What Do You Do If Someone Posts an Insulting Comment on Your Blog?

I don’t often get negative comments on this blog.

For one thing, my posts tend not to be controversial — they’re more of a way of chronicling my journey through life and the writing life. It’s hard for someone to argue that I’m getting it wrong when I can’t get it wrong. I’m being me, and who can argue with that?

For another thing, my readers tend to be intelligent and kind, and they give thoughtful responses that add to the conversation instead of posting negative comments that bring the discussion to an abrupt end.

The other day, however, someone left an insulting comment on my article How Many Books Are Going to be Published in 2012? (Prepare for a Shock) that I didn’t know how to handle. That is not my favorite post by any means, in fact, it’s one of the few I wish I had never written. I’d only written the article as a way of trying to make sense of the current book climate and to show the meteoric increase in the number of books available, not to establish myself as any authority on the subject. And yet it’s become my most quoted article, and the one most frequently linked to.

It’s no wonder that an insulting remark landed on the post. Someone commented: “why would anyone bother to pay attention to a blog which starts off with uninteresting stuff about the author, and then gives data without a source? takes all types, I guess.”

I guess it does take all types. When I see an article that doesn’t lead up to the hype, I merely pass on by without stopping to leave a comment. But, for whatever reason, that person left a comment. I didn’t know whether to delete it or approve it. And if I posted it, I didn’t know whether to respond to it or ignore it. Admittedly, it’s not much of an insult, but it still put me in a quandary.

I asked my blogger friends on Facebook what they do in such a circumstance, and got a whole range of answers from “delete it” to “find where the person lives and go beat them up.” Some people thought that if it had merit or if it said more about the commenter than me, that I should post it but not respond. Some said that if it was a business blog, to delete the comment, that it wasn’t good to have snipers in your store.

The comment now seems innocuous, and the commenter has a point, why would anyone bother to pay attention to that particular blog post? (Though I did give a source, just not a link to the source.) Still, I left his remark in comment limbo until just a few minutes ago. I found the deciding factor in You and Your Blog Suck: 7 Steps to Responding to Negative Comments, a blog post by Marc Ensign. He said, “By deleting it you are telling your readers that they are welcome to say whatever they want as long as they agree with you. The only time I would consider deleting a post is if it was obscene or offensive to your readers.”

Since the comment under consideration is not obscene, not offensive to my readers, not even much of an insult, I took a deep breath and approved the comment.

So, what do you do if someone posts an insulting remark on your blog? Do you delete it or do you approve it so posts where everyone can see it? If you post it, do you answer it or ignore it?


Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

31 Responses to “What Do You Do If Someone Posts an Insulting Comment on Your Blog?”

  1. francisguenette Says:

    Tough question and situation – I’ve been so focused on actually getting a comment, I must say – I haven’t thought much about what to do about a negative one. I think you made the right choice – just post it up there. Not everyone is going to like what we write – that’s life – right? Just like one star reviews and all of that – when you go public you take the risk – still it sounds like it smarts and I don’t look forward to the inevitable day when I will be in your place.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Well, I’ve never had an insulting comment yet on my blog, but I’d follow that Marc guy’s suggestion: approve it, but ignore it, and if it’s offensive, delete it. And I hope you don’t get many comments like that again.

  3. Andrew Peters Says:

    I think you did the right thing….most people will ignore his point due to his poor manners, he could have disagreed much more politely.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Andrew. It’s nice to know I did the right thing. It’s sort of strange, now that I think about it, that I’ve had almost 8,000 comments since starting this blog, and this is the first time I was flummoxed.

  4. Jill Says:

    You have more class than me, Pat. I would have been tempted to come back with a question about why he can’t capitalize properly.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Class? Nice of you to say, Jill. I wanted to pounce on him, but decided to see what others would do before I made a fool of myself. And by the time I got around to deciding what to do, it just didn’t seem worth responding to.

  5. Rose Chimera Says:

    You know, when I get negative feedback of any kind, regardless of the source I immediately look back on myself. What I wrote, said, thought, etc. I spend a lot of time pondering that negative comment because I don’t want of offend anyone. I don’t want to hurt anyone yet that may happen because I’m speaking from my heart about MY life and MY trials and tribulations and so on. However, sometimes there are people out there that are mad, angry at the world for something that neither you nor I nor anyone else caused. They are just mad! Then they stumble across a post that has an open ended question, an invitation of sorts for all to answer…or a blog that has an innocent probing question and they pounce!!! Like starving sharks looking for blood. They are out there, we’ve all brushed against them but that doesn’t mean we have to adopt them. It doesn’t mean we have to absorb them and it sure doesn’t mean we have to give them a whole lot of energy. Sometimes people are just mean and lash out. That doesn’t mean that what we have posted or asked is wrong, it means they are just angry…maybe even hurting. Even so, that doesn’t give license to them to attack in any way. To be derogatory and get you (like me) to wonder and wonder and ask others for their feedback…am I right or am I wrong? They’ve moved on to their next victim while you and I sit and ponder and wonder if there’s some validity to their statement. That’s crazy making.

