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Blog Exercises: Comments and The Blog Bullies

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.No matter what we do or say, there will always be bullies and mean people. Some are mean intentionally, some can hurt unintentionally. And then there are those moments when we read the black letters on the white screen too much in-between the lines and come away feeling sick to your stomach.

Welcome to the joy of mean-spirited comments and blogging, or better described as the dark side of the blogging force. In “Mean Spirited Comments and Blogging,” I called them by the names we all use to define the evil doers in our bloggy world: Trolls. Flamers. Meanies. Vicious. Not Nice. Unkind. Rude. Inconsiderate. Nasty. Whining. Bitching. Moaning. Bastards.

Everyone will be the target of some mean-spirited jerk. That’s the way of the world. If the bullies don’t get you down, the nasty spammers will in their anonymous, plague-spreading nature.

Knowing it is coming (or being a veteran already), be prepared. Like terrorists, don’t let them win. Don’t let them make you stop blogging and having your say. Just like copyright infringement, nasty commenters are in your future. Are you ready to stand your ground?

In “How NOT to Comment on Comments,” I tackle the idea of negative comments with reverse psychology, helping people understand how to comment right by telling them what not to do. I had to set the ground rules for my own site, and that was the result. It is also a great tutorial for learning how to respond to comments.

The North Kitsap Herald brought up the subject of anonymity breeding courage for mean-spirited commenters. While their article referenced the political season in the United States and Washington State, it applies to this blog exercise.

Words are powerful things. They can unite enemies, inspire the young and spread joy. They can also breed enemies, frighten the young and spur chaos and hate.
Some use words as tools; others use them as weapons.

…Without going into specifics, a line of conversation delved into the questionable, then jumped right into the inappropriate. The offending comments, flagged by readers, were removed.

This is a simple case of several people sniping at one another while drawing a dangerous kind of courage from using a keyboard to communicate. It’s akin to spray painting an insult on the side of building or on an overpass.

The upside to allowing reader comments on stories is that it allows instant and continuous interaction with our readers. This, we love. The downside is some prefer usernames over their real names, allowing anonymity and removing accountability.

Imagine what kind of world this would be if no one was held accountable for their actions or words.

If your belief in something is so ingrained in your being that you want to share it with the world via the Internet, it lends a lot more credence if you sign your real name to it.

Without accountability, there is nothing.

Discussing the same psychology behind the anonymity of masses and negative attracting and thriving with negativity, Noemi of About My Recovery wrote:

I just read nasty comments attacking a friend of mine. That blog is not a healthy place. Once you go against the negative mentality of the community, you are attacked. Unhealthy people gravitate towards negative energy. That same negative energy attracts more negative energy at such exponential rate, than positive attracts positive. Where there is negative energy in abundance, a gang is created. Once formed, they support each other to target anyone who are not within their frame of mind.

Group meanness is even more fun because of the team spirit.

Trust me, there are those who thrive on the negative energy. These are well-described in “Internet Marketing Optimization – Don’t Be A Jerky Blog Commenter” by Bruce Clay:

…it was somewhat of a miss opportunity to discuss a larger issue — that small sub-sect of the search marketing blogging community that would rather tear each other apart than build one another up.

We opened up blog comments back in January and, despite my initial fear that every comment that came in would tell me how misguided/useless/idiotic I am and question Bruce’s motives for hiring me, our commenters have always been both intelligent and polite (we thank you for this). There have only been a handful of people who stop by to tell me that I am an idiot. That is a far smaller number than I deserve, so I feel very lucky.

However, blog commenters aren’t always so behaved. Have you been to SEOmoz?

I always get a good laugh out of the commenters who head over to SEOmoz with the sole intention of telling Rebecca Kelley that she’s a newbie idiot that knows nothing about SEO and that she should go home and play with her dolls. It’s amusing because I know it doesn’t faze Rebecca (if it did I’d go protect-your-own mode) and it only serves to make the angry commenter looks like a royal ass.

