At what point do critical comments become bullying?

breaking_point

As a person with Avoidant Personality Disorder, I’m not the type to readily confront others on their bad behavior, but at this point, I’ve gotten so fed up with one commenter I no longer care if what I say makes them mad. It appears that lately, this commenter has been criticizing every one of my posts, it seems, just to be able to criticize. This commenter and I have some serious disagreements about several issues related to the content of this blog and life in general, and that’s fine and dandy; I don’t expect or even want everyone to agree with me all the time. After all, my opinions are just opinions, and disagreements, if presented respectfully and in a way that doesn’t seem like spamming or bullying, can can lead to healthy debate.

But this commenter has reached a point where their snarkiness has become trollish and bordering on bullying. Not only that, but this commenter appears to ALWAYS be here, because they always seem to comment almost the minute I put up a new post and are usually one of the first to comment, if not THE first. Yet this person rarely if ever “Likes” anything I post (which is fine in itself, many people don’t use the Like button). But I don’t understand why, if this person dislikes what I have to say so much, they always seem to be here, watching and waiting. It’s creepy to be honest. I feel like I’m being stalked.

Not only is it creepy and hurtful, it’s also incredibly BORING and ANNOYING.

I have informed this person I am almost at the point of not approving any of their comments, because I’m just so damn sick of it. I HATE drama, including online drama, but this is just too much. I need to take action.

If you blog, how do you know if a commenter has crossed the line into trollishness?

The simple answer is: if you feel like your boundaries are being invaded. Here are some things to pay attention to:

1. Do you get a creepy, stalkerish feel from someone who frequents your blog?

2. Do they snark on or criticize almost every post?

3. If they run their own blog, do they post articles about your blog or about you that are excessive and/or critical?

4. Have other bloggers complained to you about that person or have they stopped coming to your blog because that person ran them off?

If any of these things are true for you they are red flags and you should listen to them. The same thing goes online as well as offline, and if someone is making your blogging life less fun and causing you undue stress, please listen to your instincts. There are basically two things you can do if this happens:

1. You can stop approving comments or block that person from commenting.

2. You can try to reason with the person and let them know why their behavior is bothersome to you.

First of all, try to determine if it’s just you overreacting. Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re just reacting badly to someone disagreeing with you, but if others have complained, or they are leaving because of that person, or you just feel uncomfortable only with that one person, then it probably isn’t just you being over sensitive. If you’re like me and hate being harsh and like to give people the benefit of the doubt, you can try #2 first. But if the bad behavior continues and your warning seems to fall on deaf ears, then it’s time to take more drastic action. (I have already tried to reason with this person so that leaves me one choice).

At the end of the day, it’s YOUR blog, YOUR rules. If someone continually violates your rules or disrespects you or your other commenters, it’s time to enforce your rules.

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12 ways for for non-lazy bloggers to get more hits.

rosietheriveter_blog

There are many casual bloggers who only blog for themselves or their friends. They don’t care about views, hits or visibility, and have never looked at their stats page, and that is perfectly okay. Casual bloggers can write one blog post a year and it won’t matter because the few views they get are all they care about anyway. Their sole reason for blogging is to share their thoughts, feelings or pictures with a few friends–or just get them down “on paper,” so to speak. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that.
So if you’re a casual type of blogger who blogs only for yourself or your friends or family, this article will not apply to you.

But if you’re a serious blogger, like I am, you will want to increase your readership, get more views, and be more visible on the web. I think for most of us, the primary reason we blog is for the love of it and to share our thoughts with others, but let’s be honest: that isn’t quite enough. For aspiring writers like me, maximum visibility is important because visibility helps us promote our writing. Blogging can act as a springboard to other things. An active and well-known blog can be parlayed into a writing career or even the eventual publication of a book.