    You can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

    Hit the ball (post the blog) and move on. You’re fine. Sometimes, just sometimes, its them that have the problem and not you.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Great lesson, Rose, thank you! Yes, it’s good to consider negative comments — sometimes they are spot on, such as those who point out holes in a work-in-progress, and can help make the final product better. Other times, as you say, they are just being mean or angry, and it’s better to just let it go.

  6. Carrie Rubin Says:

    I’ve only received one negative comment so far, and it was directed at another commenter rather than me. For that reason, I deleted it. I didn’t think I should post a comment that denigrated one of my gracious commenters. Plus, the comment was without merit and didn’t align with what the other person said. But although it made sense to delete it, I still felt a little censor-ish doing it.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      For certain, if someone denigrates another commenter, the negative remark should be deleted. That happened to me once, where a commenter really riled the others who commented, but before I could remove the negative remark, a whole spate of reponses were posted. Apparently, my blog readers can take care of themselves!

  7. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I don’t generally get negative comments on my own blogs. Even when I posted something I thought would be controversial and hit the wrong nerve with someone I only got positive feedback.

    There was a television program made this year that got up my nose. It accused Australians of being drunks,racists and generally stupid. These insults originally came from overseas tele-marketers. They’re the people who phone you up and try to sell you something. My blog consisted of my own experiences with them.

    When you tell the same telemarketer more than twice in two different phone conversations that you are not interested, you are likely to be feeling a little hostile and picked on when they ring yet again. When they do it every week for three or more months I think you need not be too polite. You certainly don’t feel like being polite. Your home in a sense has been invaded by them.

    I also mentioned the rip-off merchants from overseas. The ones who tell you that your computer is about to have a cardiac arrest if you don’t pay them to fix it.

    Anyway, I attacked the television program as being biased in favour of these tele-marketers and way too politically correct Also I railed at the tele-marketers for being insensitive, especially to old, vulnerable folk. I’m glad I got people agreeing with me. Maybe those who would disagree didn’t want a bite of that particulsar sour lemon.

    The only other time I got some negativity on someone else’s blog was when I agreed with the theory of Evolution and blasted Creationism as being not real science and a bit silly and defensive. On the other hand, I also got some positive feed back so that evened out.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s funny you’re mentioning that when you think you’re writing a controversial article, you only get positive feedback. I’ve written a couple where I thought I’d get slammed, and I was ready for it, but I only got good comments.

  8. awlasky Says:

    I haven’t run into the problem on my blogs, but I sure run into negative comments when I post comments on news stories. I truly believe there are people out there who relish being negative. Assuming you can never take the thorn out of their collective paw, I’d probably go along with: you can hurt me, but don’t hurt my commentators. BTW, I enjoyed that article. Go figure.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It makes me feel better about having written it. I think you’re right about people liking to be negative — and it’s easy on the internet where you don’t have to face the person you’re being negative about.

  9. Emma McCoy Says:

    While I haven’t yet faced this situation, it is one that I dread having to face. Thank you for being so straight forward about how you handled the issue. I think it was the right thing to do.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Some really insulting comments, especially ones with bad language are caught by WordPress’s spam filter, so I don’t even see them. Mostly the people who comment are people I’m getting to know, like you.

  10. bottledworder Says:

    I recently got two negative comments from the same reader. I consider them a sign of success. I allowed them to be posted. I even responded quickly defending my position. Unless this person deteriorates comments to diatribes that are offensive to readers, which I think won’t happen, I welcome such comments in a lopsided way (even though I don’t like them). I think allowing such comments makes the forum more fair and also more interesting.

  11. Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

    On Murderby4.blogspot.com, we occasionally get weird jumbled “buy me” or “go to my blog” comments which I delete immediately. I can’t remember the last time we had a negative comment, but I know they exist. I think they often come from folks who need to vent (at someone else) but you happen to be convenient! You did the right thing by letting it through. I tend to answer the comment with questions, trying to dig into the commentor’s pov and figure out what they really meant. Strange. It takes all types, Pat. ;o)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Marc said I should have responded, but I can’t think of anything to say. Maybe I’ll just say, “As you say, it takes all kinds.” That seems innocuous enough, while getting my point across.

  12. broadsideblog Says:

    The problem with most blog comments is that they’re a love-in, not a conversation. I’ve only had a few snotty comments so far but I leave them because everyone has an opinion. Blogging is a demand for attention, and we can’t control what form it takes.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m lucky in that most people who comment on this blog leave intelligent remarks that add to the discussion, even if they disagree with my premise. The only love-ins I get are when I post an article about grief, and those words of support are always welcome.

  13. Sylvio Drouin Says:

    i wonder if the up/down promote functions naturally filter those out?

  14. HomeCookedDesigns Says:

    Hi I have only just found you so don’t know fully what you are about at the moment. But whatever the case I feel like you that there is too much negativity around us all the time and sometimes you have to switch off. If people want to give you negative comments they should go to Twitter! OMG what a place that is? I feel that if someone goes into your Blog it is almost like they are going into your private space, your home almost. I believe if you wouldn’t sit on my Settee and be Rude you shouldn’t come into my Blog and be rude either! I would Delete negative comments. I would never go to someone’s else’s Blog and be negative and I expect the same respect back. And so should you!

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