Any blogger who blogs for any length of time will probably receive a derogatory comment or two.

Sometimes, a visitor, for whatever reason, feels a need to demean us with cruel words.

Other times, it’s unintentional.

Unfortunately, the words can hurt. Even leave a scar.

Today’s Lesson

With blogging you’ll often hear, “You need to develop a thick skin.”

For the blogger who is genuinely a kind person or prefers to live life thinking positive thoughts, this statement can go against all they practice in the real world, whereas the seasoned blogger who has witnessed many instances where a commenter has attacked the blog author, prepares for the inevitable.

Thick skin or thin skin, new blogger or seasoned blogger, words can still hurt.

The initial response to hurtful words may be that we want to immediately lash back. However, by analyzing what’s behind the words, we often find it’s not us for whom the words are intended.

  1. The comment may be a spam comment; a comment carefully written to sound like a real comment, then plastered throughout the internet on any blog which will approve it.
  2. The post we’ve written may “push a button” for someone, and we just happen to become the recipient of their outburst.
  3. The person who comments may inadvertently (sometimes purposely) attack us instead of the message.
  4. The commenter may have taken something out of context, misread what we wrote or have taken each word literally.
  5. The comment may be meant to be humorous, however, we don’t “get the joke”.
  6. A fellow blogger may be jealous of us, our accomplishments, the speed at which our blog grew, our popularity in blogosphere, or…, and may feel by using unkind words, our loyal followers may leave us and join them.
  7. The other person may be a narcissist and they treat everyone in real life AND in blogosphere the same.*

Some bloggers set themselves up for negative comments.

  1. We may purposely write a controversial post, hoping to “stir the pot”, get tons of comments, or get our post linked to on StumbleUpon, Twitter, Digg, etc…
  2. We may have inadvertently worded our post in such a manner it appears we’re looking for controversy.
  3. We try to be funny, but others don’t understand our humor.

Derogatory comments can be handled in a number of ways:

  1. Determine if it’s a spam comment. If so, mark it as spam** and delete it.
  2. If we inadvertently publish something that offends or stirs the emotions in others and their comment is rude, we can say something like: “Thank you for sharing your thoughts.” and/or “I always enjoy hearing opposing viewpoints.” DO NOT ENGAGE IN CONFRONTATION unless you’re prepared for it.
  3. If our humor or something else we’ve written has offended a reader, we can apologize for the misunderstanding.
  4. If something we’ve said is misconstrued, we can reply by saying something like, “Thank you for bringing that to my attention; I should have elaborated. What I meant to say is …”.
  5. If the other person appears to be a jealous fellow blogger, a troll or a narcissist who is baiting us to interact with them, simply saying “Thank you for sharing your thoughts.” will usually end the discussion.
  6. In the event the other person continues to torment us, it’s best to mark their comments as spam**.

Although it would be easy to delete all negative comments we receive on our blogs, oftentimes hearing/posting an opposing point of view can help to broaden our knowledge base plus generate a lively discussion in our comment section.

That said, if comments appear to be a form of online or cyber bullying, it may be necessary to report the offender to the authorities.

Today’s Assignment

Have you received negative comments on your blog? If so, how did you handle them?

Have you ever received a negative comment which still has an affect on you?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

*To read more about narcissists in blogosphere, check out the guest post, Warning! Online Bullies Hide Behind Their Words written by Betsy of Passing Thru and Lori of Think Like A Black Belt, as well as their free ebook,“The Narcissist – A User Guide”

**If comments from a specific IP address are continually marked as spam, Akismet and other spam blockers may “assume” the comment author is spamming blogs and may automatically throw their comments on all blogs into spam.

For more information about online and cyber bullying check out:

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Look Who's Talking
  1. I’m very black and white about this.

    Like my home, my blog is *mine*.

    And like I expect guests who visit my home to be polite, I expect the same thing from my commenters as well.

    I have no problem with polite and respectful disagreement, but start with the nastiness and negativity and your comments go byebye.

