One of the things that the internet offers us is anonymity. Some people take their anonymity to an unfair place, and if your content gets in the way, then your comment section will become the victim of their onslaught. The best way visitors should treat comments? As though they’re speaking them aloud to someone, face-to-face. The truth is bad comments happen. The question is how to deal with them. Once you choose a method, stick to it. It should represent your brand and reflect the character that your readers equate with your blog. Here are some of the best ways we’ve come up with to handle bad comments.
Ignore them all!
This is one option that some people would be wise to choose. Ignoring a comment is perfectly acceptable, because you’re showing that you don’t engage commenters that are offensive, ridiculous, or baseless. Ignoring a comment helps to encourage readers not to make them if their purpose is to ruffle your feathers. It also shows that although you may not like it, you can be tolerant by avoiding relegating it to the spam bin.
Delete every last one
Alright, so maybe you’re reading this and wondering whether or not to bolt. Deleting comments sounds like the internet equivalent of hosting the public burning of an Op Ed piece that questions your authority. Yes, your best option to deal with a really sour comment is to ignore it. However, there are bad comments and there are bad comments. And a really bad one must be deleted. This shows that you respect your audience enough to ban the use of offensive language, threatening input, and unhelpful blabbering. The danger of deleting comments is not in the community catching on—it’s got more to do with a power-hungry moderator. Always allow for healthy, critical conversations to take place whether you agree or not.
How to respond to bad comments
If you’re going to opt for the path of responding, go into it with an objective, neutral stance. Make sure your response falls within the brand definition that you’ve established for your company or blog personality. Read and re-read a response before you post it.
Respond with authority
An authoritative response is meant to show the commenter that you’re an authority on the issue at hand. You want to be executive in your language but lenient as well, so as not to trigger an even worse counter-comment. Only respond authoritatively if you’re sure you can bring proof of what it is you’re here to explain. Be bold in your explanation but not belittling, and be sure to make it nice and long.
Say something funny
As the saying goes, “kill them with kindness”. The best way to bring kindness while also rallying your audience to your defense is by introducing humor into the equation. Not only do you calm the waters of this bad commenting barge, but you also have a greater chance of creating a constructive comment thread out of something that looked to be destructive.
Respond with an entire blog post
If the bad comment (bad of course being your interpretation of it) merits a more in-depth response, and if you can incorporate the above ideas of authoritativeness and humor, then why not write a blog post about it? From the bad comment you can link to the new post. This has a dual advantage of not only responding in kind to the comment, but also promoting additional discussion in the community of readers. Who knows, you might even draw in that bad commenter to be a positive participant.
Some final tidbits
Make sure you always comment when you’re cool. Although it’s just an anonymous jerk, their bad comment has provided an opportunity to build rapport within the existing and future audience of your blog or website. Bad comments can be irksome, but if you follow this advice, your loathing of them may just transform into happy anticipation.