Thursday, 4 October 2012

Dealing with Negative Comments on Your Blog

One of the ways of knowing how ‘active’ a blog really is, is by looking at the amount of comments and feedback that it gets. Comments contribute to your blogging success.

As a blogger, you should always encourage people to post comments on your blog and your posts, encourage people to have their say, chip in with their own thoughts, and chip in with their own opinions and views.

Comments promote community, interactivity, discussion and debate on your blog. They take the discussion forward, and add value to it.

But perhaps most importantly, comments are a sign of activity, and the fact that your blog is active, gets visitors and traffic and encourages people to leave feedback.

Posts with comments will tend to leave a great impression on new visitors, for instance, as opposed to a blog with no user-based activity that simply looks like a ‘ghost-town’.

Don’t however expect everyone to leave positive comments. As much as you would like for that to be true, it isn’t. The fact of the matter is that not everyone will agree with your point-of-view, and your blog will get negative comments and feedback from time to time (welcome to the internet!).

It is vital to know how to deal with such comments, as it can make or break your, you blog’s, your business’s and brand’s online reputation. Yes, it is easy to get upset or offended when someone posts a negative comment, but knowing how to deal with it when this happens can make all the difference in the world.

But some ground rules first: People will troll you, be disrespectful, insulting /and downright offensive. It is important to never get into a flame-war with any of your visitors, because ultimately, that will end up damaging your online reputation the most.

The first rule is to respond to all comments politely, calmly and in a courteous manner – and yes that includes negative comments as well. Or not responding to the comments at all. But if do, it is always important to keep your cool, and respond in a civil manner. Rule number 1 right there folks!

Another important thing: ALWAYS refrain from responding to negative comments immediately. Human beings have the tendency to say harsh things in the heat of the moment or in an emotional state of mind, and doing so could see you end up considerably damaging your standing. Give yourself some time – at the very least a few hours – before responding to such comments.

Remember that you have the choice to simply walk away and not ‘feed the troll’ at all.

Adversely, it might be not be such a good idea to simply ignore such comments, or delete them. Doing so might force unsatisfied readers into voicing their displeasure in a much stronger manner, or perhaps take it somewhere much more public.

Besides, responding to negative comments (in a civil manner) clears up any misconceptions and generally leaves a good impression on your visitors, and of course (depending on the nature of such comments) it might also clear up your name and reputation. Responding to all comments – negative or positive – is good for customer service.

Try looking at the comments from a neutral perspective. Are they really totally unfounded, baseless, and simply troll comments, or do they have a hint of truth? Does the commenter in question have a point? Is the comment constructive in any way whatsoever? Respond positively by thanking the said person for his constructive criticism, and use this criticism – no matter how harsh it might really be – to improve your blog.

As human beings, we are error-prone. Bloggers make mistakes all the time, and if you’ve done so and someone’s called you to it in the comments section, own up to it. Apologize, and acknowledge and correct the mistake, and thank the said person for bringing it to your notice.

In addition, if a comment is inaccurate (factually or otherwise), and you have proof, go ahead and prove your innocence – but with hard facts. Do it in a polite manner.

Remember that you might have misjudged the tone and the meaning of the content, since any interaction over the internet (or text-based interaction for that matter), does not include the element of body language or tone. Therefore things can easily be taken out of context or misjudged.

NEVER argue back! Goes in real life, and is equally applicable on the internet as well! An argument with someone on the internet (aka. a flame-war) will be almost always be counterproductive, and an exercise in futility.

Never respond with something like ‘it’s my blog so I’ll say what I want to’. Yes, it might be your blog, but remember that it’s a free world and it’s the internet; if you have the right to ‘say what you want to’ then so do the people on the internet.

At the end of the day, it might be okay to ‘agree to disagree’. Acknowledge his comment and thank him for taking time out to post one on your blog.

In extreme cases – such as then someone incessantly spams your blog or trolls the comments section, don’t be afraid to use the mighty ‘banhammer’! Wordpress and other popular blogging tools make it very easy to ban users and IP addresses, so if it comes to that, don’t be afraid to use it.

The general principle on the internet, when it comes to comments, is to (a) avoid any sort of confrontation that might be damaging or harmful to your repute, (b) give yourself time, in order to rationally and neutrally respond to negative comments, (c) be courteous and polite to all your visitors, (d) reassess the situation to determine if you might’ve misjudged it, and (e) never feed the trolls.

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