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How NOT To Leave Blog Feedback

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)?

About Jeremy Porter

Jeremy Porter is co-founder and editor of Journalistics, a lively blog about public relations and journalism topics.

  • http://www.lynetteradio.com Lynette

    Sorry it trashed your day – but ignore comments like that. I read blogs for the content not the grammar. Or spelling. Whomever (or it is whoever??) wrote that is shallow and most likely wouldn’t know amazing **CONTENT** if it jumped up and bit them in the very nose they look down on others from.

    • Jeremy Porter

      I didn’t really ruin my day… just an hour of it. If anything, it served as my muse for another post. I had a huge tree fall in my back yard and miss my house by 8 feet yesterday – that made my day, so all in all, it turned out swell.

  • http://twitter.com/joecardillo Joe Cardillo

    Perhaps the commenter was having a bad day, or a bad life ;)

    I am actually one of those people who notices grammatical stuff, but letting that get in the way of enjoying good writing doesn’t make any sense.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Thanks Joe, well said.

  • http://prinpink.wordpress.com Krista

    Well, I guess nobody’s perfekt! To be honest, I read so quickly nowadays, I hardly notice minute grammatical errors. I was more interested in the content of your post, and how it struck me, that I didn’t notice that particular glitch. Please keep writing and sharing your insights with the rest of your community :)

    • Jeremy Porter

      Don’t worry, I wont’ stop. When I write really fast, I tend to have a lot of typos. I should have edited the post. It was my bad. :-)

  • http://www.concepthubinc.com Sherry Heyl

    Although I have a bachelors in creative writing, I am typo queen, and I have decided to embrace that. I do know that some errors can get in the way of the reader understanding what you are trying to say, and that is really all I edit for. If I have too many commas or forgot an appostrophy (or misspell a word) it should not take away from the point I am trying to make or the depth of experience I am trying to share. I have received feedback as harsh and not as harsh as this and I just think the person is in need of a punching bag and focusing on the wrong things in life. I wish them luck and continue to focus on the things that are most important to me….and it is not apostrophes….by the way…she misused capital letters.

    • Jeremy Porter

      ThaNKs ShERRy. :-)

  • http://www.mudcreative.com Louise Desmarais

    It does bother me when I see grammar and spelling mistakes in blogs – especially when I, a seasoned marketing writer, make them! Let’s face it. We’re only human. Blogging is more about sharing your thoughts and just getting them down – and most people, even us writers, understand that. Don’t sweat it.

  • http://www.mudcreative.com Louise Desmarais

    Actually – should be “we writers understand that.” See? Humans!

    • Jeremy Porter

      Thanks Louise… you human you.

  • http://mymediainfo.com/ Renee

    It seems ridiculous that this comment was given to you, when you specifically said “As a perfect example, I didn’t follow this process for the post you’re reading.” Oh wait, they probably didn’t get that far because the small errors were too distracting, and honestly that’s a bit tragic. We’re all humans and if you can’t get past an error or two to look at the content, then you will not be able to read a great deal of blog posts and the like. And isn’t that a bit more important than a missing apostrophe?

    • Jeremy Porter

      Has anybody seen my apostrophe? Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://funandfit.org AlexandraFunFit

    Hi there: I was recommended to your blog by a Twitter friend. I also do a lot of editing, and like good grammar, but if I were to be a stickler about it, I’d miss out on a lot of great stuff that’s out there. One of my all-time favorite blogs is written by an architect who has horrible spelling, but the content is so funny and compelling that refusing to read further due to his errors would be my loss, not his. In the spirit of openness and camaraderie, you might wish to check your final bullet point about being mean. I think you might like to use “too” there. And you are welcome to point out any typos or errors on my blog anytime. Here’s to learning from each other. Nice People Rule!

