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How to Deal With Negative Comments or Feedback on Your Blog

Updated on July 30, 2013
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When readers don't like what you have to say

Whether you are a writer, a musician, or a famous painter, all artists must know how to deal with negative feedback and criticism about their work. With the age of the blog upon us, writers are realizing more and more, how difficult it is to blog online without pissing someone off. So how does one continue their love of writing without succumbing to negative feedback or fear that you will hurt someone else's feelings?

Expect that your following will wax and wane

I remember the first day I realized someone un-followed my blog. When I woke up in the morning, I had 20 followers and by bedtime, it was 19. I was devastated. I sat in a funk for days about it. There were a couple of problems with my reaction.

1. It stopped my writing flow as I obsessed about what I had done wrong.
2. I spent too much time scouring through my subscription list to see if I could figure out who it was. I'm not sure why, because honestly- what was I going to do about even if I did know?

As difficult as it may feel that first time someone rejects you, try to remember that it is not YOU they are rejecting. Perhaps they are trying to clean out their email or didn't realize what your blog was about when they signed up. Whatever the reason, it may have nothing to do with your skill as a humorous or insightful blogger. Stop wasting time analyzing it!

Lots of good bloggers lose followers all the time. It is the nature of the beast unfortunately.

Expect criticism

If you plan to blog, criticism comes along with the package. Unless you are blogging about computer science code or some other non-moral topic, expect that sooner or later, you will accidentally hurt someone's feelings.

And just because you are blogging about knitting, it doesn't mean you won't get negative feedback. Perhaps your methods are questionable, your review of a certain product is not popular, etc. Whatever you blog about, don't set yourself up for the idea that you will always have happy and loyal readers.

It makes that first time a little bit less of a surprise.

Think about it for a few minutes

If someone leaves a remark that you perceive as critical or judgmental, take five minutes and do the following assessment:

The Questions You Can Ask Yourself
Looking for Motivation
Do I know this person?
If you don't, try to decide if they are even someone you should waste your time on.
If I don't, what is their point?
If it seems inflammatory, then just let it go entirely.
If I do, is their any reason you know of as to why they would say this?
Sometimes, real life drama spills onto the blog, in which case, it should be dealt with outside the blog.
Is there any truth in it?
Whatever might be true, take away. The rest- leave it and don't look back.
Source

What is the proper response?

In many cases, the best response is no response. After all, your blog was written to shed some light on a topic and your point of view. If you did a fairly decent job of explaining yourself, there is no need to get into a fighting match with someone who disagrees. Let them say their piece and be done with it.

But what if they misunderstood you?
In some cases, a reader may have misunderstood your point. You can reply to their comment with a brief clarification, but then leave it alone. After all, that is what comments are for- so people can give their two cents about what you wrote.

Should I delete negative comments?
My personal opinion is no. If you delete negative comments, you set yourself up to look like a militant blogger. Even if you don't mean to, it can communicate this message, "Only opinions that are like mine are allowed here." That will drive readers away quickly.

You can make a blanket rule that any swearing or comments with links will be deleted, but other than that, just leave it up...even if it is negative. It shows that you aren't intimidated by differing opinions...and you can take a bit of heat.

Real life drama because of the blog

I've been blogging for five years and I have had a ton of real life drama because of my blog.

1. People didn't want me putting up pictures of them without their consent.
2. People didn't like the way I portrayed them on the blog.
3. People didn't agree with my analysis of a situation.
4. Relatives or acquaintances assumed they "knew" me because of the blog.
5. People were offended by my language or the personal nature of it.
6. People drew conclusions about my life based on my blog.

So what can you do about all of this?

People didn't want me putting up pictures of them without their consent.
If a parent doesn't like you using a photo of their child, then take it down immediately. In fact, you really should check with the parents before using it. However, if it is a photo of someone over 18, you don't technically need their consent, as long as you are using a photo that you captured. If they speak to you about it, it is a courtesy to take it down, unless it's absolutely necessary to the blog content for the day.

People didn't like the way I portrayed them on the blog.
Oh well. This is my response, unless of course it is a dear friend and I care about their feelings and opinions. Blogs are meant to be satirical, sarcastic, characterized, etc. You can avoid a lot of this by explaining to your friends about your writer's "voice". In many cases, friends will understand if you describe your overall vision and theme for the blog. And...tell them that you included them because they are integral part of your life. Who could be offended about that?

People didn't agree with my analysis of a situation
Explain to them nicely that they are free to open up their own blog and give an opposite analysis of the situation in question.

Relatives or acquaintances assumed they "knew" me because of the blog.
This is a typical hazard of the chronic lifestyle blogger. People might think that your life is encompassed in the blog. All you have to say is that there is more to you than what is posted on the blog. Other than that, you can't do much.

