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.”
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.
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