Hi, if you want free updates from my blog, you can enter your email address here.

How Do You Deal With Negative Blog Comments?



Cry

It seems like most blog conversations about comments deal with spam. However, it seems like the topic of negative comments gets little attention.

For business owners, marketers, and the like, the fear of negative comments on blogs motivates comment moderation. The HORROR! (To understand the downside of moderated comments, check out Kian Ann’s thoughts on encouraging blog conversations.)

But, to their credit, what else should they do? Can marketers credibly promote a product but allow people to post negative comments? Can a law firm promote their work and also handle negative blog comments? YES!

People like open forums

First of all, think about the culture of the internet. It’s all about promoting the free flow of information and encouraging discourse. If you have a blog, you likely understand this already.

People like information. Good and bad.

If you have a blog or website and allow negative feedback, it gives your business or law firm a transparent image. You’re not hiding things; you’re out in the open. People respect that.

Be responsive

The main key, as I see it, in handling negative comments is to be responsive to these users.

Don’t just ignore them. See them as opportunities to display your customer service. Take these comments on and solve the user’s problem.

How?

Reply to the comments. Contact the user directly. Show your blog readers that you’re taking action.

Yes, that’s easier said than done. But it can be done.

If one of your firm’s clients posts that your services weren’t satisfactory, inquire about that. Respond to the client and try to rectify the situation. Perhaps offer a slight reduction in the fee. Do this as a blog comment, so people can see that you are handling the situation.

For a company that sells products, you can offer several things in response to a negative comment. Maybe you can offer to repair the product. What about a replacement? Better yet, offer a discount on future purchases.

What do you think?

These are just my thoughts on this difficult subject. Personally, I can’t imagine even having moderated comments on my blog. This is a forum, not a pulpit.

But enough of my thoughts. What are yours? How do you handle negative comments on your blog? Let’s get a discussion going here. Please post a comment below or drop me a line.

(image courtesy of Flickr user carf)

[tags]legal andrew, negative feedback, negative comments[/tags]

Get more legal tips

Sign-up below to receive my bi-monthly email newsletter with free legal tips. All fields are required.





See also...

Comments

7 Responses to “How Do You Deal With Negative Blog Comments?”

  1. Are you kidding?
    May 14th, 2007

    Negative blogs can be constructive, but many are libelous. Unscrupulous competitors are rewarded with posting libel with zero liability. It is far from true that buyers want negative feedback (especially untrue feedback) while considering a purchase. In fact, one negative blog often prevents prospective buyers from purchasing a product or service.

    The fact is that many publishers are the profiteers of libelous smear campaigns. For example: Look at the case of Ed Magedson of http://www.ripoffreport.com. This self proclaimed consumer advocate extorts businesses to remove negative blogs that were likely posted by their competition.

    Here is a fascinating article about those profiteers of libel:

    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com.....f-report/5

    Many associates in my business community have suffered from negative blogs from competitors who are unethical and likely green with envy. It’s easy in this Blogosphere (blogosmear) to destroy reputations with a few keystrokes and a fake evaluation.

    Free speach is great, and we should be able to make a case against publishers who refuse to remove libelous material as they profit from it. In the end, it is the ethical marketer and the consumer who lose. Ethical marketers don’t post libelous blogs – unethical marketers do. So, if consumers get their information from the unethical marketers and the profiteers for libel – do they really win?

    I doubt it.

  2. I am in no way suggesting that publisher have liability for libelous postings when a posting is made. I am suggesting that publishers who continue to publish libelous material for some time after it has been shown to be malicious and untrue – they should hold some of the same liability as the poster. The truth is always a complete defense against libel. Being a publisher should require some ethics. And hosts/operators of blogs are publishers. We’ve had laws in this country to protect freedom of speach and protect victims of libel for over a century. We can certainly create a responsible system now.

  3. Andrew Flusche
    May 14th, 2007

    Hi X,

    I’m fascinated that my humble little post about blog comments has provoked 2 passionate comments from you.

    Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. Maybe with the fact that you seem so against having open communication and are worried about being tarnished, but you don’t put your actual name anywhere in these comments. The single best way to handle negative information on the internet is to publish positive information. Rebut negative and false accusations. That’s exactly what I talk about above.

    As far as Rip Off Report goes, I honestly had never even heard of that site, and I consider myself a fairly savvy internet user. The article you linked to trashed the site and had at least one nugget of quantifiably false information: it stated that Rip Off Report appears in the first three search results for “primerica.” In fact, if you Google “primerica” right now, you won’t see Rip Off Report until the bottom of page 2. That is, unless your Google is different from mine.

    It looks like Primerica has taken active steps to restore and better its reputation (if it actually was sullied in the first place). Kudos to them!

    As for publishers being liable for libel by commenters, I do not agree with your stance. I should be able to have a freely open forum and invite people to participate. If I was liable for any tiny libel committed by a commenter, I would be forced to close that forum. The truth is a defense, but I don’t have the time or resources to verify every comment posted here.

    Just a few of my thoughts. I hope you continue reading Legal Andrew, and maybe you’ll see fit to identify yourself in the future. :)

    Best regards,
    Andrew

  4. I appreciate your point of view. I also appreciate the opportunity to express my opinion in this forum.

    If I understand your statements correctly, if libel was committed against Primerica, then rather than provide a formal or legally formal recourse for Primerica to have the libelous comments removed by the publisher, Primerica should be forced to expend untold resources on pushing the listings to the bottom of Google on page 2. So, a lie with intent to damage, should remain published indefinitely in the name of having a “freely open forum”?

