A Writer’s Nightmare: When A Blog With Good Intentions Goes South

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on grammar mistakes. It even made it into Mari Smith’s Top 4 social media blogs of the week. I knew when I wrote the piece that it was kind of like walking into a minefield and any mistake(s) I had in the article would be exposed in either a comment or worse on Twitter/Facebook/Google+. Initially after it was posted I only had two comments by Sara M. and John G. Sara was kind enough to tell me to check one of my examples and point out a spelling mistake where I left off an “e” on a word. I didn’t post her comment, but thanked her personally in email and fixed it immediately; I was grateful. John had a different approach which inspired this blog.

He proceeded to say that the blog had good intentions but it fell short because there were numerous mistakes and then he listed them out to show the inaccuracies and what the corrections should be. At first I was insulted because it seemed kind of harsh. (We writers always take criticism too personally). But then I had a good night’s sleep and re-read his comment and realized he wasn’t trying to prove anything, he was just trying to make sure I didn’t miseducate others. I made some of his suggested changes, but on others, I took a creative license with, such as the title of the blog should not have been an actual number, but rather written out as “nine.”  I admit, I don’t follow the AP style guide when writing a blog. My hope is that if I write something good, it gets tweeted or shared on a other social outlets. Therefore, I try to make the title as trim as possible.

I wrote each one of them a personal email thanking them for their comments and their honesty.

I typically only approve comments when I have a chance to respond to them. However, poor John thought I marked his comment as spam and wasn’t going to post it, so he wrote another comment asking me if he was being “censored”. Good grief! No, of course not!

All in all, I am grateful for the comments I receive on this blog because they make me a better writer and make me look at things in a different perspective than I otherwise might have. However, I learned a few lessons from this particular incident and I’d like to share them with you because I am sure I am not the only writer/blogger who struggles with constructive feedback.

  1. Have a second pair of eyes review something you write that is not your forte. I was struggling with writers block and found several articles on grammar and thought I could do enough research to craft a blog about it. From now on, I think I’ll stick to what I know best – social media marketing! Or, if I do decide to venture out, I’ll definitely have someone review it.
  2. Don’t take comments too personally. In the end, it’s the price you pay for putting your writing out there in public. Just like famous people who get haggled by the paparazzi for their photo. It’s a small price to pay and we could all use a little constructive feedback every once in awhile. How you interpret it and how you respond to it is entirely up to you.
  3. Always thank people for their comments. If someone took the time to write you, the least you can do is take the time to write them back, even if it is just to say thank you. And, it appears that you should respond first through the blog itself and then via email if you so feel the need. I did it the other way around and as a result John felt like he wasn’t being acknowledged or heard.

But this brings a question to mind that I’d like some input on. Do you think bloggers should approve all comments and answer them publicly as I did? Or do you think acknowledging them via email and handling it privately is just as good? I would love your thoughts on this one as I think I am not the only writer/blogger who struggles with this.

Happy Friday!



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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.