May 25, 2012

{Tips for Blogging: Part 5} Dealing with Negative Comments


Blogging is a weird hobby/career/passion, isn't it?  We pour our lives and hearts and homes out onto a screen for others to read, and then not only do we permit comments from complete strangers, but we invite them! 

It already sounds like a recipe for some heart ache, doesn't it?

The vast majority of the comments you are going to receive are going to be good ones. People come to your blog because they like what you have to say.  Most people aren't walking around the blog-o-sphere looking for a fight.  But a few are. Unfortunately.

Before I tell you my very non-expert thoughts on how to deal with negative comments, I want to acknowledge that not all negative comments are inappropriate.  We blog because we want to start a discussion on a topic we are passionate about.  Discussion is good, and disagreement is part of discussion, right?

In fact, I have left negative comments before.  For example, I left a very negative comment when one blogger stated that a woman who drinks alcohol or dresses provocatively is receiving the "consequences for her actions" if she is raped.  I feel that I chose my words carefully, but I didn't pretend that everything she said was A-okay either.  Discussion is good.  

That said, I can't think of any good reason somebody should ever say (this is a made-up example) "That spring wreath is horrid.  What a stupid tutorial." I think that sort of thing falls under the if-you-can't-say-anything-nice clause that we all learned in kindergarten.

So often it isn't about what is said, but how it's said.  Rational discussion is good. Name calling isn't.  Again, it's kindergarten stuff.

So I guess what I'm saying is that when somebody comments on a blog post in a negative way the first thing we have to ask ourselves is "was it inappropriate?"  Because after we've completed and photographed a project, written and edited a blog post, edited and uploaded our photos, proofread again, and nervously pressed publish, it is really easy to assume that anybody who can think of something negative to say is clearly an evil internet dictator.

But the fact is that people should be allowed to think that your credenza looked better before you spray painted it lime green. Even though they're clearly wrong...

The way I see it, there are three basic ways to deal with an inappropriate comment.  Which one you use in any given circumstance is going to involve a lot of discernment from you.  But here are some of my personal guidelines.  

a) Ignore it.  I think this is the best route for people who just don't get who you are and what you're trying to do.  When somebody gets their internet panties in a knot because I mentioned God in a blog post, I don't delete their comment, I don't start a comment war, I just ignore it.   Not every situation requires me to step in and say something, you know?

b) Delete it.  I never ever delete a comment for simply disagreeing with me. But I frequently delete a comment that is vulgar or spammy.  Your blog is your own little corner of the internet, if people are leaving graffiti on your walls it is okay to paint over it!

c) Respond.  With this one I need to tell a story. One where I am the bad guy.

I received a comment a while back that wasn't mega nasty, but was quite rude.  The person was suggesting that I go back and change a project I had completed simply because they didn't like it. My pride exploded.  Who were they to tell me to change a project I've stated that I am happy with?  So I responded. And I was sarcastic and snarky.

Afterwards, as I reflected on it, the word that kept coming back to me was "blameless".

I need to be blameless in my response.

That doesn't just mean that my friends wouldn't blame me for making the comment I did.  It doesn't mean that my most loyal readers would stand behind the words I've said. It means that anybody, ANYBODY who comes by could not reasonably object to the words I've written and how I've written them.  That even the person whom I am responding too, the person who caused me hurt in the first place, could not honestly call me anything but patient and loving and gracious.

And if I can't do that, then I need to hold my proverbial tongue.

I know...it's hard. In fact, it means I use strategy "A" a lot more these days. 

Shortly after I came to this realization, it was tested.  An anonymous commenter commented on the size of our family.  They suggested that we must be on food stamps and told me to "close my legs".

Friends, I cried.  And then I prayed. How can I respond to this person?  How can I do it blamelessly?

I'm not claiming to have all the answers, or to have responded perfectly, but this is how I responded:

"I wish you could know us in real life so that we could change some of the preconceptions you have of large families. For the record, I have never even seen a food stamp (I'm not sure that we have those in Canada). The Lord has provided well for our family, In part by this little blog I have.

I don't think it's appropriate to tell strangers on the internet (or anybody, for that matter) to "close your legs!" The internet gives us too much anonymity sometimes, allowing us to say things that are more hurtful than helpful.

All the large families I've known have been delightful people who work hard and spend carefully. I recognize that your experience may be different, but please don't assume that we are all like the ones you've met. Thanks for commenting."

