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Good Readers Gone Bad: Real Comments from the Trenches

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Readers, and the comments they leave behind are a big deal.

They are obviously a big deal or else variations of the headlines I made up above wouldn’t exist. Comments help to show the authenticity of a brand. It gets people talking, engaging, and creating connections not only with each other but also creating positive connections with your brand.

Without readers, there wouldn’t be anyone to else to care about the words we so painstakingly string together. No one to tell us we are awesome, no one to agree, and no one else that understands.

Wouldn’t that be awful?

When you get a few readers to your site, it is exciting! What’s even better than that?

A nap under a pile of warm blankets with a kitty on a cold winter day? Yes.

 —but another great day is when you start to receive those first few comments or emails.

It’s like your birthday back when you were a kid. It was a day full of hope and promise and the start of looking older with hopefully less frizzy hair.

You want to announce it to the world:

“Hey! Hey! Hey! I have readers! People read my blog and care about what I have to say!”

It’s a magical relationship built on trust and pixie dust.

Your readers visit your blog expecting you to behave a certain way (i.e. write the kind of content in a kind of style they come to expect from you) and you expect their glowing praise and adoration.

It’s a win all-around.

Until that one day. If it hasn’t arrived yet, it will.

One day, someone won’t play nice anymore. They will say something so mean or snarky or insulting that is so bad it ruins your day.

You won’t believe it.

You will wrack your brain wondering how someone could get offended by what you said or why someone would choose that way to tell you that they hate everything about you and your travel blog.

Your post could have been something as inoffensive as “Puppies are Cute” or “We Need Food to Live.”

See what I’m doing here?

It doesn’t matter what you write about, someone is going to leave a nasty comment at some point just because.

Unfortunately, we don’t ever get to know the “because.” What a drag.

All we get to know is that someone, somewhere, doesn’t like what we wrote and left a comment for the world to see or, you know, our other ten regular readers.

Either way, whether you have all the readers in the world, or hardly any at all: it’s embarrassing. It hurts. It sucks.

You put all that work into your post and then that happened.

But you don’t have to take it.

It’s your blog.

You make the rules.

You get to put on your big girl (or boy) pants and deal with the situation.

You can

  1. Ignore.
  2. Ignore and delete the comment.
  3. Ignore and delete the comment and then tell your family and close friends.
  4. Ignore and delete the comment and then tell your family and close friends and everyone on your personal Facebook page about the big jerk.
  5. Ignore and delete the comment, tell everyone on your personal Facebook page about the big jerk…and then respond to it anyway.

There are plenty of different ways to handle a mean blog reader.

Most of them are wrong.

When Good Readers Go Bad

Let me give you a few real-world examples of actual blog comments I received over the years. No, I don’t believe I approved any of the comments because, well, why?

I don’t expect these people to return anyway. I don’t think everyone intended to sound the way they did…but that doesn’t make it okay.

Like we tell our boys, “You have to think about how you say something to someone else.” Can it be taken the wrong way? If so, move along.

Interesting site, but not as current as it needs to be. I posted weeks ago about a shop in Medaryville that has been closed for over a year now and it is still on your site.

How does one get listed on your Indiana bloggers pages?

Ahem. The way I handle my blog, I keep the pages of a closed business up for nostalgia, including a “This business is closed” statement to make sure that future readers know they can’t go here, but if they were wondering about it, there you go.

I never remove pages from my site.

When I began, there were places I visited that weren’t on Google. The last thing I would want is to remove my mention of them too.

Also? Who insults someone and then asks to be a part of it?

That’s so not cool and it was so not making it onto my site.

I can’t believe that you featured the Beef House when talking about Covington. It is not even in the city limits and there are other fine restaurants that are. I thought that was poor judgment.

I have to start somewhere. One restaurant posted doesn’t mean it is the only restaurant. It just means I haven’t made it anywhere else yet, much like one article on writing a blog post won’t likely be the only article about writing a blog post on this site.

When I visited, that’s where we ate because locals told us about it and recommended it. People don’t always understand that I am only one person. I can only cover what I can find or what people tell us to hit along the way.

Downtown shop owners pointed us in that direction, so that day, that’s where we went. I am happy to report that as the years passed, we made return trips and visited other restaurants in that particular area that then appeared in my book.

I heard that you have a Fairy Festival over Labor Day weekend. Can you tell me more?

Where do we get the tickets in advance of the Dec 2 program at the court house?

What time will you serve biscuits and gravy?

When will you have your meat and cheese bulk sale? We came for the spring sale & I signed up to be notified for the fall sale & have not heard anything.

Um, no. I haven’t hosted a Fairy Festival or any festival.

I don’t dish out biscuits and gravy to the community.

I don’t sell meat or cheese.

Nope, I don’t have any tickets.

I’m the writer who covers these kinds of things. Read anything else on that page, like the footer image that mentions my book or the “About Me” or “Contact Me” page and you can see that this is the work of a writer and is not a business page.

You dont have knox indiana on here…

At the time, I didn’t.

But I also didn’t have most of the state on it either given the fact that there are thousands of small towns in Indiana.

I receive plenty of angry emails and comments because I don’t have this town or that city on the site.

Again: one person. I have Things to Do. It takes time and money to do this. It isn’t personal.

I’m rather annoyed that you seem to think Converse is in Grant County. Most of the town, certainly all of Jefferson Street and the businesses located there (The Big Dipper and Hodson’s Market) are in Miami County.

