Commenting: The Good, Bad and Rude.

Let’s talk about what keeps us bloggers going–commenting.  5.8 times a week (that’s how many times I post according to Google) I put words and pictures out there in the blogosphere and then I look forward to feedback.  Sometimes there is a lot of feedback, and then sometimes when I write about things that are small and relatively boring, like moving our mattress up, we receive less comments.  It’s cool.  There’s not much to say about moving a mattress up.  Unless we fell through it–I’m sure that would receive an overwhelming response.  Especially if there was an action shot included.

When I was studying art in college, there were days that extended into late nights where I would work on a drawing or painting or print for hours and hours and hours.  Then, the next day in class we would all hang our work on the wall and the teacher would critique each piece.  As the semesters wore on and us students got more comfortable, my peers and I would also jump in on the critiques–imputing our opinions, praise and thoughts on improvement.  It was great.  I grew as an artist and a person.  In the beginning,  I remember being a first year art student in my very first drawing class, Drawing 110 (killer!), one particular texture drawing I spent close to 8 hours doing.  It was a close up of a basketball and a towel.  When it came time for critique, the only thing my teacher pointed out was how although you couldn’t see the whole ball (it extended off of the page), you could tell it wasn’t round.  He concluded by saying, “that’s unfortunate.”  After 8 hours of work, I didn’t receive a good grade or an ounce of praise, but I did learn a very valuable lesson:  use a compass!  In addition to learning some valuable skills as an art major, I also learned how to take constructive criticism, negative opinions and even praise.  I am a firm believer there is always, always ALWAYS room for improvement.  I believe that applies to paintings, projects and personality. 
Perhaps the idea of working and creating and then hanging my project up–or now posting it to this blog– to be critiqued has been engrained in me.  It still excites me.  I still thrive off of feedback.  That being said, I hope you know that I don’t expect all of your comments to be bubbling over with praise.   I can appreciate when a reader doesn’t dig the purple wall in our living room.  If you think there is room for improvement in a project, like our 15-frame grid, let us know.  If you saw someone else do it better, leave a link, so we can improve for goodness sake.  It’s why we blog, to share what we’ve been up to around here and to open communication with our readers.  
Yesterday, I made a comment on a fellow DIYer’s blog, later to realize my comment had been deleted.  I was a little taken back.  I had never had a comment deleted before and I felt as if someone had virtually told me to “Shut up” without even giving me the satisfaction of saying what I wanted to first.  To clarify, I didn’t think my comment was rude or even border-line bullyish.  I decided to write the blogger an email (names and project titles have been changed.):

Hey [Lisa],

I commented on your blog post today about “[Up and Up]” and how it was very similar to [Very Popular Blog's] “[One Upped.]” I went on to say “Round and round we go, us bloggers.” My comment was simply stating how in the blogging world it seems there are very few truly original ideas, but rather ideas executed differently–perhaps even at different levels. I was shocked to see my comment deleted. I hope you didn’t take offense, but even if you did–I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on comment deletion, and what qualifies for it on your blog.

As a DIY/design blogger myself, I encourage my readers to comment whether they like it or would leave it. I think publicly blogging is a great way to open up communication between readers and writers, to share ideas, to critique–even if all of the communication or comments aren’t exploding with bubbly praise. I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I have fallen victim to what would obviously be grounds for deletion according to you.

Dish, sister. 

-Julia

http://chrislovesjulia.blogspot.com/

I receive the following response:

Hey Julia!

Thanks for your email! I am glad that I have the chance to tell you why! I did delete your comment but it wasnt because I dont want differing view point on my blog. I actually rarely delete comment on my projects or posts but because it was more directed to [Krissy] than me that is why I deleted it. She is one of my best friends and I didnt want her to see it and feel bad. To be honest I am not sure why you felt the need to leave it, obviously when we live in a world where we are so interconnected you will see the same thing a lot of different ways. I thought that by leaving that comment you were assuming that [Krissy] got the idea from [Lori], which she did not seeing as how she has done it more that just this year. I think that there is plenty of criticism in this world and although negative comments dont hurt my feelings, they do hurt many peoples. One thing that I see often in this online world is things being taken differently than they were meant because things are read a million different ways. If that is the case I am sorry for deleting your comment. I honestly have no hard feelings and actually really like your blog, you are super talented (I LOVE your painting that you just did that was the melty chevrony piece!) I hope that you can understand where I am coming from!

Although I am glad things were worked out, it did get me wondering about our own blog.  Would I ever delete a comment?  Chris and I have talked about it and have concluded if it is spam, crass or inappropriate for our parents’ eyes, then yes.  This is only DIYing, so I can’t really imagine how any of that would come into play, but we’re just covering our bases.  We really want this to be a place where you can share your ideas and thoughts.  Whether praise or constructive criticism.