If you’re a serious blogger, you can’t be lazy. You have to work hard at it, and it becomes a job. A fun job to be sure, but still a job. So I am going to give you some pointers for how to promote your blog and get as much visibility as possible. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and have learned enough about this along the way that I think my advice can help you too.

1. The most important thing is to write every day.
I’m serious. I’ve noticed that if I skip even ONE DAY without writing a new post, my viewership declines and I get fewer hits. Until you’re really well established or have a really famous blog (which most of us don’t), you cannot rest on the laurels of your last well-received and popular blog post. You must keep writing. Of course there will be days you can’t think of an original idea or are simply too tired to write anything original. In that case, it’s okay to post a photo, meme, cartoon, or reblog someone else’s article. If you do reblog an article though, try to write at least a paragraph or two introducing it and explaining why you’re reblogging it. Don’t reblog just for the sake of posting something. Make sure it’s something you really like or that resonates with you. Your readers will pick up your enthusiasm if you write an intro. But be careful not to do this to often. If you hardly ever post original material, people will lose interest in your blog because it becomes nothing more than a platform to promote the material of others.

2. Have a good looking blog.
WordPress has many themes and many of them are free. I think the majority of them are tasteful and easy on the eyes, and they are easy to set up. If you run ads on your blog (you won’t be doing this unless you’re a serious blogger anyway), be careful about having too many other graphics and widgets on your blog. I’m probably guilty of this, because my sidebar looks like a widget sardine can, but I can’t bring myself to delete any of them. But I don’t think this blog looks too “busy.” Don’t use background colors and patterns that are hard on the eyes or that clash with the content. Use a font that’s easy to read, not just because you think it looks “cool.”

3. No walls of text!
If you write long articles, it’s best to break them up into subheaders, “listicles” (numbered lists), or use graphics and pictures. Google Image is great for finding the perfect graphic for an article, or if you’re a good photographer, you can take your own pictures.

4. Reply to your comments.
This should be a no-brainer. If you allow comments but don’t answer them, people will think you’re a snob or that you don’t care. If you get many comments, it may not be practical to answer all of them, but at least “Like” them to let the commenter know you saw their comment. There is of course the option to not allow comments at all (which may be necessary if you are being stalked or bullied excessively) but if you want your blog to grow, I don’t recommend this. Blogging should be an interactive activity, and if you don’t allow comments, people will think you only care about your own opinion and will probably lose interest eventually. Also, don’t run people off by not allowing them to disagree with you. There’s a big difference between someone who merely disagrees with something you wrote and a bully. Disagreements can turn into interesting and lively debates and discussions.

5. Use the share buttons, even if you don’t use social media.
There are many social media share buttons that WordPress makes available. You should make all of these available under each article, so even if you don’t use social media yourself, other people will share your articles for you and that will help you gain visibility. It’s a fantastic feeling to look at your share buttons and see your counters growing. When one article of mine hit 1K shares on Facebook, I felt like I won the lottery.

6. Use Twitter and Facebook even if you hate them.
If you want your blog to grow, I recommend sharing articles on at least Twitter and Facebook, even if that’s the only reason you use these social media platforms. You can set your blog up so your articles are automatically shared to the social media platforms you choose without you having to actually go to the sites to do so.

7. Use Twitter #hashtags.
If you have a Twitter account, and you have an older article you want to promote, or one that seems to be especially popular, I recommend re-sharing it using #hashtags. The automatic share feature won’t do this for you, but if you manually share an article to Twitter, include a few #hashtags in your tweet (a box will pop up where you can do this). Hashtags are basically just one word tags that describe the content of your article. For example if you write about narcissism, and you are tweeting about a relevant article, use hashtags like #NPD, #narcissism, etc. You won’t be able to add too many so make sure they sum up the content and are popular words people search for. Doing this works because even if people aren’t following you on Twitter, if they look up a topic by using a certain #hashtag, your article will be listed and it will get a lot more views than if you do not use hashtags. It may sound #stupid, but it works for me every time.

