Pitfalls to Avoid when Writing a Scathing Blog Comment or, Why Not Just Be Nice?

Blogging, as with any creative endeavor, has an unavoidable aspect that one must continually put themselves up for criticism.  Forget the obvious litany of misspellings, dropped grammar and the like; there’s also the blogging landmine that sooner or later you’ll post something that someone disagrees with. It could be anything from a total objection of a reader to what you’ve written; to simply the correction of a single point.

Most of the time these comments are friendly and constructive.  For instance, the other day when I brain farted and wrote that Sorachi Ace hops were a New Zealand variety, Phrix from over at the Beer in Nashville blog commented:

Great post. I wrote about a related topic – how Untappd potentially affects my behavior – in a recent post. You reminded me of some favorites I want to revisit. And I agree with you about Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace Saison – fabulous beer, I just brewed my first saison with this hop on Sunday. Slight correction – Sorachi Ace hops were developed by Sapporo in Japan, not New Zealand.

Maybe Phrix was feeling generous that day, or maybe he’s read enough of my blog to know that these types of blatant mistakes are not the norm, or maybe, more possibly, Phrix is generally a nice guy who realizes mistakes happen and just felt the need to point it out to me without making me feel like dirt.  On the other side of the spectrum, I present this flaming, brown paper bag that was dropped anonymously (really man, own it!) on my front porch.

You’re an idiot. Small head? That’s probably what your girlfriend says. Hoptimum has one of the biggest heads for any DIPAs I’ve ever had (all years). I drink DIPAs from across the nation and this is the best I’ve ever had (which I would never have expected from SN). 2014 brew is better and smoother than the previous two years. It’s one of those beers that you either drink last or it’s the only thing you drink in a night, because it overpowers (and overwhelms in taste) everything else. BTW: Torpedo is an absolutely horrible IPA. And “whole cone” has absolutely nothing to do with “big alcohol”. Do you have any followers on this blog?!

I’ll be honest, this is the first rude, overly belligerent comment I’ve ever received here and was really unprepared for it.  After some research on the internet the two top choices on how to handle this kind of situation seemed to be, 1) delete it and move on, or 2) be the bigger man.  So with that in mind I wrote the follow response:

No “whole cone” does not mean “big alcohol”. But the words “Imperial IPA” which I wrote right after “whole cone” do. And now that I’ve clarified that, we’re left arguing over a beer’s head size. Never thought I find myself in that position.

Thanks for stopping by.

And I spent the rest of the day walking around work proud of myself that I was the better man.  However, driving home I remembered that I have given unsolicited pointers in how to improve media content once or twice, and realized that this presented another opportunity to educate readers on this particular type of interaction, even if I’m certainly not a fan of it.

So with that in mind let’s examine this comment and see where it falls short when it comes to quality post bashing.  And again, I’m not being a dick about this.  Remember, Tracey doesn’t want me to be a dick anymore.

You’re an idiot.

Awesome start.  Take note here people, the first shot should always be quick and hard, like an opening jab in a boxing match.  No more than five words max.  But a little research always helps. My twitter profile used to say (and my email signature and Facebook work field still does) that I’m the “Idiot behind the keyboard at The Dogs of Beer”.  Yep, wear my idiot cape with pride.  So really, it’s not the staggering blow to the ego it could have been.

Small head? That’s probably what your girlfriend says.

Ah, dick jokes.  Don’t do this. Dick jokes are like the cigarette butts of the internet world.  They’re laying around everywhere, so much so that after a while people don’t even notice them any more.  They’re just there, silently unobserved as people go about their daily routines.

Not only that, they undermine your position.  Let’s paint a picture.  You’re at a highly recommended, expensive restaurant that took a month to get a table at.  You’ve perused the awesome looking menu and ordered a meal that you’re sure will be among the best you’ve every had, right down to the dessert your waistline doesn’t need.

Then the salad turns up and there’s a cigarette butt in it.  No matter what happens next, the restaurant has no chance of saving the meal.  It just isn’t going to work, no matter how much they try to convince you that their food and establishment are usually top notch. That’s what dick jokes do. No matter how eloquent your comments are after that you can’t salvage your credibility.  Like that guy at work who’s such an idiot that even when he says something intelligent no one takes him seriously.

Hoptimum has one of the biggest heads for any DIPAs I’ve ever had (all years).

When you leave this kind of comment, dump on something important.  Of everything stated in reviews, the head is probably the least important.  So many things impact head formation and retention that the fact that you’ve had a different experience is quite frankly, not unexpected and probably normal. There are tons of stuff like aromas and flavors you could call a reviewer out on that getting upset on a little thing like the head simply carries no weight.

