, certainly, but it really doesn’t mean Joe Q Unaccountable has a right to say any insulting thing that comes off the top of his head, and the blogger should just shrug and publish it because, “hey, it’s freedom of speech.”
It’s the blogger’s forum, so honestly, shouldn’t it be the blogger’s choice of how to handle it? Every piece of content that appears on a blog site becomes a part of the makeup and the “brand” of that blog. I think it’s important for bloggers to look at it in terms of how the comment affects the brand.
lisamcglaun: I leave dissenting opinions because I think they are important. I delete comments that are direct attacks or serve no purpose. I also turned on the comment moderation feature. That did wonders to stop the person who was flaming my blog.
cooper: The way I work my blog and it works well is if the comments are part of the conversation or contribute even if it is an opposing viewpoint the comments stay. You lose something when it starts to evolve into a middle school bitching fit, you lose credibility and adult readers. Once you start deleting non contributory comments they will stop.
Annie: Delete them and pretend they don’t exist.

Question: What do you do about comments without any substance from link droppers or commenters who post signature blocks in comments?

Answer: This clause in my comment policy that would be applicable:

Commercial links, post links and signature links: Including a link to your “personal” blog and/or website may be acceptable but all links are subject to review and may be removed prior to posting. Specifically, provided that the bloggers commenting are actually adding something to the discussion, I do not remove their links. However, if I believe that they are just link dropping in an attempt to divert readers to their own blog then I do not feel the same way. I delete the links.

thriftshopromantic: If a link [in a comment] is relevant to the discussion and useful for readers, it stays. If it’s put there solely for blog advertisement purposes, that’s just tacky, and I don’t publish the comment.

grow happy: I concur, if it’s relevant, it stays.

petlvr: … it’s pretty bad etiquette for bloggers to comment in someone else’s blog – and then after the comment leave a ‘signature’ or link back to their blog. It’s already there when you click your name on the comment – the duplicate signature URL you add is truly spam. STOP IT! thanks.

dotartdude: I keep comments with links that are relevant to a post or a discussion among the comments. If someone has something to contribute, I welcome what that person adds to comments.

Taking care of business and taking care of your “self”

We are all responsible for our own emotional health. It takes just as much energy to take offense as it does to give offense. If you do not take offense when something you do not appreciate is said — the statement and the person who delivered it have no power.

If, you do choose to take offense and give the statement and the person who made it power then, needs be, you turn to others to commiserate, expecting that they will stroke you and mother you and they do. When they do you this you choose to feel self-righteously indignant, rather than taking responsibility for your own emotional health and, once again you have given your power away to others.

Please understand that this refusal to live up to our individual responsibility to take care of our “self”, to deal with criticism independently, decisively and effectively is the foundation for the “victim” mindset that pervades our societies today.

Your blog is not YOU. The commentator cannot touch your inner self, unless you give them permission to so don’t open that inner door and give your power away. Take responsibility, develop a comment policy and either post the comment and refute the contents or delete it and blog on.

Updated October 9, 2013 to include links to related posts.

Related posts found in this blog

WordPress.com Comments and Discussion Settings
Anonymous commenting on a WordPress.com blog
Why blog comment moderation is a good thing
Crazymaking Blogger Comment Settings
Blogging: Comment Baiting
Encouraging blog readers to comment
A Comment Policy for your Blog
Crafting Quality Blog Comments

43 thoughts on “How to handle negative comments

  1. [ Smiles ] The default setting for comments on WordPress is, to have the administrator moderate them before they are published.

    For the record, the creation of a comment policy is a fabulous idea!

    • I haven’t registered a new blog for a long time. That said I always set my blogs to full moderation as it works best for me in terms of keeping bad stuff off my blog and also in terms of making sure I don’t forget to reply to comments I receive. It always astonishes me when bloggers post to the support forums wanting to know how to set up anonymous commenting without moderation.

  2. Pingback: A comment policy for your blog « onecoolsitebloggingtips

  3. Truly excellent. What a step toward sanity it would be if people elected to “deal with criticism independently”– well said! The Victim Mentality seems to be dragging us further down every day.

    I also love your expression “taking responsibility for one’s own emotional health”– now there’s an empowering idea! Many of us should make it a mantra!!

    Your counsel about not engaging nutcases and trolls is similar to an expression I heard recently: “not taking the bait.” Life serves up a lotta bait– and it’s a wise person who ignores it. Wish I’d been smart enough to realize that years ago.

    Great post, thanks.

    • @Mark Armstrong
      The victim mentality is indeed pervasive and anyone who accommodates trolls on their blog by posting their inflammatory and/or defamatory comments is buying into it. Freedom of speech comes with responsibilities and when a commenter does not do that I take responsibility for my own emotional health and delete troll comments with impunity. Those who don’t play well with others don’t get to enter the playground ie my blog or my home.

  4. Hey there!

    For the first time since I started blogging, I have just received a nasty comment. I tell you, I was really affected by it since it attacked my writing and my own preferences regarding a topic talked about on that commented blog post.

