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Poison comments and karma

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday July 12, 2006 )

It has been unfortunately quite fashionable for bloggers, blog commenters and forum participants to unleash their fury in their writings; often using insults, obscenity and aggression to express an opinion. It may feel pretty good at the time to blow off some steam, but it can really come back to haunt the person.

An executive recruitment network has published results of a recent survey that shows 77% of executive recruiters use search engines to learn more about job applicants. Over a third of those using these methods have culled candidates as a result of the information they’ve uncovered.

Here’s an example of where people can be tripped up in their career prospects by the way they approach public communications.

A while ago someone left a very critical comment on one of my posts. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, constructive feedback is good. For the most part, the poster made some good points.


The person also started off the comment with with “You’re an idiot”. The term “clueless” also appeared a couple of times. My skin has thickened up somewhat in recent years, but when I see personal attacks in posts and comments, regardless of who makes it and who it’s made in reference to, it leaves a very negative impression on me about that person which can overshadow anything else they may have said.

As an employer or recruiter coming across a comment like that, my first impression would be that the person was somewhat aggressive, a poor communicator and probably not well suited to working in a team environment. If I found a few more similar posts by that person scattered around the web, I’d most likely bin their application, regardless of how well suited they otherwise appeared to be for the position.

Sure, some people have made a great career out of insulting others, but I’d bet the farm that there are far more who have failed miserably for exactly the same reasons. Even those who have shot to success through character assassination as their single trick need to bear in mind that karma has some weird and wonderful ways. What goes around, comes around and I’m sure many of these people spend their lives looking over their shoulders. Not a pleasant way to live.

Common courtesy and politeness aren’t just warm and fuzzy principles our parents taught us just for the hell of it. They are immensely valuable tools. Professionalism and etiquette are increasingly becoming important attributes for furthering your career and business prospects in an online world.

Name calling and insults posted to a public arena certainly don’t indicate any degree of intelligence, so why even bother with them?

It’s something to think about before hitting the “submit” button the next time you’re feeling a little miffed. If someone insults you in a forum or on your blog, don’t sink to their level. Defend yourself if need be, make your points and make them well, but avoid personal attacks. Your display of self control will gain you far greater *real* respect from your peers and perhaps that of future prospective employers, partners and clients.

It’s not just blog and forum posts/comments you need to be careful with. Have a photo up on MySpace of you passed out at a party? Perhaps you like posting bawdy limericks on a joke site? Sure, it’s all probably quite hilarious now, but it might be a good idea to replace those with a nice shot of you fishing or gardening and perhaps a few tamer jokes instead :).

People do judge a book by it’s cover, and in the online world your cover is anything you post on the web.

Read the ExecuNet Digital Dirt report


Email etiquette


5 comments for Poison comments and karma
  1. it is actually quite simple. don’t insult the person. insult the act. my uncle always tried to teach me not to personalize the conversation and to focus on the content and context, not the deliveryman. If anyone ever attacks my WebCart shopping cart software, I won’t mind. Just don’t attack me. Or at least spell my name right.

    Comment by jason — July 13, 2006 @ 3:08 am

  2. Thanks for your comment Jason, and I must say I admire the way you skillfully slipped in a plug for your WebCart software – and I don’t mean that in a nasty way at all. Looks interesting, I’ll have to check it out ;).

    Comment by Michael Bloch — July 13, 2006 @ 5:30 am

  3. Passing personalized comments, obscene word etc is different from criticism. As said many people become famous by being critic but normall there will not be a personal factor involved. It will be based on social factor or for the personal deeds. Criticism requires knowledge about positive and negative things.

    Comment by Shasstra — September 30, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  4. I am interested in starting a business on EBay using drop-shippers ,does anyone know the name of a reliable drop ship company? BTW, I love this site, lots of great info!!Thanks

    Comment by Terri — November 5, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  5. Hi Terri,

    Thanks for your kind feedback, I have an article on drop shipping here which mentions some good resources:

    Comment by Michael Bloch — November 5, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

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