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Managing a Blog

I received a comment last week that I sat on. It was on a post I had written back in 2007 about Bad Agents and, in my opinion, didn’t serve any purpose other than to attack me and other bloggers.

For a few days I debated how to handle the comment. Even going so far as to write this blog post. Unless a comment is real spam (advertising and links for something or another) I’m uncomfortable moderating comments. But what about trolls? Do we let trolls have their say and who are we to determine if they are trolls or someone who just sounds like a troll?

I’ve always liked that the blog was an exchange of ideas and opinions and that over the years it had developed a community of its own. If I start moderating comments, even from trolls, is it a slippery slope to censorship? Do I eventually delete those I disagree with under the assumption they are trolls?

Public opinion told me to just delete the comment and let it go, but apparently I either had nothing better to do last week or was avoiding everything I was supposed to be doing because I spent a lot of time over thinking this predicament.

In the end I posted the comment. I want the blog to be a place where people are free to speak their minds and not fear repercussions. I’ve learned a lot from readers over the years and thanks to the blog I’ve established some of our BookEnds policies (including the one where we reply to every query). It hasn’t always been pretty, but there you are.

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12 comments

  1. Thank you for this post. I am new to blogging and my daughter recently asked me what I would do in this very same situation. As long as it wasn’t offensive or insulting to anyone I would post it; even if it were a jab at something I had written. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You considered your options with the comments and did what you thought was best.

    On a side note; your policy of responding to every query is admirable. Many agencies have abandoned this protocol leaving authors wondering did the agent reject my query or did my query accidentally get lost in the deluge. Telling me no response after four or six weeks means rejection doesn’t remove these doubts. The dreaded rejection form letter serves the purpose of closure.

    Bravo to Bookends for maintaining the practice. And again thanks for this post.

    thelonelyauthorblog

  2. No idea where to find this comment, but I love that you decided to post it after careful reflection. 🙂

    Off topic: Not sure where to post asks here, but wanted to know your thoughts on when a writer knows it’s time to split with an agent and find representation elsewhere. I’ve been reading a lot on other blogs/ forums and apparently non-communication (I’m talking months, not days here) is becoming increasingly common. How does a writer know what their agent is doing if there’s no dialog? Or, even more scary for everyone involved, how do you know if your agent if suffering from burn-out?

    Love your blog, and thanks for keeping things open and real. It’s very insightful. 🙂

    1. Thank you for this. This is the perfect spot to post questions. I’m going to pull this out and write a blog post answering so as many people as possible can see my answer.

  3. Jessica,
    For what it’s worth, I think you did the right thing.
    Not everyone is able to put their point across politely, or slow down long enough to think what they are typing.
    If it really is a troll comment people will either slam it, or ignore it as stupidity.
    If you start to sensor, one day your going to delete a badly written, but very relevant point of view, you hadn’t thought of. That others would help develop.
    Just my thought on the subject, I’ve only recently started my blog, but it is relevant question to all blogs really.

  4. I had to go read the comment and… well, let’s just say you’re a bigger person than I am, Jessica. I can’t blame you for sitting on the comment for a little bit. It’s like someone came up and spit in your face.

    Why would someone dig up an 8-year old post just so they could make an insulting comment on it? I almost feel sorry for that person. They must have some major demons eating at their soul.

    Good for you for taking the high road AND for supporting free speech (even when it’s offensive).

  5. Oh my word. I didn’t read the previous blog post or comment earlier, it woukd load it the school carpark.
    After the comments above I just did, very helpful post and something that is a terrifying idea. That comment could be read a number of ways, other than inaccurate, it is either a childish dig or very nieve.
    Either way I still think you have done the right thing, Bookends stands for something, don’t let anyone else take that away from you.

  6. Wow, she must have had a really bad day. This is not an opinion, it’s a personal attack. I think you’ve shown great tolerance, Jessica, in posting the comment. Would I have done so? Probably not. It doesn’t contribute anything constructive to the conversation. The fact is there are bad agents just like there are bad estate agents, or bad lawyers, and I think you provided a timely reminder to writers who are desperate to get an agent, that a bad agent is worse than no agent. It would be so tempting to sign with someone because we want the search to be over and feel we’ve received validation of our work. Thank you for the post.

    1. I think this is a great perspective. Thank you. You’re right on the attack. It doesn’t happen very often, but agents do get these emails, but I think if people want to send them publicly it does give interesting perspective on every aspect of agent life.

  7. Gah. Every so often Feedly decides not to add your post to my feed. Wonder how many others I miss?

    What a tough decision to post. I haven’t read the post/comment, but I wonder what their point for writing it was? Not sure that I would have given a negative/malicious commenter air time, but I’m not an agent (and I bet you get some humdingers in your inbox!). The fact you did allow it to go public shows strength of character!

  8. When re-organizing a website (and attaching the blog), often old posts get re-fed into RSS feeds, which is probably how the commenter on that post saw it.

    I’m glad you left the comment and responded only to what needed response, which was the fact-checking. While I think it would be perfectly reasonable and understandable to moderate it out, see it within the context of all the other comments shows at least 2 things: 1) it’s out of place with the norm and 2) you show strength and respect to all your readers by allowing all perspectives to have a platform.

    And seriously, anyone who reads and researches their way through this agenting and publishing business can see right through that comment as vitriolic rather than a helpful criticism (or even helpful alternate perspective), you know? And if they can’t, maybe it’s better they aren’t seeking anyone at BookEnds for representation.

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