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Using Your Blog to Address a Reader’s Negative Feedback

negative feedback

At some point, every blogger is going to have to deal with negative feedback. The fact that someone is going to respond negatively to a thing you’ve published isn’t that big a deal. It’s the Internet. People are offended by everything on the Internet.

What matters is how you respond to that negativity. Remember, how you respond to criticism has just as much an effect on your online reputation as what you might have done or said to incite that criticism in the first place.

Step One: Evaluate the Negative Feedback

Is it something obviously trollish such as “ur ugly n ur hed is 2 big”?

If it’s obviously just some jerk trying to incite a reaction, the best thing you can do is ignore it.   The sign in the image says it all!

If the comments are well thought out and have merit, though, that is a different story.

Step Two: Respond

If the negative feedback was left in a public space, like your comments section, use that same public space for your initial response. Thank the commenter for his feedback and for speaking up when he found something irritating or for figuring out your mistake.

If the comment points out a mistake you’ve made and that you actually need to fix, promise to fix it (and then actually figure out how to fix it).

If the comments are just a general disagreement, tell him that you respect his opinion and, if you like, you can leave it at that.

Step Three: Fix Problems and Mistakes

If your negative feedback addresses a specific problem or a mistake you’ve made and it is something that actually needs fixing, work hard to fix it. If you aren’t sure how to fix the problem, ask the person who pointed it out for suggestions. It’s perfectly okay to send a (friendly and polite) email to the pointer-outter saying that you’re trying to fix the problem but you’re stuck and asking if he has any specific ideas for fixing it or improving things. He may or may not respond. If he responds, take his suggestions seriously and figure out whether or not they can be implemented.

Either way, you are proving to the person that you take him seriously and he will (hopefully) appreciate your appreciation.

Step Four: Go Public

When the problem is fixed, talk about it on your blog. You can say that a problem was pointed out and that you worked with the person who noticed it to fix it.  Ask the person who left the negative feedback if you can mention him by name and if he has a site of his own to which you can link. Use the information he gives you. If he doesn’t want to be mentioned, keep it vague and personal-pronoun-free.

How you say it isn’t as important. What matters is that you say it publicly!

Still, thank the person (even if you can only say, “Thank you, commenter!”), talk about the fixes you’ve made (give credit to whoever came up with the fix), and remind your readers that you appreciate their feedback.

Remember that the only actions you can control are your own. There isn’t a lot you can do to stop someone from trolling you or from continuing to pick on you. You can, however, choose how to respond, and remember: Kind, positive, and constructive will always win the day. The nicer you are and the more positively you handle the situation, the more respect you will earn from your audience.

Good luck!