    I made it very clear in my post that recourse should exist in a way that is fair to publishers and victims of libel alike. I did not suggest that victims of smear campaigns should be able to immediately drag publishers into court for libelous postings by third parties. In fact, I clarified my position by saying:

    “I am in no way suggesting that publisher have liability for libelous postings when a posting is made. I am suggesting that publishers who continue to publish libelous material for some time after it has been shown to be malicious and untrue – they should hold some of the same liability as the poster.”

    “Kudos” to Primerica for being a victom of libel and dealing with libelous posts the honorable way – by paying SEO/Blogging companies to push the negative links down so they are read less than they were on page 1. So, that’s a solution, yes, legal blackmail. The SEO and Blog publishers reap the profits of libel as they get the Primericas of the world to fork out big bucks to publishers to bury libelous material. This is certainly a boon for Blog publishers and SEO guys alike. In fact, several firms now offer “reputation repair” services. Here one example of such a firm that claims to manage blogs and performs SEO:

    http://www.complaintremover.com/aboutus.htm

    Talk about laughing to the bank if you are in the SEO/Blog business!

    Like good ole’ Ed Magedson (of ripoffreport.com) says in his interview, everyone at some point in the future will have negative blogs about them. Some untrue, some true. You’ll be driving through your neighborhood at an excessive speed and your neighbor will post a negative blog about you. That type of posting is harmless, but many “cyberpaths” out there attempt to do far more to damage. Of course, most private parties and small companies don’t have the financial resources of a Primerica to fend off the libel by hiring the big guns of the SEO/Blog world.

    It’s easy when WE are not the victims of libel who may have had our reputations or businesses damaged, or lost our job to an untrue posting, to be the champions of free speach and open forums. According to Ed, all of us will be victims sooner or later anyway. How will you feel about legal blackmail then? Well, as an SEO guy or blog publisher, you might be ok, but if you don’t have some form of formal recourse, or financial resources, then the liars win the day as the damage continues indefinitely to the glee of the liar and at the cost of the victim. Yes, a true victory for the promotor of a “freely open forum”.

    To your comment:

    “The truth is a defense, but I don’t have the time or resources to verify every comment posted here”

    The truth is not a defense against damage if the smear campaign continues to do its damage. Private parties and small businesses do not, for the most part, have the branding of large firms like Primerica (apparently owned by Citibank). In fact, the truth, if it is ever told in an open forum that has published libelous material only helps to move the link to that blog higher in the Google rankings – thereby enhancing the damage to the victim.

    And yes, the ultimate disclaimer – “I don’t have time to verify every post.” I can completely understand that point. I wouldn’t expect that, however, for over a hundred years publishers of printed material were liable for libelous articles and continue to be. Fortunately, even to this day, news is still printed and distributed despite the requirement of responsible publishing. What would life have been like without laws against libel? Well, after countless lives wrecked by libelous material, people would learn to distrust what they read on a different level. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why blogging is predicted by some to level off in popularity this year.

    I agree with you Andrew that to suggest to a publisher to verify every post is wrong. I am suggesting that a dispute process should be strongly considered, and irresponsible publishers who ignore dispute processes should NOT be exempt from liability from third party postings. Numerous technical and editorial solutions could easily be put into place to promote responsible publishing. Even without them, should publishers shun responsibility or profit from legal blackmail – now known as “blogosmearing”?

    My position is currently unpopular – certainly among publishers who don’t have the time to do the right thing. And why do the right thing when traffic is being generated at the expense of the faceless victims that we’ll never come into contact with? I take my position, not because I’m a victim, but because it’s wrong to stand by while you profit from unjust damage to another party. If you can convince me of how it is right to stand by and profit from libel, and the damage it causes, then I will stand corrected.

    Sincerely,

    Rob

  5. Andrew Flusche
    May 30th, 2007

    Hi Rob,

    I think you win the prize for “longest blog comment ever.” I’m just not sure what to write in this conversation any longer. It’s gotten a bit out of hand, and I think I’ll leave it at that. I am glad you put forth your thoughts. I just don’t have the time or energy to dig into your comment and respond to the substance right now.

    Best,
    Andrew

  6. Nicky
    August 23rd, 2007

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m doing some research for work and was wondering if you know of examples of companies that censor negative comments – only allowing positive ones.

    Thanks for your help

  7. Andrew Flusche
    August 23rd, 2007

    Nicky – Unfortunately, I don’t have any examples to give you off the top of my head. However, I suspect that many companies who moderate comments end up deleting negative ones, or at least censoring them a little.

    Good luck with your research!

Comments are automatically closed on older posts.

  • Legal tips by email

    Sign-up below to get email tips and exclusive discounts on videos, webinars, and future items.

    All fields are required.





  • Receive updates

    By email
    By rss (full feed)
  • About Andrew Flusche

    Lawyer, bicyclist, husband.
    More about me...
    Tumble Log
    View Andrew Flusche's profile on LinkedIn
    Andrew Flusche's Facebook Profile
  • Popular Posts