8. Reference and link to other blogs and websites in your posts.
Not only does it appear you’ve done your research by quoting or referring to material from other blogs, every time you link to another blog or site, it creates a trackback, which appears on that blog, and from there people visiting the other blog can click on the trackback or pingback link and be taken to your blog post. It also helps foster goodwill between bloggers–most bloggers love to be credited and have their blog linked to, and they may recommend yours or link to yours in return. I can’t even tell you how many of my “referrers” are blogs I linked to months ago in a single blog post.

9. Make your content easy to find.
I’ve seen blogs you can’t navigate because there’s no option for finding what you’re looking for. That drives me crazy. No one wants to scroll through every article you ever wrote to find what they want to read (and how would they know it exists anyway if there’s no navigational tools?) At the very least, use a search bar (which you can add easily via the Widgets on the Admin page), but I recommend using a few other features too that make navigating your site easier, such as a tag cloud, a category list, a table of contents, or topics listed in the header or sidebar (mine are listed in the header and some include subtopics). If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll throw their hands up in frustration and go to other blogs instead.

10. Make good use of tags and categories. I still have a lot to learn about this. I tend to use too many tags and categories, and I hear this is a no-no. I’m getting better though. Like Twitter #hashtags, using relevant words and phrases that describe your article’s content draws viewers, because when they’re searching for a topic in a search engine such as Google, tag words will make sure your article is listed there, even if it’s on page 20 to start with. As your blog grows, you will find your Google rankings rising and some articles may start appearing on the first page if they get enough views. There is no reason why you should have to pay for SEO. All you need is patience.

11. Make your blog mobile-friendly.
Just about everyone these days has a Smartphone with Internet access and many people even use it more often than their computer for reading web content. WordPress has a feature under Admin Tools for making your blog readable on mobile phones. Doing this will also increase your traffic because it makes it possible for people to read your blog even when they’re at work, walking the dog, eating dinner at the Olive Garden, or taking a bath.

12. Don’t let bullies and trolls intimidate you or destroy your will to blog. If you blog regularly, and especially if you start to get a lot of views and hits, be prepared for this. There are going to be people who won’t like you, your blog, or your content, or are jealous of you or just want to stir up trouble because that’s what trolls do. Be forewarned: it’s not a matter of if but when. Fortunately, other than nursing your hurt feelings (if you’re sensitive), dealing with these people shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. It’s pretty easy to control your haters on WordPress. You can’t block people the way you can on social media, but you can delete (or not approve) their comments. It’s your blog; you can write about whatever you wish, and if some people have a problem with what you have to say, they are basically telling you how to run your blog or even whether you have the right to blog, and neither of those things is okay. THEY are not your boss–YOU are. You can’t be fired from your job as a blogger–you can only quit. Write about what you want and put those nasty comments where they belong–in the Trash. Lick your wounds and keep on writing.

If you are being stalked or threatened (like a certain very popular WordPress blogger was recently), you can always set your blog to private or password-protected for awhile until the dust settles, or disable comments. With any luck, you won’t ever have to do either of those things.

The art of blogging: new static page!

I just added this list of links to all my blogging and writing articles to the header for easier reference.

Blogging

Following is a list of links to the articles I have written about blogging and writing. I hope these tips prove as helpful to others as they have to me. Some of the advice I give is really just tried and true suggestions used by other bloggers that I tried too and have worked for me, while others are just things I have picked up along the way.

As with everything else on this blog, I’ve tried to keep a light touch to balance all the deadly seriousness of the subject matter and some of these posts are more for fun than for learning.

Blogging and Writing

franz_kafka

Is Profanity in Blog Rants Okay?

Blogging is Not for Pussies

The Drudgery of Blogging

Blogging

The Narcissism of Blogging

Blogging Drunk

Blogging is Crack for the Soul, but is Blogging about Narcissism, um, well, Narcissistic?