    Actually, I have handled criticisms before and I can say that I can easily shrug them off and not be bothered by them. But this really recent comment affected me because, for the first time, someone attacked the way I write. Well, I write as a pastime, and I can say that I’m good enough to for my own blog. But for some reason, I doubted myself.

    Which then prompted me to go over your blog and look for a post regarding nasty comments. And it’s a good thing I found the above post!

    I can’t thank you enough for making this blog post ’cause it reassured me of my esteem. For a second there, I almost lost it. You’re right–you’re the author of your blog, you’re the one who decides what goes in and out; all to keep your inner piece intact. Yeah, there are trolls out there on the Internet, so I guess you just have to be sturdy enough to face them

    Thanks very much!
    Cheers!

    • @Rogue|Hero
      I’m so sorry I posted this comment and then lost track of it. I apologize for that. Yes we bloggers need to empower ourselves and part of what comes with that territory is ensuring our blogs are not “war zones” where anything goes and trolls rule the roost.

      Posting online in presumed anonymity brings out the worst in those who have only the worst to share.

      “Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.” — Maria Razumich-Zec

  5. Pingback: How to handle negative comments on your blog | The How To Do Things Blog

  6. Pingback: The Writer’s Pulse » How to take criticism (before it takes you!)

  7. I think that those who are new to blogging have difficulties in making the call to delete a comment. The post I wrote was meant to empower bloggers and to clarify the points that they are not their blogs and that it is important to protect and preserve an healthy environment for meaningful dialog to take place. There will be times when bloggers will have to make the choice to delete a comment and that does not mean marking it as spam. I reserve the “spam” designation for those who are peddling flesh, drugs, etc.

  8. A spam is a spam. Pure and irrelevant ‘link dropping’ and ‘diverting’ are indeed spam. I think, real people with real links and addresses should be go whatever they say (Relevant to your post of course). Real people have right to project themselves as fools, for everyone there to see, should that be their case. That’s democracy. Third party always knows better what is what.

    I had been moderated out not a few times in political and religious blogsites. Like one that posted about greediness as the work of the devil. I was saying that selfishness and greed are animal characteristics. That animals like pigs, that have nothing to do with God and the Devil, also display such characteristics. And it was not cranky because I was serious about my point.

    Sometimes serious points could come in joke-like manners. Anyway, surely you don’t mean something like personal likes and dislikes?

  9. Pingback: Blogging mistakes, copyright violations and nasty comments « A wide angle view of India

  10. Hello timethief, this is my first visit to your blog so I’ll just quickly say a BIG thank you for providing such a helpful, well written mine of information. I can’t wait to start reading back!

    I’ve been toying with the idea of a comments policy as my traffic has grown recently and I’ve had one or two link droppers. I keep the comment if it’s good but always delete the link because it just feels so rude. I felt a little guilty about it at first, but no more!

  11. Thanks for your comliment. I have heard from a lot of bloggers on this issue, yourself included and I learned from them and shared what I learned. :)

  12. K. Fields
    I’m so glad to hear that you are getting a domain for your blog, I will look forward to seeing your content , especially the photography, nicely showcased in a theme that does your posts justice. It’s also good to hear that this post on comment policy was a timely one for you. I’ll be visiting your blog again soon. Best wishes in all you do. :)

  13. SBA
    Bloggers already have the ability to set their blogs for auto-posting of comment or posting after moderation. And we also have the ability to delete any comments that are posted at any point time time. I have had open comment experiences where I have found spam and troll posts auto-posted to my blog so I not longer choose not to moderate comments. This means my readers who are all mature adults don’t get instant gratification but I’ve yet to hear them complain about it. Best wishes for your blogging. :)

  14. @drowseymonkey
    You have a great blog community and I enjoy very much being part of it. We all get by with a little help from friends. Thanks for reading my post and for finding it valuable enough to comment on. :)

  15. You make a sound argument for comment moderation and preparation of your own comment policy . Many new bloggers shy away from the ‘red tape’ of moderation and let the few who may be inspired to comment do so with some immediate gratification. I’d like an option where the submission is added, but the blog owner i able to delete entries. That might be helpful while readership grows.

  16. Thank you for this useful information. I am in the midst of getting my own domain for my blog, and have been wondering just exactly what to do with the comments area. I want to have some control, yet have it feel free at the same time.. Does that make sense? lol I want it all! :)

  17. Well said. I find it all depends on my mood. But hey, it’s my blog … my prerogative, lol. I find that quite often my regular commenters have it taken care of before I even know what’s going on, in which case I don’t delete it. Gotta luv good blogging friends.