    Life’s too short to deal with mean-spirited folk.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Yes. Our blogs are very much like our homes. Like you said, we should expect those who enter be polite, and nastiness or negativity are not welcome.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gail Gardner, Barbara Ling, Sharon Hurley Hall, Barbara Swafford, Stan Carter Jr. and others. Stan Carter Jr. said: Ouch! That Hurt! http://bit.ly/acfpJK […]

  3. Cathy MillerNo Gravatar says:

    I get the cowards that hide behind nasty comments. I don’t appreciate their comments, and, like Barbara, if they are rude & nasty-out they go.

    But, the ones that really baffle me are those on networking sites, like LinkedIn, who blast off nasty, unprofessional comments – with their names, profiles, contact info. Do they really think that is going to bring them a following or new business?

    My favorite comment I saw on the topic was: Disagree with me all you want. Just be nice.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Cathy,

      That is confusing, isn’t it? Why someone would want to act unprofessionally on sites where others may be looking to hire them.

      I like your favorite comment. I’ll have to remember that. :)

  4. HenwayNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have a problem with comments that disagree with me, or even negative comments.. sometimes you gotta address the negative to find insight, and truth. But I definitely will not allow comments that are derogatory or offensive to people.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Henway,

      I agree. Negative comments can provide insight, however derogatory or offensive comments are uncalled for.

  5. Yes I’ve gotten a couple. No personal attacks so nothing has really wounded me. I usually try to engage the commenter in conversation because I find it’s normally a misunderstanding. Unfortunately that often doesn’t work because we have all become to busy even to subscribe to comments. Thus I doubt that my question even reached the commenter.. So I just let it go.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Tom,

      That’s true. If there has been a misunderstanding, we can try to engage the commenter, but if the commenter doesn’t return to our blog or subscribe to comments, they may never know we’ve elaborated on the topic.

  6. Hi Barbara – Thank you for referring back to our article and our e-book on narcissists. Your tips on dealing with negative comments and difficult people are all very helpful.

    It’s also helpful to realize that our ideas and ourselves are generally two separate entities, and although it’s not unheard of for an attacker to cross that line of separation, for the most part the line will hold. Things can get murky, though, especially if the comment is a “probe” to elicit a response. I won’t promote or support bloggers, some of whom are quite high profile, from whom I’ve seen those tactics. It’s evident their source of ego supply is quite sufficient. :)

    Certain topics by their very nature have a high potential for comment drama: religion and politics are the usual suspects here. If you are going to write about them, either on your blog or in social media, you have to expect reactions that you may not prefer. I simply can’t imagine someone would write something provocative and then profess surprise that alternative views would emerge.

    I believe it’s entirely possible (particularly with politics and religion) for good people to arrive at completely different conclusions given the same set of facts, and I welcome spirited dissent. When disagreement descends into name-calling or vulgarity, though, or if I perceive you have an agenda, you’ll get the ax or the cold shoulder. But I’m the one who decides in my space.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Betsy,

      That’s true. If we decide to publish articles on certain topics, we need to be prepared for drama in our comment section.

      I hear you. It’s up to each of us blog authors to determine what’s allowed on our blog. I think that’s where a comment policy comes in handy, too.

  7. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Great post on handling negative comments. The nature of my content is not such that it would elicit negative or nasty comments. I do get occasional mundane spam, which is promptly deleted if not already caught by the spam filter.

    It’s helpful information to have, though, should I ever receive something ugly in my comment box.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Linda,

      Hopefully you won’t be the recipient of negative comments, but if you are, you’ll know what to do with them. :)

  8. I have had many derogatory comments on my blog, and I must admit that they do give me a pang in my heart.

    I remember that I once deleted a nasty comment, and several days later the guy posted that I’d deleted his comment for all to see – and it took me a few hours to find and delete that comment, which was embarrassing.

    Yes, people can express their opinion on my blog, but, at the end of the day, it is my property, and the choice about deleting and approving comments is mine.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Ellen,

      I apologize for the delay in answering your comment, but it ended up in my spam folder.

      You’ve raised a good point. Even though we may delete a comment, the comment author might come back and try to raise a ruckus. That’s where a good comment policy comes into play and we can say, “If you’ve read our comment policy, you’ll see it up to our discretion to delete any comments we find offensive, (or whatever).

