I love to blog. I don’t do it for fame or fortune, I do it because thousands of you read my posts and many of you have told me one of our posts has helped you in one way or another. I also blog because I’ve made hundreds of new friends through this experience, and I’ve learned a ton from many of you. Out of the 4,000+ comments you’ve left me, I’ve never been upset by one until yesterday. First, some background…
I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I posted. Most of you have enjoyed the guest posts we’ve put up, but I know the long-time readers want more content from Jeremy. I’ve always taken a quality over quantity approach with the blog – rather than drop any old content on you, I tend to wait until I have an idea that grabs me. An idea I think you’ll love. That’s why most of you keep coming back.
In my haste to get my post up, I didn’t follow my own advice and edit thoroughly. I’m sorry about that – but most of you know that’s not the norm on Journalistics. Now any of you could have given me a heads up like, “Hey champ, you might want to follow step 4 and edit your post.” I would have been fine with that. I would have laughed and done so immediately.Instead, I received this comment (by email no less). Here’s the comment in all ITS unedited glory:
It is REALLY hard to take advice from someone who doesn’t use the correct “it’s” in their advice. See highlighted below. The first highlighted “its” should say, “it’s.” This “it’s” stands for “it is” and therefore deserves an apostrophe. There is also an extra “the” below that is highlighted. Also, shouldn’t it say, “to the outline from the banner?” I underlined this. Then, the third highlighted area says “it’s” when it should say “its.” This time the word is in possessive form, which DOES NOT have an apostrophe.
I just stopped reading after this many errors in such a short amount of text. As someone with a Bachelor’s in Journalism, it really irks me that someone associates themselves with journalism who doesn’t even know proper word usage.
What’s your reaction to this comment? How would you have responded if you received it? Did I deserve it for being lazy with my editing? Did my misplacement of a few apostrophes detract from the advice I shared? I don’t think so. If anything, I think it reinforced the lesson for readers. I’m sure some of you were thinking, “Wow, this guy should really follow his own advice and do a better job at editing.” Maybe that lesson would stick with the reader, and urge them to do a better job editing their next post? The world would be a better place.
There are 100 different ways this reader could have shared her feedback with me. Here are a few “it’s” I don’t like about this comment:
- It’s from a stranger – I don’t know her.
- It’s personal – the attack is against aimed at me, not the writing.
- It’s condescending – rather than just say, “hey, I found a couple of typos,” the commenter launches into a grammar 101 lesson (based on the history of my blog posts, it’s pretty obvious I know the difference between “its” and “it’s”).
- It’s private - if you’re passionate about the feedback you’re leaving, stand behind your position, respect the writer and share your feedback publicly.
- It’s negative – from the beginning to the end the email is negative. If I had a “Mean People Suck” button, I’d send it to her.
- It’s not constructive – there are at least a dozen different ways she could have left me that feedback that would not have resulted in me writing this post. Imagine if she had given me the feedback like this, “I noticed a couple of typos in your post. In case you don’t know the proper usage, here’s a link to a page that provides a good refresher.” Much nicer and more constructive.
- It’s feedback lacking authority – the reader leans on her “bachelor’s in journalism” as her qualifications to give me this feedback.
- It’s lazy – it’s not hard to find more information on me. A couple of quick Google queries or searches on the blog will reveal a lot of history about what I’ve written in the past, my education, professional experience, and a few other things that would tell you I’m not as stupid as my editing skills would lead you to believe.
- It’s judgmental – the reader is basing their entire opinion about me on this single post (and only the first few sentences of it). I don’t know about you, but I don’t judge anybody. It’s a good rule of thumb.
I love it when readers leave comments. Most bloggers love it. There’s no right or wrong way to do so, but keep these tips in mind before you blast a blogger via email:
- People make mistakes – If you’re making a correction, give the blogger the benefit of the doubt – maybe it was an honest mistake or oversight. Most people don’t mind editing by peer collaboration. I love it when somebody finds a typo and tells me about it. I’m usually happy to make the correction.
- Everything is public these days - remember, any feedback you share, whether via comments or email, can reach a larger audience. If you’re going to share something, be prepared to see it appear publicly.
- Do your legwork - if you’re going to provide constructive criticism, back your comment up. Provide some back-up other than your own personal opinion.
- Be professional - this should be common sense, but be professional. If you don’t know what that means, skip the comment.
- Let it go – if you’re filled with rage after reading a post, take a deep breath (maybe sleep on it) before shooting off your feedback. That’s what I did. You should have seen the first draft of this post.
- Don’t be mean – really, what possible good could come from being mean? Life’s too short.
I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking I’m being mean by calling her out; by sharing her email publicly. I don’t think it’s mean. I think it’s constructive and educational for all of you. Plus, it’s not like I told you who sent me the comment.
Overall, this post ruined my day yesterday. At the same time, I got two really nice comments on the post that made it worth my while. Remember, bloggers are people too. If you don’t like something you’re reading, just stop reading it. For the rest of you nice readers, I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend.
What do you think? Was the comment mean or am I overreacting? How would you have done things differently (either with the comment, or my response)?