This guest post is by Harry French of BloggingTips.com.
Sometimes being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
When a blogger writes a negative comment about you, or goes on an outright tirade, it can be hard to bite your tongue and move on.
Sometimes, however, that’s the best course of action. Sometimes, you need to put on your boxing gloves and get ready to duke it out.
Why readers post negative comments
Excitement? Jealousy? A clever ploy for attention? A Jedi craves not these things, but many bloggers do.
Criticisms and personal attacks don’t have to be legitimate or even coherent. In fact, many “rants” that visitors will leave in your comments section are just that: rants. They are often emotionally driven and they don’t make much sense when you stop to think about what’s really being said.
Sometimes, of course, criticism is warranted and the points being raised are legitimate. In that case, you can let the critic become your best friend.
But people can post negative comments for all sorts of reasons. It doesn’t even have to be about you or your article. It could be that they’re just having a bad day and decided to take it out on you.
Come to terms with this first, and it’ll be a lot easier to know when to respond and when to walk away.
When to respond, when to walk away
You should definitely respond to legitimate criticisms of something you’re written. With that said, it’s not necessary to repeat yourself like a broken record. If you’ve already answered an objection, you can usually just point any new objecters in the direction of your answer.
When it comes to derogatory, inappropriate, or nonsensical comments, you can ignore most of them.
Think about it: what’s the value of responding to these kinds of comments? Most of the time, it’s a waste of time to bother with them.
On occasion, however, you might be able to monetize someone else’s stupidity. That becomes an interesting decision to make. If you’re saying a lot of controversial things, and you get a decent amount of hate mail for it, you could use these hate comments to generate even more controversy. Take the most blatant offenders and show the world just how ridiculous they are, without coming right out and saying it directly.
Whenever you do need to respond to hate comments, you should do so with civility. Put yourself on moral high ground. This way, you could gain a lot of respect from your regular fans and demonstrate how you strive for rationality and objectivity, even when people say nasty things about you.
Showing your cool in the face of an attack also makes you look stronger (in fact, eventually, you’ll actually become stronger psychologically). It shows that while sticks and stones may break your bones, words really never do hurt you.
How to respond
When you’ve made the decision to respond to criticism, make sure you stay on point. Don’t veer off onto a tangent—that just makes you look a bit scatter-brained and can open you up to further criticism from the commenter.
Also, try to only address any essential aspects of any criticisms raised. For example, Matt Cutts came to Google’s defense by knocking down criticisms that Google’s search engine would favor TLD web addresses over “.com” equivalents.
Matt sticks to the essential points here, and doesn’t veer off onto tangents. He has a good track record of staying focused, even when criticisms of Google are irrational and emotionally driven.
Finally, don’t get sucked in to a long debate. “One-up-manship” is easy to get into and notoriously difficult to get out of. If you are sticking to facts and the essential points raised, you’ll never get into a back-and-forth argument that goes nowhere.
In fact, you could simply continue asking questions of your tormentor and hope he responds. He may draw out fans of yours who will gladly come to your defense. All the while, free content is being created for your blog.
The author of this blog post on rawfoodsos.com did not even need to get involved in the comments. A visitor dropped a hate comment:
Then, a fan responded for her:
In this example, the blogger’s post generates a heated debate. That debate spontaneously generates massive amounts of free content that is keyword-rich and highly relevant to the blog itself. It may not have been the blogger’s intent, but it happened all the same.
How do you respond to criticisms of your blog? If you have any tips to share, we’d all love to hear them!
This guest post was contributed by Harry French, on behalf of BloggingTips.com.