Internet Haters: How To Manage Not-So-Nice Commenters

Internet haters– anyone with a blog has them, but how do you manage them?

Recently, Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller admitted that when commenters objected to her engagement, she actually questioned her decision to get married, “When that whole engagement thing happened, I was really upset. I was like, ‘Should I not be getting married?’ It was to that point.” Later in the interview she goes on to say, “I was so upset that people on the Internet could be angry at me for getting engaged, you know what I mean. And I felt bad that I was upset about that.”

She also admits that being a personal style blogger opens the flood gates for criticism,”When you’re a personal style blogger you are begging for people to criticize and ridicule you.” She continues, “I get it because the tone of the site is very personable, it’s like [my readers are] my best friends. So when I announce something like an engagement I could totally see [their reactions being] like, ‘Wait a second, hold the phone, what boyfriend?’”
Medine's example may be an extreme one, but most bloggers have had an instance where their audience has left criticizing comments that turned into personal attacks. Situations like these can be stressful, hurtful, and confusing.

Your blog and its readers are actually a small community.

And the way readers participate in your community is most often through comments left on your blog posts. There, they are able to add their thoughts to the topic, as well as spark further discussion. However, sometimes this discussion can go horribly awry — and what started as socializing may turn vicious. So what's a blogger to do if your commenters go from productive and critical banter to hurtful bashing? While varies depending on the situation and blogger, here are some basic tips on dealing with your not-so-friendly commenters:

Always think: Why does my audience read my blog? While they may not all have the same reason, (for instance, maybe it's to share, to learn, to discuss, to entertain, or to get assistance), nonetheless,  like an offline community, they are all supporting a common cause — that cause being your blog. You want your readers to stay and feel welcomed in your community.

Stay in touch and in tune with your readers. If a commenter is very vocal about a particular post, it may help to politely email them and ask about their concerns. Take constructive criticism to heart, but don't take it personally — which means examine the issue and investigate it, but don't feel as though the commenter personally doesn't like you.

On the other hand, there are also commenters that use their anonymity to voice personal attacks on bloggers. Many times this type of commenter is abusive online because they don't believe there will be any repercussions for their words. They may be persistent and insulting. In this case it might be best to delete their comments, especially if they are not even related to your work. Remember, your blog is your digital space and platform — you have the right to filter out comments that make you feel uncomfortable.

Sometimes commenter cliques will form. Groups may band together within your readership, just like an offline community would. When discussions get heated, these groups may back each other up — they may even begin to act as one. (Often times this is a result of the empowerment of anonymity as a group.) In this situation, it may be beneficial to try and guide your commenters back into a positive-based conversation, however, avoid nagging or preaching. More often than not, commenters will leave if they feel like they are being lectured. It's a delicate balance.

In a way, you are providing a service, your readers are choosing to spend time with you and your blog. While it's not up to you to only write posts that cater to happy comments (go ahead, get controversial!), it is important to remember there is a certain “customer service” element to blogging. Your reader dictates your writing — however, if you decide you are trying to change the type of readers you have, expect that your original commenters will probably lash out and voice their opinions about the change.

Furthermore, remember your blog is your space — and it is YOU who can make the decisions.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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23 Responses

  1. snowblackblog

    The majority of Internet-haters are unfortunately the anonymous trolls that have nothing constructive to critisize, but rather prefer to spew out hate speech or nasty comments. I noticed that with Fashion Toast at one point and I think she now moderated comments. I see it sometimes with The Blonde Salad (mainly in Italian).

    I would hate to disable my anonymous button because there are many people out there who are not on blogger or have an account linked to a profile, but still want to participate in commenting and the community in general.

    All I can say is keep it friendly boys and girls and if God forbid I got haters aka trolls, quite frankly I couldn’t give a shit because if you can’t say it to my face then you are coward. And to be honest I wake up, live my life, do my thing, HUSTLE and don’t think of my haters because I’m all about getting to the top of my game.

    IF YOU HAVE HATERS, ROLL THEM OUT A RED CARPET AND LET THEM HATE IN STYLE HONEY !!! *snaps fingers and goes to make a cup of tea*

    Reply
  2. Stefan aka SpeedTutorial

    I ignore “Not-So-Nice-Comments”. I´m open for critics but when there are only bad words I delet it. Sorry but my blog should be a nice and happy place 🙂

    Greetings from germany
    Stefan aka SpeedTutorial

    Reply
  3. Rachel

    I think the blog haters are generally outrageous. They don’t understand how hard it is already to have a site where you constantly post your photos and opinions. It takes a big leap of faith to start a blog, and all the while I am still very self conscious. I just think they are rude and should think about how seriously it messes with someones before they take it upon themselves to make fun of/hate on them.

    http://www.glitzyblues.com

    Reply
  4. Claire

    I don’t think anyone enjoys being criticized on their site, but I’ve taken the approach of just allowing people to come on and make nasty comments about me if they like (even if they’re held in moderation, I approve them).
    For one, I think other (not as courageous) trolls take joy in reading a few comments that aren’t 100% positive…and the little negative Nancy inside of us likes to see a bit of diversity with reactions. Also if a supporter disagrees with their words, then it can create an interesting discussion.
    It’s a tough decision, as I’ve had people say I have man hands, made remarks about my weight, call me ignorant, and I could go on. Not the best for the good old self esteem, but thankfully I have plenty and have learned to ignore the negativity.