This Blog is Half a Year Old Today

Why This Blog is Becoming Successful and How Yours Can Too

Why is Narcissism so Hot These Days (peripherally related to blogging, but it still belongs here)

The Chatterbox and the Hermit

An Open Letter to WordPress (originally posted on FishofGold.com)

Running Naked in Public

I’m Holding My Nose

A Vast Wasteland

On Political Correctness and the Inevitability of Offending People

Writing is Cheaper then Therapy or Drugs

This Blog is Growing. Your Can Too

Nano Poblano is Over. Wow, What a Ride

Three People Who Deserve My Thanks

Can I Do It? Can I Do It?

The Article That Grew Legs

Best Day Ever

This Is What I Was Born to Do

Aspies Rule the Internet

How Writing Every Day Has Changed Me

Gratitude

I’m Frustrated

My Own Little Kingdom

Nobody Knew Who I Was

7 Science Based Reasons to Use Emoticons

My Decision to Run Ads on This Site

642 Views?! It’s My Second Best Day Since Christmas!

Narcissism on the Internet: What Vaknin Has to Say

My Most Popular Posts (as of 2/19/15)

Ever Have One of Those Days?

Handling Online Trolls and Bullies

troll_dolls

Internet Psychopaths: The Difference Between Trolls and Bullies

Two Kinds of Stealth Trolls

Internet Trolls are Psychopaths

Can We Please End This Flame War?

Beware of N’s Who Use Mental Illness as an Excuse to Abuse

Beware of Malignant Narcissists Posting as Victims in the Psychopathic Abuse Community

Replying to My Haters

Blogging is not for pussies.

scaredy_cat
Don’t be a pussy.

 

Anyone who blogs about a sensitive topic, especially one that focuses on mental health issues (religion and politics would be up there too), is bound to run into haters and detractors at some point. If you blog about a controversial topic, such as narcissism and narcissistic abuse (which is my #1 topic), religion, politics, or the ethical ramifications of breeding pit bulls, by default you make yourself vulnerable to online narcissists, trolls, bullies, and psychopaths. You are going to attract people who do not wish you well. It’s a built-in hazard of the trade.

Even if your blog isn’t particularly controversial or doesn’t focus on a sensitive issue, you are going to have haters and maybe even bullies. OM (Opinionated Man) is a perfect example of this (he insists he has a LOT of haters), and his blog is one of the most popular on WordPress. He doesn’t let the haters get him down, and neither should I and neither should you.

I’ve wasted a lot of time beating myself up for things beyond my control. Over people who do not wish me or my blog well. Way too often I allow other people’s negative opinions of me, my blog, or my articles to get me down and even make me want to change my blog’s focus or remove posts that I thought might have offended them.

You cannot please everyone. It’s not possible. If by some fluke you somehow do please everyone, then you probably have the most boring blog in the universe, one that’s all sweetness and light 24/7, and never approaches anything the slightest bit triggering or controversial.

courage_mandela

 

Someone is going to be offended.

Even if you blog about something as benign as cake decorating or flower arranging, you are probably going to offend someone. Maybe someone doesn’t like the fact you write recipes using cream cheese icing instead of buttercream, or vice versa. Maybe they are diabetics who take offense to the fact you don’t include sugarless cake decorations in your recipes. They might even assume you are prejudiced against people with diabetes. Maybe someone doesn’t like the color yellow in your floral arrangements because they have bad associations with that color. Maybe they are angry at you because the flowers are dead and they are are morally opposed to killing plant life for ornamental purposes. They could be offended by your fonts or your layout. Maybe they hate your avatar because your picture reminds them of their rude neighbor who lets their dog bark all night and revs their engine every morning at 5 AM.  You have no control over these things.  My point is that no matter what you blog about, someone is going to take offense.

If you can’t stand having bullies and haters, you probably shouldn’t be blogging at all. If you blog about a sensitive or controversial issue, as I do, you are going to attract even more of them than you would if you only blogged about cake decorating or flower arranging or baby koalas.

