How to Deal with Web Rage and Web Rudeness


Ben Worthen, Biz Tech blogger for the Wall Street Journal, got a nasty comment by email recently:

We received this email the other day in response to our post about Google’s mobile-phone operating system: “You are a moron…Hopefully you have not (and will not) procreate. It would be a shame to have your genes pollute the gene pool. PS: you’re a [expletive deleted].”

The web makes it easy to get feedback and have conversations. The flip side of that is it’s easy to get criticism and insults too. This isn’t exactly new — as long as there have been online bulletin boards, there have been online flamers and trolls.

What’s the best way to handle rudeness online? While you can learn something from your critics, when criticism tips over into personal insults that’s a good time to turn away. There’s little to be gained from engaging with those who can’t act civil online.

How do you handle web rudeness?


Wayne Smallman

I had similar run-in with someone a last week, which inspired me to craft my own thoughts on the matter (click my name for more information), since the way I handled their comments (not in the way I would have liked, in retrospect) and the escalation of matters made me think.

As one friend and fellow ‘blogger put it: “It’s not a question of freedom of speech, it’s a question of Editorial control.”

And he’s right, but I do like to at least keep some balance, even when someone doesn’t agree with me…


Oh, I just edit their comments so they sound like praise. Hey, if they don’t like it they can go bother somebody else.


First, allow yourself the freedom to be pissed. Attempting to bury it without any reaction just won’t work. Then, if you cannot blow it off after kicking the chair etc, and it is too early in the day in grab an adult beverage, draft a response, print it out, and stick in your desk (or e-desk if you are truly a hard-core web worker with no such infrastructure). Read that response “later”, like next day or so, but never actually reply to the person (totally agree with those that say NOT to give the critic a response, esp. a passionate response). Writing the unsent response will allow you another vehicle to work thru the anger.

Anthony Russo

Definitely a situation where you walk away. Nothing good can come from a confrontation with someone so close minded and rash.


Ronald Lewis

Having been recently featured on TechCrunch, I know all too well about insults and the worthless and baseless opinions of the public. I too think it’s best to simply ignore insults. Don’t waste any time trying to defend your position, purpose, etc.

A lot of people live for not focusing on their own lives.

Aaron Pepper

A big part of it is the webs anonymity. Its easier for people to send a nasty email then it is to say that kind of stuff face to face. Whoever sent this email expected at worst a nasty reply back, I bet he didn’t expect it to be posted for the world to see. I guess this is why god invented the block button.


I always try to remember that Jesus loves them as much as He loves me. Then, I reply in a way that matches my motto: if you can’t say something nice or helpful, don’t say anything at all.

Whoever sent Ben Worthen that email sounds like a very reactive person with no self-control, and I feel sorry for them.


I’ve done a lot of online email-based support in the past, and most of the rage I received was from trial customers who told me how bad our product or documentation was and almost always lacked details. I never ignored support requests, so the first half of my response explained how they could be part of the solution by providing substantive comments. The second half of my response referenced our money-back guarantee. This approach quickly separated the upset people who were unable to provide constructive feedback but wanted help from the trolls.

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