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+