      • You’re right, Barbara, a good comment policy does play an important role here. I’m just remembering an incident that happened exactly as you described “the comment author came back and raised a ruckus”! It was so unpleasant, but eventually, he must have found better things to do with his time than posting nasty comments!

  9. John CanaleNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    I have only started blogging since August of this year, so not much comments to begin with, let alone negative ones. I did appreciate your words “You’ll need to develop a thick skin”. This is especially true for blogging as well as life beyond the computer, when people will say rude and hurtful things to your face, without the barrier of the computer screen.
    One thing that I recently heard from a fellow blogger was that blogging is not just holding up a megaphone for your own opinions without anyone to respond. It is a conversation. People will respond, interact, and comment on those opinions for better or worse.
    The main point in what you were saying dealt with more of our attitudes towards receiving these comments. We cannot really control a feeling of hurt, sadness, or anger when we receive these comments, but we can control our attitude and reaction to them. Thanks for the tips!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome John,

      Welcome to blogosphere. I hope you’re enjoying your journey.

      That’s true. We can control our reaction to the negative comments and hopefully we won’t let the words of others affect our morale or outlook on life.

  10. “Have you ever received a negative comment which still has an affect on you?” – absolutely not, and this is key in my opinion. You can’t let it get to you! Even in real life you can’t, but on the Internet, with faceless strangers, it would be insane.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Vered,

      What you said about “faceless strangers” is a great way to remind those who receive negative comments to consider the source.

  11. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara .. I’ve had a couple of questionable comments & have not published them .. I ‘held’ them in limbo for a while – so I could do a check in case I got another .. but I didn’t.

    Some commenters don’t think before leaving a comment sometimes .. but that’s ok .. and sometimes there’s a language barrier .. or occasionally a mis-understanding.

    I had one interesting email .. where the chap didn’t want me to comment so often on his blog! Not sure what I did wrong – perhaps too ‘engaging with information’ .. don’t know – but was very surprised to say the least – however one less I worry about – I do read, leave a message occasionally – but with no relevance in it at all … in fact he comes over to my blog occasionally! Strange world – I know as you said before – extraordinary to be asked not to comment ..

    There we go .. and not reacting at all to any junk/spam comments is essential .. I check to see where they come from – if I can’t ascertain that .. then they don’t get through.

    Thanks .. useful information blog owner beware – don’t react .. just ignore ..

    Cheers and have a good week .. Hilary

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Hilary,

      That’s a great idea to first check where a comment came from prior to approving it.

      I’ve never heard of someone asking another blogger not to comment so often, but with it being a bloggers’ prerogative to run a blog as they choose, I’m sure we may be seeing more of that.

  12. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    Just like positive comments, you can’t let them drive you, or it’s a flimsy foundation, that blows with the wind.

    At the end of the day, it’s what you do with it that counts.

    I like how one mentor put it — the coach is still yelling at you because he cares. Feedback is a gift.

    I think negative is fine, but it has to be respectful.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi J.D.,

      That’s true. It is what we do with it at the end of the day. And yes, being respectful is key.

  13. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara — I tend to agree with some of the earlier comments. If it is a comment that’s spiteful, angry and intentionally mean, I will not accept it.

    However, if I get a comment that doesn’t agree with something I’ve said, yet the commenter is thoughtful, considerate and makes a point, I will accept it. I do, however, always check on where the comment comes from, e.g, is it from a real site or a site selling something.

    To me, blogging is about sharing our ideas and opinions. We all have different ways of seeing things and I believe people have the right to express themselves, even if I’m not wild about what the person says:~)

    How do I say this? I’ve also responded negatively to negative comments left at another person’s site, especially if the comment is intentionally argumentative. To me, this is part our role as bloggers is to protect each other when it becomes necessary.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Sara,

      Yes. We should check where the comment is coming from.

      I’m with you. As bloggers we should stick together and if we see a fellow blogger being attacked, we should step up and come to the aid of the blog author.

  14. JumokeNo Gravatar says:

    Same here. i have had some terrible comments and i dont publish them. its really sadd sometimes when someone comes to write stuff which is not nice and unfair on your blog.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jumoke,

      I think it’s wise not to publish comments we find unfair or offensive. Thankfully we have that ability, however that doesn’t mean they hurt any less.

