How To Deal With Online Criticism And Attacks.

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Stuart Heritage Talking at BlogCampUK London
Stuart Heritage Talking at BlogCampUK London
If you run a blog you will get helpful and supportive comments. You will also get abuse, criticism, nasty snipes and personal slights. It is an unfortunate reality that every Blogger, Twitter and YouTube user will face.

How you will deal with it is one of the most important things you need to consider, so you are ready when it happens.

You need to have an approach that will ensure that:
  1. You are able to raise above it, move on and not let it get you down.
  2. You do not change what you are doing to satisfy the one or two people that do not like what you are doing, and are able to stay focused on keeping the hundreds (or thousands) who do like what you do satisfied.



I have been on the receiving end of comments and criticism over the years I have been blogging, tweeting and on YouTube. Most of it is helpful and constructive, including thoughts on how to improve posts and camera work. But I also get things like “shame about the effeminate commentary” and comments that head into the very personal and unpleasant.

At a recent BlogCampUK event in London, arranged by the Tots100 Blogger Group, there was a very entertaining and helpful session on this topic. The speaker was Stuart Heritage who is a Guardian Newspaper journalist on media and TV, and active blogger. He is someone that I have been following on Twitter for some years as he is very entertaining, with many provocative ideas and insights.

His talk which was entitled: “How To Deal With Online Criticism (from A-holes)”. As you can see from the title immediately, his approach is to see most of the criticism and venting towards you being from people that are idiots. Idiots that are not worth getting in a pickle about.

Why Do You Get Criticism? He reminded all Bloggers that the reason that you will get comment and criticism is because you are doing what you should be doing: expressing your opinions and putting them out to get a reaction. He said there are some key reasons you will get criticism:
  1. Your facts are incorrect! People will pick you up when you have not checked your facts properly, or cannot substantiate them. You deserve to get criticised for that.
  2. You have a distinct voice and have an opinion! Some people will not like it. You should never expect that everyone will agree with your point of view. In fact when you put out an opinion you are inviting a response and discussion. You should be prepared for some to disagree. When you put a point of view out in a blog post, video or Tweet then you are asking for a response. Expect to get one.
  3. You are being read! As Oscar Wilde said “There is only one thing worse than being spoken about, and that is not being spoken about”. If people are reading you then this is a good thing, but they will have a point of view too and will want to express it.
  4. Some people are just a-holes! Stuart argued that getting criticism and feedback from people that you respect, admire and trust is more important and valuable to you. Some people will just be idiots, a-holes that blunder in without thinking of the impact on you. They will still weigh in and comment and criticise though, but do not give it the same value.



How Should You Deal With Online Criticism? Like me, Stuart’s approach is to ignore it, discount it and focus on those that do matter and those from people whose opinion you value. It is really quite hard to do as one nasty comment seems to impact more than a 100 positive ones ever can. I go one step further and often delete them if they are offensive or too personal about me rather than my point of view and I find they keep nagging at me. Here are the things you can do:
  1. If a legal issue, do what is required. If the criticism is a legal matter and a lawyer is involved (not just someone threatening to get a lawyer onto it) then you need to do whatever is required to rectify the issue. You do not want to get drawn into a legal battle.
  2. Ignore it and avoid temptation to engage with them. It is usually best to ignore and not respond to malicious and unhelpful criticism and attacks. The danger is that it can escalate and become a bigger issue. This was something many people at BlogCamp had found when they had tried to engage and respond. Try and shrug it off and resist the temptation to respond. People being ignored and not getting a reaction will usually tire and move on. Sometimes other followers of you blog will respond and that can inflame it even more. That is why I will delete comments that are too personal in particular
  3. If you want to respond then try and minimise. This could mean by doing simple things like just thanking them for reading and commenting on the post. It could be by being self deprecating, and not opening a debate by rebuffing their criticism.
  4. Become a blander and less interesting blogger. You could try and be less opinionated and bland so as to avoid any criticism. You will also likely kill off your blog as it becomes dull. Do not do this!



What advice and tips do you have for dealing with online criticism and attacks? Do you tend to ignore and let the trolls find someone else to abuse, or fight back. If you do the latter what has worked for you?

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