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

Comments are closed.