One of the most interesting things about the IFB community is how passionately and thoughtfully you respond to our posts that center around dealing with negativity. As much as we try to foster an atmosphere of respect, friendship and growth – there will always be those naysayers, won't there?
The freedom we have allows us to navigate and participate around the Internet mostly unchecked, uninhibited and without restriction is one of the great blessings of the digital age. As we know though, there will always be people who have to take a good thing and turn it into an ugly one.
Cyberbullying and anonymous trolls who leave negative comments are an unavoidable aspect of being a blogger. (To clarify, we're not talking about constructive criticism (and rejection) like in this post) By putting yourself out there (especially if you're posting images of yourself) you're accepting the risk that not everything you do will be received warmly and with positivity.
Inevitably, most bloggers will receive a painful, hurtful comment at some point. Probably more than one. They sting, they're insulting and no matter how ridiculous or off-point the comment is – it's only human to feel the burn.
Jessie Artigue, the blogger behind Style & Pepper recently dealt with an anonymous troll leaving various negative comments on her blog. She has a hard-and-fast policy to delete any comments that are profane or inappropriate – but what about the ones that are just mean? Far from constructive, it's tough to know just what is the right way to deal with these kinds of remarks on your blog.
In the most recent instance, Jessie decided to respond. “This comment clearly wasn't coming from a place of concern,” said Jessie when we spoke to her earlier today. “It wasn't the first time I've received a comment of this nature, but it was the first time it elicited a response.”
She decided to respond for a couple reasons. “I wanted to make sure my readers knew I was paying attention to my comments and reading them, and leaving it unchecked or deleting it felt like I'd be letting this anonymous troll win.”
Jessie's course of action was quick and deliberate. She was alerted to the comment early in the day, mulled over her options and thoughts for 15 minutes and wrote a succinct, constructive reply.
“Once I responded, I felt like I had taken the power away from the comment, and from the person who left it,” Jessie said. “It wasn't about winning or getting into a bickering battle with this person – and I learned a valuable lesson in responding for the first time. I was able to let it go and move on as soon as I pressed “reply.””
Naturally, she wondered if responding might inspire an even more biting return, but is determined not to let what may be bother her too much. She says she'll go forward taking any future comments on a case-by-case basis, but found that responding in her usual voice, which is both light-hearted and professional, was the most honest way she could approach the situation.
Responding to every negative comment (or any at all) may not be the right approach for everyone, and how any blogger handles trolls and bullying is a deeply personal decision. Whatever action you take, it should be the one that makes you feel better.
What can you do about bullies and trolls?
- Delete the comment.
- Respond to the comment. How you do this is up to you, but generally we'd advise you not to engage in a verbal battle with this person – especially if it's an “anon.”
- If the comment isn't anonymous, respond privately via email.
- Create a “comment policy” for your blog that outlines the kinds of comments that are encouraged, and aserts that you have the right to delete things that don't fall under your suggested guidelines.
- Implement a comment approval barrier, so you see each comment and approve it before it can appear on your blog
- Use a captcha system to put up a barrier against spammers and robots.
The goal is not to let others define you with their judgmental, hurtful comments. Let your actions, your words and your strength define your character both on and offline.
Have you dealt with cyberbullying or trolls as a blogger? How should bloggers handle these kinds of situations?