The Green-Eyed Monster.

Some people are also going to be jealous of you. If your blog becomes successful, expect to have haters. That’s probably why OM has so many haters. His blog is one of the most popular and well-known on the Internet. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but I’ve noticed as my blog has grown, I also have acquired more haters and critics. As a self-identified HSP (highly sensitive person), this realization has been hard for me to accept. I need to grow a thicker skin and just write about what I want and not worry about what the haters think.

haters2

On Political Correctness.

I don’t like political correctness. I don’t like feeling like I have to censor my own thoughts and feelings, because openness and honesty has made my blog what it is. If my words offend someone, they just need to deal with it. If they hate me or my blog, sucks for them.  There are other blogs they can read instead. No one is holding a gun to their head telling them they have to read this blog. I even have an Escape button that will take them to the Huffington Post (it’s not lost on me that some may be offended by THAT). It’s not like I’m the only voice on the Internet that addresses the issues I write the most about. There are hundreds of others.

cowardlylion2

I’m a natural pessimist. If I enter a room and everyone is friendly and welcoming except for one person who scowls at me, I’m the type who will fret and ruminate about that one grumpy person rather than feel blessed and grateful that everyone else is happy to see me. Focusing on that one negative person keeps me from enjoying the party.

It’s the same thing with blogging. I have a lot of supporters and friends in the blogging community. There are lots of people who enjoy my blog posts and visit every day. I shouldn’t worry about the few people who are critical of me or my blog, because they don’t matter. They are probably not the sort of people I would want to have as friends anyway.

So, if you blog, don’t be a wuss. Grow a tougher skin and accept the fact you are going to have haters. You don’t have to approve their comments. You don’t have to search Google to see what your detractors may be saying about you. You don’t have to let their vitriol ruin your day. They don’t matter.

Don’t censor yourself. Most people will be able to tell if you are trying to hard to be “politically correct,” and your blog will become boring and insincere and no one will want to read it.   People aren’t stupid and can tell if you’re not being honest or are censoring yourself because of your fear of criticism or offending someone.

Blog from your heart and soul. Be courageous. Write about what you want, no matter how controversial. Don’t be afraid to stir the pot and stand by your heartfelt opinions, even if they are unpopular ones.

Tell the haters to take a hike. You are going to have them. They don’t matter.

Can we please end this flame war?

flamewars

I hate flame wars but it looks like Seeing Plural is not going to bury the hatchet and agree to disagree which is what I would prefer.

He/she wrote a trollish, abusive post about me today and won’t let go of his/her grudge against me and the fact I have not removed my NPD joke page. I have explained over and over again why the joke page is there, and have already removed the offending article about DID (MPD). I have apologized for posting an article about DID with misinformation. I don’t know what more I can do. I just want to put this ugly flame war to rest.

hatersgonnahate

I would just let this whole thing pass and let them hate, but I simply can’t because of the vitriol in their comments about me today as well as their nasty remark about my commenters and supporters (thank you everyone! ❤ )

In their latest article bashing me and my blog, I found this highly offensive (and wrong) assumption about me:

But, I as a protector need to get something out there, mostly in response to the incredibly ugly comments of support that this woman with borderline abusive ideals has garnered over the past few days. [borderline abusive ideals?]

For just a tiny bit of background, I want to point out that Bennett is more than twice our age, and is a white cishetero Christian who appears to be more or less able-bodied and is functioning well enough to keep and take care of her children. As opposed to our Latino origin, trans presentation, queer background, and mostly-satanistic or agnostic system who can’t, most days, function enough to leave the house. Bennett is on the winning side of social power structure here.

Excuse me? Winning side of what social structure? I may be white, able bodied, and Christian (non-fundamentalist though and do not interpret the Bible literally) but I am also a supporter of gay rights (my son is gay) and I highly resent this accusation of racism on my part. I also don’t give a damn if someone is agnostic (I used to be myself) or atheist or any other religion.

