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Ignore email crackpots and hecklers

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday March 22, 2010 )

While angering your social network following by disregarding them isn’t a wise idea, next time some idiot emails with you unduly harsh criticism or general whacko comments, ignore them totally. Here’s why.

Unlike the situation I described yesterday in “When social network fans attack“, where people have a genuine concern that isn’t addressed, dealing with drive-by abusive emails are another issue altogether.

Too many unbalanced people have way too much time on their hands and seem to gain some sort of perverse pleasure in cluttering up merchant inboxes with all sorts of weird tirades. I’m not referring to valid complaints, even valid complaints lodged in somewhat less than civilized ways; but total crackpot stuff – general insults and totally off the wall stuff you have trouble interpreting.

Don’t respond, don’t feed their fantasy. They may have the time to go back and forth with you; but you don’t. Responding to them only allows them to score points, or acts as an invitation for them to continue the conversations.

I know it can be hard to resist returning fire, but by not engaging, you can “win”. By ignoring the person totally, they never know whether you actually read their comments.

If you really feel the need to retaliate – try this. Tap out a response in notepad or something similar – but never send it. I suggest not replying in your email reader in case you accidentally hit send.

You will still be wasting a bit of time, but it will make you feel better and without the risk of it turning into a massively time sucking to and fro exercise. After a while of doing this, you’ll probably find the desire to retaliate lessens and you’ll likely reach a point where you simply screw up your nose at those sorts of communications and simply to move on to more productive and profitable activities.

The fact that so many nutters have Internet access is also a reason you shouldn’t publish your personal phone number on your site. This also discourages calls from overseas folks that have no respect for time zones :). I used to have my personal number up on my sites, but after one too many calls at 2am from people wanting to sell me stuff or “partner up”, I learned the lesson.

As for dealing with customers who may be irate – that’s a different story. Learn more in my article on dealing with aggressive customers.


Rethinking user comments and online content


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