Before I started writing this blogpost, I just tweeted my Hawaii feature, the only article, published in Matador Network two years ago.( For original article you can read here, but no negative comments please!). As I re-read my published work and felt a sense of pride, I have noticed almost 50 comments at the bottom of that article. Some readers’ comments are positive, saying that I spoke up the truth for them, while there are readers just posted negative comments. To make matter worse, there is this reader posting several comments on my article questioning the locality of my feature as well as other reader’s opinion just for entertainment. There is also comments state that I should write articles about Canada or China instead, as I am not from Hawaii and no longer live there. Later on interesting phenomenal raises when those negative comments were fought by other reader’s who were sided with the article I wrote. Oh those amazing keyboard warriors…
There is no lack of strong and salty wording in the comments section that are overly negative and critical. As an author, you cannot just simply respond those comments by backing up your opinion and facts. Those readers either do not care or will throw you more accusations that will trigger a cyber fight. And be aware, your keyboard warriors have allies that will show up out of nowhere. Once you respond, the flame starts, and we know, it is a war. Unlike the World War II, there are no winners.
So the question remains: how to deal with bad comments?
In most cases, it would be better off to just not respond unless you have written something that is really wrong, or you have hurt someone with your writing and that you need to apologize. In this case you can just email the reader and discuss the matter privately. In other cases, it is for the best just to say nothing at all and continue spending your energy on your craft. The negative remarks you have received does not mean your writing is a worst piece of sh*t and you are an unqualified writer. It only reflected off the personality of the readers themselves. If you need more consolation, remember that those who posted the negative comments, most of them cannot writes good as you are. At least your article is published and has some traffic.
Read Bad Comments Wrote for Your Peers
As you are not the only writer in this world, there are other writers, too, received comments, and some are more negative and stronger than yours. As I looked at my comments for my Hawaii feature, I also checked out other destination features and noticed some pieces contain far even worse comments. This is a Florida feature someone wrote for Matador Network. Read the first two comments posted for this article and check out the same piss off theme for Colorado.
Yes it is a better feeling knowing that you are not the only one who receive bad comments.
If you must, respond with positivity and maturity
If you must, respond those comments calmly and positively and only delineate your statement to the facts and opinion you wrote, instead of attacking readers in person. Then leave it to your readers to take care of the rest. Mostly your positive comments will make those cowboys look a lot worse and they will eventually give up their take down.
Ban the bad comments from your site
As much as I would like to delete some comments from my work at Matador, I do not have the authority to do so. Most bloggers have their own site. The wordpress blogs, the most common form of blog site accessible to writers, has an option for comments moderation – a comment must be approved by the owners to be visible on their site. The last resort would be reporting negative comments to the site administrator or moderator.
Take control of your own site
On your own site and Facebook page, you are the last defense line of your readers’ words. You have free reign of removing comments, banning certain comments, or generally not allowing comments there. The first step is to master the feature of the site you own:
Where you will allow the comments to appear?
How you will allow it to appear? For this blog, I will usually look at the comments before they are moderated. I sometimes get really good comments on articles I have written and then the reader who commented on it trying to sell me other features, I usually leave those comments unmoderated.
Fighting with your Readers Does not Help
Discuss different opinion with your readers is a different matter, but start an online fight with your reader is a no. To savethe credibility and the hard work you have built up for years, it is wise not to do so. Moreover, writing, and especially travel writing, is a small world. Odds are you may one day meet some of your fellow bloggers and readers in person. The possibly of chance meeting is small but who knows.
I remember myself reading academic papers (15-30 pages) in graduate school for my essay writing. There are published authors criticizing each other’s work by indicating everything the other party discovered and concluded is wrong. From those reading I can tell, those authors only wrote papers and critics for the sake of publishing their own work for their graduation and career advancing. My professor then told us that those intelligent authors one day attended the same academic conference. Lol and I can only imagine how that conference went.