    Reply
  5. Sabina

    Maybe it’s because I don’t have a huge following but I’ve never had to worry about bloggers getting vicious in the comments.

    For me what’s a bigger problem, and what I suspect is a bigger problem for many in the fashion blogging community, is a lack of GENUINE comments. Too often, bloggers can (and possibly without even meaning to) end up spamming one another after leaving fake or generic sounding compliments.
    Example:
    Lovely blog! Kisses from Kissandland
    I invite you to follow me on twitter @[email protected]
    Follow me on Bloglovin
    Follow me on Pinterest.

    Now what do we do about this type of troll?

    Reply
  6. trendsettingfashion

    No anonymous comments = no trolls. Accountability is necessary online. Allowing the crazies to be crazy on your blog is just enabling and makes you a party to the insanity. Simples.

    Reply
  7. Em

    It’s a tough topic, and one with no easy yes-or-no-black-and-white answer. On one hand I want my commenters to feel like they can be truthful and honest with me (what’s the point of having a bunch of people praise you constantly? it’s okay if someone might not like exactly what I’m wearing sometimes!!!), but on the other…my blog is like my house, and would I allow someone into my home if they were just going to incessantly attack me and berate me? Of course not! No one would!

    So I have two rules for handling negative comments. If the person leaving the hateful comment has left it under a legitimate name/e-mail address/commenter profile (thanks to Disqus I can check all of that out PLUS see their past commenting history on other websites), I will leave it up, and oftentimes even engage them if their comment remains respectful in tone. If the hateful comment is coming from someone using a bunk name/e-mail address/commenter profile, then it’s immediately deleted.

    I roll my eyes and laugh when I see other people on the internet complain about how some bloggers delete haters and negative comments–I mean really? Most hateful and negative comments are NOT respectful in tone, and no one should have to put up with that. Again–would you let someone into your house that isn’t being respectful? No way!

    I’m open for honest and truthful discussion and I really do think most bloggers are. But my blog is NOT open to the gross and almost always anonymous people that think my blog is their own personal platform for whatever awful things they want to spew. Move along you sad & creepy little kiddies, move along.

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  8. Svitlana

    I had couple of mean comments where people would say that my art sucks and blah blah blah. But guess what, I don’t put my art out there because I think everyone should love it, I put it out there because I enjoy sharing it! If you don’t like it- don’t look at it, don’t comment on it! Commenting on it and waisting your time on sayimg mean things will only make me think that you’re jealous. Who would waiste time on something they hate?

    Reply
  9. Yasmeen (Castle Fashion)

    I hope nobody regards this as an invitation but I’ve actually never received any comments that were unnecessarily mean or hurtful. But I think I would handle them the same way I do in my personal life: with a filter.

    There is constructive criticism that deserves to be listened to. I’ve seen fashion bloggers post anti-feminist nonsense before. Oh and there are always 1 or 2 culture appropriation post(s) on every big fashion blog. That outrage is totally warranted. But as for the “you’re skinny”, “you’re fat”, “you can’t do red lipstick” comments, turn your mental bullshit filter on.

    There will always be people to dish out the pointless, poorly developed insults. THEY WILL EXIST FOREVER. And the reasoning is extremely complex (it has a lot to do with the way boys/girls are raised, gender roles, expectations, a general lack of self-comfort in our society etc. etc.) but here are a post and video that address it well:

    One of my favorite posts on this topic is by Madeline: http://jeangreige.blogspot.com/2012/09/233-smile-asshole.html

    And one of my favorite videos on this topic is by Jenna Marbles:
    http://youtu.be/PfW8deSlsiA

    Reply
  10. Yoli

    I’ve seen some pretty feroucius haters at gomi, some stuff they criticize is true but then there are people who get out hand, like for example Jessica Quirk, nothing that girl does is right by the gomiers, they criticize her about every single detail, another one is selective potential, criticizing her personal life…I get that sometimes it’s fun to say “this didn’t work, what was she thinking?” but to call someone ugly nicknames and criticize every bit of their life is just uncalled for.

    Reply
  11. J's Everyday Fashion

    I once had a “commenter clique” turn out to be just one person, logging in as different people and names, so be sure to check IPs!

