How to Respond to Online Community Criticism with Dignity - dummies

How to Respond to Online Community Criticism with Dignity

By Deborah Ng

As online community manager, you will not need to respond to every instance of criticism. When you decide that a response is necessary, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Don’t fire back in anger. You’re probably so vested in your community that you take criticism personally. Remember it isn’t personal. It’s community business. The worst thing you can do is go on the defensive and act as if the negative commentary holds no weight. If you’re angry or hurt, let it go for a while. Do something else and come back to it with a clear head.

  • Be fair. Though you may be angry or hurt by the negativity, you also have to consider the argument. You can’t always be right, and sometimes others see things in a situation you don’t. Listen to the other person’s argument and consider whether or not it holds water. If you’re wrong, admit it with grace.

  • Say thank you. Even if you don’t agree with the criticism, be appreciative of the person who took the time to bring it to your attention. It’s off putting, it’s embarrassing, and it makes you feel very self conscious, but it’s better to deal with it early and head on than to be ignorant of a situation.

  • Don’t go tit for tat. No matter how much you feel you have to respond to every single comment, the worst thing you can do is go back and forth on the comments. Arguments, fights, one-upmanship, and having the last word only shed more negativity on to your brand and your community.

    Say what you have to say and leave it. If you made a point once, you don’t need to rehash it over and over again.

  • Be transparent. Be honest and admit when you’re wrong or things are out of your hand. If you lie, you’ll eventually get caught, and the backlash over that will be even worse than the original negativity.

    Say, “Yes. That happened, and here are the steps we’re taking to correct it.” If you’re not at liberty to discuss an issue or circumstance, say, “I’m sorry. I’m not at liberty to discuss that at this time. However, I can tell you we’re handling the situation internally and hope to make an announcement or take action soon

You can use the preceding tips for many different types of situations and not only a negative blog posts. The important thing to keep in mind is not to lose your cool, be transparent, be gracious, and don’t worry about publically responding if a public response isn’t necessary.

Understand that people are criticizing your community because they care. Most people criticize because they want something to work and are disappointed it didn’t. There’s a difference between negativity from people who want to see the community succeed and negativity from people who only want to cause drama.

Be grateful for the people who want to be productive members of your community but are having problems doing so because of difficult circumstances. Know that you must be doing something right if they care enough to talk about the community and how it needs fixing.