I drink DIPAs from across the nation and this is the best I’ve ever had (which I would never have expected from SN). 2014 brew is better and smoother than the previous two years.

Never was it written that this wasn’t a good DIPA (or Imperial) so this kind of exposition isn’t really necessary.  Again, if you’re going to write this type of comment, make sure you stick to the issues the writer posted that you took acceptation to.  Oh, and if you’re going to make a statement that in some way is meant to demonstrate your expertise in something, only do so if your expertise is truly unique or extraordinary.  Many people drink DIPAs from across the nation, so this statement in no way raises the commenter’s prowess above the collective norm.  Also, I direct you to Bryan’s excellent post over at “This Is Why I’m Drunk” on why using the word “smooth” in a beer description is inane.

It’s one of those beers that you either drink last or it’s the only thing you drink in a night, because it overpowers (and overwhelms in taste) everything else.

Again immaterial as nothing was written to say otherwise. Oh, and you say that like it’s a good thing.

BTW: Torpedo is an absolutely horrible IPA.

Never put out your opinion as fact.  I know your mom said you could be “anything you wanted to be” when you grew up, but sorry, “always right” is not one of them.  I’m not a fan of using rankings and statistics to back this kind of argument, but Torpedo has been on Zymurgy’s list of “best beers in America” the last three years running (with only a bit more than a handful of IPAs ranking higher).  Granted, it’s been slowly falling down the list as craft beer lovers get their hands on newer, more exciting beers; and I’m sure there are many, many other DIPAs that don’t get the distribution or exposure to make Zymurgy’s list.  But still if the author likes a beer that you don’t, stay away from this type of taste bashing.

And “whole cone” has absolutely nothing to do with “big alcohol”.

I can’t stress this point enough, if you’re going to slag something the author wrote,  make sure you read the sentence  you are taking acceptation to several times to make sure that you completely understand it.  In order to remove it from all the other words in the post that may be distracting to the commenter, here is the line in question:

SN terms this beer a “whole cone” imperial IPA.  Translated: hoppy, big alcohol.

I can see where the fact that “whole cone” being in quotes might cause some confusion but it’s in quotes because that’s the phrase SN uses to describe their beer, but it’s the whole term that is being put forward here and you can not simply remove part of it to substantiate your argument.  The beer’s style is imperial IPA, which is to my mind would be hoppy, with big alcohol.  Let me know if it is otherwise.

Do you have any followers on this blog?!

Important point here, like the boxing analogy I used earlier, your last sentence should be the knock out blow.  Swift, violent, devastating, and final.  Asking a blog if they have any followers when the number of followers are clearly noted at the top of the page is…not that.

So there it is, a non-dickish run down on things to consider when leaving a trenchant comment on a blog.  Start strong.  Don’t comment on things that aren’t relevant.  Make sure your facts are correct, and make sure you finish strong.  Follow these rules and you’ll be a brutal commenter that trolls and flamers around the whole internet will look up to, and bloggers and Yahoo article writers will fear.

Or you could just be a nice guy, and write something like this:

Hi!  Just read your review on Hoptimum which is one of my favorite DIPAs.  I’m a little perplexed that you found the head to be small, as every time I’ve had it the head usually very pronounced.  Perhaps you just grabbed a dirty glass that day?  It happens.  Anyway, next time you try it, take note, and maybe your opinion will change.

Also, at first glance your sentence concerning “whole cone” may be a little unclear to readers because since the term is in quotes it may appear as if you’re equating “whole cone” to the “big alcohol” you’ve written in the next sentence.  I’m sure you know these two have nothing to do with each other.  Perhaps you might consider rewriting them to avoid any such confusion in the future.

Anyway, just thought I’d put that out there.  I see you have 777 followers.  Nicely done!

See?  Isn’t that much nicer?

Tracey: I think we need to get on the same page as to what “not being a dick” means.

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Author: Ed (The Dogs of Beer)

Beer Blog focused on Delaware & surrounding area. Drinker of beer. Writer of stuff. Over user of commas. Dangler of prepositions.

5 thoughts on “Pitfalls to Avoid when Writing a Scathing Blog Comment or, Why Not Just Be Nice?”

  1. Ah, dealing with anonymous trolls: the joyous, oft overlooked second job of a popular blogger. If people are ragging on you, it means you’re doing something right.

    I always take the bigger man approach. There is something really satisfying about staying cool while other people froth at the mouth.

    (PS. The Hoptimum I got this year had a relatively small head, too)

    1. Going forward that will be my absolute course of action as well. But I was looking for a post and this worked.

      Maybe all us beer bloggers just have small heads? Are our blogs over compensating for something?

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