What to Do About Creepy Comments On Your Personal Blog
I have a question about what to do with unwanted/creepy/clueless blog comments. I know you’ve been blogging for a long time and share much more of your personal life than I do on mine- so I’m hoping you have some advice on handling this.
My blog is TINY- like 3-4 people read it per post, mostly cousins and aunts- but there people who have stumbled on it and are following me (like 45- that’s a lot to me!). Now- I love doing it, it’s a space I’ve created where I get to be creative and write… but there’s this one guy who posts comments on EVERYTHING. I. WRITE. Older guy- so maybe he’s just clueless? But they’re long and rambling comments (and I’m talking longer than the blog posts long) but nothing has ever crossed a line or been inappropriate… but it’s totally weird and gives me this uncomfortable feeling in my gut. So far I don’t reply or “like” his comments while I do to many of the other commenters, but it doesn’t seem to stop the guy.
And here’s the thing- creeps are everywhere. It’s easier to call out the cat-caller for unwanted attention than it is the guy who doesn’t say anything in particular you can call him down on but who still gives you an icky feeling. I don’t want to feel run out from a place I’ve created, and I don’t want to blast some clueless guy who maybe isn’t trying to be inappropriate, but I DO want my power back, as it were. I INSIST on acting like a human and not hiding inside because of my gender- I have just as much right to the public space as any dude- but then something like this happens and there’s a part of me that just wants to withdraw and hide to get away from it. How do I claim my space on this thing called the internet and make it my own, creeps be damned?!
Frankly, I just have a real feeling you’d be the person to ask on this.
Block his IP address. And don’t give it a second thought. Or even one thought.
A blog can be public but still be considered its author’s private property and treated as such. An open comment section is an invitation into that space and conversation, but I like to think of it like an invitation to a potluck dinner in your home. Guests who bring a delicious side dish or dessert are welcomed. Perhaps you might also ask them to remove their shoes or to use a coaster. As the host, both in real life and online, you’re allowed to set some reasonable ground rules.
(My commenting guidelines– on my personal blog– have, for years, been simply: Eh, be nice. Or nice enough.)
Now back to your potluck. Imagine a guest who shows up empty handed, save for some empty Tupperware because he wants to take leftovers home. A little eyebrow raising, but maybe you just give it a pass. He won’t take his shoes off (and they’re muddy!) and ignores your coaster request. Then he starts talking about politics and weird conspiracy theories, or cornering you in the kitchen and monopolizing your time with super boring small talk. Later, toilet gets clogged and overflows and there’s red wine on the sofa and you totally suspect he’s responsible for both. Finally, you overhear him asking your child to give him a hug or sit on his lap. NOPE. ENOUGH.
You’d be entirely justified to ask this guest to leave the party. At the very least, you would never, EVER invite this dude into your home again.
This guy commenting on your blog is at the level of a guest showing up without a potluck contribution and then attempting to monopolize every conversation. His comments aren’t adding anything of real substance and are taking over your entire comment section. He’s rambling and a little strange, probably derailing the thread and/or coming across as off-putting to other would-be commenters who actually have something to say about your actual blog post. And above all, and most importantly, he’s just plain weirding you out. Boy, bye!
Look, you don’t OWE this guy a place on the Internets to ramble to his heart’s content. You are not trampling over his First Amendment rights by banning him from your comment section.
I wouldn’t “put him on blast” or respond publicly to him, since yeah, it’s entirely possible he’s just a lonely old guy who doesn’t mean to be weird or just doesn’t get Internet etiquette in general. I would just quietly ban his IP address. (And if you can’t ban by IP address in your blog’s current commenting system or otherwise moderate/unapprove his comments before they publish, definitely install one that does!!!) If you have an email address posted and he reaches out to ask why he can’t comment anymore, you can just 1) ignore/block/mark as spam, or 2) give him a vague “oh jeez, I don’t know! I’m not super technical but I’ll look into it!” brush off.
I’ve been blogging since 2003. My personal blog has nearly 150,000 published comments across 2,400+ posts. I have blocked 28 IP addresses. So hardly ruling my comment section with the iron fist of banhammering, but I WILL ban/block as needed. I typically go with a three strikes rule, i.e. I won’t bother with some rando who swoops in and says something mean one time, but I do look up the IP addresses of particularly rude or aggressive commenters and see if it’s a pattern. If you’re on your third nasty comment, you’re out. Just…I get it, you hate-read me.
If you’re running a double life with one username/email address that you use to troll me and then another to be nice (or to enter giveaways for free stuff, I SEE YOU BOO), I will probably call you out, then ban you. (This is why it’s important to ban/block by IP address, not by username or email, which can both be easily changed or faked.) Some of the IP addresses on my block list actually just one person who commented from multiple computers and IP addresses, who I just merrily continued to block until they were all IP’d out and gave up. I have never felt even the tiniest bit bad about it. Just…be nice, people!
Just because this guy ISN’T actively trolling or saying openly inappropriate things doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to block him. You can block anybody you want! It’s your blog! Your rules! If this guy is annoying you and making your blog a less enjoyable hobby/space, by all means disinvite him from the conversation going forward.
And then blog on!
Photo source: Depositphotos/LukaFunduk
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