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Mean Spirited Comments and Blogging

Trolls. Flamers. Meanies. Vicious. Not Nice. Unkind. Rude. Inconsiderate. Nasty. Whining. Bitching. Moaning. Bastards.

Where there are humans, you will find humans who seem to have more than their share of these personality traits. Blogging is no exception.

Even the most non-controversial blogs, like this one, is the target of the blogging thug, mean spirited bloggers and commenters who just have to say nasty things when they can, for whatever reason they want to revel in.

Accusations run from just mean comments to outright lies about you and your blog.

I’m not talking about rip-roaring debates or enthusiastic arguments. I’m talking about old fashion meanness.

It often begins with mean comments on your posts. They can start off as just “not nice” and if they don’t get a response, or they do, the comments can become more aggressive. The mean blogger may actually write their mean attitude about you and your blog on their blog. Many of these mean people encourage others to feel the same way as they do, thus seeking validation for their mean spirits. And trust me, they find them. People are always willing to go along with negative energy. It often feels like negative energy attracts more negative energy faster and easier, than positive attracts positive.

Where there is negative energy in abundance, gangs form. If enough of a gang is formed, they will support each other to target your blog with more viciousness. Group meanness is even more fun because of the team spirit.

Fortunately, mean spirits don’t last very long. Unless they have a lot of energy and motivation behind them, they tend to fizzle out. Most mean spirited folks get their thrills by just making nasty comments and the occasional mean blog post.

Sometimes the mean spirits are self-generated. People read something, make a lot of assumptions, and slap back. Because someone has an opinion and writes it on their blog, some assume the opinion is a fact not an opinion. Once they cool down and gain a little perspective, they often realize their mistake and back off.

Not all, however. Immediately recognizing that there has been a misunderstanding, the recipient can get stressed wondering if the person realized later that they were off base, or if they ever will realize it. We worry about how to react, whether or not to respond, and what will happen if we do, or if we don’t. Recipients of negative comments and blogs worry about how far the mean folks will go to make their nasty feelings known. Mean spirited comments and bloggers take a lot of fun away from the fun spirit of blogging.

Have you been the target of mean spirited bloggers? What did you do about it? What can you do? How should you respond?

Deciding How to Respond to a Mean Spirited Blogger

Just about every religion on this planet has a running theme of forgiveness. Forgive them, they know not what they do. Well, I think these folks know what they are doing, consciously and unconsciously, and they like it. It gives them a thrill. But that’s not the point. The point of forgiveness is for “you to forgive”. There are no obligations on the evil doers.

You have two choices when faced with a mean spirited blogger: Respond or Not Respond. Both have risks.

However you react, do not move on your first impulse. They may have responded without thinking. You don’t have to. Take a moment and think this through. Take your time.

When slapped in the face with an unkind comment, emotions boil up. If you have been having a bad day, then this might be the “straw that broke the wagon”. It might just be the reason you need to strike back.

Don’t let the comment control you. You control you and your response. Take time to feel the emotions, then put them aside and think this through.

You have choices. You can respond publicly, privately, or not at all. You can hold the comment in moderation indefinitely, or delete it. You have choices. Consider each of them seriously.

There’s something else you need to consider before you make a decision. Many hateful bloggers want your reaction. If they get a strong enough reaction, you might blog about them. Some trolls use inflammatory comments to attract attention to themselves and their blog. I think of this as the “Howard Stern Effect”. The more outrageous people are, the more curious people are about them. If you feel their actions are just a device to get your attention and the attention of others, for good or bad reasons, put that into the formula before you decide which way you want to respond.

Responding to a Mean Spirited Blogger

He hit me. Well, he hit me first. Did not! Did, too. Well, you pushed me first. You kicked me. You looked at me. You got too close. You came into the room. Well, you were born!

Responding to a mean spirited blogger can escalate things. It can backfire. Are you willing to run the risk? For some, meanness has no end in sight. They can escalate their meanness to spewing lies across the Internet or even defacing your blog. While this is rare, it happens.

Many mean spirited bloggers are just bullies in disguise. Once confronted, they back down. Or they are having a bad day and taking it out on you. Or possibly, they are just clueless and have no idea that what they’ve just said is hurtful. Once confronted, they realize their mistake and apologize or go elsewhere.

How do you know when a mean spirited blogger is just a bully or really into the evil and chaos they create? After all, words on your screen don’t give you a lot of background information and clues.

Only you can decide to respond and how to respond. If you choose to respond, you can take the words literally and answer them. You can shoot flames back and hope to reduce them to ashes. You can research who they are and what they are saying to find out if this is a normal reaction or out of character, if you have the information, time and energy to investigate them. Or you can take the civilized approach and just respond with logic and patience.