…I have no problem with people coming to the blog and telling me where I took a wrong turn, why they don’t agree with my viewpoint, or that I have no idea what I’m talking about. That is both fine and welcome, assuming it’s respectful. I’m sure most bloggers enjoy that. It adds to the conversation and that’s what blogging is supposed to be about – conversation. But if you’re not adding anything and you just want to tell someone they’re an idiot without explaining yourself? Well, then I think your limbs should be painfully torn from your body. And then you should then be beaten with them. That’s just my personal feeling.

In his colorful way, Bruce sums it by saying that you need to use common sense when commenting on someone else’s blog. “Respect the space. You’re walking into their house…You don’t have to agree or like everything that is being said, but if you are an adult, you should be able to intelligently dissent.”

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.In this Blog Exercise there are two parts.

The first part is to research and learn about how to protect yourself on your blog and how to protect and prepare your spirit for the mean, bullying response. You may start with the resources listed below. Know your rights, and you do have the right to defend yourself. It’s time to callous up your heart so it won’t be punched too hard when that first nasty appears in your comment queue. Remember, you are not alone. We all get jerks on our sites.

The second part is to write a comments policy, one that sets the guidelines for interactivity on your site. I’ve mentioned this before, but now is the time to address those who wish to do harm. I’ve included resource articles below. See “Does Your Blog Have A Comments Policy?” for tips on comment policy pages.

Remember that you may edit comments at any time as they are content on your site, but you must spell out the rules on what is acceptable, and what isn’t, on your site.

Here are some resources to help you with blog comments. Many of these will help you write your comments policy.

If you blog about this, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

NOTE: There is a fine line between blog bullies and a threat. Know the difference, however, at any time, if you feel you are being threatened, do not fool around, debate, or take time to consider it. Call the police, the FBI, or whatever government officials near you handling threats and danger. It is illegal in most countries to threaten anyone for any reason. Do not risk your life for your blog over a mean commenter. Report it immediately. Get help. Do not do it alone.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Susan
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    My blog is new so luckily I haven’t had to deal with any nasty comments of yet. I don’t know how I will deal with them when they happen but I think I’d probably just ignore them or delete the really nasty ones. While a blog has place for constructive criticism, mean comments add little to the conversation.

    I think it’s disgusting that people will use their anonymity to abuse and bully others as they feel they can escape any retribution.

    • Posted February 7, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      I agree. It’s important to consider what you will do, and make sure that you have a comment policy in place to explain and justify your actions accordingly.

      Spammers and nasty commenters are often hard to spot, so clarify what you will and will not allow in deciding what is spam or not. For instance, “wanttobeablogger” is an unacceptable name on my site, so I edited your comment and changed it to Susan. Not that your name is Susan, it’s just the first one I thought of as I have no other information upon which to make you a human being. 😀 Real names or real sounding names are always appreciated as we like to talk to humans not machines.

    • Ally
      Posted February 16, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      ha ha sorry my name is Ally, my details are auto-filled if I’m logged in when I go to write a comment so I obviously didn’t double check that before I hit post.

      I haven’t really thought too much about a comments policy but I guess it will come into shape a bit more as I get different types of comments.

    • ally
      Posted February 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Okay sorry its changing my name back to the “want to..” even after I wrote my name in and replied just then? Could you please change it below to Ally, thank you

      • Posted February 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for noticing the name issue. We like humans on the web. I’ve changed it but you need to change it in your Gravatar settings, and if you are on, change the display name in your User Profile.


  2. Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I moderate all comments which, aside from anything else, gives me a chance to think about how I want to deal with troublemakers. There have been a few. I’ve been blogging for many years, albeit not all of them on or on my current blog, but yes, there are times when I have to put on armour.

    I do have a comment policy and there’s a link to it in an image map in my footer, however, I don’t call it ‘comment policy’ rather I guide people there via an ‘if you have difficulty commenting’ link. So far it has worked. I have made it a reflection of how I like people to behave when they visit me at home, as I regard my blog as a sort of virtual extension of my home.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      I love your description of putting on armor. That’s what you have to do sometimes, so preparation in advance, thinking out what you will or will not do, helps, doesn’t it. Well done thinking of your site as your home. Good for you!

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