  • http://www.arikhanson.com Arik Hanson

    Jeremy:

    Funny–I’ve received similar comments in the past re: grammar/mistakes I’ve made in posts. Not all that often (thankfully), but every once in a while. And you know what? I just let it slide. For all the reasons you mentioned above. Interestingly, these people choose not to respond publicly. And, like you said, there are a number of ways they could have done this constructively (as many friends and colleagues do from time to time). I tend to think it’s just another lesson. If you blog regularly, you’re going to run into these kinds of comments and feedback from time to time. And, while valid, some people just approach things differently than others. And, I think that’s OK. Like I said, I’ve just learned to let these kinds of things slide. That said, this person did take the time to send a note. And, as we know, email/online communications can be misconstrued (not to say this one is). Sometimes, it’s worth giving the commenter/person who’s emailing the benefit of the doubt.

    • Jeremy Porter

      I guess if I get one nasty email in 4,000+ comments, I shouldn’t get bent out of shape. It’s in my nature to NOT let things slide. Though in the past, when I’ve received grammar advice, I’ve thanked people (sometimes apologized) for the oversights. I value the readers and want to give them a quality product consistently.

  • Glenn Hansen

    Good post with many excellent tips on commenting. Most important for commenters – if you have something to say and think it’s important and valuable, put your real name on it. I find little more troubling than a blog comment without personal attribution.
    Keep up the great work, edited or un.

    Glenn

  • http://sharisax.com Shari Weiss

    Hi Jeremy and community of readers and commenters,
    I loved this post and the comments — even though it was triggered by a less-than-fun “event,” i.e., a critical private email.
    1) This post came from the heart and your wide experience and thus made it sincere, authentic, and very powerful.
    2) I agree with most of your recommendations for blog feedback, particularly the advice to “wait.” I just heard the factoid that people lose 30 IQ points when they are angry.
    3) The particular error confusing “its” and “it’s” is one of my personal bugaboos and I try hard to proofread those words because I usually mix them up on first draft.
    4) One of your points that I don’t really agree with, though, is the point about being PRIVATE, rather than going public. It was kinder to not go public. But, as you and some of the commenters have written, Being Constructive is difficult when one is Being Mean-spirited.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Shari,
      #2 – love that IQ stat and believe it.
      #4 – if it were a nice email, I would agree 110%. If you’re going to flame me, you might as well do it publicly. But true, I agree.

  • http://commcreative.com Steve Jones-D’Agostino

    My blog-feedback feedback: Don’t you have anything better to do with your time! There, now I feel better ;-)

    Seriously, the first time I responded to a blog, a few years ago at Edmunds.com, I misstated some information and was roundly trashed by another poster for it. I apologized and posted the correct information, which amazed the nattering nabob of negativism, who proceeded to congratulate me – sincerely, I think.

  • http://www.cisjustaletter.com Ann

    Jeremy:
    good to see you back on the blog. I’m one of the ones who has missed your voice in this venue.
    My thoughts on this post, and what provoked it:
    By blogging openly about your reaction and your frustration with an email, you enhanced your credibility as an insightful “critiquer” in the world of communications.
    By identifying the source of your inspiration and the specific content of the email, you did exactly what you accused the writer of missing – that we’re all human here and mistakes are made. You made a mistake – check. A reader notices and emails you, not accounting for your own personal situation – check. Jeremy cuts the writer slack for having written an immature although factually correct email for potential other issues – not done. We now know the writer is a woman, and reads your blog…that is more information than your readers needed to know.

    All in all, great post, too bad I know exactly what provoked it.

    • http://sharisax.com Shari Weiss

      Ann, do you know something that we don’t, i.e. “I know exactly what provoked it.” Is there more to the story? :-)

    • Jeremy Porter

      Yeah, I was torn on that one. I buried it though. Remember how I said I took a deep breath and slept on it? Her name was in the headline of the first draft. :-)

      You make a great point though, and I appreciate it. I’ll take the B+/A-.

  • http://Www.musingsfromtheprworld.wordpress.com Joey Ng

    My stance is usually if you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say it at all. I find this to be the case especially online when information or comments is so publicly available. As you say, we’re all human and people make mistakes. Don’t let one negative comment get you down. Still love this blog regardless!

    • Jeremy Porter

      See, it’s not hard to be nice, right? Thanks Joey.

  • Jessica

    Nice post. Glad you proved her wrong.

    • Jeremy Porter

      I wasn’t trying to prove her wrong.

  • http://mdmerritt.blogspot.com/ Matt Merritt

    Its OK.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Thanks, I needed that.