Before responding, seriously consider the following:

  • Get past the emotional response that comes up when first reading the comment or post. In other words, don’t respond emotionally.
  • Carefully re-examine the words and what they are saying. Is there a measure of truth or criticism that is warranted?
  • Does the comment add to the conversation? Does it invite more conversation, even if it is not in agreement with your opinion and the way they put it reads badly?
  • Will your response add to the conversation?
  • Re-read your post. Did you say something that might have inspired or inflamed such a response? Did you invite this response?
  • Put the comment in moderation and think about it for a few hours or a day or two before responding or taking action.
  • Write out a response in a word processor or text editor. Hit the save button with the same energy you would click “Submit”. How does it feel? Now, re-read your response and see if you still feel the same way. Consider saving the response and then waiting a day to re-read it before posting to your blog.
  • Do you think they are being nasty because of you personally, what you say, or is this an attempt to sensationalize the issue to attract attention to themselves? Are they responding from jealousy or some misguided assumptions? Is the person trying to get you to do something you don’t really want to do? Are they trying to “call your bluff” or direct the content of your site? It’s your blog. You control it. Consider their motives in your response.
  • Take your time. There are no rules and regulations that say every comment must be released to the public immediately, nor responded to immediately.

Once you have thought this through calmly, you can choose to respond via comments, privately, or publicly with a post on your blog. Or you can show up on their blog and make your feelings known there.

Or your response can be to delete their comment. It’s your blog. You choose what is on it. You have a responsibility for what appears on your blog and if you don’t want it, don’t need it, or it bothers you, you have the right to remove it. Especially if you feel it will offend others or encourage others to continue down this negative tangent.

Just because you respond the first time, doesn’t mean you have to respond the second, third, or fourth time. You can change your response at any time. This isn’t a game in which you must reach the finish line or die. It’s your blog, you decide when, and how much.

Not Responding to a Mean Spirited Blogger

You also have the “turn the cheek” response. Do nothing.

Unfortunately, not responding doesn’t mean that this hasn’t hurt or affected you in some way. I’ve spent more than a few nights agonizing over a nasty comment, trying to find justification, or hating to be reminded there are hateful people in the world who just thrive on being nasty. Slowly, you build up callouses and learn to slough this crap off, but it takes a few blisters to get to the callous stage.

I think of not responding as taking the higher ground. It also leaves the mean spirited person with not much to go on. They don’t know what you are thinking or feeling. They just make stuff up inside their heads. Without fuel on the fire, it doesn’t burn too well. A one-sided fire will eventually burn itself out.

Is the lack of a response a response? Not always. I’ve found comments and inflammatory posts months after they happened. I just never knew. If no one tells me, how would I know? Assuming my silence is an answer or response is ridiculous.

Sometimes a lack of response does mean something. It can mean just about anything. With silence, there is no right or wrong answer. And it doesn’t matter to you. The assumptions are in their heads not yours.

Do not be tricked into feeling like you have to respond. Many people think that because they have a blog with open comments, they have to respond to every comment. Not every comment needs a response. It’s up to you to decide when to respond and when not to, and this might be one of the “not” times.

If you choose to not respond, you still have to decide what to do with the comment. You can leave it there on your blog for everyone to read, or you can delete it and get on with life. Deleting a comment isn’t right or wrong, good or bad. It’s an action. It’s your blog. You have control over its content, including comments.

What to Do When You Feel Mean Spirited

When you are crawling through the Blogosphere, you might run across something that gets your ire up and you may become the mean spirited one. Hey, I’ve had MORE than my share of bad days where any excuse is a good one to smash someone in the face. It’s easy to read someone making a fool of themselves, spouting off useless crap, and give into the desire to let flying fingers release my pent up aggression on their blogging heads.

We all have those moments. Some of us hold back, think about what we are doing, evaluate the consequences, and, for whatever reason, back off. We stop ourselves.

But there are times when the fingers worked faster than the brain, we hit the Submit button, and are reading our harmful words in print on our screen, unable to bring them back. We might want to let the nasty comment lay there, or we might not. What if you realize you’ve made a mistake and jumped before you thought? Now what?

You can apologize, make a joke, and post a second comment or send an email saying you’re sorry. Or live with the consequences.

I recommend taking a breather before you let your fingers control your thinking. Evaluate if your comment is adding to the conversation, or just representative of your nasty mood long before you hit the Submit button.