Again, I'm not saying that mine was the perfect response and that I have it all together and that you should all do as I do.  Goodness no.  My pride gets in the way sometimes, I'm way too easily hurt and too quick to respond to conflict with sarcasm.  But I really think there is something to this blamelessness....

Oh...and it wasn't my idea: 

"Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless" ~2 peter 3:14
 "Do all things without complaining and disputing,  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world"  ~Philippians 2:14,15

{This is part 5 in a series on blogging.  To read the rest of the series, click here.}
Thank you for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

51 comments:

  1. someone told you to close your legs? seriously? oh the decline of humanity... (only half-kidding...)

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  2. I've had one mean comment, but it pales in comparison with what that person said. Seriously? It's amazing to me how
    uncivil those who have a different belief than ours have become. We truly live in a crooked and perverse generation, but it's so wonderful that most who visit us on our blogs are kind and supportive.

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  3. I've found that most people who make cruel remarks like that are jealous and unhappy; it makes them momentarily feel superior, but they probably would change places with you in a heartbeat.

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    1. Absolutely yes! Sometimes it is hard to remember that....

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  4. Nice post ... and excellent response. A nice family like yours is the envy of those who did not have it. I have only three children, but it happened to me more or less the same thing, not on the blog, but in person.
    Sorry for my english and congratulations for your wonderful blog.

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  5. I am loving these posts. It's a big wide world, with lots of wonderful people...and a few stinkers. You should have a standard reply that people think is just a machine spitting it out.

    "The projects, ideas, and opinions in this blog were published for the enjoyment of others. I am sorry you did not enjoy them."

    By the Way, I found the LINK button on my blog's dashboard. It's been sitting there laughing at me.

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    1. funjani, I like this idea - I may use it myself, if I get a comment like the one Kelly used as an example! LOL

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  6. Thanks for this post. It was well thought out and obviously prayed over. I hope I can remember to be blameless not only in response to blog comments but to those in my "real" life, too. I have really enjoyed this series. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  7. Well said. And way to "walk the talk".

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  8. I think you're absolutely right that anonymity encourages people to say/type things they wouldn't say to your face. Plus, people assume WAAAAY too much: i.e. just because you have 5 sweet babies, you MUST be on food stamps. Since when does 5 children automatically equal needing the government to help you take care of them?

    Thank you for writing this post. I know it can be so hard to deal with negative comments sometimes. But, as you seemed to imply, dealing with them comes with the blogging territory. Sometimes it's an exercise in developing thick skin.

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    1. P.S. I shared this series on my blog today: http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com/2012/05/friday-favorites-5252012.html

      Thanks for writing it! I've learned so much!

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    2. Hi Alana! Thanks so much for spreading the word about this series :)

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  9. I am going to jump in and comment finally... I have been faithfully reading every post in this series. Thank you for all of the great advice and also for not being afraid to show your faith in these posts as well. I really appreciate all of it!
    P.S. I am a mother of 5 and both my husband and myself come from families with 6 kids!

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  10. Kelly - I return to your blog, time and time again, not just because I love the content, but I adore your combination of wit, appropriate sprinkles of humor and abundant grace.

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  11. Thank you so much for writing this series, I have truely enjoyed reading every post. I am glad you gave some tips on how to deal with negative comments because I'm sure it will happen sooner or later on my blog also. I think you handled that situation perfectly and can only hope I can do the same. God bless!

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  12. LOVE THIS!!!! I usually cry a little when I get negative comments and then delete. Mostly because I feel like it's my place like you said and I don't have to leave it if I don't want to. I try to keep my blog a positive place of encouragement and therefore I expect the same of comments. Thankfully I've only dealt with this a very few times. You're advice is absolutely perfect! :)

    Oh - and large families ROCK! We are just a tiny family of three... soon to be four. But some of our best friends have 9 children and they are so FUN!

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  13. Thank you so much for this series! I'm starting my own little corner of the blog world (like yesterday! lol) and your series has been really informative and friendly. A lot of other bloggers make it sound so intimidating! Right now I'm just blogging for me, so I'm not really worried about readers or money, but maybe someday it will expand past that. Thanks again!

    Plus, I have no idea why people on the internet feel they can be so rude sometimes!

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  14. Ah! the internet troll! Had a few of these on my blog over the years, if the comment is nasty, I delete it, if it's off topic, I delete it. Like you I allow disagreement but it has to be written in a fair way.
    My blog is the type that brings racist comments, they hurt, and I have been shaken to the ground a couple of time. There was a time that was so nasty I actually switched to Disqus comment platform just so I could black list some of my trolls to prevent them from posting hate comments on my blog anymore. A comment tool I highly recommend to anyone who has to deal with nasty commenters.

