If you have seen any of the drama concerning authors and reviews, I think you've probably read these words: "Do not engage."
Now, they're always directed at the author. It's really a number one rule for authors who choose to read their reviews. You want to know what people are saying? Fine. You want to argue about their opinion of your book? Don't.
But one thing I sometimes think in these circumstances is, Why does the reviewer keep responding? This isn't to say that these reviewers are wrong, or that they're handling the situation badly. Often times, they're not. I have seen many circumstances when a reviewer (and often times others who have joined the comments) are actually trying to help the author. But in doing so, aren't they making the situation bigger and bigger? Aren't they engaging in a conversation that they're advising the author not to?
Maybe this comes from me being an aspiring writer, myself. I have posted my writing online for a very long time - from the first, awful stories, to poetry, to blog posts. Right now, my blog is the only place where I share my writing publicly. But maybe the rules from before are still an instinct for me.
The thing is, I had that experience in writing communities. Not often, but every once and awhile, someone hateful will comment on your work. They're not there to provide constructive criticism - they just want to tell you how awful the writing is, and move on. I never responded to these comments. And although I have not received any hateful comments while blogging, nor have I been contacted by an author regarding a negative review, I feel that I would do the same as I've always done: Delete the comment, and move on.
This stems from my thinking that my space online is just that: My space. I don't need the negativity. I don't need to argue if someone comes into my area of the internet and starts causing problems. I don't need to tell them they are wrong. I feel it's rather like someone coming into your house and trying to argue. I wouldn't feel the need to explain to a stranger why they are wrong for coming into my home unannounced, and I wouldn't begin speaking to them about why I disagree with any opinions they decide to share with me. Why? Because they are in my space, uninvited. So I'm going to call the police and have them removed from my home. I'm going to press delete, and remove them from my space.
But I understand that this doesn't always work, and that some people just don't want to do that. Some people feel really awful when they ignore others. (I'm one of them, honestly!) Others just want to explain things to the author and give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't know they're wrong. No matter the reasons, I understand that my way of thinking does not work for everybody. I'm not saying everyone should handle things the way I think I would. (Because honestly, this is a hypothetical situation ... Sometimes we act different when we're actually involved.)
I just wanted to get my thoughts out somewhere about this, because it's been sitting in my head for quite some time, and I've finally found a way to put it into words. And I would love if we could discuss this further in the comments. Do you guys think bloggers/reviewers should follow the writer's rule to not engage in things like this? Should reviewers ignore author comments to avoid drama, or do you think authors should be called out and spoken to when they choose to comment on a review?
I don't think there's really a 'right' answer here, just opinions. But I would be so happy to hear your thoughts!