If you have thought about what the consequences are, and you still want to leave a mean comment, consider the following:

  • Is your comment legitimate? Don’t assume. Don’t make things up without verifying the truth. If you make things up, you are no better than the reporters of newspaper rags (“Britney gives birth to alien baby by Michael Jackson”). By directly attacking the blogger by questioning expertise or experience without verification, it’s just a childish rant. Easily dismissed. Get your facts right.
  • Debate the topic, not the author directly.
  • Resist name calling.
  • Consider if the comment encourages discussion and adds to the information, or just wastes time.
  • Remember, many bloggers play devil’s advocate and write in a way to fuel the flames. Look closely for their motivation, too. Are you responding because they want you to? Or because you want to?
  • Remember the person on the receiving end of your comment has the same rights as you to keep, delete, or respond to your comment or post. Don’t make any assumptions about how they do or do not respond.
  • Do not expect a response.
  • If they respond, consider your options well about continuing in this vein. You can walk away, too. Any time.

The Whole World is Not Out to Get You

A few days ago, this blog got hit with 2 dozen mean spirited comments. At first, I thought it was just a spiteful person, then I noticed they weren’t hitting the same post and the contact information was distinctively spam-like. I then recognized these nasty comments as comment spam, calling me names, and yelling at me for vague but unrelated topics.

I swear, the comment spammers are getting very tricky, trying to guilt me into leaving their comments public on some freedom of speech twist.

Still, it was many hours of reading and deleting nasty comments until I figured out what was going on. During that time, I went through a wide range of emotions, including feeling angry, helpless, worthless, and insecure about what I was doing. When you are hit with repeated nasty comments, and the week was full of enough crap, it doesn’t take much to let this pile of rubbish fester.

When blogging publicly, offering opinion and wisdom to the world, negative responses will happen. Some are just criticisms, but others are really mean spirited and nasty. It’s not fun to think about the dark side of blogging, but you need a thick skin if you are to do this for very long.

I think about the popular bloggers, the modern day columnists and editorial writers, who rant and rave their opinions to the world, hoping to slap them in the face and wake them up. These bloggers seem to thrive on negative responses, and enjoy stirring up the pot. While many of these folks have thick skins and look at negative comments with joy, I also know that some of them are hurt by really nasty comments, and they suffer for it. But they keep on blogging, pushing through the self-doubt and assault to continue to raise their voices. Their passions and goals keep them on track.

There is no place to hide from nasty people in the blogging world. Don’t let them beat you down. Stay focused and clear headed. If you purposely inspire negative reactions, then run with it. Enjoy getting what you asked for. If you don’t and get smacked, think it through, respond with care, and keep on blogging.

A few minutes after I discovered the nasty comment spams, I stumbled upon an incoming link to this blog that made everything turn around. I was back on track again.

It’s so nice to have so many more people who care than don’t. Thank you.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

61 Comments

  1. Posted March 20, 2006 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Excellent post — oh, and happy to be a morale booster. :)

  2. Posted March 20, 2006 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Great Post, It would be so nice if more people followed the “If you do not have anything nice to say…” but I guess that the mean spirited are in the same group as spammers and virus writers.

  3. Posted March 20, 2006 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, they often follow “If you do not have anything nice to say, come sit down next to me.”

    I didn’t think about putting mean spirits in with spammers and virus propagators. Interesting. I’ll have to think about that one. Good point.

  4. Posted March 20, 2006 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Great post. I fully agree!

  5. Posted March 20, 2006 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Hey Lorelle!

    What just happened with the RSS feed? I just came back to my PC, opened Thunderbird and your feed had 490 new items! Wow – you been busy! Then I discovered that it had just doubled them all up…

    :o)

  6. Posted March 20, 2006 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Just doing a backup using feeds of this blog. Sorry. It’s back to semi-normal, whatever that means. Glad I could fill up your feed inbox. ;-) Made you look! hee hee

  7. Qwerty Maniac
    Posted March 20, 2006 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Really good post. truly said.

  8. Posted March 20, 2006 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle, for putting things so nicely into perspective.

  9. Posted March 20, 2006 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    One thing I learned, though not whilst blogging, but on the streets, in my bad days, being a junkie, that a BAD reaction is as good a reaction. It’s sick, but negative exposure is exposure too… all I wanna say is;

    Mean People Suck.

    Excellent post.

  10. Albert
    Posted March 20, 2006 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle:

    Thinking about signing up with WordPress I set about looking at a few blogs to see if there was a few that stood out. I had yours bookmarked and came back to look at it tonight, and I am glad I did. A blog is words, and yours in this article make it great. I hope when I do start to write that mine will show 1/10 the wisdom.

    Albert

  11. Posted March 21, 2006 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    *blush*mush*humble pie*

    Ah, gee, wow, thanks.

