If you run a blog long enough, you’re bound to attract a flamer or two. Some may have a genuine problem with one of your posts. Others may be reasonable people who are just having a bad day when they comment. Still others may just be out to stir up negativity.
Whatever their motives, though, there are some important things to remember when dealing with flamers and trolls.
- Take a deep breath and count to 10. Flamers often want you to respond in anger. Don’t do it. If you feel compelled to do so, remove yourself from the situation. Walk away from the computer. Go do something else to distract yourself. Don’t return to the situation until you’ve regained your composure. Remember, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by participating in a flame war.
- Be tolerant of criticism. It’s often said that the best bloggers are thick-skinned, and with good reason. Criticism is inevitable with large audiences. Moreover, it’s healthy for you to not only weather criticism, but learn and grow as a result of it. If someone is criticizing you, take a step back and ask, “Is this person flaming or simply disagreeing with me?” If it’s the latter, don’t take it personally; embrace it as an opportunity for growth.
- Take responsibility. Occasionally, a flamer will have a legitimate reason to be belligerent. If their anger is justified and you’re in the wrong, don’t let your pride get in the way. Accept responsibility, apologize, and, if possible, offer to make amends.
- Censor with care. Nothing hurts the integrity of a blog like arbitrary censorship. If a comment is truly inflammatory and lacking in any redeeming quality, removing it may be the best option. Do not, however, stifle a flamer out of spite. Carefully consider the impact that removing the comment will have on the conversation before doing so.
- Turn the conversation around. Instead of arguing with the flamer, try to turn the conversation in a positive direction. Respond to the good points of their comment. Try to empathize with their viewpoint. Inject a bit of humor. By diffusing the flamer’s anger, you can salvage a bad situation and add value for all of your readers, the flamer included.
- Take the higher ground. Short of turning the conversation around, it’s still possible to engage a flamer in a civil manner by simply refusing to be belligerent. By responding to them in a reasonable tone, you gain greater credibility in the eyes of your other readers.
- If all else fails, just ignore them. As the old adage goes, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” If none of the above solutions will work, the best thing you can do is just ignore the flamer. Most flamers crave attention, so failing to give it will often resolve the situation. It’s not ideal, but at least it avoids a flame war.
Remember, despite the anonymity of the internet, a flamer is a real person. More importantly, they’re a part of your audience. How you handle them will affect how they and the rest of your audience see you, and ultimately influence the success of your blog as a whole.
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