When I asked a few friends and family member’s their thoughts on deleting comments in blogging, here is some of the responses:

As someone in publishing, I don’t think any of the comments should be deleted. All feedback should be handled constructively. I say, use it as an opportunity to help your readers get to know you better.

If you are going to post online and leave things open to discussion, you need to try to be open-minded and listen. It gives the writer, as well as the reader, a chance to grow.

It’s still the right of a blogger. And necessary in some cases. I think we all expect our reasonable comments to appear once we hit submit, but it’s always possible they won’t.


In my mind it comes down to severity. If the comment is severely negative and or over the top, then I can see a case for deletion. But the blog owner also must recognize than they will lose credibility in the process and feel that even though they will come across as fraudulent due to the severity of the comment it must be done.

Publish. Publish. Publish. It’s what it’s all about. I’ve had my comments deleted from peoples blogs before. And it really makes both my comment and my reading AND the blog/author of blog seem invalid. Block all or none.


Now it is your turn to weigh in.  What constitutes a deleted comment for your blog or, in your opinion?  Did I step over the line?  Should all bloggers take Drawing 110 before publishing a post?  *wink*

21 Comments

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Linda

    I have a comment related question…I don’t have a blog but I read many for inspiration. Sometimes I get the idea comments should come from those w/blogs exclusively. Same with entering give aways. Consequently, I never enter give aways and comment infrequently (and politely, of course!)

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Livi

    Julia, thanks for bringing up this interesting topic.  Meagan thanks for your thoughts. 

    I definitely think a blogger has the right to delete comments whenever they wish – but I also think its quite interesting to see how bloggers respectively tend to do so. 

    I think if a person is uncomfortable with conversation or debate going on  in their comment section then they shouldn’t provoke the subject in the first place. If not, then they need to be prepared to see all kinds of opinions going on. 

    One thing that is so annoying to me is when people can’t handle an opposing argument so they just delete – whether on Facebook or blogs. 

    I think that if you’re willing to express yourself on FB or blogs {espc about controversial or sensitive topics } and you host one idea – then I think it’s pretty cowardly to delete the convo once an opinion is expressed that is a better argument and/or makes you uncomfortable. 

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Guest

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for a few weeks now and just had to comment – Hats off to you for your mature and positive outlook on commenting and online interactions. Its very true that when bloggers “put it all out there” that not everyone will agree with all the choices they make, but that comes with the territory and you seem to have developed a tough enough skin for the business.

    That being said, I would delete a comment if it included profanity directed at me or my family – constructive disagreements are one thing, but at times people are just rude for the sake of being rude. They say things I doubt they would actually have the nerve to say to you in person, and if it’s not a comment that other readers could gain perspective (or anything else) from then I say it’s not worth reading.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing – love the blog!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Morgan @ A Bright Idea

    Hi Julia – love your blog :0) Your newest follower!
    I don’t delete my comments except the random ones that are spam – usually Google catches those ones before they publish anyway. I do try to respond to all comments though, good and bad. I recently changed up my personal blog to be more about DIY, organizing and home decor, so I am still building a fan base and have yet to receive A LOT of comments (hopefully more and more though!) http://www.justhadabrightidea.blogspot.com

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Thanks for finding us, Morgan! I just checked out your blog and I love how you organized all of the school papers! I better get on that because I am sure our little Greta will be in school before I know it. Great ideas!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    kelly olsen-stanko

    My husband and I run a food “blog” (www.myeatbox.com …its not really a blog because its not personally ours, its subscription-based meaning anyone can get an account, plus its picture based, not textual). Anyyyway, we found ourselves having a similar conversation on our approach to deleting comments (and pictures). We try to stay out of it as much as we can, also because there’s the added layer that “this isn’t just mine” because it belongs to other users and their accounts. People will post nasty comments on someone’s eatbox, saying perhaps something they made didn’t look appealing, or exclaim “what is that ew?” etc. I remember my husband saying, “What should we do?”

    I think it sucks that people are like that, but it’s not our place to moderate that because its just an opinion that they are expressing. However, will remove obvious spam photos (people will post brand logos of food, porn, or weird stuff not having to do with food AT ALL) and obvious spam comments if we see them come along, like “win free vacation here”. Spam accounts of users using our service for other than food or recipe blogging will be removed and they are reminded via email about our ToS.