  18. @Teck
    “My point is that it depends on what kind of subjects you blog about because it usually determines what kind of an readership community you’re going to draw in being the blog admin…”

    Thanks for sharing this very valid observation. I dare say that determining who your readership community is likely to be comprised of is worth considering, for sure. It’s always good to hear from you.
    Best wishes

  19. Yay! Robin. A comments guidelines are worthwhile. I read yours yesterday so thumbs up gal. It valuable to review all the boundaries before you have to deal with bad actors. Best wishes for happy blogging :)

  20. @travelnooks
    Good for you. It’s important for bloggers not to give their power away to bad mannered people and/or trolls. We put so much work into our blogs that it would be a shame if we let others ruin them.

  21. I haven’t had any problems on my personal blog “Teck~Line”
    when the readers leave a comment they leave it in a respectful
    manner on the other hand if I start to get bad comments I will
    implement a comment policy but I figure that the readers know
    what is expected of them in that matter..

    On the other hand when I had my “Gaming News HQ” Blog
    I had to implement a comment policy because I was always getting
    nasty comments from gamers because they didn’t like what I had
    to say about game etc… But I did allow there arguments if they were
    respectful about it…

    My point is that it depends on what kind of subjects you blog about
    because it usually determines what kind of an readership community
    you’re going to draw in being the blog admin…

  22. TT you are just SO SO SO good for me. You have a solid sense of boundaries and yet you are an open compassionate person. I love it and you! This is a great post and I agree! I have page on my blog with listed comment guidelines. I also approve all comments before they go up…unless I am away.

  23. Hi timethief,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. This post is great and quite helpful. ;) Really cool site, one cool site. ;)

    ~melisa

  24. I moderate my own blog as well, and delete the ones which are flames only without a point. I’ve had a string of comments from one person who wrote a long rant and then kept spamming as to why his post says waiting for moderation. It was very annoying, so I just deleted them all.

  25. @davidbdale
    Gosh I feel so guilty. I haven’t read your blog for months. I can’t say why that is. I guess it just fell through the cracks when I made up my rotation list. Anyway I just treated myself to reading two stories. You rock! I hope you will never need to have a comment policy.
    Happy blogging :)

  26. I don’t get nearly enough comments to worry about any of this, timethief, and in more than a year I can’t remember receiving one that wasn’t polite and thoughtful (sometimes a bit self-serving, but that’s OK).

    Your policies and attitudes all seem perfectly sane to me. I will adopt them the minute I need them. Thanks!

  27. Hopefully your post will empower bloggers who are riding on the fence about what to do in these cases! Dissenting views can be enriching and educational, but when maliciousness, spam and other less-savory elements of the Blogosphere begin to creep in, it really can affect perceptions– and first impressions- about a blog and its content.

    Cheers to you, TT. :)

  28. Thanks for your support. I reached a point in my life about 10 years ago when I made the decision not to suffer fools gladly and not to negotiate with rude and abusive people. The best tactic is “failure to engage” because the reason they are submitting a nasty negative comment is to have a soapbox to rant from. When I get the occasional “you deleted my comment” backlash I usually respond by sending them the link to the youtube of the Eagles singing: “Get over it!”.

    The last blogger who had her link dropping comment deleted from this blog posted her unhappiness with my choice to the Blog Catalog forum and then went over to the wp.com forum and posted a duplicate thread. In the former, she was deceptive and manipulative and, in the latter she had the audacity to characterize me as a Nazi. No kidding.

  29. I really like your closing remarks about learning how not to take offense. As a writer using a blog to post first drafts of essays and poems, I greatly value constructive criticism (and have a line to that effect right above the comment form); undeserved praise is actually a bigger danger from my perspective.

    So far I haven’t had to institute a formal comments policy, but I don’t hestitate to delete the occasional inappropriate comment. To me, the unwritten code governing the behavior of guests and hosts in our society should be sufficient. If people mistake my front porch for a public square and start spouting offensive B.S., I don’t owe them any apology or explanation for throwing their a** off my porch.

  30. @Nita
    Thanks for your support Nita. I’m appalled everyday by what I see passing as “civil conversation” under the banner of freedom of speech in the blogosphere. I have also had a couple of deletion calls to make recently too. One was a no substance comment and another was simply made for the purpose of link dropping. Last month I was dealing with a troll. My comments policy is founded on the hostess principle. I’m the hostess in both my home and my blog. What I would not tolerate in my home I will not tolerate in my blog. It’s always good to hear from you.
    Best wishes for happy blogging. :)

  31. Great post timethief. And I agree with you wholeheartedly. I would keep away from any site where there are nasty people commenting!
    I have had a lot of nasty people on my blog and some who pretend to be nice by using polite words but actually keep attacking. I have no guilt feelings whatever in deleting their comments and/or reprimanding them, but I have no idea why there are so many bloggers who believe in this freedom to insult kind of thing. I even read a blog post where the writer said that on a free wordpress blog one has no right to delete comments…or something to that effect…but I don’t agree with it. Nasty comments completely ruin the spirit of the discussions. And I think one should let the blog owner to decide what is nasty. Anyway I would prefer fewer comments to have one troll and about 10 others responding to make up the comment count!

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