    And your comment shows that you have at least 11/10th the wisdom I do. ;-) Good luck and let me know what you learn from the process.

  12. Posted March 24, 2006 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    After running Amazon for a couple of years Jeff Bezos remarked that people will write things in email they’d never say in person (meaning terrible, hurtful, threatening things). The newness and relative isolation/insulation of it all is a huge part of it; not necessarily anonymity as much as thinking out loud, which sci-fi writers have been reminding us for 6 decades would be universally disastrous.

    In any case, I agree with Albert about your merits. This is probably the most consistently well-written, even handed site I visit. And of course, I agree with you, Lorelle, if you were thinking of suggesting I also had a similar mathematical surplus of wisdom.

  13. Posted March 26, 2006 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Very well written post here, Lorelle. Fortunately (maybe I am wrong), the blogosphere seems to have fewer nutters than the web in general. It’s why I like it (for now). If the idiots begin coming in to the blogosphere, ranting and hurting others, then it will cease to be a useful medium. Email, thanks to spammers, is gradually moving that way.

  14. Posted January 3, 2007 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    One of the hardest things to get used to when you put anything on the internet is the sheer amount of ignoring that you have to do.

    There are a lot of people out there who write evil messages because

    (a) they are control freaks
    (b) they are fishing for a reaction (and thus interaction, which they may not get outside of the computer)
    (c) they’re in the throes of the keyboard version of road rage

    … or any combination. The reason doesn’t matter, and whether they have anything useful to say buried in their post doesn’t matter either. Their messages are bad and should be dropped, period. If you’re running a business on the web, you may not have a choice, but if you’re just out there to be out there then it’s best to never respond. Delete them and move on. It’s much easier said than done, but it works, and you’ll find yourself a lot happier.

    I’m in the process of putting my site on WordPress (which is why I’m reading your site). So far I’m not planning to allow comments. Based on what I’ve seen while browsing other websites over the past few years, I think they’re just asking for trouble. The irony of my writing one now hasn’t escaped me.

  15. Posted January 4, 2007 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Please reconsider your decision about comments. I think the worst thing any blogger can do, who calls themselves “blogger”, is to limit the conversation in any way. Check out “I’m Winning the Battle Against Comment Spam” before you make that final decision, as well as “You Must Be Logged In To Comment“.

  16. Posted January 8, 2007 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    If I can get this thing working I’ll give it a shot. I was more hardlined but the closer I get to having the theme working the more willing I am to experiment.

  17. Posted February 27, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of people now jumping on the new bandwagon of rubbishing a company in the hope of getting them to offer them freebies to placate them!
    Your blogpost hits society right on the head….good bad indifferent and mad!

  18. alice baker
    Posted April 28, 2007 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    anything at all we can do to stop attacks on ones character over internet ??

  19. Posted April 28, 2007 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    As explained in the post, you have many choices in how you can respond. How you respond says more about you than it does about the mean person. So choose carefully. And wisely.

  20. Janani
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    This is a very good thought. Actually everyone who blogs kinda goes through this at some point or the other. I guess we just cant do much about mean people who thrive on negative energy, as you say. I agree to your point about not responding under provocation – saves a lot of energy and trouble for good people…!!!

  21. Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    At what point should an abusive comment (especially if it doesn’t add to the conversation of your article) be treated as spam? This was touched upon in comments 2 and 3. True, you can delete such a comment, but when should you go further and mark it as spam? If the commenter doesn’t leave any useful data (e.g., a website) to view or search upon, perhaps the comment would rank as spam. But if the commenter has a ‘net presence (i.e., a non-splog site), the decision becomes greyer. Should one be more forgiving / open and just settle for simple comment deletion? I’m curious to hear what others think and have done.

  22. Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Whoa! Apples and oranges. Different things but still fruit.

    Evil, mean, nasty, and wicked, or just stupid, comments are under your total control It’s your blog. Take them or leave them, or edit them. That’s your decision.

    Spam comments are sex, casinos, drugs, viagra, and advertising filled yuk, along with just stupidity (what does “qwert lkjhg asdfg” get any one anyway?). These are criminal, not editorial. Mark those as spam.

    Do you see the difference?

    By penalizing a mean commenter by marking them Spam, you might be punishing them for a reaction that might not be as bad as you think, only directed towards you and they are sweet and loving the rest of the time, or making things worse. Marking a nasty commenter as spam is revenge. Don’t go there.

    Make your blog be revenge free – except for the real spammers. Send them to the darkest, poverty stricken spot.