    Obviously its different in the personal blogging world, but I think our principal applies in your situation as well. I don’t think your comment should have been removed, nor do I think comments should be censored no matter how mean or rude they are (yours didn’t seem it though) unless they are in direct opposition to the purpose of the website in question. Coming from a journalist and writing background, removing something because you “didn’t want someone to see it” or because of a disagreement is just plain wrong.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Matthew Plooster

    Happy to post knowing that my comment won’t be deleted. :) Great thoughts and insights. Thank you, especially, for sharing your perspective of blogging, and how you thrive on reader feedback just as much as we enjoy your regular posts. Keep it up!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Lexy @ The Proper Pinwheel

    I’m happy to hear you were able to get some feedback. I do believe that it is hard to come up with a truly original idea these days. We have inspiration coming at us from every direction. Each project we see is a variation of the one before it. And I don’t mind at all! I sometimes get headaches from trying to dream up nice, ORIGINAL projects and it’s tough! I try to put my own spin on things. I sometimes dream up an idea and put it out there for the world to see. And then I find that someone has done it better. Round and round we go.

    I agree with you and Chris discussing your comment policy. I think each author has the write to comment, but the owner of the blog has the right to keep things appropriate for the audience they write for.

    I love your blog and I love how you handle situations. Good for you!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Will do!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    meaganbriggs3

    Oh my gosh—melty chevrony,….hahahahaha sorry that description just made me laugh because it is WAY more than that.

    Remember all that comment drama on my blog awhile go? Between my friend Livi and that nonmember lady? I still feel bad how it ended and how the comments went about, BUT it was such an interesting conversation to read and it is still on my blog if ppl ever come across it again. I learned a lot from that because I was kind of naive to the fact that non members read my blog and I’ve tried to be more careful. I do not want people being turned off by my blog just because of that incidence.

    Good for you totally for emailing her, but I think she had nothing to stand on because she was assuming her friend would be upset when she didn’t even give her a chance to respond and who knows if her friend would have even read the comment in the first place! Okay, I should stop hahahahaha

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Amanda @ willful/joyful

    This is a very interesting topic. My schooling is in photography, so I too learned the gentle art of receiving criticism of my work. It would have been impossible for me to not extend that ability to the rest of my life. The ability to receive criticism, admit a fault or mistake, while maintaining a joy for my work is the BEST thing that I learned from my degree. I truly believe everyone should experience higher level art classes, for that reason alone. Too many people are unable to hear criticism, no matter the intention, as anything other than an attack.

    How a blogger wants to moderate their comments is up to them, but deleting any differing opinions won’t open a dialog or start any sort of meaningful discussion. There are trolls out there who get a thrill from writing nasty comments and I don’t think a blogger should have to put up with them, but deleting all iffy comments so you’re left with a sugar coated comment section is it’s own special kind of sad. There are bloggers who post in the hopes of receiving only praise for their writing and there are others that blog for interaction and personal growth. It’s clear what type you are — keep it up!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Linda–feel free to change your ideas, girl! I welcome all readers and commenters and am certainly not prejudice to whether they have a blog or not. As far as our giveaways go, we don’t even require you to be a follower to enter. I know the giveaway thing varies from blog to blog, but I the readership and commenting I believe is consistent across the board. Anyone would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    Linda–feel free to change your ideas, girl! I welcome all readers and commenters and am certainly not prejudice to whether they have a blog or not. As far as our giveaways go, we don’t even require you to be a follower to enter. I know the giveaway thing varies from blog to blog, but I the readership and commenting I believe is consistent across the board. Anyone would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    meaganbriggs3

    Oh my gosh—melty chevrony,….hahahahaha sorry that description just made me laugh because it is WAY more than that.

    Remember all that comment drama on my blog awhile go? Between my friend Livi and that nonmember lady? I still feel bad how it ended and how the comments went about, BUT it was such an interesting conversation to read and it is still on my blog if ppl ever come across it again. I learned a lot from that because I was kind of naive to the fact that non members read my blog and I’ve tried to be more careful. I do not want people being turned off by my blog just because of that incidence.

    Good for you totally for emailing her, but I think she had nothing to stand on because she was assuming her friend would be upset when she didn’t even give her a chance to respond and who knows if her friend would have even read the comment in the first place! Okay, I should stop hahahahaha

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    brandilyn

    i obviously blog about very different things than you do, so the nature of my comments is very different. i think the only comments i’ve ever deleted are ones that attack things i hold sacred–namely, my religion (since i’m a “modest” fashion blogger, what i believe comes into play fairly often).

    i don’t mind when people don’t like what i wear (DUH, if we all liked the same things, what would be the point of blogging in the first place?) or when they don’t agree with what i believe. i’m very happy to answer questions and go back and forth about religion or fashion or whatever, but when someone comments just to attack the most important aspect of my life with the sole intent of hurting me…i delete those. it’s unnecessary and that kind of voice isn’t welcome in my space. if someone came into my home yelling about how brain washed and wrong i am, i would ask them to leave. i consider my blog my “home” here on the internet and try to treat it accordingly.

    other than that, differing opinions, bring it on! i work shopped writing that was very personal to me over and over again in college (creative writing major) and got used to having it examined and critiqued. it’s part of doing anything artistic and it’s vital to evolution as a creator! who wants to stay stagnant in their work?! boring.