  15. Hi Barbara.
    I’ve had this happen twice, most recently on a post that had good intentions. Go figure. It wasn’t outrageous so I published it, but I will not publish anything hostile.

    I believe some of these cases could make up #8 on your list. People who are bored who troll through social networking sites or blog comment sections to stir up entertainment for themselves.

    Some are offensive or belittling, or they might use humor to nonchalantly say their piece — a passive aggressive act. It’s a power trip and a source of entertainment for them. They can dish it out but they can’t take it. I’ve seen comment sections almost get out of control when this happens.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Davina,

      That’s a good point. Some people enjoy going from site to site stirring the pot for their personal entertainment purposes only.

      Yes. Some people do “dish it out”, but can’t take it. All the more reason to blog and comment responsibly.

  16. Sometimes I think blogging is a bit like marriage. You put it out there, hoping for the best – and you get a little bit of everything back. :)

    I moderate.

    I’m fine with someone disagreeing with me. And I don’t recall every striking anything due to problematic content. Naturally, some things said hurt, rarely intentionally.

    Like I said, a bit like marriage. Of course, now I”m divorced. Maybe we just needed a moderator.

    :)

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Big Little Wolf,

      I agree. When we put it out there, we do get a little of everything back, and I’m guessing that’s because we’re dealing with so many different personalities.

      I like your comment about “maybe just needing a moderator”. :)

  17. suzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barb! I don’t think I’ve ever received a comment that disturbed me one way or the other, though a few I really wondered about! I know about thick skins – I have had my art work in shows and displays. You cannot believe what people say when passing by, not knowing the artist is within ear shot! It has made me extremely cautious about NEVER criticizing art work at art fairs, I’ll tell ya!

    When it comes to blog commenting, if I can’t say anything meaningful, I don’t comment at all.
    Hugs
    suZen

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Suzen,

      Ouch! That had to have hurt; having others openly critique your art, not knowing you were the artist. That’s a good reminder to stay quiet whenever we’re viewing the art (of any kind) of others.

  18. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara: Yesterday I was reading a post on “The Simple Dollar” about collecting left-over vegetables, boiling them, and then making vegetable stock that you can use when you cook other foods, such as rice. Trent–the owner of “The Simple Dollar”–used the world “sublime” to describe how food tastes when you cook it using vegetable stock. Several people wrote in the comments section that they disliked the word “sublime” and that they were very annoyed that Trent had used it in the post. They were even a bit hostile.

    Why would people do that? Trent is not hurting anyone by using the word “sublime”. If you don’t like the word, just ignore it. Why do you need to criticize someone else’s word choice, and in such a hostile way?

    Bloggers really do leave themselves open to all sorts of attacks.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Marelisa,

      I’ve never heard of such a thing. I agree. Why would someone object to a specific word? Like you said, they could have just ignored it and moved on. No need to get hostile.

  19. Great post Barbara. I especially like the part about NOT engaging an attacker in battle. A simple, “thank you for your comments” generally puts an end to it, and leaves you looking classy while the attacker looks like the bully. Now, if I’ve impuned someone’s maternal lineage, then I deserve negative feedback and must deal with it. But you covered that too. Great post!

    Oh, and I *really* like this theme!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Allan,

      I agree. When we answer negative comments in a positive way, we do end up looking more classy, and mature.

      And yes. If we’re the one who has offended, an apology is definitely in order.

  20. George AngusNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Oh yeah. It’s happened once or twice. I was polite but couldn’t resist a *little* bit of snarky.

    The only full blown battle I’ve ever had took place behind the scenes (on my end anyway – he was much less the gentleman)

    Muy importante to not react to this stuff, tho. Bad juju.

    George

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi George,

      LOL, I know. It’s hard not to want to be a bit snarky at times. :)

      I hear you. Bad juju isn’t what we want.

