How to Deal with Negative Comments

by Ashley Barnett

If you create content for the internet you will eventually get negative comments. That is a guarantee. I don't know you, or your site, or your content and I don't have to. I don't need to know anything about your site to know that, eventually, you will get a comment that hurts your feelings.

I count negative comments as anything that is less than “This is the greatest article I've ever read!” What can I say, I'm sensitive.

You work so hard to put out FREE information it hurts when someone comes along and criticizes you. It makes you wonder why you should even keep going.

But there are some tools you can learn that will help get you through those negative comments.

Keep a File of Your Positive Comments

If you are getting negative comments, then you've likely gotten positive ones too. Screenshot those good comments and keep them in a file folder on your computer.

That way when those negative comments inevitably come up, you can go review all the positive comments that you've gotten in the past. It's not all bad! You've helped a lot of people!

Our brains are wired to more clearly remember the negative. It's how we survived in the wild, so go out of your way to remember the positive stuff.

Delete, Ignore, or Comment?

Depending on the type of comment it is you may or may not want to respond. Every negative comment will have to be handled on a case by case basis.

On one hand, you don't want to look like you are suppressing other ideas or criticism — but on the other hand you don't want trolls running the place.

Delete

If it's just a troll that is being hurtful and is not providing anything useful to the conversation (“This sucks! I hate it! You are a terrible person!”) then just delete the comment. It adds no value.

Ignore

Sometimes a comment is just a comment. It's not meant negatively but we take it personally because it is directed towards us. If it's just simply a comment that is expressing a different view (but what you said was true and factual) then it can likely just be ignored.

Unless your policy is to respond to all comments, then just comment quickly and move on.

Comment

Sometimes negative comments have actual merit. If it's something simple, like pointing out a typo or correcting a simple fact, you can simply say “Fixed! Thanks for letting me know!”

If it's a true factual error in the article you can apologize, state that you are learning stuff every day, and didn't realize you were wrong on this point. You will likely have to spend some time correcting the article.

Once, I had a writer write an article about traveling frugally. In the article, she stated you could bring your own alcohol on flights. I'm not a big drinker and have never had an alcoholic beverage on a flight in my entire life. I didn't know this wasn't allowed.

I had a woman leave a very nasty comment about how I was promoting breaking the law and making flying more dangerous, etc. etc. Really over the top about it.

I replied to her comment apologizing for the error. I explained that I didn't know this wasn't allowed and that I had corrected the article. The end.

Don't Start a Fight

No matter what you do, don't start a fight. Don't get defensive or reply to personal attacks. If someone is being nasty stick to the facts.

If you are upset or angry about the comment it's ok to leave it to the next day for a response. And no response is better than starting a fight.

If they are right, like the woman with the alcohol on flights comment, then simply thank them for the comment and let them know the issue as been fixed and move on. Don't argue and don't try to defend yourself. Let the personal attacks slide.

If they are not right, you can simply say that that isn't your understanding of the issue and maybe link to an authoritative source on the matter backing you up. Then stop.

If you really want to continue with it then take it out of the comment section of your site. But remember that everything you say online is permanent and can come out in the open if that person wishes.

Know that this Happens to Everyone

There is not a blogger alive who hasn't had negative comments. Go on ANY popular social media account and start reading their comments. Plenty of negative in there.

I thought, what could be the most non-controversial Instagram account out there? I follow NASA. Pictures of space from a governmental agency. What could less controversial than that?

nasa negative

They launched a rocket into space and people accuse them of being liars. And believe me, there were many more of this kind of thing. I don't want to bore you. But NASA posting pictures of things like rockets and stars and astronauts — the foremost expert in such things gets called fake, and liars, and Nazis and every other name in the book.

What hope does little ole' me (or you) have to avoid negative comments? None.

So just know… negative comments happen to everyone. It's not personal. You didn't do anything to cause them and you can't do anything to avoid them. It's just part of the game.