    Also – would love to hear more tips/a discussion on whether or not you reply to people, and if so, how. I would even love to get some specific advice if anyone wants to weigh in. I wish there was a manual on how to respond because really who knows how to deal with this stuff?

    My issue is this. My blog is a little unique in that it is most often a magazine format, and not a personal style blog. I also think I’m terrible at creating outfits (or “average”, I guess) and I share my fails right along with my successes, which is why I blog – I would love to see more fashion journalism for everyday people, written by everyday people. Another goal is to encourage people to be confident in what they wear, not care what others think, and not judge others about what they are wearing. I truly believe that fashion is an art and that we should all respect each other’s viewpoints! I love how varied we all can be on the subject of the same outfit.

    All this to say, my blog is meant to be a place for discussion and I don’t care (in fact, that is even the point) if someone doesn’t like an outfit. I get tons of comments like this everyday, and it is totally cool. This is where it gets blurry though – when someone is telling me it is “wrong” to wear it (other than nudity, or breaking a dress code) – as in, my viewpoint or anyone else’s besides theirs isn’t valid. TOTALLY different than saying your viewpoint is not the same as mine, I’m talking about comments saying that I don’t respect your viewpoint, only mine is correct. On these types of comments, I like to chime in and let them know that our viewpoints are so different, but that’s what makes it neat! Fashion is art and I dig that! 🙂

    But…. I’ve been told this makes me look like I’m upset that they don’t like the outfit. Which couldn’t be farther from the truth, because I certainly am not, I would just love to be able to spread openness and acceptance for fashion as a varied art that we all view differently. Is there any way to comment, without appearing like I’m not accepting their point of view and therefore doing the very thing I’m asking them not to do (accepting mine)? See what I mean? A sticky situation. I’m leaning towards never responding to these kinds of comments (just in the interest of time even), but would love to hear as fellow fashion bloggers what you think! Thanks!

    Reply
  12. Angele

    I get so bored with nicey nice talk but understand that being a Joan Rivers or Kathy Griffen is too hard for people to understand.

    Reply
  13. Ania'lysis

    Mostley the bad comments I got on my website are about my weight… people think that girl like me shouldn’t wear leather leggings, which are my favorite, so I was really sad about that kind of comments…. but then I realized that nobody’s perfect and if I want to wear them I will do it!

    I think non of you dear bloggers should change/feel bad because of this kind of comments! People always critic things that they would do better – if they would know how!
    http://aniaanialysis.blogspot.fr/

    Reply
  14. Emily Ulrich

    I can understand feeling attacked when criticized over the blogosphere. In many cases, blogging is a more personal engagement–I know when I put out content, it’s expressed with a different level of intimacy than what I would say to someone in person. And that, in and of itself, can inflate criticism to feeling like personal attack. It becomes a matter of maintaining perspective. Maybe some comments are legitimate and worth deeper thought, maybe some are better off ignored.

    Reply
  15. Ana

    Personal attacks are unfortunately one of the worst aspects of blogging. You’re putting yourself out there for the world too see, expressing your thoughts and opinions, which is already vulnerable and raw in itself. Having someone insult your work or make fun of your appearance or style can be heartbreaking. I think it’s important to develop and maintain thick skin when you expose yourself to the web for everyone with computer access to see. I want to share this amazing quote to any blogger that has been victimized by cyber bullying or personal attacks:

    “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and this suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” -Thich Naht Nanh

    Reply
  16. Annie Bean

    I have had abuse from people on my blog when I first started writing. Turns out it was nasty people from an old friendship circle. I couldn’t understand it. It’s taken me ages to realise but often when we get criticism fired at us, it’s often because those doing it are jealous. A bit sad when you think about it…. If only they could channel that strong feeling into something creative like what we all do. Any set back, only makes us more determined.
    Xx

    Reply
  17. Franziska

    Honestly, the number 1 thing I’ve learned from reading GOMI (which some may consider the biggest haters on the internet – I feel the opposite) is that unless it is straight up “wow you look f-ing ugly in this picture, kill yourself” comment, deleting comments makes you look bad. If someone leaves constructive criticism, think about what they are saying and if it’s not something you can change about the way you portray yourself on the internet.

    Reply
  18. Manuela

    I think that there is a nice way of telling a contradictory opinion, and it is always what I do!

    I consider that mean & aggressive comments are coming from people that are unhappy & have personal problems, and they don’t know how to deal with all the nonsense in their life, but by giving all onto other people. So, the better way to dealing with this situations, is to not take it personally & let that person know, in a nice way, that they are inappropriate in their behavior.

    Never be aggressive back, bcz aggressiveness leads to more aggressiveness, it is like a butterfly effect, and without even knowing it you are caught in their misery! A strong positive attitude has an effect of neutralizing the negative one, and you may end up by improving the behavior of your aggressor for the good of all 🙂

    Reply