  23. Posted October 15, 2007 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you! I found your blog at just the right time. I needed to handle a nasty (and very anonymous) comment and I appreciate what you have written here.

  24. Posted October 15, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Our web site has been getting a lot of press (www.handicappedfraud.org. While we are trying to do a good thing, we get a number of angry and hostile emails threating law suits and physical harm. It does require one to get a thick skin quickly, but the many more nice emails help a lot. I’m tired of the blog thugs and blog gangs hiding behind a faceless blog. I found your post before (yet another) radio interview and it has helped me.
    Thanks!
    mike

  25. Posted November 7, 2007 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. I just got a comment on my blog that was quite mean-spirited and didn’t know quite what to do about it. I published it, but now I’m seriously considering going back and deleting it.

  26. jim
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Great advice, both for the blogosphere and for the sphere we live on.

  27. Posted December 2, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I just stumbled onto your blog through the recommended RSS feeds through my Google Reader. I’ve been reading article after article and enjoying every one of them. I especially like the “Related Posts” section that’s attached to each of your articles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an addon so well executed (everything listed is so relevant), and it’s made me reconsider including this plugin on my own blog. So thank you. I just know that the wisdom here is going to help me improve my own blogging practices, perceptions, and even how I interact with other blogs in the same realm of content as my own!

    On the topic at hand, my audience is small enough that I only very rarely see comments that I would describe as mean-spirited. More often it’s comments that are slightly rude or rude because they misunderstood something I’ve written (in which case, the fault may very well have been mine). In all of these cases, I have tried to respond as though I do not pick up on their rudeness, in fact going out of my way to be extra nice to the person. It is my hope that it should be obvious to others reading both their response and mine that the person was trying to bait me and that I didn’t give in. I hope that it helps to take the wind out of their sails (after all, half the fun of being confrontational is getting the negative reaction you’ve tried for). I’m sure that there are cases where this wouldn’t work at all, though.

    Once again, thank you so much for the work you do here. It’s really quite an amazing resource.

  28. Posted December 2, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    @Phaelia:

    Thanks for the kind words, but there is no Plugin in use here. The Related Posts feature is created manually, as described in A Tagging Bookmarklet for WordPress and WordPress.com Users. Currently, Plugins are not allowed by choice nor option on WordPress.com blogs.

    While you might not get many comments yet, nor nasty comments, it only takes one to keep you up at night and make your stomach churn. This article is for that one.

  29. Posted December 30, 2007 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Only recently starting my blog I’ve already had my fair share of commentors who seem to be very concerned with my grammar, talk about no lives.

    I find myself responding to these comments not to be the bigger man but to show them that their actions are not tolerated, oh and to shut them down with a witty comeback as well.

    I’ve had one person on my blog comment on my grammar, I then got people to read through my blog post and they had found no grammar mistakes whatsoever, so unless the person posting holds a degree in literature I think it’s safe to say that they are simply trying to make themselves seem smarter.

    Usually a comment back to them as follows doesn’t get another response

    “If you’re so concerned about my spelling and grammar, post copies of your literature and english degree’s onto my blog and then I’ll listen to what you have too say”

    Of course we all know the chances of someone holding those qualifications and throwing their knowledge around is very unlikely.

    It’s a sad reality we have to face, there is always going to be someone out there who thinks you’re wrong and they will call you upon it.

  30. Posted December 30, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    @ Dwayne Charrington:

    And it’s an even sadder reality when the blogger doesn’t get it and takes the lower road.

  31. Posted January 31, 2008 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    I turned off all comments to take a break from a mean-blogger who was leading the purpose of the web site off on a tanget. This blogger was accusing a local business owner of lying and demanding apologies. I left a post “from the administrator” that stated I was going to no loner accept these kinds of posts and told them to deal with the issues privately and not publically. I felt that my blog, which was intended to do good, was hurting the feelings of a local business owner. I asked the business owner if she wanted me to shut it down and she agreed yes, but as I thought some more I emailed her back stating I was turning off the comments and use the site as informational, instead of it being a forum. Urghh!

  32. Posted May 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I write for a large city blog, and I have to say our mean spirited commenters went away once we required registration! The anonymity alone just seems to taunt the keyboard-rage. I read this thinking of a friend of mine who is a mean-spirited commenter, and many of your well-thought out motivations totally back up his. I end up just speaking to him in person about his comments, and deleting them from my blog.

  33. Posted May 16, 2008 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    @ Anna:

    Requiring registration or enforcing moderation cuts off many commenters and really gets in the way of the comment box conversation. I can’t recommend it. To protect you and your blog from one or two twits while hurting hundreds and hundreds of others doesn’t make sense. And spammers get through registration easily, especially human spammers.