    awesome post. the internet can be difficult to navigate because it’s so easy to misinterpret tone. i’ve totally commented on blogs before in a way that i thought was unoffensive and had the blogger get really upset and defensive. tricky tricky.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Sadie Jane

    I think you said it perfectly Julia with your story about art school! I think constructive criticism helps us grow and mature! I had a family friend come over and tell me my house looked like an Easter Egg because of all the colors! I was stunned by the comment but laughed it off in the end because I can totally agree that its colorful but I love it so it shouldn’t bug me! Some negative comments may need to be addressed on a more personal level like with what you did in your situation but I think it just shows that your blog is interesting! I would hope that people would feel comfortable enough to write some constructive criticism about blog posts that I post! I think it just makes for stimulating thinking!

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    amy w

    i loved this post. i was actually just thinking yesterday how our society tends to take things offensively a little too easily. especially about trivial things, like a comment that had NO bad intentions. and for reals, your comment could have even been construed as a compliment that she somewhat replicated something so similarly to another DIYer. we all need to take things in stride and realize not everyone is going to think or say the same things. unless it is TRULY personal, there is no reason to MAKE it personal.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Mike

    I think the blogger totally copped out of the real reason they deleted your post. They didn’t want people to know that they were “inspired” by another blog. It issimple as copyright infringement. I personally thought it was interesting to bring up the similarities in posts and make a “it’s a small world even on the internet” type of comment, instead this person tried to hide the fact and make you think you were in the wrong for thinking that way or bring it up.

    “To be honest I am not sure why you felt the need to leave it, obviously when we live in a world where we are so interconnected you will see the same thing a lot of different ways”

    Anytime you use the word “obviously” after you question someones line of thinking, you are basically saying “shut up, I’m right”

    My advice, don’t think you are getting original thoughts from that blog and definitely take all the positive comment with a bucket of salt.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Tauni

    I hopped over to your site while working on some event-related items and read your post. As a social media consultant, I advise companies and individuals on topics such as commenting policies daily. I applaud you for talking to Chris about what comments you would and wouldn’t accept on your blog. It sounds like you’ve come to an agreement on what’s acceptable on your site and encourage you to post it in a “sticky” spot.

    Every site is personal and every comment policy is individual. It’s up to the site owner to determine what’s acceptable in their space. Just because a comment is deleted doesn’t mean the blogger is closed minded or that they cannot accept criticism.

    I completely disagree with the statements your family and friends shared suggesting that commenting should be a completely open free for all.

    They way you’ve presented the scenario above leads me to believe you feel the blogger handled the situation inappropriately. Personally, I probably would have done the same thing.

    Though I am open to constructive criticism and I’ve been subject to any number of negative comments that I’ve chosen to leave up, I am far more sensitive to those who guest post on my site.

    Your comment may have been made light-heartedly, but I can also see how it could have been perceived as catty and unnecessary by the blog owner too.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    After reading the blogger’s response, I understood that my comment was taken as catty and unnecessary just as you suggested. Even if it wasn’t my intention. I get it. That was a bummer because I respect the blogger–but I am glad that the air has been cleared and she knows that.

    This post was simply to outline what we accept and what we won’t tolerate as bloggers. We have never done that and after having my first experience with having a comment deleted (the situation outlined above), it made for a perfect opportunity to open a discussion with Chris and relay our decision to our readers out there. I don’t think our way is the only way or even the right way for every blogger–but it’s just what we have decided to do.

    I respect the blogger for sticking up for her friend. It shows she is a loyal friend and caring. For her, that relationship was important than my light-hearted comment–and I am 100% down with that.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and expertise, Tauni! I think integrating our comment policy somewhere “sticky” is a great idea.

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    bfish

    I came here from your comment on a similar discussion at YHL. I’m not a blogger nor registered as a “member/follower” of any blogs but do comment occasionally. How others participating in a discussion, in blogdom or IRL, perceive the tone and intent of critical comments and responses to them can be an issue, as I discovered while taking professional classes in landscape design. The instructor, who was pretty intimidating (M.A. in Landscape Architecture from Harvard, successful LA), was adamently opposed to a plant selection in one of my designs. I responded to his critique politely but assertively, defending my choice. I didn’t realize until talking with fellow students later that they felt very uncomfortable when he “attacked” me, while I hadn’t taken it that way at all. And we all know that anonymity makes many people less inhibited in pressing opposing viewpoints then they would be face-to-face.

    I wouldn’t take the comment you made on “Lisa’s” blog as out-of-turn but perhaps some folks might. As others have pointed out there may have been sensitivity to appearing to call out a project as lacking originality — though most of us realize there’s nothing new under the sun . . . .

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