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Dealing with negative comments

As soon as you put a blog online and open it up to comments, you face the risk of receiving negative comments on there. The only way to guarantee none of these is to not allow comments – or not have a blog!

Obviously, you can also get negative comments about you and/or your business in emails, by phone and via other online means, but dealing with those is very different to dealing with blog comments.

The first step is to control comments getting onto your blog. The best way to do this is make sure comments are moderated – that means that people can enter comments but they will only go live when you approve them. Not only does this control what goes live, it also means that you can reply as soon as the comment is live so the comment needs never be read by itself online.

So, you go to moderate a new comment and you don’t like it. What do you do?

Well, why don’t you like it? I see three main categories of comments you may not like a comment – rude and inappropriate, highly critical or disagreeing with you.

Your choices:

delete it – it is then gone from your blog forever and no one else needs ever know about it. This is the best choice for spam and highly inappropriate comments. Be careful of deleting comments that you just don’t like personally as the person involved may complain about your censorship*

modify it and approve it – you have the ability to edit any comments so that they are less unpleasant to you. An example of when this may be useful is when someone posts some constructive feedback but uses inappropriate language to do so – you could delete the swear words and approve the main message. However, note that some people will be offended and/or vocal if you change what they wrote –  you may want to contact them personally and explain why you are making such changes and give them the option of an edited version being approved or all of it deleted.

approve it and do nothing – it is then live for all to see but you don’t respond to it in any way.  To me, this is burying your head in the sand – the comment is there for anyone to read so it would be better to reply and possibly turn it into something of value. Readers may also perceive it as you ignoring problems or criticisms, so the blog will appear too one-sided and not worth returning to.

approve it and respond – allow the comment to go live and add your response as a new comment. Then you are giving your readers your reaction and are showing that you listen to your readers, which is important if you want your blog to be a community and readers to keep coming back.

Approve it, respond to it and act on it – while it isn’t always appropriate to act on a comment, read it carefully and consider things from the commenter’s point of view. Are they justified in saying your orders are always late or your emails too technical? Can you improve your business or blog by listening to those comments and making a change? If you do that, and add a follow-up comment once the change has been made, your business will be strengthened and your credibility increased. You may just turn that commentor into a supporter.

Remember to consider why you don’t like the comment and the potential impact the comment will have on your readers and your blog before you decide how to treat any negative comments.

Have you had any negative comments that have led to something positive?

* censorship – it is your blog so you do have the right to choose what is/isn’t included on it. However, if you say you want an interactive blog and a community, then too much censoring may seem contradictory and may raise more complaints.

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