    Still, good for you for approaching a nasty commenter and helping them learn that this just won’t be tolerated – anywhere. :D

  34. kermit
    Posted May 20, 2008 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    I know that this is quite an old post of yours, but it’s a great one. I wanted to ask what you thought about the following situation:

    My wife’s blog gets a few thousand visits/day, and posts frequently see 50-100 comments. Occasionally, one of her “regular” commenters will get mean, posting something out of line. And sometimes a person who’d been a valued, friendly contributer to the blog conversation mutates into being a rotten scumbag.

    Has that situation ever happened to you? What would you do if a previously benevolent commenter starts posting rude comments every so often? It’s difficult when the person was at one point almost a friend.

    Regards,
    kermit

  35. Posted June 1, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    @ kermit:

    It happens all the time. I wrote about this many times, including in Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?, which may help. It’s no different than being with any group of people over time. You will always find bullies and nasties. You deal with them the same way you would if you were in a class with them and have to face them every day. Blogging doesn’t change things. It’s still human nature.

    A strong blog comment policy helps set the ground rules, though Liz Strauss uses the best line: Play nice. That usually sets the tone and the delete key takes care of the rest.

  36. joaquin
    Posted June 17, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    yes, this is an important post, you never know what to say so it does not snowball into something bigger.

  37. jeff hogue
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Wow. Thank you for providing some of the most helpful commentary I have found for my situation.

    I don’t have a blog. I have a mean, bullying father who tries to get my goat no matter what I do. We live states apart and only communicate through letters (thankfully). I have struggled for so long with how to respond to his ugly words, each time doing so only because he is the only father I have and I can’t quite let go of the (yes, childish) hope that this time I’ll be able to find a way to win his acceptance. Partly because he has knowledge of our ancestral roots that I long to learn from him and partly I admit because I stubbornly think I can somehow convince him that I’m not the same dumb kid he knew years ago.

    Although I’m usually a tactful and gentle person, I have unfortunately lashed back at him a couple of times out of plain emotional distress. I Wish I had read your post before doing so because I now deeply regret having done that. I’ve apologized, but in his mind, what’s done is done and he can’t or won’t get over it. As you pointed out, the “he hit me first” approach doesn’t always help.

    So far, in spite of ignoring his slams and trying to stay on the high road, I’ve only managed to make him madder. I guess I am now faced with concluding that either he has it in for me and nothing I do can change that, or that he acts that way to everyone, and I mustn’t take it personally.

    But your commentary above just helped so much because everyone I’ve discussed it with has no patience and would have me write him off – end of story – or just flame him back in a never-ending battle which neither of us stands any chance of winning.

    At age 55 I have seen enough of life to realize the value of a human soul – no matter how nasty they might act – to prevent my dismissing anyone so carelessly. But your blog presented a practical and realistic perspective that allows one to give it their most sincere effort and then to gracefully exit if that is to no avail, while still maintaining one’s dignity while under (assumed) undeserved attack.

    We humans are, after all, supposed to be civilized. The challenge is not always to win but sometimes just to preserve one’s self-respect — that, or crawl back into the jungle where might equals right. And I hope to stay away from that place!

    Thanks again.

  38. createyourownreality
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jeff,

    I am so sorry that you are still dealing with that, and can appreciate a lot of your experience from my own. Although it sounds like you’ve got a very good handle on your situation, Googling “toxic relationships” can offer you even more advice and info. that may provide you some comfort. Peace and happiness to you.

  39. The Word Business
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Hello, thank you, thank you for this post. It’s helped me get something that’s been bothering me into perspective.

    Story is this – a very dear friend started a blog to promote a new career – he’s in training at the moment and is looking for work to add to his portfolio. He’d barely started his blog, had just really jotted down a few musings when he received a comment from someone slating his blog and saying he was a joke.

    These comments came from somebody in ‘the industry’ and were basically undisguised vitriol. I won’t go in to what was said but she’d written that he should leave work for his ‘elders and betters.’

    I was utterly stunned when I read the comments. After a bit of Googling I found out who she was and realised she seems to be a lonely old woman with only a cat for company! But her comments still really annoyed me.

    My friend has been sensible about it. He read the comments and was upset, but then he deleted them and said he’s not going to let her get to him.

    And having read your post I realise I shouldn’t give any more of my energy to this woman.

    I particularly liked your comment; “Many mean spirited bloggers are just bullies in disguise… Or possibly, they are just clueless and have no idea that what they’ve just said is hurtful.”

    I’m not going to confront her, I shall just leave it, but shall secretly hope she gets her comeuppance!

    Thanks again.