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  15. I very much enjoy your blog and am a loyal reader. While my views at times are different than yours, I respect and admire you for your courage to speak your mind in a thoughtful, caring and genuine way!! One thing that doesn't differ is our love of our families. I have 3 children (which to some is even a large family!) and I love the overall message you provide in always putting that family first. No matter what it is- blogging, working, keeping house, teaching, playing- put family first. That's what I get from your blog! And I appreciate it so much!!!

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    1. Awww Allison, Thank you so much for your kind words :)

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  16. Whatever happened to "if you can't say something nice, than don't say anything at all." There's a difference between sharing your own thoughts and opinions and being rude. I love to read your blog! Another fav of mine is a mother of 8. http://resolved2worship.xanga.com/ She actually doesn't allow comments. On occasion she does, and when that happens, I load her with compliments! I admire her so much, and I welcome the chance to tell her so! When reading blogs, I generally keep any negative comments to myself. Sharing my opinion is not going to be helpful in anyway! And if it's a blog that I don't like, I don't read it. Thank you for taking time in your busy day to share things with us. I admire you and appreciate all the helpful advice you have given me!!

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    1. Hi Jenn! I just checked out that blog you mentioned....it's fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing :)

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  17. Kelly, your humility is awesome.

    I too have loved the series, and thank you for taking time to share.

    You're right that this is a tricky issue.

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  18. i do not blog. i guess I probably could because I have lots to say as a mother of 5 kids of a blended family, and a full-time nursing student. But, the first thing that came to my mind was how this post is an outline on how to respond to anyone in general. Great words! Thank you!

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  19. I have to admit I was a little shocked by your picture announcing you were having another baby, but not for the fact that "you should keep your legs closed" but because in today's society a big family is often viewed as more of a burden than it is worth. ANd not many young couples are making the choice to have big families. I commend you on having 5 young children, having another one, and having a blog about orginazation and household tips, etc. I have 4 children of my own and a foster son and my house is NOT organized at all. I don't know how you do it. BUt God gives us all special talents and yours seems to be handling the chaotic life of a large, young family and organization.

    It is sad though that in todays world, large families are viewed with such disapproval and oh so helpful advice. I know that we have had many comments about having a 7, 5, 3, and 1 year old and having our 11 year old foster son, who is my cousin, come to live with us. Many times I have had to bite my tongue and just ignore people.

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  20. Kelly, I'm a fairly new reader, but I have really enjoyed browsing your blog the last few weeks. I'm usually more of a "silent reader", but I thought I would let you know that I really appreciated reading your advise about responding to negative comments in a way that leaves you blameless. This is something I'll have stored in the back of my mind the next time I feel like responding to someone sarcastically, which happens more than I wish! Thanks for sharing your awesomeness! - Holli

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  21. Hi Kelly, thank you so much for this series! I am such a newbie that this couldn't have come at a better time. I too have 5 children and have had very negative comments said to my face...usually at Walmart...in front of my kids. Things like that start to make you a cynical person. Since I have been blogging and 'meeting' so many amazing women who share the same views as I do it has lifted the negativity that the world sometimes overwhelms me with. Thank you for your positive outlook on life, it gives me hope that there is some good. Keep up the great work!

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  22. I have to admit, I didn't do so well on this a few weeks ago - not on my blogs, but to someone who I thought was a friend. That encounter was very painful, and my response to it was probably less than "blameless," because if it HAD been blameless, I would not be feeling right now like I was the one at fault instead of the other way round (I was attacked verbally and almost physically over hearsay). Thank you for this reminder to always be on guard of how I respond.
    OH - and I come from a family of 9 kids (I still count the one who died at 9 days old as one of the kids), and I would not choose ANY of them to not have been born. I love my family, and I'm thankful for you and your family!!

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  23. Love your blogging posts Kelly. I wish I would have read these before I started my blog. Haven't had much time for blogging lately, busy with life. Love your honesty and humility. Keep up the great work, Jeanne

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  24. I have been reading your blog for about 9 months. I love it. You inspire me. I love you. Wish I could meet you. You are amazing. Thanks for everything.

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  25. Wow. It is so hard to believe what some people will say or do. I try to remind myself that when people are mean, it is because they do not have the love of Jesus in their life. Thank you for responding kindly to that person as the Bible commands. You showed them the love of Jesus that they need in their life.

