Two Ways to Handle Negative Comments on Your Blog

It’s bound to happen at one point or another. You’ll write something that you consider brilliant in your niche. You’ll hurry to post it so you can bask in all the great comments you’re bound to receive. You submit your post and wait. When comments start to roll in, you get that horrible sinking feeling in your stomach as you read them. You’re starting to get negative comments about your content.

It’s a terrible feeling, but it’s a fact of life in the blogging world. It’s important, when you’re blogging on a regular basis, to understand that not everyone is going to like the content you create. So what do you do when negative comments start appearing on your blog? Here are two scenarios that might help you determine the best course of action:

If you made an error of fact

The best thing you can do to avoid making errors of fact is to proofread your post several times before you submit it. Make sure to double-check any numbers or facts that you have pulled from other sources. Sometimes, however, things slip through the cracks. The blogosphere is largely a self-correcting machine. That means if you got something wrong, you’ll likely get called out for it.

If you’re lucky, the commenter who informs you of the error will be polite, but that’s not always the case. In fact, I’ve never understood the need to be rude when notifying a blogger of a factual error, but it does happen quite frequently. What you should do is acknowledge the error and apologize for it. This can be done in the comments section of your blog or as a clear addendum to the body copy. Be gracious and thank the commenter for notifying you of the error, even if they were rude in letting you know. Actually, you should do that especially if they were rude in letting you know.

Wherever the error occurs in your body copy, you need to fix it. You don’t, however, just delete it and fix the error. Blogging is all about transparency. It’s extremely important. It’s never nice knowing that you made a mistake, and the big temptation is to just make it disappear as soon as possible. You really shouldn’t do that on your blog. Instead, use the strikethrough font function for the erroneous information and then simply correct the mistake next to the strikethrough.

Doing this will actually do two things: 1. It will fix the error so future readers know that the information that has been lined out is false; 2. It will show your readers that you’re a responsible blogger, aware of your mistakes and willing to fix problems wherever and whenever they occur. It builds your credibility. And remember to always thank someone who points out an error of fact to you.

If you have a difference of opinion

Offering opinions about your niche is a great way to get a discussion going. Before you delve into this type of writing, however, you need to understand that this is generally the type of writing that receives the most criticism. I spent some time as a columnist at a few newspapers and I can’t even repeat some of the things I was called for simply having a different opinion than some of my readers. You have to have a thick skin to write about your opinions.

With that said, I encourage you to do it if you think you can handle it. The hope is always that an opinion piece will lead to an intelligent discussion about the issues involved where all sides of the issue are represented in a respectful manner. Things don’t always — or often — happen that way.

If you get particularly nasty comments of a personal nature, it can get ugly really quickly if you handle it the wrong way. What I’ve found is that it is best to acknowledge these comments and try to steer the discussion back to a more civil tone. One piece of advice I will offer you is this: Never apologize for having an opinion. It may be tempting to apologize when someone puts you down, but this is not the time to do it. You have opinions and it’s your right to have them. Don’t apologize for that.

Instead, simply reply with a comment. Inform the commenter that you understand their points and you can see things from their view. Then, I find it’s simply best to summarize the points you made in your post or further explain your opinion on the points being questioned by the negative commenter. Take about two or three sentences to do this. You might do this in case your opinion wasn’t clear enough to the commenter, which might be the cause for the misunderstanding of opinion.

After that — and this is very important — thank the commenter for taking the time to read your post and comment. Be gracious at all times. Remember, even though a commenter has left you a negative comment, they still took the time to come to your blog and read your writing. That’s definitely worth a “Thank you.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this process for negative feedback to diffuse situations of differences of opinion. Generally, the person responsible will begin to see your side of the story and engage you in a more civilized conversation about the topic. If that happens, you might have a brand new loyal reader.

This isn’t always going to happen. Some people just don’t want to hear the other side of the story. But, no matter what, always be nice and thankful that they stopped by to offer their opinion.

What have you found are some effective ways to handle negative comments?

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  1. Karl Lusbec

    Very good article!
    My blog is quite new and have not faced rude comments so far. I do agree with you with always being polite and corteous. Blogging is showing your education and manners. You show uncivilised way to communicate, you expose yourself as a lousy person or professional no one would want to have in his/her team.
    It's all a matter of branding and expose yourself to the public and politeness pays off!

  2. Joe Pritchard

    I agree with what you say with one significant caveat. If someone came in to my home and swore at me, I'd not debate the issue; I'd just show them the door. Same on my blog. If someone is rude and offensive – and having looked after a few web forums under my own name you will inevitably get some attention from morons – then I simply block their IP address and remove the comment – I will not lower myself to their level.

    If someone says something I disagree with in a robust and even agressive manner, I'll publish and answer, but if someone immediately kicks off with foul language and personal abuse, I won't validate them by giving them online space.

  3. tammikibler

    Excellent points. I have not yet received negative comments on my blogs, but I think your advice will serve me well when it happens.

  4. Douglas Idugboe

    You have a great point. Sometimes you get some inflamed readers, for no apparent reason would rant and swear just to amuse themselves. In this case, it's your responsibility to clean up your comment stream for decency.

    The social web thrives under open conversations. Just as you mentioned in your comment, It's highly important to encourage open conversation with the understanding, depending on where you stand, there's always another side to the coin of facts and opinion. What's fact to one could be an opinion to another. Anyone is free to express his/her fact or opinion as long as you respect the forum through which it's expressed.

    Thanks for your comment Joe. We appreciate it.

  5. Douglas Idugboe

    We are Glad we are able to prepare you for the inevitable. Negative comments on your blog is never a matter of if, it's always a matter of when. I know when it happen on your blog, you're well prepared to tackle it. Hey! sometimes you just let the fire ball roll, as long as you are sure you have it under control.

    Thanks for the comment.

  6. Douglas Idugboe

    You're right Karl. Every move you make on the social web is a branding move. It's your choice how you choose to brand yourself, especially with what you say on blogs and forums. You're just a Google search away from the embarrassment.

    Great to have you on here Karl.

  7. Dino Dogan

    Great post…I esp like the “diffuse the situation” bit…some people come to fight and personally I'm much more interested in our similarities than our differences.

    I dont mean to push my own wares but since its super relevant here is a link to my post on how to handle negative comments. I also have a post on how to handle positive comments…not often discussed, id it? 🙂

    Great site btw…I'm really enjoying perusing the articles and checking out your wares.

  8. David Mon

    I like this post, It is important to remember that not all negative comments are the same. IMO often times companies don’t handle negative comments well.


  9. Roger Hunziker

     Really liked this article. It’s not always easy to deal with negative comments but you stated out some points which are really helpful- especially “don’t excuse for having your opinion” i remember that i’d wan’t to excuse myself on discussions only to not getting any negative reactions. You’re so right we should never excuse ourselves for having an own opinion!

  10. EmmanuelleJameson

    My rules are 
    1. No Anonymous negative comments. If you feel strongly have enough guts to put your name to it.
    2. It’s ok to criticize me. But not other people on my blog. I’m not hosting a flame war on my blog comments section.

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