How to Handle Negative Blog Comments
Negative comments are a right-of-passage with bloggers. When you get your first one – or your first onslaught of negative or debating commenters – don’t fret! Learn nine ways to get a handle on out-of-control blog comments.
Don’t’ Respond Immediately – Sit back and think your response through. Writing a responding comment while you’re angry could come across the wrong way and fan the flames of negativity.
If you feel the need to get your thoughts out, open an email and write it to yourself or save it as a draft, then come back later and edit. If you wait to respond, someone else in your community (another commenter or writer) might respond on your behalf, especially if the negative comments are out of line.
Keep Calm and Be Polite – When you respond, be polite – especially if your first instinct is to fight back. The old saying “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is true even with blog comments! Use a calm, even tone and respond politely. Don’t fall into the trap of name calling or finger-pointing.
Don’t Delete – As much as you’d love to get rid of nasty or outrageous comments, leave them. Although you have every right to delete comments (it’s your space, after all) many negative commenters will return to jump back into the conversation and may become incensed if you’ve deleted what they have to say.
Take the debate elsewhere – Jump into the discussion with a polite response and encourage readers to email you directly with questions. If one or two commenters are the loudest, email them directly (many content management systems or commenting systems ask for an email address associated with the comment) and ask if you can clarify anything for them.
Offer a guest post – Your negative commenter may have valid points in his or her comment, so offering a space for him or her on your blog to express this opinion might be a great way to turn a negative comment into a positive experience.
Many negative commenters just want to be heard, and giving them a platform to discuss the topic counterpoints further can help calm the conversation within your comments. BE sure to communicate with the guest poster about your guidelines, including length, editing and language.
Thank them for their feedback – Even if you don’t agree with a negative commenter, it’s important to thank them for their feedback. Many individuals who place negative comments don’t expect a polite response or for the writer to thank them for their opinion. It’s not only polite, but it allows you to show your professionalism and could stop hostility in its tracks.
Correct factual errors – Arguing with a negative commenter won’t help, but correcting factual errors (especially if the commenter is posting egregious or inaccurate statements) is a good idea. Other commenters or readers to your post may see the inaccurate statements, and if you aren’t there to correct them, they might walk away with a skewed perception of you and your writing. This is especially important for a business blog or if the commenter is personally attacking you.
Moderate comments – If you’ve tried to pacify an angry mob of commenters with guest posts, calmness and thanks and the debate still rages on, take your blogging authority and start to moderate comments.
You can still allow others to have their say, but you’ll be able to edit and choose which comments go through and which are deleted. Moderating comments can be helpful if commenters begin attacking one another in your comments – your blog should be a “safe spot” for you and your audience.
Close comments – A drastic last step for out-of-control comments is to close comments on the post. This can easily be done in many content management applications, and can put a quick halt to a debate. After you close comments, edit your post to explain why you closed the comments section and offer an alternative way to contact you if individuals have questions – such as an email address or Twitter account.
About the Author: Steven Taylor usually writes about Time Warner business internet. But when he’s not doing that, he’s sharpening his SEO and PPC skills.