Anyone who runs a blog and modifies the comments which come through to you on a regular basis knows that sometimes, people behave badly online. Unfortunately, the lack of censorship online and the safety of having a screen between you and the world can sometimes lead to rash statements, comments made in poor taste or simply the joy of finding a platform where people can behave badly under the safe guise of anonymity.
Couple the ease with which people can make unpleasant comments with the huge prevalence of spam on our blogs, and it can make it difficult to wade through the feedback which you get on your site to find the truly relevant information. Sometimes as bloggers we need to take some time to look through our spam folders and unearth anything of value, as occasionally great remarks will be relegated to the trash pile unfairly.
As inhabitants of the blogosphere, we also have an obligation to know how and when to post up comments appropriately. Sometimes, the lure of comment terrorism can seem irresistible. Imagine if you have a client who has let you down financially, through, for example, not paying a bill.
The evil side of you understands that as a blogger with a strong following, you have the ideal platform for a naming and shaming exercise which could bring your assailant to their knees with a few choice posts. Add in the power of Twitter and Facebook for reinforcing your campaign, and you suddenly feel a rush of power, knowing that you control your site and all which goes on it, and have the capacity to damage someone’s reputation for good.
A nice feeling? Well, yes. Constructive? Not really! Campaigns like this may be a great way of highlighting the wrongdoings of others, but rarely bring much customer satisfaction when your readers get bombarded with off-target and venomous posts. Apart from looking unprofessional, it makes us seem like people who are not ethical or great to do business with, and a personal rant on the soapbox platform of your blog rarely yields positive results. The most likely scenario is that the subject of your comment terrorism gets off unscathed, while you end up looking like a small-minded bigot.
With all this in mind, here are some tips for playing nicely in the playground of blog commenting and tweets…
Keep it relevant
Never visit someone’s site to post comments which are not related to the post topic. This is the realm of spammers and psychos, and is best left to them as the experts. People aren’t interested in hearing about a great new software download site when they go online to look for tips on dog grooming. Stay on topic, and you’ll gain followers. Deviate, and you run the risk of being added to the trash along with the Viagra adverts.
Keep other people relevant, too!
Support readers on your blog to offer the same courtesy – when people go off-topic, bring them back through a few choice nudges in the right direction. This supports your blog to stay focused even when things have the potential to get heated.
Keep it polite
Don’t ever, ever bring personal or subjective views on to comment boards. The blogosphere is by and large a polite place, and an overly personal rant or attack on another person simply undermines your credibility. Would you want to buy services from someone who can’t rein in their opinions? No? Neither do your customers.
Keep it professional and product or service-related
If you have an issue to deal with professionally, take it off line rather than succumbing to the temptation to air your views through your blog. Your daily ups and downs are fascinating and engrossing for you, but don’t really hit the mark when your customers are deciding whether or not to make a positive purchasing decision.