Dealing With Trolls: Are Your Blog Comments Good, Bad or Ugly?

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I noticed something funny reading Penelope Trunk’s blog last year. She had one or two readers who leave cross comments.

Getting people who leave rude or irate comments on your blog  is normal when you’ve got a big readership like Penelope. You may guess a few people are angry about what she writes.

I love Penelope’s blog because she does say what she thinks and feels, she’s direct and she tells it like it is. She’s also brave enough to share her personal life  in a way many of us would be scared to do.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, she likes to stir up controversy with posts like the argument for paying moms less.

Is that what makes these irritated commenters angry? Is it her opinions, her state of mind or the way she writes? Sometimes.

But what makes a few of Penelope’s loyal readers angriest is when she doesn’t post on her blog often enough. Some people get annoyed because she doesn’t have a regular posting schedule and when she does post, sometimes it’s to publicize a webinar.

That’s right, her readers complain because they want to read more of her stuff. It’s a backhanded compliment.

But I want to talk about comments seriously because they’re the lifeline of my blog. If I’d never got any blog comments I’d have soon given up blogging.

Comments make a blog come alive, create a community and enrich the topic.

Good Blog Comments

First impressions count and if I get to a blog and see every post has zero comments I jump to conclusions. Even if your writing is fabulous, you’re a global superstar and the paparazzi hound you on a daily basis, a blog with no comments makes you look like a loser.

Sorry to be blunt, but tough love is needed here because it’s such a common problem and so easy to fix.

Absolutely do not let your blog posts get no comments. Just organised a comment swap with another blogger (or three) to get the ball rolling and promise each other to leave a comment on every single blog post. Getting the first comment is always hardest but once you have one comment the others will come more easily.

I was lucky my friend Teresa encouraged my blogging by leaving comments without being asked but there’s no shame in asking people to leave you a comment.

Of course you won’t have many comments when your blog is brand new and you shouldn’t expect to. It takes months to build up a big readership and only a tiny percentage of your readers will ever leave a comment.

Just promise me you’ll get one comment on every post. And remember, I might check up on you.

Bad Blog Comments

There is no such thing as a bad blog comment.

Getting a ‘bad’ comment from someone is a badge of honor. A rite of passage that shows you’ve made it as a blogger. Well done. Reply graciously or ignore it, the choice is yours.

As your blog grows like Penelope Trunk you’ll find that the odd negative comment slips in. It’s perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

Ugly Blog Comments

I know a blogger who is bullied by other bloggers in her comments and on Twitter. For some reason other bloggers pick on her and apparently this is common in some blogging circles.

Because I write a lot of personal development I’ve been lucky that my readers are good, caring people. I avoid controversy and send virtual rays of sunshine to my readers but I’ve still experienced a few ugly comments on my blog.

What shocked me was they were from people who seemed to be trying to sabotage my writing and blogging career. Were they jealous? Generally aggressive? Or just misguided? I’m not sure but it’s something you have to get over.

We writers and bloggers are sensitive types but we can’t afford to hide because we’re scared of what other people will say. We can’t stop blogging because of a few naysayers and we absolutely must not dwell on negative comments.

If you have a problem with negative comments on your blog and you reply politely then find yourself getting into arguments about unrelated topics and spending more time on that than on writing new blog posts there is a solution.

Delete the comments.

It’s your blog. You say what goes and what doesn’t and you need to take control of your comments.

If you get a few negative people hanging round the positive people might get fed up and go away.

I’m a firm believer in freedom of speech but there are limits to that on my blog. It’s responsible blogging to remove upsetting, crass or spam comments that add nothing to the conversation. I also remove unnecessary links in the comments.

I’ve hardly ever had to do so but I just want to prime you so you know what to do when the time comes on your blog. If comments are bothering you don’t put up with it, decided on a  comments policy and act on it.

People who leave bad comments are known as trolls. They’ve been around forever and they will always be around. But they’re just trolls. You and your readers don’t need to get upset by them.

Blog Comments Tips

My blog comments motivate and inspire me. They make blogging worthwhile. If you feel the same show your readers you appreciate their comments by reading them and replying. You don’t have to reply to every comment but blogging is a conversation, not a one-sided broadcast and replies let your readers know you’re listening to them too.

Finally choose the name you leave in your blog comments carefully. A business or blog name can sound spammy and it’s hard to relate to a person with no name. If there’s no picture you may not even know if your commenter is male or female. I know it shouldn’t make a difference but it is odd and hard to relate to someone without a gender.

How to Get More Blog Comments

That’s easy. Just end your blog post with an open-ended question so the conversation can continue and your blog will be enriched with ideas and insights from other people.

What are your top tips on getting more comments on your blog? Have you ever had to deal with negative comments? We’d love to know.

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