How To Deal With Negative Blog Comments

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

Have you ever wondered how you should handle negative blog comments, whether on your own blog or a website on which you’ve guest-posted? Or even if you aren’t the author of the blog post, but you feel the author is being personally attacked, misunderstood or subjected to unfair or baseless criticism?

1. Double check yourself on this question: “Should I respond at all?”

2 Timothy 2:23 says,

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Some comments neither deserve nor call for a response. It’s natural to feel that you must respond so it doesn’t appear that a foolish or angry person is “winning,” but don’t let this become about your pride.

It’s also natural to fear that a non-response will lead some readers astray. Pray for the Spirit’s wisdom in this case. He will show you that on some occasions, you should give your readers more credit than you’re prone to give them. Most readers can easily spot trolls, grumblers and cranks, and most are wise enough to discard their vitriol.

2. No Name Calling

If you’re going to answer, don’t call the commenter a troll or a hater, even if they are. You won’t gain anything by it — in fact you might just stir up sympathy for the commenter.

Also, you need to realize that your own emotions may be deceiving you. The commenter who has drawn your ire may not be a hater. She may just have a difference of opinion or perspective. That’s okay.

And a troll isn’t just someone who disagrees with you or critiques something you’ve done. A troll posts inflammatory or off-topic comments, intending to hijack the conversation and provoke readers into an emotional response. Ask yourself if the person who has critiqued your article is really a troll.

  • If so, then calling him a troll won’t stop him and won’t shame him. It will likely embolden him.
  • If not so, then why mislabel him? That would put you in the wrong and cause others to rethink your article, even if they originally agreed with you.

3. Don’t be Anonymous

This just makes it look like you have something to hide, or you lack the courage of your convictions.

Don’t fret if people aren’t coming to your defense, and don’t let that convince you that you should come to your defense, under an assumed name. Remember point #1 — most of your loyal readers won’t bother defending against a comment that is obviously ridiculous. It doesn’t mean they aren’t on your side; it just means they don’t want to give unwarranted attention to a comment that doesn’t deserve it.

4. Write with Grace and Clarity

“Speak the truth in love,” to borrow Paul’s phrase from Ephesians 4:15. And remember Proverbs 15:1 –

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

This doesn’t mean you concede points that you shouldn’t concede. It just means you should control yourself so you can answer succinctly, with wisdom. Turning again to Scripture:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, — 2 Timothy 2:24

5. Don’t go down rabbit holes.

Who loves a rabbit hole more than a rabbit? A troll. Remember, trolls love to go off topic. It’s the guy who responds to a post about charitable giving with a long-winded diatribe against all charities, the tax code, the President and Congress, war in the Middle East, social security, the school lunch program, the color of your web header and the quality of your guest bloggers.

Either ignore the remark or remind your readers to stay on topic. If you’ve written other blog posts about some of these topics, then that leads us to #6 …

6. Point to previous blog posts if applicable.

Let’s say you have written about the tax code, the school lunch program, and the color of your web header. Simply provide a link to those posts.

But this isn’t just for the benefit of answering off-topic comments. Many bloggers lament that they barely have enough time to write blog posts, let along write follow-up comments. Even if the commenters are asking legitimate questions, you may have a hard time keeping up with them (especially if you have a large blog or you’re writing an article for a major website).

Think about blog posts that you’ve already written, which may answer these current questions. Using your previous articles is a great way to provide a quick, thoughtful response.

7. Know when to rest your case.

Again, if you are writing an article for a large website, you may simply be unable to keep up with all the questions and comments. In that case, sometimes it is best to let a number of comments run their course and then provide a blanket response. See the way I handled this in the comment section of Consider Skipping “Christmas Season” This Year, which I wrote with our Lead/founding Pastor Daniel Montgomery on

You’ll notice a couple people commented after me. They weren’t trolls, but their comments were still “asides” that didn’t necessitate a response. Even if there were to be further responses, whether I’d answer them would depend on whether I could find the time (I love answering comments when time allows, and I appreciate those who offer comments). There is a time to simply say, “This article is my opinion — I recognize others have different opinions, but I stand on what I’ve written.”

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