Ugly Comments, Nasty Responses: The Downside to Writing Online

I don’t know, maybe it’s because I really put myself out there, but I tend to get a lot of flack from anonymous folks when writing online, particularly for content sites. I suppose I could understand it and accept it if the flack was actually about something I said about freelancing or about writing in general and someone thought I was wrong. I mean, I’ve disagreed with people about writing before, even on my forum, and it’s always been civil and I’ll gladly discuss it.

Shoot, even if not civil, I have no problems with someone pointing out a potential error in my advice or thinking, especially if it helps someone else or corrects a misconception I have. I’ve been doing this a long time now, and I’ve learned that if I allow myself, I can learn something new, different and better every day. Sometimes, someone correcting me and making me do some research into it leads me to things that I should have known, teaches me things I wished I’d known earlier, or confirms that I was, after all, correct.

So while I have no issues with questioning my writing or my thoughts on writing, what I do not understand is why people take it to a personal level and attack me as a person, when they know almost nothing about me. These are people I’ve never talked to privately, who never frequented my board, who never commented on anything I’ve ever written, and then one day, wham, I’m slammed with nasty comments. Usually anonymously.


I wonder at times why people say and do the things they do.

You’d be amazed, I think, if you knew some of the ugly comments I receive on some of the things I write, whether it’s a blog post or on a content site I write for. Interestingly enough, I don’t write controversial things – these comments are really just personal attacks on me, my character, my potentially questionable lineage, my appearance, etc. Very rarely are the comments about the writing or the opinion itself.

What bothers me the most is when people take that anger, jealousy, hatred and ugliness and move it from my comments to someone else’s writing, but make it about me. For example, Donald Pennington wrote a sweet little poem about me, and he linked it to an interview he did with me. While the majority of the comments were overwhelmingly favorable either to Donald, myself or to both of us, that poem did receive several nasty comments. Besides Don’s writing, I’ve had other people who I have commented on their writing online get nasty comments or downrating or emails about me. It was so bad at one point, I stopped commenting on other people’s writing, so the negativity that follows me in the comments doesn’t taint anyone else’s writing.

I’m really not an authority of any sort. I’m simply a writer who has had moderate success in freelancing and I have chosen to share my experience with others, hoping it might help them with their freelance writing careers too. Putting myself out there to do that, I do put myself on the slab, so to speak.

It’s a personal philosophy of sorts. I believe: you are what you help others become.

I want to be a successful writer, so I help others become successful writers. I’ve coached lots of writers, but two in particular now regularly make more money than I do from freelancing. Of course, I’m not freelancing nearly as much as I used to. I’m more focusing on my fiction writing. Still, it pleases me to no end to see them being so successful and loving what they do.

See, I’m nothing special. Nothing spectacular. I’m just me, and I do what I do, and I try to share that with others so they can take from it what they will. Me being successful in no way takes away from anyone else’s success, and no one else succeeding takes away from my own success. There is more than enough abundance for everyone in the world, and that includes the freelance writing world.

What’s my point in writing this? Some of it is cathartic. I’ve really put up with it for a couple of years now, ever since I started writing online. It’s not really any one site, either, though I will say that one of them is worse than the others. I think it’s mostly a core group of people, probably the same people, following me around. Is that paranoid? Maybe, but the proof is in the comments. I even save the emails where they think they are clever by creating free email accounts and emailing me. They all go straight to my attorney, where the headers are easily checked for IP addresses and outgoing mail servers. If ever there were a legal issue I felt compelled to follow up on, I have the ‘evidence’. I don’t think it’ll go that far, but you never know, right?

Anyway, I deal. That’s all you can do. The only other option is to stop doing what I love to do so very much. I couldn’t do that. Ever. But to say it doesn’t sometimes get to me… to say it doesn’t sometimes hurt… well, that would be lying. It does sometimes hurt. It does sometimes get to me.

If you really put yourself out there, it will eventually, at least at some level, happen to you too. Not everyone online is going to like you. People come at things from personal experiences, and you may not know what triggers someone. I can only hope that them spewing their nastiness somehow makes them feel better for having done so, then at least something good has come from it. I try not to let it get me down too much.

You’ll know you’ve arrived as a writer when you get your first nasty comment, attacking you, your character, your picture. Think of it this way… if they are attacking you, it’s probably because they have nothing about your writing they are able to attack!

But it is important to know if you’re going to be writing online for the public to read, it can and probably will eventually happen to you. Someone will tell you your writing sucks. Someone will say your an idiot or stupid or haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. Someone will eventually attack you personally and probably professionally. It’s the nature of the beast that is the internet.

When I get really down about it, my best friend and my baby both remind me that the positive far outweighs the negative.

And so it does.

So, if you ever get one of those nasty comments, be proud and excited that you’ve finally arrived! Don’t let it get you down! You won’t please everyone every time, and the fact that someone took the time to make a nasty comment instead of just clicking off and moving on means you did something right – you got their attention, you made them feel something and you controlled their actions by making them feel so compelled to have to leave their nastiness on your writing, blog, or page.

When you think about it that way, and you take the higher road and smile and are proud that you could cause such a reaction with your writing, you win… Plus, controversy of any sort really does seem to bring readers to your writing and keeps them coming back. If you’re paid off page views or residuals, well, then those nasty comments really just show you that someone is helping write your paycheck.

That’s my ramble for the day.

Love and stuff,