Life As Mom’s comment policy.
This post has been on my heart for several weeks. While my readers, even when they think I’m nuts, are polite and disagree in love on this site, I frequently hear from bloggers who have been hurt by comments or emails from readers. Often times it isn’t what was said, but rather how it was said. When writing we don’t have the benefit of body language or inflection in our voice to get the point across. Sometimes what was meant to be funny comes across as rude when typed instead of spoken.
I believe well meaning people are often misunderstood and can become involved in heated arguments because of a few words or capital letters in a comment or Facebook post.
So what happens when you read something on the internet that you don’t agree with? Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there is a way to share it with grace. Often times we get caught up in sharing “truth’ and forget that giving truth with grace goes a long way towards keeping the discussion friendly and respectful. And Bloggers- you can turn a negative comment into a positive experience (that post coming later this week).
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone, but how you do it can make the difference between open dialogue and a nasty argument. While these suggestions are written with the internet in mind, many of them apply to real life situations too.
Examine Your Motivation for Commenting
Before you leave a comment that is critical determine your motivation for commenting. Are you passionate about the topic? Are you a subject matter expert? Do you have experience in this area, or are you just venting/letting off steam about a particular subject a blogger is writing about? If you want to vent it is better to do it on your own blog, FB page, or Twitter account. Venting on someone else’s space isn’t very polite and usually doesn’t create a productive debate. If your comment can contribute to the discussion in a productive way (and I think disagreeing can be productive) then speak your mind, respectfully.
Do Unto Others
Before you leave a comment, send an email, or comment on Facebook consider how you would feel if you received a similar comment. Would it encourage you to rethink your views, change your mind, or just hurt your feelings? When disagreeing think of how you would like to receive feedback and let that be your guide.
Share Your Feedback Respectfully in the Comment Section
This is probably the easiest way to share feedback. Most websites allow for comments and leaving one only takes a few minutes. When leaving a comment, remember that the person’s blog is their home on the internet. Be respectful. If you disagree with someone do it in a kind way. Share why you disagree and remember to try to leave some positive feedback too. If the blog you are reading is so off target that you can’t find anything nice to say, maybe it is time to stop reading that blog.
Also remember that things like excessive punctuation and capitals signifies strong emotion or even anger. Refraining from using these in the critical comments goes a long way.
Send an Email
If you feel very strongly about a topic consider sending an email rather than posting in the comment section. Often leaving a critical comment will incite the blogger’s friends to their defense and a large internet slug fest will begin. What’s the point? While some blogs encourage this type of debate, I see this happen far too often on blogs that try to encourage, build up, and help others. A comment war benefits no one.
An email is a good way to privately confront someone if you feel strongly about a topic. Perhaps the blogger will reconsider their post and even edit it if they have erred. The chances of this happening when corresponding via email are much greater than if you leave a public comment.
Sleep On It
It’s not a good idea to leave a comment or send an email when you are fired up about something. Write the comment or email, save it and sleep on it. If in the morning you still feel strongly about the topic, submit it. You might find that how you feel in the heat of the moment is much different than how you feel when you’ve had a chance to think about it for a few hours.
Offer a Positive Alternative
There might be instances when someone posts something that does not work for you. Rather than commenting that their idea is the worst idea ever, share that it didn’t work for your family, but something else did. No blogger thinks their ideas work for everyone, and many enjoy hearing reader suggestions in the comments.
You probably wouldn’t walk into a neighbor’s house and tell them you hated their carpet and curtains, so don’t leave a comment with similar sentiments, unless they are asking for feedback. If you don’t like the color choice or design of someone’s site, keep it to yourself or stop reading.
There are millions of blogs to chose from, so if you always find yourself disagreeing with the author stop reading it. It doesn’t benefit you and wastes your time if you are just reading a blog so you can disagree.
Long Time Readers Earn the Right to Disagree (because they’re family)
If you are a frequent reader and positive commenter on a blog, a critical comment will probably not offend the blog author. Personally, I consider my long time reader/ commenters like family and find their comments helpful even when they disagree. This is because they have earned the right to disagree because we have a relationship (albiet a virtual one). Just like in real life, you have the freedom to disagree with your friends but you probably wouldn’t get into a disagreement with someone standing in line at the grocery store.
You Are Not Anonymous
I often think people are more disrespectful on the internet because they feel there is a level of anonymity. Let me tell you, there isn’t. If someone wants to figure out where you live, work, your phone number, children’s school, and mother’s maiden name- they can. All they need is your IP address and email, which is listed on any comment you leave on the internet. In some states there are now laws against internet bullying and you can actually be sued for threatening comments. Obviously, this isn’t something that applies to my readers, but it is a good reminder not to get caught up in a comment war. It isn’t worth it.
If you wouldn’t share it over coffee to a friend it probably shouldn’t be shared over the internet either.