  40. Posted July 1, 2008 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    @ The Word Business:

    Always glad to help. Don’t forget, even in the virtual world, humans will be humans. Don’t let them suck your energy and enthusiasm away.

  41. plampitan
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    “Straw that breaks the wagon”. :)
    Fortunately, I rarely get into that kind of situation..

  42. Jean
    Posted July 12, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I joined a dating service in Feb 08 just to see what it was about with forums and blogging which was new to me. I had been in chatrooms before on yahoo, but not in a dating chatroom. I ventured into a world of chatters who seem to have known another for a while and I was the “newbie” who had to go thru the hazing. I seem to get thru the first week fairly well but then when a few ugly men who made nasty comments about women were too much for me, I put them on block/ignore, as I was instructed. That did not go over with the chatroom – who was I, the newbie to put the old geezers who live in the chatroom 24/7 for the past 5 years on block? They retaliated in words, deeds, rumors, gossips, computer hack attempts and tried to turn everyone against me with their lies, innuendos and fantasies.

    [EDITED BY ADMINISTRATOR as off topic and for privacy issues]

    And this from a dating site.. who would want to date any of them? So they get older, more miserable, more bored and write more garbage about others. And the ones that have left, couldn’t care less about them. We check into see who they are picking on now and are surprised when its still us, even though we have moved on. Let them stay in the past and wallow in their misery, hate and vile spewed nonsense. We see them for who they are… ignorant, immature and immaterial.

    Enjoy your days!!

  43. Posted July 22, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I don’t respond to mean/hate comments on my blog – but if it happens repeatedly from the same IP I simply block that IP from viewing my site.

    Of course it doesn’t always work – but usually those (ignorant) types of people will just think my site went down rather than jump to a different PC.

    james…

  44. Posted August 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this very interesting article.

    I get posts from “unknowns” which I call a “hit and run”, they make a nasty remark and run away. I just delete them. Sometimes I get a nasty e-mail with cruel remarks hidden inside. I trash them. Sadly there is a trend towards sensationalism, like the SPAM mails that say: “Hey David, you have an ugly face!” in the subject line. I trash these too without opening.

    What scares me is that on TV, we see more of this attacking behavior in “reality shows”, and it seems to be getting very popular. What can we do to stop that type of influence on masses of people who never got a courtesy lesson?

    Well, thanks for your article, it made me feel better!

  45. Posted August 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    thanks! I’ve gained a little perspective about these meanies. Have been a victim once… He came to the point of stealing my pictures from my friendster profile to post it on his website to ridicule me. The only thing that came out of it was… I got my 15 minutes of fame… did make a response but that was my last… the guy’s pathetic….

  46. Posted August 14, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    anyway, i’m linking this to my most recent post about these blog bullies… i’ve had just about enough with these people.

  47. Posted January 23, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    thank you for that information… i will definitely use it… sometimes i get so frustrated i want to look the person up and go up side their head!… i hate bullies!…

    anyway i now choose to turn the other cheek and give no reaction-response to the person…if possible don’t even read their blog (which may be difficult to not to do)while responding to those who have a civil keyboard…

  48. KT
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you said it. I had some horrible things said about me by a blogger. This mean-spirited woman who doesn’t even know me wrote an entire post about me that was filled with judgement, loathing, and nastiness. Oh yeah, and she wrote things that were untrue and stated them as facts. I poured my indignation and hurt feelings into a few short paragraphs and then pasted it into a Word file, knowing better than to respond right away. I went back for another look at her blog and realized that every post she had written was filled with the same self-righteous finger-pointing as the post she had written about me. So, as upset as I was about the whole thing, I ended up not adding the comment I had so carefully written in response. Also, I noticed that none of the other posts had comments. So, either no one is reading her blog or she is the type of person who can’t handle people expressing views that she doesn’t share.

  49. Cathy Jo
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Good advise! I have debate form and it gets really crazy and out of control from time to time. I need to save this and come back and read it when I feel that I am at my wits end with the group! I feel it will really help me when things go nuts in there! Thanks for the insight and know that your advise will be used in agreat way! CJ

  50. Liz
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m about to throw all commenting on our blog into moderation just to try to shut down a brat who won’t go away. In some cases, I’ve let her brattiness speak for itself and have conducted myself like a rational adult in my responses to her.
    She’s bringing negative energy to our blog, and I notice a drop in commenters and stats when she shows up; her comments ooze childishness and petulance and it’s clear to anyone who reads her comments that she’s trying to push buttons. I dread opening my e-mail, for fear that there will be yet another comment notification bearing her name.

