When Things Get Nasty on Your Blog

negative-comments Have you ever had a nasty comment left on your blog that seemed like it was totally out of left field?

Email haters (and comment haters and trolls) are everywhere. The anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in people (YouTube comments anyone?) but if you love to blog then you’ve also seem the upside of connecting with hundreds of people from around the world that you won’t have otherwise met.

Most of the time, there’s a whole lot more good than bad in the blogging world.

But when a negative commenter or troll lands on your site, hits up your social media accounts or crawls into your inbox to share their views with you, it’s easy to forget all the good and focus 100% on that one person.

When negative comment happen, we often don’t have a frame of reference for it because let’s be honest, most of us don’t have people coming up to us on the street and telling us we’re stupid and that’s kind of how a negative comment can feel. Rude, unfounded and out of the blue.

In my experience there are 2 very different kinds of negative feedback we get on blogs:

  1. Criticism that is painful but valid
  2. People just being mean

It’s easy to write off any negative feedback as hateful but I think it’s important to listen for any actual constructive feedback that might be hanging out behind the comment in the event that there may be something to learn from.

I know that this is easier said than done, but there are some things you can keep in mind about negative comments to make moving past them and learning from them a bit easier.

After receiving a negative comment, but before responding, try asking yourself:

1. Is there any validity in what the person is saying? Even though a nasty email might not be phrased as nicely as one would like, there may be a nugget or two of wisdom hidden in there that you can use to improve your blog or the way you communicate to ensure the point you intend is getting across to your audience. Use this feedback to clarify your point of view or be phrase things differently in the future. If one person was confused or angry enough to email, there may be more readers feeling in a similar way who aren’t telling you.

2. Did you make a mistake? We all step in it from time to time and lucky enough for bloggers we get to do it online for the world to see. If you’ve made an error that may have caused the negative feedback then being open, honest and sorry about it is a great way to move past the whole thing.

3. Is this just mean for the sake of being mean? From the fabulous Katy Widrick’s blog, hurt people hurt people really sums up the vast majority of negative comments you’re likely to see on your blog. When people are suffering it can lead them to reach out and try to pull you down with them. It’s entirely within your control whether you let them do this, you can chose the high road every time.

Successful people don’t have time to hate on other people’s blogs. I don’t recall where I initially read that but it really hit home for me. Can you remember the last time a successful blogger in your niche went blog surfing to leave negative comments everywhere? Not likely, because they’re too busy with their own stuff and their reputation to worry about hating on other people.

To Respond or Not to Respond?

Once you’ve decided on the motivation behind the comment, it’s time to figure out the how, or if, to respond.

If you feel that there is some validity to the comment, even though it stings to hear, decide how you can clarify the issue that’s causing problems. Usually being 100% transparent and talking openly about the area of confusion resolves things quickly. You don’t necessarily have to address the negative commenter individually but as mentioned before, if one person has a valid concern you may have a silent group of other readers who have similar feelings so addressing concerns more publicly might be a good idea.

When people are hurtful just for the sake of it, it sucks. There’s nothing you can really say or do that is going to make a difference in this type of situation and in most cases, when you feed the trolls (aka: respond to them) it only makes the situation worse. Try talking to a trusted blogging friend, writing a response to that person on paper and then throwing it away or reframing the situation knowing that it has zero to do with you and everything to do with them.

When deciding how to deal with a negative commenter one of the easiest ways to get out of your head about it is to think about how you want this situation to be viewed by the 99.9% of your readers that adore you. How you decide to respond tells them volumes about who you are and will impact how they feel about your blog and your brand so proceed with authenticity and you’ll be fine.

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in reading more about how to deal with negative comments, here’s 2 of my favs, enjoy!

1. 3 Reasons I Love My Troll by Carla Birnberg. Still one of my favorite troll related posts which turns the whole troll thing upsidedown as only Carla can.

2. Learning From Your Blog Critics by Katy Widrick. Because sometimes it’s easy to just get hurt and made when there’s a larger lesson to be learned.

What do you think is the best way to handle a negative commenter, troll, etc.?

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  1. says

    This is such a great topic. I had my very first nasty comment on a guest blog post I wrote about juicing (innocuous subject, right?). It was a little bit jarring. Then, I remembered that getting nasty comments means that you’re pushing buttons; taking a stand on something. And, it’s ok if someone disagrees. So, my fright left, quickly. I responded to the comment with kindness — that’s all I could do. I, however, have yet to allow comments on my Youtube posts; I feel like that pool is full of sharks, and I need more time to prepare.

    • Rita Barry says

      That’s an excellent way of describing Youtube! It definitely requires growing additional layers of skin to deal with those ones.

      That darn juicing, eh? As long was it wasn’t an endangered flower smoothie it is hard to think how that would elicit the nastiness. But you’re right, making people care one way or the other is a lot better than indifferent.

  2. says

    Great topic, Rita! Those comments are never fun and couldn’t agree more with what you said about seeing if there’s truth in it vs. someone just being a jerk. The more visible we are, the more opportunities there are to connect with people who can benefit from what we’re saying, our services, etc., but there will be those that disagree, and as Alison said, that’s a positive sign because only those that are brave enough to stand for something warrant disagreement. Sending you lots of positive vibes! :)

    • Rita Barry says

      So true, my friend sent me a link awhile back to a blogger’s twitter stream, all the @ mentions to her and it nearly made my hair turn grey. It does unfortunately come with the territory a bit but it’s also nice to be surrounded, more closely, by such a supportive tribe :)

    • Rita Barry says

      Linda, that made me laugh, it’s very true. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there just for someone to try and know you down when you do. Best to hang out with the nice folks, eh?

  3. says

    I once got a comment longer than a post I wrote filled with incredibly harsh words and profanity because the commenter disagreed with something I said. I tried to reply privately and explained I wouldn’t approve the comment due to the cursing and was sorry she felt the way she did, but her reply was only worse. Then I realized she was angry because of something she hadn’t accepted within herself, and I didn’t want to argue with a stranger, so I let it go and learned from the experience that not everyone on the Internet is your friend.

    Glad you wrote this post!

    • Rita Barry says

      Oh my goodness Emily, that’s something else. Those ones are tough aren’t they? When you just wish you could help people understand but they aren’t there yet. I hope she’s found as much peace with it as you have :)