  21. Great article on how to properly handle derogatory comments. We can’t change the way people desire to express themselves through comments on our blogs, whether they be negative or positive is not up to us. However, we can control the way react to them. I respond to negative comments with a little bit of sarcasm and if I read someone’s comment and they seem to have an issue with me I would email them and get to the bottom of it. I wouldn’t have a big disagreement for the whole web to see unless it is a healthy debate. When you get derogatory comments you have to handle yourself like a professional.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi John,

      That’s a good point. Sometimes it’s best to take the disagreement off the blog/web. That way we could hopefully get to the bottom of it and still remain “friends”, instead of continuing to go around blogosphere on tippy toes.

  22. Hi Barbara,

    I have one commenter who stops by LLI every so often and posts a comment that is less than upbeat, but to me it’s clear that the eyeore attitude is more a reflection of how the commenter views the world and isn’t really directed at me, or the post. It’s just that the reader can’t fathom a world where hope and personal power can really exist. It’s sad, but I don’t take it personally. Nor do I delete it. Those are the exact readers that need LLI more than anyone. Other than that, all of the commenters have been awesome. Even the spammers are polite, if not dull. I don’t seem to get the creative, exciting ones you all do…not that I am complaining!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Wendi,

      That’s true. When we receive comments which aren’t all that positive, we need to stop and realize it’s not something we said, but something in their (the commenter’s) life which is preventing them from seeing the possibilities. All the more reason to continue to post what we believe and hopefully the day will come when others realize “hope and personal power can really exist.”

  23. I’m going to have to look up my favorite link about the guy with a crazy name who waits until the middle of the night to go online and put down someone’s video. It’s a crazy world!

    I hope that made sense! What I’m trying to say is that before I started my blog my biggest fear was having someone I didn’t know leave me a negative comment.

    Luckily, that was FAR from the case. I find most people to be complimentary and positive. Unfortunately there’s always one party pooper. Sorry about that word! Ha ha!

    Thanks for the thoughts!

    Julie

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Julie,

      I know what you’re saying. When we start blogging it’s not like we have a desire for negative comments, but are aware they could happen. When, and if it does, just be prepared and consider the source.

      Haha! No need to apologize for saying party pooper. :)

  24. LizNo Gravatar says:

    I really liked this post. I can relate to it, although I wish I couldn’t. :(

  25. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    I have received a couple of disagreeable comments on my blog and one person who comments on older posts to prove me wrong…In my earliest days I was using the Biblical Lexicon of my denomination to stimulate my writing and create discipline….because I did not reference the passages I was using several folks felt free to tell me I was wrong….I just knew that those folks were busy memorizing their version of that book and never considered I was using a different translation –

    I just take folks where they are at and I have removed several rants at me and death treats I received and name calling for a word I used and the spam machines rolled out commentors…

    I have had 40 years of practice on getting nasty comments flung at me – just work for the church! there is no shortage of judgment!

    You make some very good points here….and I think if one wants to communicate they need some structure which supports the best and the most respectful outcomes….I agree with JD it is what one does with it…Thank you

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Patricia,

      You’re a very wise woman. I think it’s best to remove the nasty comments or death threats and continue moving forward.

      That said, I think we should document (and make a copy of) any death threat comments we receive in the event we need to turn the matter over to the authorities.

  26. Hey, Barbara, earlier on I got a couple of negative comments on a post of a potentially controversial nature. I responded by not engaging, being respectful and stating my reasons for feeling the way I did.

    No negative comments in a long long time.

    xo

  27. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Jannie,

    Yes. Some posts do stir up controversy, even when we don’t think they will. In blogosphere, we never know, do we?

    It sounds like you handled the comments perfectly and didn’t give them any reason to stay engaged. Smart move!

  28. LizNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks. :) I plan on using it for future blog posts. I’m thinking of taking each little line and explaining them into full detail. :)

    You’re welcome. I really enjoy reading your blogs. :) I had forgotten the URL until I saw it on someone else’s blog. I think it was sarahealy.com’s? So that’s kind of like my bookmark, too. 😀

  29. ValerieNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – just discovered your fantastic resourceful blog today and look forward to reading all the posts, digesting and learning. So far – commenting has not reached a steady pace, so no negative ones (yet)!

  30. Have you ever received such negative comments here in your blog?