If you write for Associated Content, do you get a funny feeling in your stomach every time you get an e-mail announcing the appearance of “new comments”? Is that funny feeling a mix of excitement and dread? You hope for positive feedback on your Associated Content pieces, but you know that every once in a while, you’ll receive some negative comments.
How should you handle negative comments on your Associated Content articles? It depends largely on the nature of the negative comments. Here are what I consider the main points that Associated Content producers need to ponder:
Do the negative comments offer constructive criticism? If so, are they really “negative”?
I’ve found that Associated Content producers are more likely than general readers to provide useful feedback. There is a sense of community among Associated Content producers, a feeling that we’re all in this together.
It seems to me that most people don’t want to get into feuds over each other’s Associated Content articles. They’re more interested in support and encouragement. Often, Associated Content producers will point out your spelling and grammar mistakes, or bring up a point that you may not have considered when writing your article. In my mind, these “negative comments” aren’t truly negative, as long as they’re not harsh put-downs.
If you receive feedback that’s offered with the intention of helping you improve as an Associated Content producer, embrace it. Write your own comment, in which you thank your fellow Associated Content producer for his or her feedback. This shows that you appreciate that person’s time and effort, and it demonstrates that you can handle negative comments gracefully.
Are the negative comments on your Associated Content article just plain spiteful, or do they make some good points?
It’s natural to feel defensive when faced with negative comments on your Associated Content material. Before you act on that feeling, take a breath, count to ten, and read the negative comments again. What are they really about?
Some negative comments are clearly not constructive, in that they don’t address the ideas, information, or opinions expressed in your Associated Content articles. When I was a new Associated Content producer, I received a couple of negative comments on an opinion piece about a celebrity. I made it clear in my article that I didn’t like this celebrity, and at least two (probably many more) readers were offended enough to leave negative comments.
These readers were not Associated Content producers, and their negative comments were definitely not intended as constructive criticism. One person said, “What utter nonsense you write.” The other said, “You are just jealous!” Well, at least they got right to the point.
I admit, as a new Associated Content producer, I was miffed. I knew it was silly of me to dwell on these negative comments, but they felt too personal to ignore. In their negative comments, these readers weren’t arguing in favor of the celebrity’s great qualities or pointing out holes in my research. That would have been constructive criticism – still hard for an Associated Content newbie to swallow, but at least I would have had the opportunity to respond to the negative comments in a way that kept the topic open for debate. I felt as if I couldn’t say anything much in return, so I did something I now regret: I removed the negative comments.
If I got the same negative comments now, I’d let those Associated Content readers have their say. If someone calls me a stupid idiot, or worse, I’ll leave it alone – well, okay, I’ll draw the line at expletives, but I’d let everything else stand, and then just let it go. After all, even the crabbiest Associated Content reader is doing us all a favor – he or she is reading our stuff. That means more pageviews and more income.
If negative comments on your Associated Content articles actually argue a point of view, respond to them. Again, show that you can handle criticism gracefully. Whether the people who leave negative comments are Associated Content producers or general readers, let them know you’ve carefully considered what they have to say. You can carry on the debate through your comments, or you can simply concede: “You make some good points.” “Thanks for your insights.”
Associated Content is a place for the free exchange of ideas. We need to welcome negative comments as well as positive ones. If you’re an Associated Content producer, you’ll learn in time how to handle negative comments like a pro.