  • Vicki Corson

    Wonder if your critic read your post in her email or on your blog site. The reason I mention this is that there are two slightly different versions of your post. The one in my email unfortunately carries another all-too-frequent typo – “to” instead of “too” (also). Check out the last bulleted item: Don’t be mean – really, what possible good could come from being mean? Life’s to short. Yet the post on your blog site uses the correct “too.” How does this happen? Typos mysteriously appear and disappear depending on where you are reading the post? I, like your critic, do find typos distracting but I’ve never actually chastised a blogger for it. And I’m not doing so now. I actually thought you had done it intentionally to see if someone caught it until I went to your blog site to read the comments. That’s when I discovered that the typo had disappeared. I must concur – Life’s too short.

  • http://threestrikesdene.wordpress.com Katrina Dene

    Rude. My mom once emailed me to tell me I had a typo in my latest blog post and I was devastated. I can’t imagine getting one from a stranger… Love the do’s and don’t's of commenting you’ve listed here! In the digital age, sometimes people forget that saying things online are just like saying it in person. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, you shouldn’t post it (or email it).

  • nobody special

    Seems like you’re overreacting just a little. That email didn’t strike me as “mean.” I think she has a point, and I don’t see any personal attacks in what she said (and she didn’t even “leave blog feedback”, she emailed you privately, which seems to me to be a much more polite thing to do than to post comments on the blog itself). It’s not like you were flamed or attacked; see what happened to Kathy Sierra for an example of really mean.

  • http://www.loganweileriii.com Logan Weiler III

    Well said Jeremy. Agreed on all points. It needed to be said. I am surprised a person who takes grammar so seriously could be so lacking in etiquette. With that attitude, she can look forward to a very bitter and lonely life.

  • http://www.Fearless-Selling.ca Kelley Robertson

    A BIG rant for a little mistake…definitely not the best way to provide feedback although it does seem to be more commonplace than it used to. Unfortunately.

  • Michele

    It’s interesting that the person sent you an email. That suggests to me that she wanted to attack without fear of being attacked by other commenters. In other words, she was chicken and/or knew that her criticism was over-the-top.

    We all make mistakes and it is impossible to self-edit well enough to remove all our typos and writing glitches every time. (For example, the unnamed emailer has a problem with noun-pronoun agreement and doesn’t realize that “bachelor’s in journalism” should not be capitalized.)

    I think your response to her email is appropriate. We all can stand to be reminded periodically that there are real people on the other sides of posts, articles, videos, photos, etc., and there are ways to offer feedback that will be helpful. No one is helped by rude, snotty emails – just be polite.

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  • http://zestnzen.wordpress.com Anne Egros

    I totally understand your feelings Jeremy I think the email you received was insulting. I am not an English native speaker and I try very hard to edit my posts and review spelling before posting yet I still make mistakes. I am grateful I have never been criticized for my English grammar but I have once received public and aggressive comments in a discussion. It was really shocking for me. My emotional status after reading was anger, fear, I felt really threaten in my integrity and I was worrying my comments and intentions were miss-interpreted. So yes words can hurt even physically.

  • http://www.quantumlearning.com Shannon Evans

    I’ve had people leave me similar emails throughout my short blogging career, and I let it ruin my day as well. I don’t understand why people feel the need to be rude to a fellow writer, but they do. I think the best you can do is just pick yourself up and remember you’re human. People make mistakes–and grammar errors. I’m glad you rose above the comment and got a great post out of it. It made me realize, even top notch bloggers get rude comments too.

  • http://twoplacescalledhome.wordpress.com twoplacescalledhome

    Hello Jeremy, I liked your article and have linked to an article I’m posting tomorrow. Many thanks for additional items I didn’t cover. Hope IT’S ok to link…if not please do let me know. Cheers

  • http://www.clipa.us/ purse hanger

    I hate mean people too.I love to read blogs and sometimes I read these articles that are even out of my imagination.I just want to know the emotions of each article and I just feel your emotions through mean people thanks to your post :)

  • http://www.gobrock.com/ roseville homes for sale

    I am with you in terms of Judgmental People.I mean we all strive for perfection so in all means we also commits mistake.Human nature as we are.

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