September 23, 2014

How to Be Constructive in your Blog Commenting

Ever gotten an overly critical (perhaps vitriolic) comment, and decided to just delete it? I know I have. When I moderate comments, I don’t think of myself as a censor; I’m simply keeping the spam out. But sometimes, a comment just rubs me the wrong way. Usually I let it through, but I don’t give the author the satisfaction of responding to it.

Next time you offer criticism to a blogger, think about how that comment will be received. Are you building rapport or burning a bridge? Unless you are being an anonymous coward (which I don’t recommend), you’re associating your name and reputation with that comment. Are you willing to stand by that comment and have it represent you in the blogosphere?

One way to be constructive in your criticism is to structure the comment as a “criticism sandwich“. This method involves sandwiching the constructive criticism between two constructive compliments. Think of the compliments as the bun and the criticism as the meat inside.

Another way to think of it — and this will appeal to you geeks out there — the criticism is “nested” within the compliments. Like this:

<compliment>
    <criticism></criticism>
</compliment>

How might this work in practice? Well let’s come up with a hypothetical comment that is a response to this very post…

Thanks for raising the issue of unconstructive commenters; it’s an important topic and relevant for all bloggers. I can’t help but feel you’re leading your readers down a path towards dishonesty in their blog commenting. The tenets of operating in the blogosphere include transparency and authenticity. You’re not advocating either here. That said, I find your posts in general do espouse those tenets, so thank you for that and keep up the good work.

As the blogger I’d take that criticism on board more readily than if it just “cut to the chase”:

Yeah, nice one. You’re advocating dishonesty, when instead you should be advocating transparency and authenticity. Jackass.

Got an opinion? Please chime in.

7 comments for How to Be Constructive in your Blog Commenting »

  1. I love this analogy!

    Very clever. I sometimes– in the heat of the moment– will leave a vitriolic comment and later regret it, so thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by cleaning business consulting — February 4, 2009 @ 4:28 pm


  2. This is an effective technique. I use it often myself.

    Comment by Jack Zufelt — February 9, 2009 @ 11:16 pm


  3. I like the sandwich approach. It’s a technique I use with my clients.

    Comment by Sharon Wilson — March 27, 2009 @ 6:53 am


  4. People who leave vitriolic comments do not think of the consequences of the bridge they just burned and in most cases don’t really care.

    Comment by Jack Zufelt — March 27, 2009 @ 6:59 am


  5. One of the negatives of the internet is people feeling safer behind a monitor to spout off rude and insensitive comments. They wouldn’t dare make the same comment if they were face to face with the author or even on the phone with them.

    Comment by Stefanie Hartman — March 27, 2009 @ 7:01 am


  6. This is a great communication strategy. It’s not only important to use when writing blogs, but in any form of written and oral communication. It allows the respondent to hear the information and not become extremely defensive. More people should practice this communication strategy more often.

    Thanks!

    Comment by Paislie Porcellato — June 26, 2009 @ 8:12 am


  7. Nice post – however you are writing a column and once your column is public it is no longer yours – but the people who read it – funny bloggers believe that what they put in public they still own – if you are truly building a brand – and you are…hmmm let’s try this again – whatever subject whatever opinion you write is your baby, you put shape and mold it – then you put out in public to help shape the minds of those coming into contact with your writings. Let it go – if someone gives you a comment you particularly don’t like – it really is a learning process for you as well – they have processed your information based on what is in the media, their experiences and the tone of other comments.

    But then again – it is just my humble opinion.

    JanSimpson

    Comment by JanSimpson — July 26, 2009 @ 2:36 pm


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