    Ignoring her makes her worse. Deleting her most antagonistic comments didn’t discourage her. Being polite to her and answering her questions doesn’t tone her down. I’ve tried blocking her on IP address (but she’s using multiple computers) and by e-mail address (she always uses the same e-mail address), but that hasn’t shut her out.

    If you go to the extent of moderating all comments before they can be posted, do you post a note on your blog stating that due to the bad behavior of some commenters and spammers, all comments will go into a moderation queue before getting published?

    Has anyone noticed a perceptible drop in commenting on their blogs when they have to institute moderation on all comments? Has anyone ever gotten slammed on another blog/site for doing so, by the very people who forced them to throw everything into moderation in the first place?

  51. Liz
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Or, alternatively, do you just consistently delete every mean-spirited comment from an antagonist until they get the hint and go away?

  52. placeonthewaterblog
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    “During that time, I went through a wide range of emotions, including feeling angry, helpless, worthless, and insecure about what I was doing. When you are hit with repeated nasty comments, and the week was full of enough crap, it doesn’t take much to let this pile of rubbish fester.”

    This was me this week. I was so hurt over some of the personal attacks. I thought I was along that a stranger could create so many negative emotions in me. I don’t mind critical feedback but when it crosses the line into personal attacking, I can’t take it. Thank-you for addressing this issue and validating my experience. I feel SO MUCH better after reading this!!!

    • Posted December 13, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      Sorry you had to go through that, but remember you are not alone. It is THEIR problem, not yours, so don’t own it if it isn’t worth owning. Good luck!

  53. Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I’ve been personally attacked on my personal blog and it has hurt ever since. Your post is helping the healing process. Here’s to creating calluses!

  54. Posted May 10, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Hello, I generally agree with your comment about just ignoring mean spirited comments and have done so myself in the past. Having said that, I am amazed at how many people choose to believe the worst. It’s as if they believe “everything” they read online to be gospel.
    Here’s an example: I had a ex who unfortunately became a stalker. I’ve been married over 12 years to my current husband so the ex is before that. The ex has gone out of his way to place “private” photos of me online, using my name and business name to get people to click on a link which turns out to be a porn website.
    I contacted the webmaster of the website and asked them to remove it with no success, I contacted google and asked them to remove the link using my name/businss without my permission and they told me to talk to the webmaster. I finally got reputation defender to contact them and threaten them with possible police action for harassment. They finally removed it 6 months ago. Guess what, it just reappeared, so I’m back where I started.
    My point is, when people, (especially men) choose to believe the worst about someone, whether it is true or not, it doesn’t always help to ignore mean spirited remarks if you even know they exisit. Use common sense when reading something hateful about a person or business. Generally, there is an agenda or motive behind it. And if it is something that could cause someone physical or emotional harm, contact the website or authorities to get the post removed. Remember, this could someday be about you or your child. Thank you for your insightful website allowing me the chance to express my opinion.
    Sincerely,
    Michelle Goebel

  55. Posted June 10, 2010 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the article, I found it really interesting.

    Two days ago I got a really nasty comment left on my little blog – it was a complete personal attack and it really upset me. Rightly or wrongly I wanted to respond – it will be the only response I leave to the matter. I wrote the response after sleeping on it, and as you described I also wrote my response in a word document saved it, re-read it and came back to it. It has now been posted as a seperate post on my site.

    For me it was what I needed to do in this instance. It made me feel better about the whole situtation and after reading all the above comments it is comforting to know there are others in the same boat.

    So thank you all for sharing your experiences of blog bullies. x

  56. Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing such an inspiring article. I get repetitively hit by mean commenters for the past year, and it is starting to wear thin, they aren’t always the same ppl, but each of them insinuate I don’t have the right to an opinion (on my own life I might add since my blog is about my life as an expat), make me feel spoiled, idiotic, lame, crass and even dragged my own familly in the mud on occasion. I delete without replying, but I tried making annonymous comments harder and harder to discourage these coward. Just today I had another one striking, with a completely made up email address (I tried to reply this time feeling angry…almost glad that the mail never got to recipient). blocked the IP address from ever commenting again, hopefully it will work. But I agree mean comments make you feel bad, hurt and questionning your own words :-(

  57. Posted March 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you! This was very helpful. It also made me feel so good to go back and hit that delete button. HA! I win!!
    Connie

  58. Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Hi, I really like this blog post. I came upon it a while back while looking for info in how to deal with a mean blog comment. It happened again with another comment recently and I returned to read your blog post since it helped so much last time. It’s my go to guide trolling.

  59. Ara
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    I love your article. Im doing the same with those nasty comments, i delete them right away! harhar.


65 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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