As part of my freelance writing, I’ve been contributing to a commerical site for a few months and would have to say I’ve had to grow a thick hide. Except, in the end I couldn’t. I’m happy for constructive criticism and as you will see from comments to my blog, I publish absolutely everything, positive or negative (I won’t accept troll or spam comments), but the comments my features produced at the other site were actually starting to get personal and alarming. Here’s an example or two:

A)   ‘ No idea who Jane Cunningham is & why we’re supposed to care about her mindless wittering, but please DISregard her very stupid ‘advice’, concerning the putting of Naphozoline Hydrochloride into the eyes. Yes, it temporarily constricts the blood vessels. Regular use, however, will leave you with the ‘basset hound’ look – sporting permanently red, blood-shot eyes – not to mention the long term damage that this chemical will cause your eye surface. Very sexy, Ms Cunningham…

‘I’m with Caroline, the above contributor, who’s given the best response to this silly girl’s blether.
B)    Actually, we’d all like to see your make up Jane Cunningham.
Who are you to slag these women off? Miss perfect?
You slag off one woman you slag of all of us, famous or not. Ever though about that?
Your bitchy trash journalism only reflects your own bitchy trash personality.
As a woman I’m sick and tired of reading this type of rubbish from the likes of your who fail time after time to see the bigger picture.
I really feel sorry for you if this is all you can produce as a journalist because it shows one thing only. Your serious lack of talent and how much you hate other women.’
C)   ‘ The person who made this article obviously is so self conscious that everyone with a blemish is ugly and desperate. I would give an arm and a leg to look like that. This Jane Cunningham obviously hasn’t heard of the “orange face, white feet blunder”. And you suck at making beauty articles.’
D)   ‘ I’ve seen your own photograph Jane… was it a bad hair-day/skin cream-day/lost the art of applying lipstick-day? As for eyebrows…. has that style existed before or have you just tried it for a laugh?’

‘Did someone get paid for writing this ‘article’?

And those aren’t the worst. But it does throw up the point that at least on print media you are protected from comments like this – out there on the internet, there is no protection if the moderation in place isn’t sophisticated enough. The weird thing is that I think, fine, if that’s their opinion, they’re entitled to it, but actually seeing it written down is a bit, well, ouch. There is also the fact that if someone happened to look up my work on the internet and they came to land on these comments, they’d be left with a very bad opinion of me as a professional writer. But they are there, for all to see and there is nothing I can do about it. 

So, my question is: do you feel vulnerable either commenting on sites where others can enter into dialogue with you, do you feel vulnerable letting others read your blog or your work, or do you just feel it’s all part and parcel of the big wide internet world and it is something just to put up with?

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