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Ignore it and it’ll Go Away? – Responding to Criticism Part 2

Late last night I wrote a post on responding to criticism that has had some good discussion. One of the things that a number of those leaving comments suggested is that sometimes when someone attacks you it is better to ignore them.

I’d agree that ignoring can be a good strategy at times – however I always consider some sort of response even on angry posts because:

1. I’m amazed how quickly some people back down when they know you’re actually reading them. I can think of at least 5 occassions when someone was attacking me either on a blog or discussion forum and when I left a comment calmly pointing out my side of things I would get responses like – ‘oh, sorry…. I didn’t think anyone was reading’ – or ‘oh, sorry, I’m having a bad day – I shouldn’t have attacked you’ etc.

Of course this doesn’t always happen – but there’s something about a personal comment that seems to shake some people up and make them realise that despite them writing about someone they’ve never met in a pretty impersonal medium that they need to be accountable for their words.

2. I think it’s important in terms of reputation to give your perspective - what worries me about the ignore it strategy is that the attack remains online indefinately as a permanent record of the other person’s opinion of you.

It’s amazing what comes up when people search for someone’s name in Google and what impact what is written about you can have upon others. People often believe what they read online without questioning it and so if I think it’s worth writing a short, reasonable response that answers the attack to bring some balance and perspective to a post that has the potential to harm your reputation in the years ahead. ‘Ignore it and it will go away’ is actually a somewhat dangerous philosophy online because what’s written in this medium will never go away once it is archived by archive services – even if the blog in question is deleted.

3. I’m amazed by the power of a reasoned response to a frenzied, angry and attacking post when it comes to finding new readers. I know of many ProBlogger readers who actually found and became regular readers of this blog after reading an attack on me and seeing me respond in a reasonable way. The person attacking you might not change their opinion but they have readers who might. Being attacked isn’t nice – but sometimes the way you respond is an opportunity in itself.

Of course you can’t respond to everything that everyone writes about you. For starters it’s difficult to track it all and secondly, even if you could it could track it all, it can become quite a distraction from your core task of blogging to always be doing so. I would argue though that it is important to monitor what others say about you to at least some extent and to be willing to participate in their conversations.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Stuart says:

    A kind word might turn away wrath …

    but sometimes a good swift kick in the goolies can seem more satisfying.

  2. Kim says:

    These are great points. I realize that when I mentioned ignoring flames that I had a particular blogger in mind — one who doesn’t respond reasonably to calm explanations, and whose readers only flame harder in comments when a calm response is attempted. This blogger has written such appalling things about me on her blog that I decided not only to let it go, but not to fight her on the libel because I simply have better, more enjoyable and productive things to do with my time. In other cases, I have chimed in to very positive responses.

  3. Darren Rowse says:

    yeah you’re right Kim – some people are not orth the time and effort :-)

  4. Marqz says:

    I agree with you.
    Certainly, there are many “trolls” out there but I’ve seen many people being called “trolls” just because they disagree. How convenient is that? If you are a professional blogger, you must have a professional behavior at all times. Ignoring people is definitely not professional. Would a company do that?

  5. Josue says:

    Chris Garret writes how to critique without offending. He says:

    ” * Don’t be personal – Comment on the creation not the creator
    * Be factual – Opinion is fine providing you can back up why you think the way you do
    * Have a point – Attack is fine providing you have a reason other than just to hurt someone else
    * Empathise – Try thinking from the other point of view, does it have validity?”

    link > http://performancing.com/node/1890

  6. I agree wholeheartedly with your perspective Darren. I find that many angry flaming criticisms are some people’s attempt to vent anger that has its root elsewhere. I had the horrible experience once of getting a scathing, flaming negative evaluation from a class I was teaching at a university. I had taught it numerous semesters to excellent reviews, in fact, my co-teacher and I were the highest rated instructors in the program. But the student who reviewed us was so incensed that she attached a typewritten page with her handwritten review. She thought we were horrible, unfit to teach, unprofessional, and a whole bunch of other “uns” that I can’t remember now. The worst part? During class she was all smiles, and we had no idea she felt this way. By the time we read the evaluation, it was too late to have a discussion with her to correct course or find out what was really troubling her. To this day, many years later, I still feel the sting of not being able to discuss her concerns.

    The best antidote to dealing with criticisms I have found in Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements. He says never to take anything personally (good or bad) since whatever someone else says is more about them than about you. Read the book to get the full scoop. It has saved me heartburn more than once!

    btw – Great blog – keep up the good work.

  7. Well said Darren. Thanks for the insight. I’ve been attacked in the past and I everytime I handled the situation with respect and got respect back.

    dave
    http://www.cashcampus.com/ftt

  8. Alvin says:

    A pleasant surprise when I had someone comment negatively on my blog was the number of readers who jumped in to ‘defend’ me (it turns out the commentor was a nice guy after all).

  9. Alexis says:

    Your own readers are always the best defense against a bad poster. Of course it’s your blog you can always remove them :)

    For some great motivational stuff visit my blog http://www.secretsforhealth.blogspot.com

    http://secretsforhealth.com

  10. A.B. Dada says:

    All publicity is good publicity. I have a nom de plume, too, for some of my more vitriolic content, and my pagerank increased based solely on criticisms from others who kindly linked to me.

    In the long run, I wouldn’t ignore criticisms, I think you’re right that making a kind reply can often turn the table in a debate and make it lively instead of heated. I’m also surprised at how many of my prior foes are now more regular readers and even drop positive comments (and links) from time to time.

    Everyone is “wrong” on occasion, it just depends on the topic. Those who get criticized the most tend to get more props, too.

  11. Lester says:

    I fear criticisms made on my blog posts. None have been done yet so far (to my knowledge).

    Thanks, Darren, for this post. Your advice will help me handle criticisms when they come my way.

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