Why did you think Converse High School was the Bordermen?

S— S—
Elkhart, Indiana, but a Converse native.

Why did I think that? For one thing, I had attended a gathering of folks promoting Grant County and we toodled around Converse and for another, oh, I dunno…

Converse Indiana County
As you can see, Converse, Indiana, is actually in two counties. BAM!

See why it could be confusing? Rather than guiding me to the correct answer, I’m rather annoyed the commenter chose to make me feel like an idiot.

I don’t like that.

It was an honest mistake. Those happen. No matter how long you have been blogging or how careful you are to double-check your work, you will still make mistakes. Even the large publications still make mistakes.

When I screw up, and I do, I apologize, fix it, and move on.

It’s not personal and that commenter shouldn’t have taken it as a personal jab (what reason would I have to know the name of the high school mascot?).

This next comment was perhaps the comment that left me angry and wounded for longer than the rest and was much harder to just “shrug off.”

I had spent a lot of time on an article about an Indiana shrimp farm (yes, you read that right). Turns out, more than corn and soybeans are being farmed here in the state.

This isn’t the only shrimp farm in Indiana, it isn’t even the first shrimp farm in Indiana, but I was thrilled with the piece I wrote about it.

It was a neat experience and well overdue since I had frequently chatted with one of the owners at our local farmer’s market. I was glad to finally make it in so I could get the word out about what this family was doing. At the time, I felt that I had covered it to the best of my ability.

The author seems to have a slight weakness in geography, chemistry and biology. First, her statement that they are “4,000 miles from the nearest ocean!” is a bit off. Most Americans who paid attention in middle school will be able to tell you that going from coast to coast in the U.S. is less than 3,000 miles. In any event, if she had taken five minutes to check Google Earth, she would have found out that Wheatfield was less than 700 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Second, Baking Soda and Calcium Carbonate are very much chemicals. So much for chemical-free! Also of note is that she states the tanks operate as a aerobic heterotrophic system and then states they filter out the algae and bacteria? A aerobic heterotrophic system is a bacteria based system. They need those bacteria. They would not filter them out. Growing shrimp (and fish) indoors is a good idea if the economics of the system work out. If you really want to know more about the system they are using, look up recirculating aquaculture systems using biofloc technology.

Just for the record: I copied down the info from the shrimp farm’s website about the system they use. I figured they would know how their systems work. Maybe he should take it up with them, you know, since he knows so much more than the people who do this for a living and know what they are doing and posting and saying, instead of virtually yelling at me. 

Second, the whole oceans thing was an exaggeration because a town called Wheatfield does not sound anywhere near an ocean. Am I right or am I right?

Though, really, if I drove to the ocean, it would take me more miles than that considering how often I manage to get lost and talk myself out of following Google’s play-by-play turns.

It’s a terrible habit.

If there are any roundabouts in there too, I am almost guaranteed to turn off the wrong way.

Third, the shrimp farm states they are chemical-free. I’m guessing there are more toxic chemicals than baking soda that can be used in the biz but they chose not to use them. Props to the shrimp farm and jeers to the comment-leaving troll.

Lastly, how snooty is that?

I just wanted to let you all know that you need to redo your website to make it more user-friendly. It is impossible to do a search for your address and also to send the address to Google so I can then send it to my GPS so I can find the place. Google, on the whole, does not list or show Moorefield, Indiana so it makes it impossible to navigate to the place.

Um, yeah, there is me. Just me. No team, no webmaster, no budget for site redos so, uh, yeah. I do include Google Maps with every post, along with the address, and contact information for the business so people can 1. click on the Google Map. and 2. Call and find out more.

I don’t see how I can make it any easier than that.

If you do, seriously, let me know, because I’d love to stop receiving persimmon requests every autumn. No kidding. I receive multiple requests each week for it. 

I live in Michigan, zip is 48883 and wonder if you ship persimmon pulp?

Do you have persimmon pulp for sale and if so do you ship? Thanks.

Are the persimmons ready yet?

Do you have persimmons back in stock?

I can’t make this stuff up.

Want to Travel Blog? Wo/Man Up

If you want to start a travel blog or any blog for that matter, you need to be able to have thick skin.

Engaging trolls never solved anything.

Your time is precious. Don’t waste it.

While I once took the time to respond to irrelevant emails, not the mean emails, it just isn’t possible anymore. The person would often respond with a question just as out there–and it turned into an even greater time suck.

Or, they wouldn’t even respond at all, not even with a “thank you” even when I did the digging and found out what they wanted to know.

It is an avoidable time suck.

My “Contact Me” shares that I can’t necessarily respond though I know most probably aren’t reading it before they click “send” or they wouldn’t mistake me for whatever business they are trying to reach.

Begin your travel blog. Love it. Own it. Help it grow.

Ignore the advice that says to answer every stinkin’ email. If people are on your site and not even reading the thing in the first place so they can find answers on their own, they aren’t going to suddenly turn into Constant Readers.

Do not, please do not waste a bit of time on emails that are mean or irrelevant.

You have better things to do.

About Jessica Nunemaker

Writer. Award-winning author. PBS Host. Newspaper columnist. It all began with Little Indiana. If it happened to me, it can happen to you. Use the resources on "Travel is a Blog" to successfully grow your own travel blog.

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