This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

September 15, 2014

Moderating offensive comments on your Google+ business page

A Google+ business page, like anything else that allows comments on the web, is a magnet for people (usually called *trolls*) to make offensive, and often obscene, comments. I first discovered that people like to do this whenever a group is created, even in real life, when I started teaching in 1996. And even though the percentage of these people is very low (I would really get no more than one in a class, and most often none), they are an annoyance, and it's up to you to do something about it. Believe me, the rest of the group is hoping that you will.

But before you start removing comments, begin by asking about the structure of your page. Are you inviting these types of comments? Keep in mind that you are *on stage*, and while comments and questions are appreciated, most people really just want to lean back and enjoy, or learn. By all means, respond quickly, and politely, to questions and comments, but don't expect the audience to do your work for you. That's a mistake that a lot of people make, because they are interested in *seeking engagement*. So, present your information in an interesting, and factual way. If your product or service is available 24 hours, say so, don't ask your audience if they know.

In public speaking, random nasty statements thrown out are known as *heckling*. But you need to know the difference between a question and a heckle. If someone asks me *why do we have to learn about vectors to know Adobe Illustrator?* in class, that is not heckling. If someone decides that my class in Adobe Illustrator could be *livened up a little* by asking the most unrelated and obscene thing that they can think of, it is heckling.

The best thing to do with hecklers is to not engage them. For people who are genuinely scaring everyone, I had often wished that I could wave a magic wand and transport them out of the room. I had no interest in doing any harm, I just wanted them to no longer be there, making us all uncomfortable. Of course, you can't do that in real life, but you can do it on your Google+ business page. But you'd better be right.

In Gmail, there is a tab labelled *Social*, which you should check every day if you have a Google+ page, or Blogger. That's where every comment that is made shows up. A quick glance should suffice to tell you if someone has posted an offensive comment on your page, or blog. There is a button that says *delete* next to the comment. Click it.

There, that's all you have to do. Delete the comment. Don't give a lecture about proper manners - if they knew them, they wouldn't have posted that comment. And I always imagine that maybe there is a good person out there who wrote something in anger and frustration and then forgot about it. When I delete a comment like that, I am hoping that that person appreciates that I can erase a mistake they made in the heat of the moment, like taking away giving someone, uh, the finger on the freeway.

A Google+ Business page is a very powerful tool for your business. And with great power, comes great responsibility. Keep an eye on it.

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