People were offended by my language or the personal nature of it.
This is a typical response from older friends and relatives who aren't used to the social nature of the Internet. You can try to explain the concept of a blog, but be prepared for people to not get it. Just politely tell them they don't have to read it if it bothers them.

People drew conclusions about my life based on my blog.
It's inevitable. Your real friends will stick around regardless. The ones who harbor secret resentments or jealousy, won't.

Anonymity

Of course, you can avoid all this by opening up an anonymous blog. This works well for some, but for others- it eventually gets too labor intensive to keep your identity hidden. What's easier is to change the names of people you want to protect. Of course, real life readers might continue to try to guess who you are talking about, but at least you can say you tried to disguise them.

Have you ever had negative feedback on your blog?

See results

Prepare people

There are a couple ways you can prepare family and friends for your blog.

Tell them.
Explain to them your blog idea, your voice, and your plans. Apologize in advance so they know that you aren't deliberately trying to make their lives miserable.

Patience
It's been about five years and most of these problems have gone away. People just know that if they hang out with me, they will appear on the blog sooner or later. It's a given, and if you don't want to be on it, then don't hang out with me. And I can say things now I could never say before, simply because I know that readers understand the sarcastic nature of my blog.

Make a Disclaimer Page
An easy way to warn incoming readers, is with a disclaimer page. Write up something about you, your opinions, and/or what you expect. That way, if you get a nasty commenter, you can simply point them to your nifty disclaimer page.

Don't take yourself too seriously

Above everything else, know that even some of the greatest artists and entrepreneurs of the world were hated by someone somewhere along the way. Negative feedback is a left handed compliment. It means you stirred up enough emotion to evoke a response.

That isn't all bad.

Blogger of the Day for Anderson Cooper 2012
Blogger of the Day for Anderson Cooper 2012 | Source

About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer, blogger, and author. She can be found at Life According to Julie or at Fabulous Blogging. She's got her PhD in pissing people off.

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    • gags3480 profile image

      GAGANPREET SINGH BHATIA 4 years ago from Kanpur, India

      Earlier I used to delete such comments, but this article will help me a lot in dealing with such comments. Thx, following you now.

    • SkeetyD profile image

      SkeetyD 4 years ago from Barbados

      These are great tips Julie. That first negative comment is truly the hardest to deal with and following your tips will help anyone move on and continue to write great content!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Well done I still gett gatfor 1 of my hubs about the point of the article was that I was learning from my previous mistakes was hoping other people then from them as

      well. But I was condemned mistakes every few months get very negative response. I like your suggestion month swear words I'm going to use that as mine right. And maybe I'll start publishing some of them again Benpoint of

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 4 years ago from India

      This is very nice hub. Even though I have never had a personal negative comment but we all get some comment which is contrary to what we expect. First thing for any blog is that it should be read by lots of people. I like those who comment ( unless they put their own link in comment or they put some commercial comment or what i feel is vulgar.) because they took enough time to read the blog. I never take out negative comment but again I dont try to reason it much. I give my point only once in comments. Well about un following it is something I have done too because I know which Hubs I have commented upon. It is on your activity. So I check in a day or two if the writer replied to my comment. Since Hubpages by default make you follow all hubs if you forget to uncheck the box, and it clutters your notifications because some hubs gets 100s of comments.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Last time someone insulted my writing, I mentioned it to fpherj48 ....and....the person was never heard from again.

      True Story!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I don't have a blog. I've had very little, what might be considered, "negative feedback," here at HP. I decide whether it requires/deserves a response, and comment accordingly, short and sweet.

      You have given excellent advice here, Julie. Your suggestions are very well thought through, to make this issue, easier to deal with.

      Saw you and your husband last night, on Dr. Drew! Nice interview.

      Peace.........UP+++

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      My reaction to negative comments depends on how the writer expressed the criticism. Negative comments can be made in a polite respectful way. In those cases I reply the same way. If they are unreasonable and use obscene language, I delete them.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thanks Julie, I needed to read this. You must have got some great inspiration for this post! ;-) I take to heart everything you've mentioned here...all bloggers should be aware of this, great job!!

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the comments, advice and certainly the last phrase

      "don't take yourself seriously". I get tons of versatile feedback: mostly those that can relate, but when I do receive a negative comment, I simply know they are not those I am writing for. My audience is sensitive, alluring and captivating: If they are not of this bunch, then they are not a part of my circle and are not welcome to the HOUSE of ALUR!

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks Julie, I have nothing negative to say about this blog ! I like to think that I follow your advice of not taking myself too seriously. Sometimes negative comments can have a positive effect by having you take a second look at something you wrote or your train of thought. But if it's just rude, I agree that it's best to take the high road.

    • profile image

      chrisinhawaii 4 years ago

      Hi Julie. I accidentally clicked "Beautiful." I hope that's okay...