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  26. That is so sad to see that someone doesn't think you rock the large family. I grew up in a family of 6 kids and was teased at school for it. I want a big family too though, so this was so helpful to me to think about it and maybe try to thicken my skin a little. I know that not everyone will love my choices, but you are a great example that I'll lean on in the future. I have 3 kids now and people ask me all of the time if we are done. I get a lot of flack for wanting 6-8 kids now and I don't even have them!

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  27. OMG! I have really enjoyed the parts of your blog that I have read. I have wanted to start a blog for so long as a hobby because I enjoy this kind of thing. You have encouraged me to do so and I am setting up my goals to be up and running soon. Thank you so much for this. It was just what I needed to hear so I could see beyond my two year old and 6 week old and know its something I can still do.
    more importantly I am thankful for your constant reference to God. It is so nice to see!
    Blessings!

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  28. Oh goodness! I'm new to the blogging world and seriously have no clue what I'm doing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. It was great to read this post and have a heads up as to what may come. I am so happy I found your blog. It is very inspiring and I enjoy reading it.

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  29. First time on your blog and I read the above article. I just want you to know that you aren't alone - I fight this same fight, just in a different way - every day. Great Scripture reference, and just keep your chin up. People cant see God through us if we don't strive to act more like Him. Bless you!

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  30. I haven't had any mean comments yet but I know they're coming. I really appreciate you writing on this subject. I feel a little more prepared for when it happens.

    Sorry you've received mean comments. Why can't people just be nice! There's definitely been a decrease in good manners in this world. My daughter is a teller at a bank and it's amazing the things people say to her. Wow!

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  31. Hi! :) I started reading your blog about a month ago and I just wanted to drop you a note. I've been very blessed and challenged by your blog! I'm about to become a mama for the first time in December and reading your words have given me so much encouragement about choosing to be a homemaker. Thank you for being honest about your life and your faith in God. I'm glad He led me here for some help and wisdom. :) Thanks again!

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  32. Kelly, I love your blogs. I love the fact - even more - that you are honest, bold and not ashamed of your faith :). Your blogs are encouraging. Keep them coming. I pray that God will strengthen you as you prepare to welcome His new 'little blessing'.
    Sending lots of love and blessings your way!

    Shama

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  33. Kelly, thank you for all of the blogging insight. I have blogged for a while but not for any purpose other than a personal journal. I would love to make my blog more meaningful and grow a readership. I have aready started implementing some of your suggestions. Thank you again, TJ

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  34. Thank you so very much for the tips! I've been blogging for about a year and am still working on getting more followers and all that jazz! I can't wait to start using some of your suggestions to grow my little blog family! Thanks so much for the advice, Julie.

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  35. What a great series! I have posted two things, and am sometimes at a loss as to what to write next. Great tips!

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  36. Oh wow, I am so sorry that you were hurt so.
    I just love looking at your blog, you encourage me and I think that you bring such celebration to life and I love your ideas and thoughtful approach to all that you do.
    I love your blog.

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  37. Wow, who those people thik they are to make so horrible comments about bif families?! I whis I have your patience and kindness, but in front of a situation like that, I could destroy with irony... SO I admire you, your blog, your tips, your patience and kindness, and I'll be thinking of you when the time to be mommy comes... I was thinking of 5 too hahaha. Keep the good work in everything!

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  38. I can only say I wish that I had 5 children. I have 3 and when I see big families, I think LUCKY!
    I agree with Christina who basically said those who leave hurtful comments are just plain jealous of your obvious talents and skills.
    Kudos to you for being brilliant,talented and smart.
    I like the line from the movie "The Help" You is kind, you is smart, you is beautiful."
    Just use the delete button and pretend you never saw those mean,rude comments. God thinks you're great. Cause He only makes quality stuff.

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  39. I just posted a comment on another post about how adorable your babies are, but I thought about it after looking at your family picture...(and especially after reading this post & the nasty comment that person left), you & your husband should KEEP making babies...it's adding to the beautiful people count in the world!

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  40. They said what? Reason #5968 why I can't have a blog. I'd punch someone in the face daily. You are a stronger person than I may ever be!

    Cassie Reno, NV

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  41. Don't listen to them Kelly! I love your blog I read it everyday! It helps me get through my struggles. Some may hate on you, but to others you may be the light in their lives. :)
    xoxo Jes

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  42. I think you're awesome and have such depth of character. Just found you and though that it is your true calling, so was surprised that you'd remotely think of stopping. Keep up the good work. You are on to a good thing.

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