Original article by Yael Grauer, published by The Freelancer
When I first started writing, everyone always warned me to stay far, far away from the comments. Perhaps I’m narcissistic—or a glutton for punishment—but I found it nearly impossible to stop myself from checking in. When writing for MMA sites, I’d read through insult after insult written by teenagers living in their parents’ basement (our core audience), which was never a pleasant experience.
The free weekly paper that paid me pennies to blog about food after it fired its full-time food writer clearly didn’t have the staff to moderate comments. Whenever I’d give a restaurant a good review, I’d get to sift through weird conspiracy theories about how I was secretly coerced into saying nice things because of some kind of advertising deal that didn’t actually exist. I always felt slightly betrayed that these sites hung us writers out to dry by not moderating at all. I rarely responded, though I was tempted to create fake accounts to argue with readers about how I was right. I always wondered if the wrath of commenters would taint how editors viewed my work.
I was a ghostwriter for a couple of large health websites, always surprised at how the people I ghosted for reacted to the comments. They’d expect rewrites and revisions over minor nitpicks, even if the commenter was wrong.
Sites have wildly different opinions on whether journalists should engage with readers. Some sites don’t seem to pay attention, while others—such as MindHut and SparkLife—even go so far as rewarding writers who get a certain amount of upvotes when responding to comments.
Continuation link: http://contently.net/2015/07/30/stories/writers-respond-comments-articles/