      I'm loving your blogging series of hubs and am soaking up lots of good tips. Keep 'em coming!

      Mahalo, Dr. DeNeen...and Aloha!

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Honey Halley 4 years ago from Illinois

      Voted +++

    • patchofearth profile image

      patchofearth 4 years ago from somewhere in the appalachian foothills

      I enjoyed this hub. A lot of great advice. I haven't gotten far enough with blogging to encounter negative feedback, but I'm sure the day is coming.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Great article Julie-I think when I first started writing online I was more easily offended. I agree with you that you just can't take yourself too seriously, especially when your writing is out there. I too don't comment with really angry or belittling comments but will if I think it's not over the line. I think comments mean people are reading your work and that's always a compliment.

    • RBJ33 profile image

      RBJ33 4 years ago

      Good advice Julie - been there done that!!!! One thing I would add is don't let someone sucker you into a debate just so they can belittle you even more - and there are a few out there who do that - been there done that !!!!

      By the way is "constructive criticism" an oxymoron?

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Excellent hub and advice on handling negative comments. I agree that unless it contains vulgar language it should not be removed. How you handle it also speaks to your character as a person and as a writer. Thank you for a terrific, easy to read, in-depth hub on this very important topic.

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 4 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      Really good topic, Julie. I've gotten negative comments on my hubs in the past. In fact, last November, I got one that was so cruel it made me want to quit HubPages, "Writers like you are what's wrong with the Internet" (in reference to Panda.)

      I was so distraught about it that I quit writing for quite a while.

      I don't delete constructive negative comments, "I disagree and here's why..." but I WILL delete comments like, "you're ugly" and "you're what's wrong with the Internet" that offer no reasoning or resolution. I think it only serves as something to make me feel bad about myself whenever I see them.

      The constructive ones, on the other hand, I'll not only keep but seriously consider... "How can I become a better writer? Did I misrepresent my view? How can I better convey my message? How can I include the other side of the conversation in my article/hub?"

      I also know of a number of situations where negative comments have actually brought in a ton of traffic. For example, a blogger from the Cleveland area wrote a review of a ballet studio in the area that she had visited using a free class promo code. It was a neutral review, but she did say the price was too high if you wished to regularly attend classes. The owner of the studio, unhappy with the review, wrote back accusing her of stealing the coupon and threatening to call the police... among other negative comments. These comments alone made the blog go viral!

      The above goes to show that sometimes the crazy things that happen in your comment section can get you a HUGE readership, but if you're a business owner, you will want to be careful about what you write online.

      Writing on controversial topics can definitely get some traffic, but that's not really my thing unless it's something I really have to get out. Sometimes, even the most innocuous things can turn out to be an incredibly controversial, so it's definitely important to know how to handle blog comments (this hub DEFINITELY helps out with that!!!) When you put yourself out there on the Internet, you're really susceptible to all sorts of abuse... and kudos ("Will you marry me?")

      Great hub, Julie, really thought provoking.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Very good words of advice. I think it is important for anyone who posts publicly, to understand that not everyone is going to like what you say. I have a friend who is my constant muse (and it's mostly because I disagree with how she conducts a lot of her business!) yet, she loves to read and get my spin on it. You never know how people will perceive what you write but if you think you wrote something they won't like, you are probably right! Thank you for sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome advice. I'm going to hold this hub close like a teddy bear because I know the day will come when I royally piss someone off and...egads...at least I know it's coming. The day I see that negative comment, I'm coming right back over here to read. Sharing this all over. ;)

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Julie - Great advice! Have never had any major negatives on any of my writings, just two misunderstanding that were later cleared up. However, we do have to be careful what we write, especially in the comedy segment, as people tend to take things seriously instead of jokingly. It happens, unfortunately. We live and learn. C'est le vie! Great Job!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this. It has been my experience that bad comments is the best way to commit social suicide.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      We have been talking about being confident writers and about giving honest feedback (- and +) in my senior English class. I want my students to know how to take neg. criticism when they go out into the real world. You give good solid advice here. Voted up.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Julie seriously great advice and so far only ticked off one person and he eventually worked out his feelings and we are friends again and just fine. But you are right about how to handle these types of situations and gave some very good solid advice here. I have pinned to refer back to, voted up much, shared and tweeted, too!!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      Julie, I really enjoy your hubs and will now be checking out your blog. I have been so hesitant to join the blogosphere for so many of the reasons you mentioned above, but perhaps it's time to take some of your tips and give it a try. As always, well done.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, luckily I don't have enough visitors to my blog to worry about this; I'm not the Blog Guru like you are, so I don't have these problems. :)

      I have received negative comments on hubs and quite frankly, a writer had better have a very thick skin, or they have no business putting their stuff out there for the public to read.

      Good suggestions, Julie!

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