Blog Etiquette for Commenting
I want to preface this by stating that this is not something I have personally experienced since I'm not really much of a blogger and it is not something that I am guilty of. I have, however, seen it many times across many blogs and I have experienced it as a forum poster. I'm talking about commentary that is negative and does not add anything constructive to the blog post itself.
Usually, this negativity is due to the fact that the commentator has not properly read the post and misunderstood something or they simply had a different opinion than the blogger. The person then attempts to call the blogger out by bashing them, calling them names, accusing them of being intentionally misleading or doing some other negative thing. This often leads to a loss of reputation for the blogger who is actually innocent and is a victim of what I consider to be an example of Internet bullying.
Yep, you read it right. I believe that negative blog posting can sometimes be an example of cyberbullying. This might seem extreme, but people that have been on the receiving end may feel differently. Getting torn apart publicly for a simple oversight or mistake is not fun at all. Especially when you didn't do anything wrong and the angry party simply misread something. It's easy enough to delete the comment or reply to clear things up, but it doesn't erase the fact that the blogger can't really unread it.
I would be willing to wager that the majority of people who do these things online would never do them in person. Imagine if someone you met while you were out and about started up a casual conversation with you and mentioned a great cleaning product that you should try. So, you went out and tried the product and found that it wasn't up to your standards. The next day, you come across this person again. Would you really tear them a new one over the fact that the product didn't work out for you as well as they claimed it would? I seriously doubt it.
How Can I Avoid Being a Blog Bully?
I'm glad you asked! There are several steps that you can take in order to avoid being one of these despicable people. If you are dissatisfied with the information that you have received from a blog review or overview, follow these steps to help you avoid lashing out:
- Remember the Golden Rule. Basically, try to treat others as you would have them treat you. If you're a halfway decent person, this means that you would treat them kindly because it's what you would want for yourself. This will help you communicate effectively with others and your interactions will be far more positive than before, unless this was already the norm for you.
- Double check the information. Before you get all up in arms about a blog you read that didn't warn you about pitfalls or had otherwise omitted some key piece of information, reread it. It's very possible that you simply overlooked a detail somewhere. People do this all the time, even if they pride themselves in their reading comprehension skills. Something that you took as the gospel truth might actually be expressed as an opinion, so watch for phrases that show the blogger is not speaking in absolutes. Before you blame the blogger, make sure that it's not actually your fault.
- Lower your expectations. This really should be common sense and I'm sad that I actually have to type it out. Don't try something new, be it a work at home job or a product or some sort, with the expectation that you're going to have the absolute best experience with it. It's a simple fact that not everything is for everyone. If you bought a tablet PC that a lot of people were really pleased with, it doesn't mean that it will meet your standards. Their idea of fast loading times might not be the same as yours. There's a reason why many manufacturers allow people to rate their products on a sliding scale.
- Give it a fighting chance. This is probably one of the biggest issues I see when it comes to angry commentators. They tried something one time or for five minutes and never really gave it a chance to work, especially when it comes to work at home jobs. They sign up, start working and immediately decide that it's just trash. Before you decide that it isn't worth your time, spend some time on it. It's usually because you are new to the job or the system and you will get better over time. Perhaps you don't have enough confidence and take longer than necessary because you want it to be perfect, and then decide that you will always have to take that long. This is rarely the case.
- Make sure that it is not simply user error. You could actually be doing something wrong! Yep, you are not perfect and you can make mistakes, too. If your tablet isn't loading pages fast enough, perhaps the problem is on your end and is easily fixable. If your work is constantly getting rejected, maybe you missed an important step somewhere. Blame yourself before you blame someone else.
Been There, Done That, Still Upset
Okay, so you've followed those steps and you are still unhappy about the review or overview from the blogger. It actually is their fault. How should you react in order to be as constructive as possible? Try this out:
- Contact the blogger. You don't have to write a negative comment on the post itself if you find that some important information is left out or is a flat out lie. Assume that perhaps they were misinformed about it by someone else, forgot to put the information in or didn't test the product or job long enough to be able to draw the proper conclusion. The best thing that you can do is contact them directly. This will give them a chance to rectify the situation without having to deal with a public comment that shows they made a mistake.
- Use constructive criticism. If the blogger does not allow people to contact them, refuses to change the information or ignores your email, you should probably leave a comment. It is never necessary to get nasty, though. Constructive criticism is giving information that ultimately adds to the information already there even though it is pointing out the flaws. It is not just negative for the sake of being negative and it's never presented in such a way that it is offensive. Instead of saying "I can't believe you said this tablet is lightning fast! If a webpage takes five seconds to load, it's slow!" say something like "Perhaps I'm used to one second load times or less, but five second load times aren't really up to my standards. I disagree with the opinion that it is fast." It's polite, forgiving, and it adds something to the post that others might want to know. Make sure to forgive the blogger before you contradict them. More often than not, it's simply something that they were unaware of or an opinion that conflicts with yours.
- Take a time out. If you feel like you cannot be civil with this person, take a breather. You should never act out of anger as it almost always comes out too harshly. You will likely regret it the next day after you've had time to cool off. But, once you hit that submit button, you can't take the words back once the blogger has seen them. So, sleep on it and see how you feel the next day. You'll probably be able to express yourself in a civil way instead of sounding like a meanie.
Disclaimer: I'm Not Really Miss Manners
In conclusion, I want to say that I'm not the authority when it comes to manners and etiquette. I have a habit of sticking my foot in my mouth fairly frequently. My intentions are always pure, though. I can state that with confidence. I go out of my way to treat others with respect, kindness and consideration. Perhaps it's simply southern hospitality or maybe my mama just raised me right.
Personally, I believe that it's because I've been the target of bullying and ridicule online and offline and I know how much it hurts. I know how frustrating it is when someone lashes out without even trying to be understanding. I think that it's especially hurtful because it is never my intention and I hate for people to think that I'm some kind of malicious person that's out to screw them over. I'm sure that many other people in that position would feel the same.