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How to diffuse smug comments

The secret to getting people to comment on your posts or statuses is simple: Spell something wrong.

I am not actually recommending that you make a mistake on purpose. Obviously that is not an ideal situation and it lowers your credibility as a resource. Correct, polished writing and accurate information are key to any website. If you are called out on a factual error then by all means, thank the commenter and correct the mistake. But mistakes do happen. And for some reason an incorrect sentence does get results.

People love to correct others about a spelling mistake, grammatical slip or a poorly-worded sentence. Often it’s not even a correction but merely pointing out that there is a mistake. “Use spell check much?” doesn’t add a whole lot to the conversation. You can almost feel the I-am-so-smart smugness dripping off the comment.

Sometimes the comments are hilarious and the whole situation is a laugh. Check out (not safe for work) The 65 best obnoxious responses to misspellings on Facebook for some of the best examples of this. But for the not funny, not helpful, overly smug and just plain rude comments you may encounter on your blog or company’s Facebook, here are some best practical tips:

 Always Take a Second Look

  • If you don’t have access to a professional editor you should still have at least one other person proofread your article or status for clarity and mistakes.
  • Reading anything out loud catches many punctuation and clarity mistakes.
  • When writing anything, you usually get too close to the material to realize you’re making mistakes.
  • If no one is available, give it at least an hour or a day and come back to it with a fresh mind.
  • Most writing tool sets check for grammar while they check your spelling.
  • If something sounds strange or you can’t figure it out grammatically then just reword it!

Approve Negative Comments

  • Sounds scary, right? Unless the comment is inappropriate, directed at you or overly offensive it is smart to approve and handle it.
  • Deleting it can cause an even bigger reaction from the commenter.
  • Responding politely to rude comments saves face and keeps you in a good light.
  • A simple “Thanks for catching that” further emphasizes how rude the commenter sounds.

Always be Transparent about Mistakes

  • Thank anyone who catches a factual mistake or mechanical error, such as a link not working.
  • Thank them even if they brought it up in a rude way (“Gee I’d love to use this link that isn’t working”).
  • If it is a simple spelling or grammatical change, do it and leave your thank you as a comment.
  • If it is a bigger change (wrong facts or quotes) it’s good to add your thank you into the actual article. For example, “Thanks to Seth G. for catching this quote …” and then lead into the correct quote.

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