How do you handle the irate commenter?

So I just had a thing happen. It was the first time on one of my book reviews I received a really scathing, insulting and utterly hateful comment. This was a long comment, one the reader really put some thought into. It was full of nothing but insults to my intelligence, claims that I’m juvenile and not well-read simply because I didn’t care for the book, and various other really hateful assertions I need not mention.

Look, as readers, we are not always going to agree. I have read book reviews of books I couldn’t stand in which the reviewers just raved about them. The opposite is also true. I have loved books that other reviewers ripped apart. Typically, if I write a really negative review I do worry a bit about being called out by someone who thinks my vehemence was a tad unfounded. I don’t want to be just plain mean, but I do want to be honest. In this particular case, I never expected the level of vitriol I received, because there were lots of things I DID like about the book, and I was very clear about that.

Whenever, as a reader, I stumble upon a review I don’t agree with, I will tell you what I don’t do. What I don’t do is jump on that person’s page and tell them they are stupid for not sharing my opinion. I don’t create an anonymous online persona that I can use to trash another content creator. When I write my book reviews, I am as honest and thorough as possible. I don’t just say “this is garbage,” give it 1 star and move on. And, trust me, there were plenty of people on goodreads who did exactly that with this particular book. Any time I write a review, I give my reasons, they are my own, and I make sure I share both what I liked and what I didn’t like. That is my only job as a reviewer, and I don’t have to make readers feel better about their particular position on something. What a boring world would this be if we all shared the same opinions about everything?

In part, I’m writing this post to sort of vent my frustrations, sure. It does kind of hurt to be insulted for something that you enjoy so much. My words are important to me. I enjoy sharing them with readers. But do I believe him? Do I believe that I’m stupid, uneducated, or juvenile in my reading tastes? No. The uneducated and juvenile position is being pretentious enough to believe you’re superior to someone else in your intellect simply because you liked a book and they didn’t. In this case, I did respond. I tried to be as professional as possible but I made it clear I would have appreciated a more professional and less personal attack. I could have merely trashed his comment. I could have marked it as spam. I didn’t do either of those things. I will let his comment speak for itself. Some people may agree with him. Some people may agree with me. That’s life.

How do you handle this situation? Has it ever happened to you? Did you respond to it or did you ignore it? Feel free to comment and share your own frustrations. One thing I’ve always loved about this community is that people seem to be very respectful and supportive of each other and I’m very grateful for that. Until next time, happy reading and happy blogging. And down with trolls. 😊

About Amy @ A Librarian and Her Books

I'm a law librarian from the state of Missouri and a graduate of Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. My real passion is in fiction, which is why I started my blog to share my thoughts with other bibliophiles. I live with my husband and two wonderful children and a collection of furry feline companions.
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10 Responses to How do you handle the irate commenter?

  1. We’ve rarely had aggressive comments in the ten years we’ve been blogging, but I guess I usually wait a bit and try to reply civilly, and if the person continues to be obnoxious I just delete the comments and ban their IP from the blog. Which may have happened once or twice in 10 years. On the other hand, I don’t think the comments have been *quite* like you described, and if someone came on ranting and calling me stupid, I would just immediately delete and block them. So sorry that happened to you, though, because it’s definitely upsetting!

  2. Jolie says:

    I can count on one hand the times I have gotten negative comments on my blog. After my last one, I set my comments so they are moderated and delete any that come are nasty.

    Now, Goodreads is a different problem. I have run across some truly nasty people on that site and I wish I could put comments on moderation. When I get a nasty comment, I leave it up and reply with a “Thanks for your opinion” and a smiley face. Occasionally, it will rub the commenter the wrong way and they take it to PMs (which I never check so, yeah….lol)

  3. I think sooner or later most bloggers get this sort of negative interaction. Polite, respectful disagreement is one thing, but what you describe sounds awful and abusive and doesn’t merit a response — I’d delete the comment and block the sender!

  4. Lori says:

    This happened to me on the facebook page for my blog. I had sponsored a post, and people apparently didn’t like that the sponsored post was in their newsfeed…so they took it out on my directly with raunchy language and piles of steaming dung. I tried to take the high road for about a week, always responding kindly, saying things like “I’m sorry you didn’t like the sponsored post, but we are lovely people, so please stick around…” It got to the point, though, that it was a real distraction from the rest of the content that I was trying to promote, so I eventually just deleted and blocked them. I felt bad about it, but my MOM reads my facebook page, you know? Anyway, sorry you went through that. 😦

  5. Genyc79 says:

    I am sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience. What you’ve described highlights one aspect of the internet that will never change and that is people find it easy to type things they would not say in person. As bloggers with public platforms, we do assume certain risks such as what you encountered but there is a correct way to disagree with a person without vitriol being used. Personally, I’d delete the comment if the person cannot respectfully state their position. If you can, take it in stride knowing that your blog is having an impact anyway you look at it. Keep reading, keep writing and running the great blog that you have presented to us.

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