Don't Assume the Commentor Read your Article

I'm sure there are no actual statistics but I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of negative comments come from people who did not actually read the article.

NPR did an April Fool's joke a few years back and put out social media posts linking back to an article titled “Why Doesn't America Read Anymore?” It wasn't a real article. It was just a few short paragraphs about how people will leave comments on social media commenting on an article they clearly didn't read.

Their feed was full of people complaining about how offended they were by this article and of course they read! Here's the whole story on that.

This will happen to you. I once posted an article about a town that turned off it's street lights to save money. In the article I stated very clearly that it had no effect on crime. And yet I got many many comments about how turning off the streetlights probably increased crime.

Frustrating.

Do it for the People who Love it

You will have people who don't love your stuff… but you will also have people who DO love your stuff. Do it for them.

Create content for the people who love it. Put yourself out there. Be brave. Say what you believe because there are people out there who need to hear it. You are helping people! You will have many fans. More fans than haters, I promise.

Don't let the negative comments stop you from creating. And don't create with the haters in mind. It will water down your content and make it less impactful.

Do it for the people who love it. And if they don't love it — well, it wasn't for them anyways.

Related: How to Quickly Come Up with Blog Post Ideas

Realize that People Only Criticize “Up”

People only criticize those who are more successful than they are.

You will likely never get criticism from someone who is more successful than you. You may get advice. You may get constructive comments… but you won't get straight-up negative hurtful comments from someone “above” you.

I'll tell you why.

It's because people who have been in your shoes know how hard it is. They know how much work it is and how much personal growth it takes to be successful. They have been where you are and most likely aim to help you, not to pull you down.

Instead, the hurtful negative comments tend to come from people who only see your success and not the work it took to get there.

You'll put out a 25 email series that is jam packed with amazing value and you'll get someone pointing out a typo. Or complaining about some turn of phrase or a side example that has nothing to do with the point.

They do this because they don't know that you spent three weeks of your free time writing those emails. Or that it took two years of building your community so that you even had people to send those emails to in the first place.

And that you did all of that for them! And likely for free!

They just see you with this big list and all this amazing content and think it came easy. It makes them feel badly about themselves and pointing out these errors to you makes them feel better.

They think “I could do everything she is doing and do it better! I just don't want to.”

If you want proof of this pay attention to those you feel critical of. I know this is true for me.

I never see a new blogger and think “What do they think they are doing?!” If I see things they could be doing better my instinct is to help them — to encourage them!

It's only when I see bigger sites that I feel critical. It takes presence of mind to stop the critical thinking and learn from them instead.

Get Someone Else to Vet the Comments

If reading the comments hurts more than it helps then don't do it! No one says you have be the one reading and approving comments.

You know it's hurting if you are writing to specifically avoid negative comments. If you are not taking certain stands or wording things in certain ways because you are afraid of negative comments. That's hurting your content.

You are not doing it for the people who love it! You are watering down your writing for the haters. Which isn't helping your core audience.

So, have your spouse, friend, or VA log in every few days and read and approve comments.

Let them know to tell you if there is something you need to see but otherwise you'd rather not know that they exist. They will be able to do this easily since they are not as invested emotionally in the content. But you also won't miss anything important.

Turn Comments Off

I put this tip last because I think it should be a last resort. Comments are part of blogging and help your SEO because it adds content to your article.

But if the choice is quitting or turning off comments… then turn them off. You aren't required to accept comments on your site.

However, keep in mind that the stubborn commentors will just take it to social media instead. If they really have something to say they will say it one way or the other.

But if that's less intrusive to you that might be ok with you.

Summary

Negative comments are hurtful but they are not personal. It happens to everyone. If you find that the haters get into your head, have someone else read and approve comments for you.

Don't let internet trolls change your content or stop you from creating it.

Hopefully some of the tools here will help keep those negative comments out of your head.

Take it from Ron Weasley: Don't let the Muggles get'cha down.

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