This is a guest post from Heidi Cool, a web strategist and designer based in the Cleveland area. Heidi and I met on LinkedIn and discovered a Cleveland connection and shared habit of taking deep breaths and walking away from negative comments then coming back with a clear head in an effort to respond with dignity and grace. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Here’s more from Heidi on how she deals with negative comments:

The first thing I do is take a deep breath and walk away from the keyboard until I stop grumbling under my breath about the comment. Then I’ll re-read to see which points have merit, which do not, and which may be the result of a misunderstanding. I blog about Web development and don’t tend to stir up much in the way of controversy, but sometimes people will disagree.

I do not censor opposing opinions, I think they can sometimes make interesting discussions. What I do censor is spam. If I received a particularly offensive comment I might censor it for language or edit it–but leave a note in the comment that I had done so. I’ve not had to do that yet, but I think it’s the tactic I would take. In most cases I find it is helpful to leave a tactful response to the comment, so as to clear up any issues that may confuse other readers. The exception would be for someone that is deliberately trying to provoke a reaction.

As the saying goes, “Don’t feed the trolls.” If it looks as though someone is trying to start a flame war I will leave the comment there but ignore it. I recently had a particularly negative comment on a blog entry I wrote, “Is Flash evil? No, but Flash-based sites can be a marketing nightmare. ” I knew this would be a controversial topic, especially for the Flash designers, but I was also trying to point out the potential pitfalls that many designers don’t realize. One fellow referred to the entry as garbage and called it blatantly misleading. However he didn’t state which points he disagreed with, nor did he offer any examples. In this case there was a risk that he may have been just trying to stir up a fight, but I responded by clarifying what my intentions were with the post (which discusses SEO problems I regularly see on Flash-based sites) and asked if he had examples he could share which would demonstrate how these problems could be solved. He didn’t respond, so no flame-war ensued.

Another fellow pointed out a solution to one of the problems. That was a helpful response because it let’s Flash designers know that there is a good work-around for that issue. Overall though most responses, including emails and Twitter feedback, were positive and the entry received many reTweets. This was reassuring because while I knew I had done the proper research it’s always nice to know that others agree.

Sounds like Heidi is a class act. What about you? How do you deal with negative comments on your blog or elsewhere? Do tell.

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