Most importantly, I am hardly winning in the “social structure.” In fact the “social structure” is something I feel like I have to do battle with every day of my life. I live near or at the poverty level, and have a low paying job that allows me to live paycheck to paycheck and no more. I do not own my own home, I drive an old car, and have very little disposable income. So I would like to know where this person gets this ridiculous idea I am on the winning side of the social structure?

I wish this person would stop visiting this blog if they hate it and me so much. My advice: stop make nasty assumptions about me unless you actually know me, because obviously you do not know anything about me, my ideals, or what I believe in.

This blogger is a bully. I have said nothing so personal and offensive against them as they have against me.

I apologize for the negativity in this post. I want this to remain a positive experience for people who come here, not a place for flame wars. But bullies who make personally offensive remarks against me and my followers deserve to be called out.

I am now letting this drop.

Two kinds of stealth trolls

stealthtroll

In two earlier posts I wrote about online bullies and trolls (not exactly the same thing, but close enough). I won’t explain here how they differ and are the same (you can read the articles which I’ve posted links at the end of this article), but I neglected to mention stealth trolls. Stealth trolls seem benign, but can wreak havoc on web forums and social media. I will describe two types of stealth trolls. There are probably others.

The Concern Troll

concerntrolls

The Urban Dictionary defines a concern troll as:

A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.

A concern troll on a progressive blog might write, “I don’t think it’s wise to say things like that because you might get in trouble with the government.” Or, “This controversy is making your side look disorganized.

The concern troll’s M.O. is stealth. They appear harmless. In the guise of “concern,” the troll infiltrates the website, seeming helpful, but their true intention is not to help, but to disrupt the community, dialogue or morale on the site. They probably know little if anything about the subject matter and their complaints are of a general nature. Their “concern” makes them feel superior. Concern trolls are probably narcissistic or even psychopathic, and their self-righteous “concern” makes them feel superior. Any attempt to pin them down and explain their “concerns” in greater detail or a request to explain the topic being discussed will usually cause them to disappear, but they’re likely to reappear under a “sockpuppet” account (another handle). The sockpuppet may be more aggressive in their trolling behavior and may even bully individual members or make openly hostile remarks about the site or its subject matter. A troll’s goal is to destroy the online community in the usual manner: by making its members leave the site.

The Triangulator.

triangleman

This is a dangerous troll who who pits people against each other by sending private messages containing lies about another user. It’s an online form of the triangulating that psychopaths and narcissists do. They are almost always found on social media and forums. I’ll give a hypothetical example of what a Triangulator does. Let’s say Lisa and Brian are online friends. The Triangulator (let’s call him John) befriends both Lisa and Brian. One day John sends Lisa a PM saying Brian told him that Brian thinks she’s dumb (he never said this). Lisa gets mad and sends Brian a PM saying her feelings are hurt that he went behind her back and told John she was dumb. Brian says he never told John he thought she was dumb, and he doesn’t think she’s dumb anyway. Lisa isn’t sure who to believe, so the trust between her and Brian is compromised. John then sends Brian a PM telling him Lisa thinks Brian acts like a know it all (she never said this). When Brian talks to Lisa and she tells him she never said this, he isn’t sure who to believe and the trust between them is compromised. The Triangulator can destroy a friendship this way, and that’s exactly what he wants to accomplish. By using this tactic, Triangulators can totally break down communication on a site and cause regular users to defect.

Don’t feed the trolls.

Trolls are simply narcissists who derive pleasure upsetting and destroying a healthy online community. If you can’t ban them yourself, the best way to deal with a troll is to report them to the admin or if that isn’t possible, ignore them.

Earlier articles about online bullies and trolls:
Internet Psychopaths: the difference between Trolls and Bullies
Internet Trolls are Psychopaths