by Mike Haley
When starting a blog there are many different things to consider. Passed the nuts and bolts of relaying information through the original design and structure, one blogging element is often forgot. A strategy to create a positive and respectful conversation in the comments following the blog and what to do when the conversation turns negative or, in some cases downright hostile.
The first step begins as you are writing the blog post, as the tone in which a post is written can set the stage for others to comment, either positively or negatively. If a post is written to talk WITH the readers and respect their opinions, instead of talking AT them, readers tend to think more critically about what was said. It encourages your readership to engage in positive and constructive conversations that remain respectful, even when opinions on the subject can defer greatly.
Even when a very positive tone is taken there are often naysayers, trolls or haters may still be attracted to your blog. So what are some good and bad ways to respond to these comments?
1.) First, it’s important to read the comment that was left and try to understand the reader’s point of view.
2.) The biggest key to maintaining a professional and courteous dialogue with those who disagree is to remember you are not engaging in a debate, but a conversation.
3.) Any attempt to engage in a positive dialogue can help turn the conversation to a more positive tone.
4.) In cases when it’s unclear where the commenter stands, simply asking more background information can be a good start to the conversation. However, the reader may be overly passionate and have a sincere concern for the subject and is looking for a platform to voice their opinion. In this case it may be best to politely agree to disagree and move forward.
Often times the following mistakes are made, which only encourage more negativity, leading to a stalemate with harsh criticism towards the writer and other commenters. These mistakes include:
- Dismissing others concerns – Too often the main concern addressed by the comment is overlooked and a different concern is addressed. This only leads to more frustration and the perception of being sidestepped. Instead, be sure to fully read the comment and address the issue directly. If the concern is beyond ones understanding, be humble and admit it.
- Stoop to their level – When getting attacked, it’s only human nature to become guarded and defensive. This only encourages a continuing negative dialogue. When this happens take a deep breath, step back and then in a positive mindset, leave a constructive comment.
- Ignore the comment – This is often the best way to end the conversation. This can be a large mistake as no attempt was made to actually reach the reader and move passed any disagreements. It also leaves an unanswered viewpoint and an open window for other readers to continue a negative conversation.
- Rally the troops – Blogs are not meant to be war zones. When commentators are overwhelmed with others attacking their point of view, the opportunity for a true discussion is lost. Instead after the real concern for the comment is determined, reach out to one or two individuals that are knowledgeable about the subject and answer the comment positively.
Even when all attempts are made to be positive, it’s still possible for comments to be left in the form of hatred, racism, profanity or that can be a complete disregard to the blog’s community. In this case a responsibility statement of what is expected of your blog community should be posted. This lets commenters know what is expected of them and a platform is not created for them to stand on when their comment is moderated.
Regardless of your chosen approach, the key is finding the bright-side and positive possibilities in what could be a negative experience. Remaining positive from start to finish will allow you to do this effectively and learn, while having mutually beneficial conversations.
Mike Haley is a fifth generation farmer from Ohio who shares a vision with AgChat of empowering farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms and was one of the seven individuals who were instrumental in creating the foundation. He maintains a website for his farm as well as blogs for Feedstuffs Foodlink and Just Farmers.